JoAnna, a hyper-obedient leader

a sled dog is pet on the head
JoAnna. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Three-year-old JoAnna isn’t the most energetic dog on Kelly Maixner’s Iditarod team. 

He said that after a rest, JoAnna isn’t jumping and yipping like some of her teammates. Instead, she saunters up to her harness and coolly starts to run. Once she gets going though, she doesn’t stop. 

“She is a machine,” said Maixner. 

She’s also a strong leader, despite her young age, and she’s extremely obedient. 

“If I tell her ‘haw,'” he said, the command for turn left, “and if there’s no trail, she’ll jump off into the snow.”

This year will be JoAnna’s first Iditarod. She belongs to five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. Maixner said he connected with her right away.

“For some reason, she was one that I just kind of honed in on and really liked her from the beginning,” he said. 

He said JoAnna and another dog, Flounder, will likely lead the team for most of the trail to Nome. 

JoAnna is part of our “Dog of the Day” series. Each day during the Iditarod, we’ll feature a new dog making the 1,000-mile dash to Nome. Earlier, we met Dusty, Moose and Boomer.

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Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

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