Iditarod dogs find a home with Clarendon Hills couple
Tom McGarrity of Clarendon Hills and his wife, Cheryl McGarrity, use a one-man and one-dog mushing sled with their dog Rosie Feb. 27 at Prospect Park. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 5, 2013 8:22AM
CLARENDON HILLS — Tom and Cheryl McGarrity have been keepers to a couple of local celebrities over the past few years.
The Clarendon Hills couple has adopted two dogs with resumes that include participating in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an annual race of about 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Teams of 16 dogs and mushers have taken part in the Iditarod since its 1973 inception. The 2013 race started Saturday and likely will take 10-14 days to complete.
The McGarritys first adopted Harley after attending the 2009 Iditarod. The couple adopted Rosie about a month before Harley died from liver cancer in October 2010.
“Harley loved to go for walks; we went for walks all the time, some of them pretty long, and the kids and families all knew him,” Tom McGarrity said. “Rosie only takes two walks a day, but they know Rosie, too.”
McGarrity said Alaskan Huskies, the breed of dog that is used in the Iditarod, have very laid-back personalities.
“They’re very peaceful, except when they are about to race, and then they get very excited,” he said.
The McGarritys decided to travel in 2009 to the Iditarod after receiving a postcard from College of DuPage, offering a trip to the event.
“It was a wonderful experience, king of like Mardi Gras in the frozen tundra,” McGarrity said. “We fell in love with the temperament of the dogs, and when we got back my wife started looking up some information about the dogs.”
The McGarritys found Bruce Linton, a successful diabetic musher from whom they got both Harley and Rosie after their racing days were over. Rosie had four or five litters that included dogs that went on to success in the Iditarod, McGarrity said.
Living near Prospect Park, it wasn’t uncommon to see the McGarritys and Harley out for a walk there, just as Rosie also makes her way around the neighborhood.
And for the past four years, the McGarritys have brought either Harley or Rosie to Prospect School so that students can see them and learn a bit about the Iditarod.
“My wife got a one-person, one-dog sled, and Rosie can pull her around on it, so we’ll bring that to the school this time and let the kids see how that works,” McGarrity said.”~.