Sled dogs deliver groceries to seniors in Maine

A Maine musher delivers groceries and supplies to seniors who are encouraged to stay home to minimize exposure to the coronavirus.

Hannah Lucas has been delivering with a group of mushers for three weeks. She runs the Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sled Dog team and a Siberian Huskies kennel in Caribou, Maine.

Lucas said while working as a clerk at Circle K, she noticed many vulnerable residents buying small items such as milk, eggs or fruit.

“I’m on the trails every day with my teams of dogs, so I thought I’d pick up those groceries for them and save them the trip,” she told USA TODAY. “A few times we picked up prescriptions for people at Walgreens.”

The elderly and people with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19, which has led many stores to dedicate shopping hours to the elderly and vulnerable customers.

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Lucas got his dogs five years ago and started doing dog shows before deciding to try mushing. She jumped head first from Virginia to Maine in 2018 because she heard “Maine had the best snow in the lower 48”.

She takes orders over the phone, then calls her customers when she arrives at trailheads near them. She observes proper social distancing guidelines by putting down food and stepping back before customers check they have everything they need.

She has 14 dogs who go out in groups of 6, traveling 50 to 75 miles a day to fulfill four to six orders. She said the deliveries provide a good workout for the animals who can pull up to 300 pounds in the sled, adding that she hopes to race the Iditarod one day.

So far, the response from beneficiaries has been very positive. She said she hopes to continue making the trips as long as there is enough snow on the ground.

“They’re always very excited to see the dogs, especially because they can get really loud,” she said. “They are also very grateful that I spared them the trip and the exposure to their families.”

Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

Bette C. Alvarado