Lessons on Alaska from a pair of hairy teachers | NevadaAppeal.com

Lessons on Alaska from a pair of hairy teachers

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal Lorraine Temple of Homer, Alaska, and her husky, Buckeye, demonstrate how a sled dog harness works during a presentation at Eagle Valley Middle School on Tuesday.

With the biggest attraction of her presentation waiting in the wings, Lorraine Temple started by telling sixth-grade students at Eagle Valley Middle School about her 22 years in Alaska.

Her talk on Tuesday afternoon included the proper attire, the components of a dog sled and the basic voice commands used to direct the team of dogs.

The assembly served as the conclusion to the students’ unit on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, during which the students researched and wrote a paper on the historic dog sled race.

“The kids really enjoyed doing the paper on the race, they learned some really pretty amazing things. Many of them didn’t know that we even had a race like this in the United States or the cost and dangers the mushers go through on the course,” said teacher Mary Wertjes.

The race takes place over 17 days in early March, during which teams race 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome, traversing harsh wilderness in sometimes sub-zero temperatures. Teams cross 26 checkpoints along the course.

While Temple has never competed in the race herself, she has trained teams of dogs for various races, including the Iditarod. She was also a commercial fisherman and guide.

“I want them to understand that there are so many unique adventurous paths to follow. We have to make our own paths and I want them to realize there are a lot of options,” Temple said.

After talking about her life in Alaska, Temple brought out the main attraction – two Siberian huskies, Buckeye and Cabo. Buckeye has spent the past nine years traveling and giving presentations with Temple, but Cabo, who is about 1 year old, is a recent addition to the circuit.

Cabo got her name because she was born while Temple was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Temple said she always gets new questions, but also some common ones, including whether she knows all her dogs’ names and several questions about the size of the dogs.

“I get that a lot, they say they thought the dogs would be larger than they are,” she said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.