Off to vet some sled dogs today ... first day out in the snow! Exams and evals are done prior to the race for the top dogs selected by the kennels to ensure their health & safety at race time. Dogs receive ECGs and bloodwork, deworming, are up to date on vaccinations, AND are monitored by us at check points along the race. Sled teams this year (53 registered) will start with a maximum of 14 dogs and must finish with at least 5... crunching the numbers we have 743 dogs at the start! Dogs who are fatigued, sore, or not 💯 at check points are evaluated and can be pulled or removed from the race. These champs contributed what they could and then are “returned” with veterinarians and flown by the Iditarod Air Force to destinations such as a pet ER to rest and receive professional care while their mushers and teams continue through the race. Throughout the race, we veterinarians have hundreds of miles to cover, and will be moved in stages along the routes via Iditarod airforce and snow machines! Our camps are tents and huts in villages where the fanciest amenities might be only clean snow for our ground cloth and sleeping bag so this week is heavy on cold preparations so that we can be healthy enough to oversee the sled athletes themselves!
Off to Wasilla, the city of both the Iditarod Headquarters and home of Sarah Palin, to start the final assessments for the sled dogs! More in a bit!