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Mushing Mortician Brings Dog Back to Life During Iditarod

"He was dead. I'm an undertaker. I know death," he said.

Maria Goodavage  |  Mar 19th 2012


It was just a few days before the finish of the Iditarod sled dog race and everything was going fine for the dog team of rookie Scott Janssen, who’s known as the “mushing mortician” because when he isn’t mushing, he’s running an Anchorage funeral home.

But then one of his dogs collapsed. Janssen stopped his sled and ran to Marshall, whom he’d had since puppyhood. Marshall was unresponsive.

“He was dead. I’m an undertaker. I know death,” Janssen said.

Janssen noticed there was snow packed into the dog’s muzzle. He realized that during “dipping,” a fairly common way dogs rehydrate (they dip their snouts into the snow and take some in their mouths), some snow may have gone into Marshall’s nose and prevented him from breathing adequately. He likens it to what can happen to people during an avalanche.

Janssen, beside himself at maybe losing one of his beloved dogs, sucked the snow out of Marshall’s snout and began doggy CPR. He breathed into his nose and gave him chest compressions, as the other dogs watched and whined, according to an NPR story.

“I remember so vividly my tears dripping down on his snout as I looked up at the sky and I said, ‘Please, God, please let him come back,'” he said. “I looked at Marshall, I breathed in his nose again, and I’m like, ‘Dude, please come back, please come back.’

“I did one more chest compression, one more breath into his nose, and he coughed back out, I mean, right into my mouth. Now it might sound disgusting to people, but it was the most joyous sensation ever,” Janssen said.

He put Marshall on the sled and the team rushed him to the next veterinary checkpoint. Veterinarians aren’t sure just what happened, but they say Marshall will be fine. He was resting comfortably in his family’s Anchorage home when Janssen and the rest of the team crossed the finish line days later.

Source: NPR