Elway, the super intelligent star quarterback

a man in a sweater with his arms around a dog
Riley Dyche and Elway, one of the musher’s main leaders. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Five-year-old Elway’s maturity makes him Riley Dyche’s main lead dog. Elway, named as part of a Bronco’s greats litter, is highly attuned to his musher. 

“He’s super intelligent, always has eyes on me no matter what I’m doing,” said Dyche. 

But, Dyche said, Elway’s intelligence isn’t the only reason the handsome 68-pound blond husky is an indispensable part of his team. He’s also a workhorse. 

Dyche recalled an episode at the end of last year’s Iditarod, going through an intense windstorm in the Topkok Hills. Instead of running Elway in his usual lead position, Dyche harnessed him in wheel position closest to his sled, where power is needed over smarts. 

“It was such strong headwind and he’s such a strong dog, when he’s in wheel, that sled takes a lot to stop,” said Dyche. “His brawn in back was a big reason we made it through that storm.”

Dyche said that Elway is also fearless in lead when dogs have to trudge through open water or over glare ice. While some dogs hesitate, Elway charges through, setting an example for the dogs behind him. 

“At creek crossings he’ll just leap the creek even when there’s a plywood bridge,” said Dyche. 

Despite his fearlessness, he’s a mellow dog at home. 

“He’s mega mellow, loves being inside, he can be trusted alone in the house when we’re gone for eight hours,” said Dyche. 

Elway 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 DustyMooseBoomerJoAnnaMach 10Senior, Covid and Blunt.

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Lex Treinen is covering the state Legislature for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at ltreinen@gmail.com.

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