Waylon is definitely special. Always has been.

He is a crazy faced, brilliant blue-eyed, opinionated, loud, talented fellah. But, what often strikes people is the fact that he has literally ZERO husky fur, enormous rabbit ears and long thin legs. And… he weighs in at just over a sack of dog food = 40 pounds.

I remember the Iditarod Insider crew showing up at a pre Race filming session and long time sled dog enthusiasts and commentators, Bruce Lee and Joe Runyan, looked at Waylon and actually giggled while asking: “This is your Lead Dog?

But, Waylon absolutely loves being who he is. And he is extremely talented at it. He wouldn’t change his life passion for anything. Waylon’s sled dog energy and enthusiasm make me want to be a musher. He makes me smile, dig deeper and try harder.

Waylon loses his marbles at the Iditarod 2015 Start while Scout plays it cool.

An excerpt from my 2016 Trail Notes: “Waylon is a firecracker. He was the main leader for the first half of the race because he loves being in charge. But after the halfway point, he wasn’t ‘busting a gut’ to run. Then, I believe, he was somewhat injured by the snowmachine attack – although I could never find anything specific. In the end, Waylon knew that he could do anything I would ask, so he powered through and made it to Nome.

Waylon ended his 2016 racing season with a superb 3rd place Iditarod finish. At first, he seemed to recover from any trauma that might have occurred and during the Springtime he was the happy-go-lucky guy that we all know. But at mid summer, Waylon began limping on his front right foot. We did an X-ray of his paw and Dr Rose seemed to think the issue was either a serious bone infection in his small toe or… cancer.

We moved him out of the yard and into the dog room (or the “big” house) for a month while on several strong antibiotics and anti inflammation drugs. When we went for a follow up exam and took another series of X-rays, they showed zero changes. There were still signs of bone degradation and no improvement. He was asleep during the X-rays, in order to manipulate his toe position. So Dr Rose prodded his toe with a needle to see if there was fluid in the enlarged digit. When she did this the toe bone broke!! We were very surprised. She had to then immediately amputate the toe — we couldn’t leave him with a broken toe that would never heal — and there were really no other acceptable alternatives. So, Waylon came home 3-toed.

He lived indoors and had daily bandage cleanings and even had to wear the “cone of shame” for a few very LONG days. But, it has healed up nicely. The biggie was whether the broken bone was degraded due to cancer — which is honestly what we all assumed. The toe was sent to a Lab and after a very long week the results came back cancer free! Yippee. The results said that the toe was in that condition probably due to some sort of injury and then arthritis. When exactly that injury happened, we do not know.

So… long story short Waylon and I are in exactly the same boat this coming season. I had arthritic toe surgery and over 8 weeks recovery time. Waylon had toe surgery and after 6 weeks recovery he is already looking good. Both of us are now training for the coming season.

“The Rehab Room”; Waylon PRE surgery X-ray; Aliy POST surgery X-ray.

Waylon now must wear a dog bootie all the time and his training regime is slower — but if any dog can do it: Waylon can.

Waylon -all dressed up- leads the team into Unalakleet in Iditarod 2014.
Photo by Sebastian Schnuelle.

15 Responses

  • Thanks so much for filling us in and news that it is not cancer.


    Waylon is my hero.

    IDEA: How about a blue bootie just for him (to go with his amazing and gorgeous blue eyes)?

    Waylon, you great fast guy, that one bootie is like the late Michael Jackson's one glove!!!


  • I am so glad it was not cancer and hope that Waylon will soon be fit as a fiddle. I am so glad you take care of all of this Aliy. It must be a great comfort to Waylon.

  • Waylon
    So glad to read you are on the road to recovery. Can't wait to see you run in this years races. I am your loyal fan

  • I just love dogs (period)!! The commitment, the resilience,the determination and the incredible depth of there hearts is something that fills you up with joy. Keep on keepin' on Waylon; we're rooting for you and all your phenomenal team mates.

  • Oh Boy Waylon! You and Aliy keep them bones healing and may you run like the wind is behind you!
    Padee Fairbanks

  • Wow Waylon,
    Ya just couldn't let Aliy go through that alone!

    Thank God it wasn't cancer, that's exactly where my mind went too.

    Aliy and Waylon are an inspiration.
    Previous injury and the arthritis can certainly wreak havoc. Five weeks post hip surgery, I'm just starting to "learn" to walk again. I'll keep thinking of you two!
    Thank you for Waylon's excellent news!

  • Good news for Waylon! I am sure that he and Aliy will go "toe-to-toe" (pun intended) with teams this racing season! Heal well, race hard! Cheering, as always, here in Erie, PA!

    Charlene & Lisa

  • A big sigh of relief from down in the lower 48 and lots of healing and thriving energies coming up to Waylon and of course to Mama Aliy too. I am not an official fan, Waylon, but in memory of your namesake or the guy you are namesake for, I'm cheering you on to another good season. We'll never get over those blue eyes! Even if that was Johnny's song

  • Beautiful blue-eyed Waylon. Hope training goes well for both Aliy and Waylon. They now have even more of a bond with comparable foot problems. Looking forward to seeing both on the racing trail as the season unfolds. I could usually pick out Waylon when racing because of the blue eyes, big ears and he normally had a heavier jacket on than the others. Go Waylon!

  • I'm so glad you both have positive results and are on the road to recovery in time for the season!

  • You go Waylon….way to stick it through man!! Cancer free….Yahoo!! Interesting how both Aliy and Waylon had toe issues this year….the bond sure runs deep between Musher and Sled Dog!

  • Waylon, I am so happy that you did not have the big C. You are gutsy and tough. Along the trail, other dogs will shiver in fear that they are up against the 3 toed menace. I know you are gonna bring it!

    Holly in cincinnati

  • Waylon, what a good sled dog. Am glad it was not cancer, & that you have a fantastic racing season.

  • So happy the both of you are on the road to recovery just in time.
    Waylon is one tough dog and Aliy one tough musher! Go Get U'm!

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