Vets make sure the race runs smoothly


Photo of Sarah Brown

These athletes get special treatment at each checkpoint.

By NICOLE SMART, staff writer

Dogs need love too.

And that includes the dogs coming into the Galena checkpoint during this year’s Iditarod.

“I like to see athletic dogs.” said Turner, one of the vets at the race. “Just seeing athletic dogs is an uplifting feeling.”

There are two different types of vets that volunteer in the Iditarod. There are the vets that follow the dogs on the trail and vets that stay in the villages with the dropped dogs.

Vets that follow the dogs on the trail look at every dog when they come in. When they examine the dogs they listen to their heart, lungs, check their weight and hydration to make sure they been eating and drinking enough, said Scott Rosenbloom, a vet that follows the dogs on the trail.

Vets that stay in the village with dropped dogs look after dogs that get dropped (left behind by the mushers). The vets are then required to do a complete exam on dog.

If the musher is in early at the checkpoint and does not want to stop, [vets] don’t really have to time to examine the dogs, said Turner.

The biggest surprise while examining the dogs is so many dogs look healthy after running so long, and then the vets find the dog had an ACL tear from running.

The vets volunteer to experience Alaska and the Iditarod, and also help maintain the dogs during the race, meet people from the villages, visit places they don’t normally go to, make friends with visitors, and see beautiful dogs.

The things the vets look for in a dog spell the word “HAWL.”
H: Heart and Hydration
A: Attitude and Appetite
W: Weight
L: Lungs

The vets volunteer because it’s exciting and uplifting to donate their time and meet other vets from around the world.