Odds and Ends: Alaska’s largest city holds inaugural reindeer running

By The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – From sausages to stews, reindeer are a main dish in Alaska.

But the antlered animals were the main event at Anchorage’s first annual running of the reindeer.A cheering crowd of hundreds lined snow-packed Fourth Avenue Sunday to watch what was touted as Alaska’s version of Spain’s famed running of the bulls.

“Normally we just eat them,” said Mark Berg, a spectator who has lived in Alaska since 1967. “I just made some jambalaya the other day out of reindeer sausage. I’ve eaten more of their cousins than they want to know.”

Seven little reindeer, looking a bit bewildered, stood next to their handlers as a crowd of roughly 1,000 costumed runners chatted excitedly at the start. The reindeer were lined up behind the first heat of runners – several hundred women in costume. One had taped a paper bulls-eye to her back. Others masqueraded as carrots and lichen, both favorite foods of reindeer.

At the signal to go, the reindeer stampeded into the crowd. Passing tourist shops, the downtown federal building and a stand selling reindeer hotdogs, the animals were well out in front by the halfway point.

“We thought, ‘OK, they’re just going to mosey along,’ but they took off running,” said Amanda Pelkola, who dressed as a carrot with a friend. “We got smoked by the reindeer.”

Fancy footwear issued for police dogs in German city

BERLIN – Police dogs in the western German city of Duesseldorf will no longer get their feet dirty when on patrol: The entire dog unit will soon be equipped with blue plastic fiber shoes, officials said Monday.

“All 20 of our police dogs – German and Belgian shepherds – are currently being trained to walk in these shoes,” Andre Hartwich said. “I’m not sure they like it, but they’ll have to get used to it.”

The unusual footwear is not a fashion statement, Hartwich said, but rather a necessity due to the high rate of paw injuries on duty. In the city’s historical old town in particular – famous for both its pubs and drunken revelers – the dogs often step into broken beer bottles, he said.”Even the street cleaning doesn’t manage to remove all the glass pieces from between the streets’ cobblestones,” Hartwich said, adding that the dogs frequently get injured by little pieces sticking deep in their paws.

The dogs will start wearing the shoes this spring – but only during operations that demand special foot protection. The shoes comes in sizes small, medium and large and were ordered in blue to match the officers uniforms, Hartwich said.

“Now we just have to teach the dogs how to tie their shoes,” he joked.