Butcher, who needs her space

a dog in a snowy dog yard
Butcher is six years old and has finished two Iditarod races. She’s named after Susan Butcher, the second woman to ever win the Iditarod, and she won it four times. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Anja Radano says she feels like she has a lot in common with six-year-old Butcher, one of her lead dogs.

“A lot of dogs here, they love to be hugged and cuddled and snuggled. And she likes it to some extent, but then she wants her space,” said Radano. “And I’m the same way.”

Also, she said, they’re both a little grumpy in the morning — “not exactly early-morning people.”

But it’s more than that.

Radano said she feels a really strong connection with Butcher.

“There’s a lot of times where it’s just weird, like, I look at her and I know she knows exactly what I’m thinking,” said Radano.

Radano said they also just like being around each other. She remembered a time last summer, hiking with friends and their dogs in Hatcher Pass. She said the other dogs were jetting after ground squirrels.

“My friends were running around to get the dogs back because they weren’t listening. And she just came back and sat next to me. We both watched the whole mayhem,” Radano said. “And it was just really sweet because she cared more about being with me than like being with her doggy friends and chasing ground squirrels.”

Butcher is named after the late Susan Butcher, a mushing icon who won the Iditarod four times. Radano got Butcher as a puppy from four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King. The whole litter was named after mushing greats.

This Iditarod was the third one for both Butcher and Radano.

But, unfortunately, Radano and her dogs dropped out of the race early in Nikolai.

We still think, however, that Butcher should be a “Dog of the Day” and hope she’s resting well. Previously, as part of the series, we met Sherlock, just a big doofus, Tundra, an unpredictable captain, Steve, who’s kind of a jerk, Viva, an unflappable navigator, Stealie, who loves hugs, and Zeke the rescue dog.

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