By Daily Mail Reporter
Fears are growing for an experienced dog racer who has been missing for over a week – leaving her beloved animals behind.
Melanie Gould, a seven-time veteran of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, has not been seen in her close knit Alsakan town since last Tuesday.
Her abandoned pick-up truck was discovered on Saturday parked along a highway northeast of Talkeetna, the small town near Mount McKinley where Gould, 34, lives.
Late Tuesday, a friend went to her cabin overlooking the mountains, where she had no running water or electricity, and found her dozen dogs there, including her favourite, Jane.
Her truck was gone.
Trisha Costello, owner of the Talkeetna Roadhouse, where Gould works, said she alerted troopers on Wednesday morning, after Gould failed to show up for work at another job, at a local bakery.
‘It’s out of character for her not to arrange for her animals to be taken care of,’ Costello said Sunday. ‘It just doesn’t look right.’
‘We talked Monday night, she even offered to stay late to help me.
‘She’s reliable and conscientious. She would be mortified to know I had to work the whole day without her.
‘For Jane not to have gone with her seems like a huge alarm for most people.’
When worried friends went to her home, they found an eerie tableau: food on the table, a cell phone on the counter, laundry hanging to dry.
It appeared Gould, 34, had just vanished in the middle of a routine day
Costello printed fliers that have been posted in the region, and other friends started a Facebook page called ‘Have You Seen Melanie Gould?’
The site has been flooded with tributes and prayers from people around the world.
Several people who responded said that it takes a tough person with a lot of outdoors savvy to finish the Iditarod – adding to the sense of desperation.
Former boyfriend Jerome Longo said the truck was found about 100 miles from Gould’s home in Talkeetna.
Gould’s friends have organised into search teams, Longo said, and local pilots were using their own planes and helicopters to try and find her.
He added: ‘I know Mel more than any other person on the planet.
‘This is not a good sign.’
Despite growing concerns, authorities say there is still no sign of foul play.
Costello also used her large database of roadhouse contacts to send out alerts across the country.
Talkeetna is a 900 strong community about two hours north of Anchorage.
The town of about is a popular tourist location during the summer and a popular training ground for dog sledding.
Speaking to ABC news, Mrs Costello added: ‘Your community becomes like a family.
‘Most people move here don’t have family here, so we look out for each other.’
Gould ran the Iditarod from 2000-2007, with her best result an 18th place finish in 2006.
See more photos: Mail Online