Beargrease sled dogs prepare for the big marathon

The mushers were excited as this marked the first stages of the race. Musher Liza Weaver says, “It’s basically the ritual that starts race weekends. You know, it’s kind of the first thing you do when you get to a race and you’re having fun.”

Veterinary checks are used to ensure that the dogs are ready for the start of the race. And the data collected will also be used at checkpoints throughout the race.

“It helps us track them and keep track of their progress; manage the miles of running,” says chief veterinarian Katie Neshek.

She went on to say, “We are comparing how they are doing at this checkpoint to what they did at the start and checking that they are recovering well and looking at their baseline.”

And with all the dogs, mushers, and people around, there’s an added benefit to vet checks.

Weaver says, “We like to give them the socialization of seeing other people and other teams. It kind of calms them down and it’s like a Zen like ‘ok, we’re here, we’re doing our routine.'”

And with all the excitement in the air, everyone is ready for the start of the races on Sunday.

“We all work as a team and our biggest and most important goal is the welfare and health of these dogs. And they really are the stars of the show,” says Neshek.

Bette C. Alvarado