Sled dogs Slater and Morello led Brent Sass’s team to victory early Tuesday, winning his first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Slater is 6 years old and Morello is age 7. Over the Iditarod’s 1,000 miles, the two Alaskan huskies led the dog team and Sass through gusty winds, over hills and across sea ice.
“Slater’s almost been up there the whole race,” said Sass. “It’s hard to take him out because he just keeps the speed up more than anything. And same thing with Morello. They’re really good at just going through checkpoints without any hesitation.”
That’s good for Sass, who prefers to blow through checkpoints and rest just off the trail, where it’s more secluded and quiet.
He summed the two dogs up in one word: “amazing.”
Slater has two siblings on the team, Woodie and Pink. They’re all part of the litter named after characters from the “Dazed and Confused” film in honor of their April 20th birthday, said Sass. Slater is a good listener and eager to please, according to his bio on the website for Sass’s kennel, Wild and Free Mushing.
“Slater is one of the most loving and happy dogs in the kennel,” it says.
Slater was on Sass’s Iditarod team last year when they placed third.
Then there’s Morello.
Morello is part of the litter named after characters on the TV series “Orange is the New Black.” Morello is “a force to be reckoned with,” says her online bio. Her parents are Celia and Basin.
“Morello has a strong personality and has become one of the main leaders of the Wild and Free Team (which makes total sense with super talented leaders as parents),” her bio says.
Morello has raced in the Copper Basin 300, Yukon Quest and Iditarod, including last year’s third-place team.
Sass praised Morello and Slater — and his entire team — at the Nome finish line Tuesday. He raised each dog, training them since they were puppies.
“We’ve been working toward this goal the whole time,” he said. “And we’re here. It’s crazy.”
Morello and Slater are part of our “Dog of the Day” Iditarod series. Previously we met Chevelle, who loves to bark, Nala, the peppy cheerleader, Butcher, who needs her space, 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.
Alaska Public Media’s Tegan Hanlon contributed to this story.