Mackey's famous lead dog to retire

March 20, 2009 at 4:40 PM

FAIRBANKS, Alaska, March 20 (UPI) -- Larry, the dog who led Lance Mackey's team to three championship's in Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, is going into retirement.

"Even if he wants to do another, I'm not going to let him," Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. "He's got a lot of miles under him."

Larry, 9, has completed eight Iditarods, seven with Mackey and one with a former neighbor, Paul Gebhardt, four Yukon Quest races and dozens of shorter races. He was the lead dog in 2007 and 2008 for the teams that took both the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod in the same season, a double-header no other team has accomplished. He has been the lead dog in 10 races of more than 1,000 miles, and the winner in seven.

It was Gebhardt, who ran Larry in the Iditarod while Mackey was being treated for cancer, who decided he would be a good leader.

Mackey said that villagers in Golovin on the Bering Sea were cheering for Larry as the team approached the finish line Tuesday.

"He needs no introduction," Mackey said. "Everyone knows Larry."

Mackey's new lead dog is Maple, a 2-year-old female.

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