RUBY, Alaska (AP) — A blind dog is helping musher Kelly Maixner find the Iditarod finish line in western Alaska.
The 5-year-old, 50-pound sled dog named Laura has a cornea disease called pannus, Anchorage television station KTUU reported (http://is.gd/fcj09V ).
Maixner first noticed the dainty-faced Alaskan Husky's eyes were becoming cloudy about two years ago. Veterinarians told him she is "fairly blind," and she often seems confused, Maixner said.
"Sometimes I have to throw snacks on the ground extra hard so she can hear where it falls," he said.
But Laura is comfortable running in every spot on Maixner's sled team — except lead. When the pediatric dentist puts her in front, she relies on the other dog sharing the lead position to guide the way.
Laura is a favorite of her handlers. Maixner said she's not only a reliable runner, but a cheerleader for the team as they make the trek from Fairbanks to the old gold-rush town of Nome.
This is Maixner's fifth Iditarod attempt. He scratched from competition late in the race last year, but he's aiming to finish in the top 10 this year with Laura's help.
Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com