Lance Mackey & Queen Elizabeth: Both Beloved By The Public & Crazy About Dogs

  LANCE MACKEY, GENUINE ALASKAN The ever-popular Alaskan "Everyman" Lance Mackey, has passed away. The down-home dog musher died S...

 LANCE MACKEY, GENUINE ALASKAN

The ever-popular Alaskan "Everyman" Lance Mackey, has passed away. The down-home dog musher died September 7th, of a second bout with cancer. 


Lance Mackey (Wikipedia)

Mackey was an Iditarod & Yukon Quest dog musher and member of the great Mackey mushing family. He was the most popular dog musher in Alaska since George Attla, who hailed from Huslia. Attla, though, was a sprint musher, out of the northland river tradition of Native Alaskan mushers.

But both Attla and Mackey shared a rural Alaskan vulnerability, devotion to dogs, and the improbable drive to overcome serious medical issues on the wildest mushing trails in the world. 

For Alaskans, in their eras, Attla and Lance Mackey were symbols of what "being an Alaskan" really meant. 

George Attla overcame tuberculosis when he was a child. His leg was fused for the rest of his life, but that didn't keep him from becoming "The Huslia Hustler,"  kicking, straight-legged to winning 10 Fur Rendezvous titles and 8 Fairbanks North American Championship titles. 

Attla was the living emblem of rural village life, and Alaska's traditional ties to its dogs, which were the only domesticated animals in the territory until miners and military personnel began arriving with horses and cattle in the late 1800s. 

George Attla at a Copper Valley race. (Historic photo, Country Journal)

Lance Mackey was arguably out of the same tradition. His dad, Dick Mackey, won the Iditarod in 1978, beating Rick Swenson and his half-brother, Rick Mackey, won the Iditarod in 1983. 

Mackey was a four-time winner of the Iditarod and a four-time winner of the Yukon Quest. In 2007, he was the first person to win both races in the same year. He was an unlikely hero. 

Lance Mackey had a rough, problematic childhood. He was charged with a number of crimes when he was a teenager. 

When he began winning the Iditarod, Alaskans loved him. Unlike the tailored, wealthy mushers who were taking over the Iditarod -- with their sponsored dog trucks and clothing, and their expensive custom dog foods -- Lance Mackey was just an ordinary Alaska guy. He had ragged teeth, raggedy clothes, and a series of medical ailments that didn't seem to quit, including throat cancer, alcoholism and drug addiction. 

For a man who spent so much time outdoors in Fairbanks' Alaskan winters, he had another ailment: Raynaud's syndrome, which is triggered by cold. His condition was so bad he had to have a finger cut off.

His life was beset by tragedy.

Mackey's Comeback Kennel outside of Fairbanks covers 5 acres of land, It's set on a very steep hill, with his house at the top, and the kennels on lower levels below the house. 

SEE EARLIER JOURNAL STORY ON LANCE MACKEY

In October, 2020, Mackey's partner, Jenne
 Smith, rolled her ATV in the hills of Fairbanks and was killed in the accident. 


 QUEEN ELIZABETH II, THE ONE AND ONLY

A day after Lance Mackey died, Queen Elizabeth the Second passed away. 

She was crowned Queen of England after World War II, and reigned for over 70 years. 

Unlike Lance Mackey, who broke all rules, and thereby won the respect and love of his fellow Alaskans who admired his spunkiness, Queen Elizabeth was known for abiding by the rules.

And that's how she won respect and admiration. 

Elizabeth, like Lance Mackey, loved dogs. Her pets were a breed called the Corgi. 

For all the enormous differences between Lance Mackey and Queen Elizabeth, their dedication to their dogs strikes a universal cord and tied them together.

Elizabeth as a child (Getty Images) 

An observer in Britain recently wrote something about the queen that would apply to any Alaskan dog musher, including George Attla, Lance Mackey, or Susan Butcher:

"She loves animals and she absolutely adores dogs. She always has done, they were her first love and they will be her last,"



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