Name: Karen Aumann

Age: 57
Residence: Fort Myers, Florida
Occupation: I am a volunteer with the Golden Retriever Rescue of Southwest Florida and I also do pet therapy
Years involved with Iditarod: 4
Iditarod Role: I work with the return dogs in the office
Current Location: Lakefront Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. 
Date of Photo: March 17, 2020
Temperature: 28F/Outdoors

What, who or how and when did you first get involved with the Iditarod?

I got involved with the Iditarod because back in 2015 when we were in Denali National Park we went and saw the sled dogs of Denali. And I thought it was just fascinating how the dogs patrolled the park during the winter. And I said to my husband, “We need to come back while we’re still young enough not to care how cold it is and see this race.” So we came back the following year in 2016, and I got to learn more about the teams and the roles of each dog in the team and how close they are to the mushers and the bonds that they have. And I watched the start of the race and all I could think about was, can you imagine dropping your dog, who you love as part of your team, in the middle of nowhere and having that dog be afraid and scared and possibly hurt or injured? And I just knew that I had to come back and do something to help with the dogs and the mushers to make sure that the dogs were safe and secure and felt loved and taken care of until they could reunite with the mushers. 

What is your Why?.. Why are you here today and involved in Iditarod?

I’m here today and involved because I’m a little bit on the crazy side. Everyone and their brothers and their mothers and the grandmothers are in Fort Myers, Florida in March. And I come to Alaska and I come because once you are surrounded by these incredible people who mush and their amazing canine athletes, you cannot, you just cannot … You get bitten by the bug, I guess, you could say. And I just love to be surrounded by these wonderful people and volunteers from all over the country and make new friends.

Tell me about just one of your most memorable Iditarod experiences?

One of my most memorable Iditarod experiences was the first time that I actually saw the restart. We saw it outside of Willow on Long Lake. And I had gotten to know Linwood Fiedler at the Musher’s Banquet, and so when he mushed past us, I actually started running alongside of Linwood telling him that I would be following him and I’d be watching him and go. And my husband’s like, “Karen, you don’t run along with the mushers.” So, that was pretty funny.

What do you know for sure?:

What in life do I know for sure, is that our heads sometimes get in the way of our hearts and we need to listen to our heart more than our heads.

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