Laura Daugereau of Port Gamble, Wash., enters Crystal Lake in Willow, Alaska, early in the Iditarod, Sunday.

The Rush of the Mush

Laura Daugereau, of Port Gamble, dreamed of participating in the Iditarod since she was a young girl. After years of leaning about the sport, acquiring sled dogs, and training herself and her dogs, she made her dream a reality. Daugereau was the first woman from Washington to run the Iditarod. She finished in 13 days, 2 hours, 21 minutes and 13 seconds. She placed 64th among the 96 mushers who started the 2008 race in Willow, Alaska.

 Laura Daugereau of Port Gamble, Wash., enters Crystal Lake in Willow, Alaska, early in the Iditarod, Sunday.

Laura Daugereau of Port Gamble, Wash., enters Crystal Lake in Willow, Alaska, early in the Iditarod, Sunday.

 Decked out in cold-weather gear and a headlamp, Daugereau sets out on a training run in Montana. She made the collar on her parka from Wolverine fur.

Decked out in cold-weather gear and a headlamp, Daugereau sets out on a training run in Montana. She made the collar on her parka from Wolverine fur.

 After being placed in her harness, Wilma, one of Daugereau's dogs, repeatedly leaps in the air to express her excitement and desire to get going on the trail.

After being placed in her harness, Wilma, one of Daugereau's dogs, repeatedly leaps in the air to express her excitement and desire to get going on the trail.

 Daugereau is openly affectionate with her sled dogs, stopping to give them tummy rubs throughout the day. She said dogs were her best friends growing up as an only child in a military family.

Daugereau is openly affectionate with her sled dogs, stopping to give them tummy rubs throughout the day. She said dogs were her best friends growing up as an only child in a military family.

 Daugereau's and her partner Rick Larson's sled dogs are tethered up to individual houses in a fenced-in dog yard on the Sand Coulee, Montana, property. It keeps them safe, yet allows them to live in a pack. Their dog houses are either wooden boxes or plastic barrels filled with hay.

Daugereau's and her partner Rick Larson's sled dogs are tethered up to individual houses in a fenced-in dog yard on the Sand Coulee, Montana, property. It keeps them safe, yet allows them to live in a pack. Their dog houses are either wooden boxes or plastic barrels filled with hay.

 Daugereau takes a break from working with the sled dogs to watch a rodeo on TV at her partner's house in Sand Coulee, Montana while Ronco, one of the house dogs, begs for some peanut butter and pretzels. Because she is so busy, she rarely eats a full meal, preferring to snack throughout the day.

Daugereau takes a break from working with the sled dogs to watch a rodeo on TV at her partner's house in Sand Coulee, Montana while Ronco, one of the house dogs, begs for some peanut butter and pretzels. Because she is so busy, she rarely eats a full meal, preferring to snack throughout the day.

 Daugereau brushes Sarge's teeth every day after he eats because he has some dental problems. Each dog's individual needs are met by the musher to keep him or her as healthy and happy as possible.

Daugereau brushes Sarge's teeth every day after he eats because he has some dental problems. Each dog's individual needs are met by the musher to keep him or her as healthy and happy as possible.

 Daugereau unloads Spruce from the trailer before a training run in Montana. She has to keep a tight grip on the dogs or else they will run away.

Daugereau unloads Spruce from the trailer before a training run in Montana. She has to keep a tight grip on the dogs or else they will run away.

 Daugereau untangles the dogs during a mishap on the trail during a training run in Montana. The lead dogs mistakenly thought she intended to turn around and started to, which tangled up the rest of the team.

Daugereau untangles the dogs during a mishap on the trail during a training run in Montana. The lead dogs mistakenly thought she intended to turn around and started to, which tangled up the rest of the team.

 Laura Daugereau takes a quiet moment away from the crowd at the unofficial start of the Iditarod to hug her mother, Carol Daugereau. "We're here," the younger Daugereau whispered in her mother’s ear, "See you in Nome!"

Laura Daugereau takes a quiet moment away from the crowd at the unofficial start of the Iditarod to hug her mother, Carol Daugereau. "We're here," the younger Daugereau whispered in her mother’s ear, "See you in Nome!"

 Daugereau, right and her handler Laura Burton of Christopher Lake, Saskatchuwan, check over the sled dogs after a 20-mile training run at the start of the Iditarod Trail in Willow, Alaska, in preparation for the actual race.

Daugereau, right and her handler Laura Burton of Christopher Lake, Saskatchuwan, check over the sled dogs after a 20-mile training run at the start of the Iditarod Trail in Willow, Alaska, in preparation for the actual race.