The Lance Mackey StoryHow My Obsession with Dog Mushing Saved My LifeI love Lance Mackey! Let me be clear about that. I’ve been lucky to spend some time with him and his lovely wife, Tonya. I’ve been to their home in Fairbanks, I’ve followed Lance on the Quest filming his arrival first at the 2008 finish in Whitehorse, and I cared for his Iditarod dropped dogs the same year. (I still have a deep love for Hobo who was in my dog yard for days missing his team and musher when he had to be dropped.) So, you might find this review a bit biased. There is no doubt Lance is the proverbial Everyman. The chronicles of his childhood and teen years will make you relive your own youthful days and wonder how any of us make it through fighting our inner demons. The honesty of his decisions, right or wrong, and the learning curve he achieved based on those decisions will give you new insight into the boy who grew into a champion.And what a champion! The trail tales will leaving you wondering why in the world anyone even considers traveling or racing with a dog team. I shivered with some of his descriptions, like this one from the 2005 Quest: “Going downriver on the Yukon just before Circle City, Alaska, Hugh Neff and I were leading the race, but we created another reason for anxiety when we lost the trail on the river ice in the moonless night. It was dark and black as our headlights swept the shimmering ice, searching for the trail.The Yukon rarely freezes smooth. Instead, sheets of ice pile on top of each other at freeze-up in November, like slabs of concrete at a dump. Normally, snowfall will gradually fill in the voids between slabs, and the wind will pack the river smooth by February. But 2005 was a low snow year, and the wind had swept parts of the river clean, leaving a rough ice surface with little evidence of a trail. Trail markers, loosened by the wind, often fell between the cracks of ice, leaving the trail a mystery.”In typical Lance fashion, he gives credit where it is due to other mushers and what he learned from them. He talks about what he learns from every race and how it changes his way of racing. He may not have graduated high school, but if there was a school of hard knocks for mushers, he’d be considered at the top of the class. Maybe the valedictorian. Certainly now, he has much to offer those who want to learn the best ways of mushing. I believe he is a true “dog whisperer”: “I go out of my way to protect and please them. I think of them as my children, I talk to them like children, and they pick up on it. I do demand perfection, but I also come down to earth and realize they are dogs.”During the whole story, Lance describes his cancer experience and how it partially helped change his outlook on life. His family-human and canine did the rest. His regard for his Mom’s bout with cancer is also quite touching. Once again, it’s a story many have experienced in their own lives. His steadfast love for his wife Tonya and her never ending support of his dreams is a story even Hollywood couldn’t write. The exceptional day-to-day help from Cain Carter, his adopted son, and handler, Braxton Peterson, show Lance to be a wonderful “boss.” Support from friends and fans come in the most unexpected ways and provide a surprising insight to the Mackey allure. If you meet Lance, chances are you will be a friend and fan forever. I could go on and on. This is a well-written book with so many unexpected nuances. I throughly enjoyed it. If I had to state a complaint, it would be the choice of some photos. I know some of the older ones being soft focus is just because of the cameras at the time. The choice of some taken in a time of digital photography that are soft, is, to me unacceptable. With so many photos of Lance floating around, there is no excuse for an out of focus picture here. Fortunately, those are few and the rest more than make up for it.So, all I can say is, BUY THIS BOOK! You won’t be sorry. You may shed a few tears, as I did. You may laugh at loud at times, as I did. And you may come away with a sense of awe for the man who has made incredible mushing history. I vote for Johnny Depp to play him in the movie version!“The Lance Mackey Story: How My Obsession with Dog Mushing Saved My Life” by Lance Mackey; Foreword by Joe Runyan; Edited by Tricia Brown; Illustrated by Jon Van Zyle. Available online at


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