Ralph, whose best friend is a cat named Meow

a close-up photo of a dog's face
Ralph and musher Jessica Klejka at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ceremonial start on Saturday. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Musher Jessica Klejka got Ralph for a bargain.

“We’re very good friends with Pete Kaiser and Pete said, ‘I’ll sell you two dogs and I’ll throw in one for free,’” Klejka said. “So Ralph is the free dog.”

Klejka said Ralph is a seven-year-old lead dog racing in his fourth Iditarod — he ran with Klejka in both of her prior Iditarods and ran one with Wade Marrs, placing fourth.

Klejka said she loves Ralph but “he has a lot of neurotic tendencies.”

For one, he can’t stop running. 

Klejka said Ralph usually stays in her house in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and sleeps in their Arctic entryway because, outside, he’ll just run in circles all day. And when he’s hooked up to his team, he’s full speed ahead unless told otherwise, earning him the nickname “Wreck-It Ralph.”

“He’s not going to bring you home in a blizzard,” Klejka said. “He’s going to run straight until you tell him to turn. He will run right past our house every time. So he’s an odd dog. But he’s a great lead dog as long as you’re paying attention.”

The other unusual thing about Ralph, Klejka said: His best friend is their family cat named Meow. The two spend a lot of time together in the house, and Klejka said Ralph is shockingly gentle with his best pal. She said Ralph wags his tail and paws at Meow, then Meow paws back, and they pretty much do that over and over again for a lot of the day.

“Ralph is best, best, best friends with our cat,” said Klejka. “Like not in a weird, obsessive way. But in an ‘I love you’ way.” 

Ralph is part of our “Dog of the Day” Iditarod series. Previously we met Paul.

a portrait of a woman outside

Tegan Hanlon is the digital managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447. Read more about Tegan here.

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