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In order for Big Lake musher Kelly Maixner to rebound from last year's late race withdrawal with a top 10 finish this time around, he will need the help of a Laura, a sled dog diagnosed with pannus, which is "a progressive inflammatory disease of the cornea," according to Eye Care for Animals.
A 5-year-old and 50 pound husky with eye trouble, Laura doesn't like to lead her pack as she relied more on the other lead dog when placed in front. But that hasn't stopped her her spirit from propelling the team.
Speaking to KTUU Thursday, Maixner described how the dog's visual impairment affects her ability to find him when he calls her name.
During snack time "I'll put a snack in front of her face and she won't see it, but then I just throw it on the ground, and then she hears that, and then she puts her head down on the ground and starts sniffing for it," he told a local reporter.
Despite her illness, Laura is reliable runner, Maixner said to the station. She is also a favorite among her handlers.
This is Maixner's fifth time participating in the race.
Laura is named for his grandmother.