Dog Sled Races

YOUR ARTICLE on winter festivals ["Other Winter Celebrations," Nov. 20] included a promotion for the Iditarod race. The Iditarod has a long, well-documented history of dog deaths, illnesses and injuries.

In the Iditarod, dogs are forced to run 1,150 miles, which is the approximate distance between Washington, D.C., and Houston, Texas, over a grueling terrain in eight to 15 days. Dog deaths and injuries are common.

Here's a short list of what happens to the dogs during the race: death, paralysis, penile frostbite, bleeding ulcers, broken bones, pneumonia, torn muscles and tendons, diarrhea, vomiting, hypothermia, fur loss, broken teeth, viral diseases, torn footpads, ruptured discs, sprains and lung damage.

On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do cross, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition Web site, www.helpsleddogs.org, for more information.

Margery Glickman

Director

Sled Dog Action Coalition

Miami

Cycling Vietnam

I READ "Vietnam's Easy Rider" [Nov. 13] with interest. Dustin Roasa obviously had a great time on his trip, but as a frequent traveler to Vietnam, I would caution against the happy-go-lucky approach to visiting this country. Vietnam is peaceful and the people are friendly and open. However, certain areas off the beaten path can be hazardous to a novice who is not with a group.

Food and drink are other areas of concern. The water is not safe to drink and one slip can put the average person down for several days.

The article, overall, was well written. I just wish Roasa would have considered how he appeared to the Vietnamese citizenry. They are conservative in dress and actions in the north, and are not fans of the sleeveless T-shirt look.

As an aside, there are approximately six deaths a day in Ho Chi Minh City that are directly related to motorcycle wrecks.

John W. Powell

Alexandria

Canopy Tours

I ENJOYED reading about the treetop canopy tours ["What's That Line?", Nov. 13]. However, I believe you have neglected to mention at least one of the places where this takes place: Kakum National Forest, in the central region of Ghana -- an easy day trip from Cape Coast. Although I'm sure Ghana isn't a destination for your readers to the extent that South Africa is, those who would venture to the west coast of that continent might enjoy adding this to their activities and areas.

Valerie Silensky-Lowe

Silver Spring

THE ARTICLE did not mention the excellent canopy tours in Guatemala just outside Tikal. You can see, or at least hear, howler monkeys and birds while experiencing the thrill of a wild ride between the platforms (or slow yourself down for a less scary experience).

Mary Lou and Steve Bartoletti

Falls Church

Caribbean, Cont'd

MY WIFE and I have resided on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands for seven years, after visiting frequently for 33 years. Your article ["Roomy With a View," Oct. 23] was extremely well-written, and truly sets forth conditions and atractions as they exist on the island. Let me further point out that in addition to the accolades in the article, St. Croix is the home of the friendliest people I have ever encountered in my numerous travels. Further, St. Croix is the only thoroughly documented site under the American flag where Christopher Columbus actually landed in the New World in 1493.

St. Croix is amost three times larger than its sister island, St. Thomas, and has the only rain forest in the entire Virgin Islands.

So why is it visited not nearly as often as St. Thomas? Could it be that St. Croix has little representation by its government? St. Croix could truly prosper if it had its own governor, separate and apart from St. Thomas. St. Croix has always been subservient to St. Thomas and the government there.

Philip Kuhlman

Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands

Ireland: The Mold Sod?

MY SISTER and I recently returned from Ireland -- her third visit, my fifth. So we are not novices to the Old Sod. We stayed two weeks in four towns, and had separate rooms. That makes a total of eight rooms, and all had mold. Most of the bathrooms have no windows or ventilation.

That, along with the rainy irish weather, means mold is understandable. What is not at all understandable is why the nice, jolly B&B hostesses don't wipe down the walls. Do the Irish not have cleaning products that would help? Surely the Celtic Tiger can figure out how to unmold rooms for rent.

Hint: Rooms facing west and south, or with a window, fare better in the mold department.

Nancy Ford-Kohne

Alexandria

BWIA, Cont'd

A YEAR AGO June, when I called BWIA to confirm our Friday afternoon flight to Port of Spain, Trinidad, we were told that the flight was canceled and that we were rescheduled for Saturday morning -- the day of our niece's wedding [Message Center, Nov. 6 and 13].

Not only did we miss the wedding, but some of our luggage was placed on another plane. We were told that we would be responsible for retrieving it, a 50-mile round trip. Family members who frequently fly to the United States said that our experience was not unusual.

A saving grace of our trip was that we learned that the honeymoon couple had stayed at our hotel, and together we rode to the airport to pick up their wedding present.

Maurice Messier

Reston

Military Tours

I READ YOUR article on military tours [Veterans Day 101, Nov. 6]. They sound like great tours, but closer to home, head to Norfolk's Nautilus Museum and tour the Wisconsin, another Iowa-class battleship. Fun fact: The prow is actually from the U.S.S. Kentucky, so you can visit two states in one.

Even closer, the Navy Yard offers tours of the U.S.S. Barry. Bring a friend who served on one of these ships and get ready for great stories and a better understanding of the odd features of shipboard life, such as the communication systems.

Katharyn Bine

Fairfax

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