Written by:  Sarah A. Badten

Sarah Badten after driving the dog sled.

The great thing about practicing law in Alaska is that our clients generally do not fit a specific mold.  In fact, some of them are downright quirky in their array of interests.  I was lucky enough to get to spend some free time with one of our clients, Christine Roalofs, this past March.  Christine is a Dentist by trade, but she is not your average Dentist.  Christine is an entrepreneur and an adventurer.  She owns her own dental practice (among other businesses including a start-up restaurant), but on this particular day, she met me at the Chugiak dog mushers club in Birchwood.  You heard me right.  This Dentist is also a bona fide, get-out-in-the-wilderness, brave-the-conditions, living-the-dream, dog musher!

Christine Roalofs running the 2013 Iditarod as a rookie.

After saying “hi” and shaking hands she handed me a shovel, thereby putting me in charge of dog poop (can’t have that lying around unabated in a parking lot used by multitudes of dogs).  I gladly picked up after the dogs while watching Christine put the team and sled together.  When they were ready, she showed me how to ride on the back of the sled behind her, how to use the foot brake, and told me to watch her feet, as she managed the sled’s speed and turns both with verbal commands and by the use of body weight by stepping on a mat connected to the sled between the runners where she stands.

After this initial instruction Christine asked if I was ready, told me to get on, cued up the dogs and we were OFF!

Dogs eagerly waiting to run.

Wow.  I love living in Alaska!  Where else would a client take me out to do something as cool as this?  I watched the dogs happily running, I mean, JOYOUSLY running over the snow and through the woods.  We went on a winding trail with several opportunities to loop back around for shorter or longer distances.  Christine told me about the various dogs, some young and still in training.  She told me how she watches the young dogs to see how their personalities best fit in with the team so she may put them in a position suited to their nature and strengths.  She told me about falling in love with dog mushing and of the various races she and the dogs were training for.  Among several other races, Christine has taken on and finished the Iditarod.  Such an accomplishment puts her in a league with only a handful of other amazing women.  And I was riding with her.

That is, until she pulled over and told me to drive.  Oh boy.  Okay.  I can do this, I thought.  And with a little help from the backseat driver, I did!

Christine Roalofs and dogs preparing for departure.

While it was a fairly short and sweet trip, it will go down as one of the coolest things I have ever done.

Thank you Christine.  I will never forget it.  Bucket list item, check.

For more information on Christine Roalofs, check out the below links:

https://iditarod.com/race/2015/mushers/402-Christine-Roalofs/

https://www.adn.com/iditarod/article/iditarod-rookie-runs-city-slickers/2013/02/26/