2018-02-01 / Front Page

Search on for lost sled dog ‘Grizzly’

Gone for one week


GRIZZLY’S OWNER Sarah Kelson distributes lost dog flyers within as large a radius as possible from each reported sighting. GRIZZLY’S OWNER Sarah Kelson distributes lost dog flyers within as large a radius as possible from each reported sighting. A retired Iditarod sled dog who has gone missing is capturing the attention of the Leelanau Peninsula.

Posters and flyers have been spread across the county and residents are checking social media posts in hopes of tracking down 14-year-old “Grizzly,” the former Iditarod husky his owner Sarah Kelson hopes is still running across the snow in Leelanau.

Grizzly has been gone since last Wednesday, Jan. 24. Kelson is dealing with two losses, as her husband’s battle with cancer ended just three days before Grizzly ran away.

“That first night, we called for him every 30 minutes,” Kelson said. “We aren’t doing that anymore.”

Grizzly is not a stranger to the county, Kelson said. She has brought him north several times a month when visiting her mother, Julie Dean, on Stony Point in Suttons Bay.


GRIZZLY, THE former Iditarod sled dog, is an Alaskan husky. The Alaskan husky is brown and black. GRIZZLY, THE former Iditarod sled dog, is an Alaskan husky. The Alaskan husky is brown and black. Grizzly may have caught a scent in the air or simply followed a drive to explore when he was let out the door with Dean’s dog, Singer. Grizzly had been gone for about an hour when dispatchers received a call at 9:06 p.m.

According to Kelson, the dogs usually stay close to each other, so Grizzly’s disappearance is odd. Another theory is that he slipped on an icy walkway along the steep edge of the family’s back patio overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay, but Kelson later combed the area for evidence of a fall and came up empty-handed.

Sled dogs are bred to cover long distances. At their peak, they can run over 100 miles in a single day.

“They can run 12 miles an hour, but he’s not with a pack and he’ll get distracted. Run, sniff, look around,” Kelson said. “But I have absolutely no clue because he’s never done this before.”

Kelson has been Grizzly’s owner for 8 years, but she met him as a puppy while training sled dogs in the Yukon almost 14 years ago.

“I lived and worked up on a glacier,” she said. “We would take people on tours to keep the dogs in shape. I had a 24-dog team and fell in love with Grizzly.”

Kelson isn’t deterred. “One of the dogs on my team, Fed Ex, got out and was gone three or four months. I saw him once during that time and never saw him again until we found him.

“I want to find him right now, but it could be while.”

Leelanau County residents are doing their share, reporting possible sightings to Kelson via the Facebook page she created, “Bring Grizzly Home.”

So far, reports have come in from Lake Leelanau, Maple City, Omena, Bingham Township and as far as Muskegon. All of the reports are helpful, said Kelson, but several of them have turned out to be coyotes or a lookalike husky that has been roaming around the last few days.

“It’s great people are calling in sightings, but I can’t be sure if it’s him. It would be great if they could take a picture. I can tell right away. I can tell which one is him by the way his tail is bent, or by his gait,” Kelson said.

Grizzly is skittish, but has never been aggressive. He is microchipped, neutered and has a green collar.

If Grizzly is spotted, residents are encouraged to take a picture and call Kelson or Dean right away at 313-410- 9004 or 313-580-3152.

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That’s great news

That’s great news

He was found Wednesday

He was found Wednesday afternoon, trapped under a fallen tree and is now home and in good condition.