The Leonhard Seppala Award for Humanitarian Treatment of Dogs during the 2012 Iditarod

The Leonhard Seppala Award for Humanitarian Treatment of Dogs during the 2012 Iditarod

Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
This is the Leonhard Seppala Award for Humanitarian Treatment of Dogs awarded to Dee Dee Jonrowe after the 2012 Iditarod Sled Dog race. This award is given by the race veterinarians, to the musher who takes the best care of their dog team during the Iditarod race and is highly prized by the mushers. Seppala was the celebrated musher, who, with his sled team and lead dog Togo ran the longest leg of the famed Serum Run from Nenana to Nome. In 1925 an outbreak of diphtheria hit Nome and although air travel was becoming more widespread in the Alaskan wilderness, the only plane available at the time had a frozen engine and was unable to fly. The Alaska Railroad was used to bring the needed anti-diphtheria serum north from Anchorage to Nenana; it traveled the last 700 miles to Nome through a chain of twenty sled dog teams in just over five days. Seppala ran the longest and most treacherous leg of the run although most remember the musher to finish the serum run, Gunnar Kassen with the most famous sled dog of all time, Balto.
DeeDee Jonrowe moved to Alaska in her teens and began competing in sled dog races in 1978. She ran her first Iditarod in 1980 and consistently finishes in the top 10 or 20, winning both the Copper Basin 300 and Klondike 300 races. She is most proud of the awards she has won for dog care including the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian award given by the veterinarians of the Iditarod for the musher who has provided the best care and treatment to their dogs. She is the founder of M.U.S.H. with Pride, an organization that assists with training kennel owners on the fair treatment of dogs. Her public battle with breast cancer in 2002 has cast Jonrowe as the inspirational role model for many and in 2003 she became an honorary chairperson for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Jonrowe lost her home and kennel in 2015 during the Sockeye Wildfire but managed to save all of her dogs and is currently rebuilding.
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an extreme sports challenge that tests the skill and endurance of competitors while celebrating Alaska’s sled dog culture and history. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs, primarily Alaskan Huskies, and their musher experience harsh terrain and weather conditions during the 1,150 mile run from Anchorage to Nome. In its modern iteration as an extreme sport, the Iditarod takes an intense physical toll not only on the human competitors but also on the sled dogs. The race follows a large network of Native trade and travel routes which travelers used when gold was discovered in the isolated town of Iditarod. This discovery led to a “rush” of miners and settlers from across the country, transforming the trail into the region’s main mail and supply route. The area’s harsh winter conditions made sled dog teams the main source of transportation along the Iditarod Trail and it is this rich history which the Iditarod race celebrates today. In 1978 Congress designated the 2300 mile Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail recognizing its importance in the shaping of America. Through its beginnings as a regional story, the Iditarod provides us the opportunity to explore the American Experience through the origins of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the transformation of the Alaskan sled dog culture into an international sport. The Iditarod is now the largest and most prominent sled dog race in the world, attracting international competitors and world-wide media attention.
Currently not on view
Object Name
trophy base, sled dog racing
date made
Jonrowe, DeeDee
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
plexiglass (overall material)
overall: 15 1/2 in x 15 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in; 39.37 cm x 39.37 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Dog Sled racing
Iditarod Sled Dog Race
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Sled Dog Racing
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object