Jamaican musher Newton Marshall prepares for Yukon Quest

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009

FAIRBANKS - Newton Marshall thought he was in trouble upon receiving a call that began the Jamaican's odyssey as a dog musher.

In 2005, Marshall was working as a horseback-riding guide for Chukka Caribbean Adventures when a phone call unwittingly changed his life.

"One day, they called me when I was up in the mountains and told me 'Newton, you have to stop work immediately' and I said 'Why? I didn't do anything wrong,"' Marshall said Wednesday from Hans Gatt's kennel a half-hour south of Whitehorse, Yukon.

It turned out the person who took care of some street dogs that Chukka had obtained from a shelter was leaving, and the tour company needed a replacement worker.

"They said 'Newton, can you look after some dogs?' I said 'No problem,"' Marshall said.

Before long, Chukka began giving cart rides using the shelter dogs, company chairman Danny Melville founded the Jamaica Dogsled Team and Marshall was among the chosen few for a brash experiment.

"So Danny thinks he could push it a little further. He said 'We are going to race abroad,"' Marshall said, before adding "I'd never seen snow before."

Marshall got his mushing initiation in Minnesota, then wound up last winter at the kennel of Gatt, a three-time Yukon Quest champion.

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