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All-Aibo Team a Hit With Iditarod Fans
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WILLOW, Alaska - For 34 years, dog teams and mushers have come together in Alaska to race to Nome, in commemoration of a 1925 dogsled relay to get needed serum nearly 700 miles across the frozen territory. This race has tested men, mettle, and mutts to their limits. But this year a new entrant is testing something else -- Energizer batteries. Will they keep going? The fans all answer with a resounding 'Yes!'

"I've been training my Aibos day in, day out for this; they're ready," said the electronic dogs' owner, Ted Ferginald. Stock Aibos, electronic dogs manufactured by Sony, are not capable of walking through snow or pulling a sled. Ferginald modified each dog by adding leg extenders, slip-resistant foot pads, and more powerful motors. "They each have the heart of a factory Aibo," he explained, "That's what's going to win this race. Their hearts."

"He'll never make it to Rainy Pass," scoffed veteran Iditarod racer Jacques Philip, "This is a race for men and dogs, not boys and toys." Other racers agree that the Aibos will not do well in the frigid and unforgiving climate. But some go further, feeling that allowing mechanical devices to race flies in the face of the foundations of Iditarod. "I just don't get how it's right," said Dallas Seavey, another Iditarod alumnus, "Can I bring a snowmobile next year? Where do we draw the line?"

Sony, who discontinued manufacturing the Aibo late last year, has not taken a position in the controversy. A press release issued prior to the race stated in part, "The Aibo has entered the earth's culture and for this we are grateful and proud. Its acceptance as a pet, a friend, and/or a competitor is entirely at the will of the people."
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