Vet check was last weekend in Fairbanks. Sorry for the delay in posting photos – between slow internet connections up North and me being down here in Juneau, information has been moving as quickly as possible.
The team looked great, according to Dave. Each dog is weighed and then examed individually by the official Yukon Quest Veterinarian team. Overall health is assessed – weights are observed – and feet get an intense inspection. Vets will check shoulders and wrists for signs of injury, and identify any potential health problems that would prevent a dog from having a successful run.
At this point in the training season, the dogs are pounding out 40 miles runs almost effortlessly!
Yogurt gets a foot massage at the end of the day, as she and the Gang settle into the dog Barn for the night. In the final week and half before the race, Dave and Lisa will focus on each paw – applying different oinments twice a day to ensure each little foot is strong and healthy. Resting in the dog barn at night encourages little aches to work themselves out, and the team enjoys the comarderie and straw.
Summer seems like ages away, but the summer season on the Norris Glacier is an important part of the Gang’s training program. Dave and his dogs provide sled dog tours on the Juneau Icefield with Alaska Heli-Mush (www.alaskahelimush.com) and regularly run up to 8 tours a day. While the distance, at 2 miles, is considerably less than the runs the Gang will be doing on the Quest, the Gang learns how to focus, eat, sleep, and interact with people while helicopters land and folks from around the world snuggle up for photos. This is Dave’s 13th year with Alaska Heli-Mush, and while he sports most of the grey hairs, Dave is very much young at heart and keeps the young folks on their toes. Visit http://www.alaskahelimush.com or http://www.eraflightseeing.com to book a tour with Dave and the Gang if you’re going to be traveling through Juneau this summer!
Dave’s all smiles at the Food Drop in Fairbanks. With 52 bags of dog food, gear, and other supplies designated for different checkpoints along the race, The Quest will make sure that each bag is waiting for Dave at various checkpoints. This incredible logistical operation is made possible by a team of YQ staff and volunteers. Unlike the Iditarod, drop bags that are not used by the musher at each checkpoint can be picked up by that musher’s handler as they make their rounds cleaning up straw and picking up dogs.