DAWSON CITY, Yukon (AP) -- Each year, dogs running the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race either drop, remove, run through or eat hundreds of booties on the 1,000-mile trail.
The booties are used to protect the dogs' feet and are mandatory equipment in the Fairbanks-to-Whitehorse race. They cost between $1.50 and $2 each, and rules state each musher must have at least two sets of booties per dog.
''In '84 guys made booties out of old jeans. That included me,'' said Hans Oettli, owner of Duffy's Pets and Tanzilla Harness Supply store in Whitehorse.
The makeshift booties were fastened around the dogs' paws with black electric tape. Nowadays, booties are high-density nylon, Oettli said.
A lot of the booties the dogs lose along the way are picked up by volunteers -- usually kids who keep them as souvenirs.
Cathi Dunham, first vice president of the Yukon side of the Quest board, said mushers also burn them while on the trail.
''They make a great fire starter,'' she said.
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