Mussel, the ‘snuggle bunny’

a musher kisses her dog on its head
Mussel and musher Amanda Otto at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ceremonial start on Saturday, March 2, 2024. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

Mussel loves to snuggle, said Idaho musher Amanda Otto.

Mussel is four years old, racing his second Iditarod and is from the “sea creatures litter.” This is also Otto’s second Iditarod. She said you’ll often find Mussel running in the front of the team, as a leader.

“He’s a fun little guy,” Otto said. “He’s a little quirky, and is affectionately known as bobblehead. His head was always bigger than his body for the longest time. It still kind of is. But we love him anyway.”

Otto said Mussel is “all business” when he’s racing, and when he’s not “he’s an excellent snuggle bunny.” He loves going to the dog park and he also loves running right through the dog yard and up to Otto’s door so he can sleep inside with her.

“He’s spoiled,” she said.

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

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

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