Sled dogs visit the vet for final race preparation

PROCTOR, MN. (CBS 3 DULUTH) – For many athletes, the day before a big race is all about relaxation and mental preparation.

But for K9 athletes competing in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, that means a trip to the doctor.

“Today is our pre-race vet checks. Every team that runs and runs the 40, 120 and marathon, every dog ​​gets a vet check,” said Katie Neshek, Beargrease vet.

According to Beargrease officials, the review is quite thorough.

“So we’re going head to toe, actually head to tail looking at them and looking at them and making sure they’re healthy,” Neshek said.

For the Beargrease dogs, Saturday won’t be the last time they’ll see a vet on the trail.

Vets clean the dogs before they compete and are also available on the trail in case anyone gets hurt along the way.

“There are special times when mushers and vets work together and watch this team run the race,” said Monica Hendrickson, marketing and outreach coordinator for the Beargrease organization.

Although the dogs don’t speak the same language as the vets who examine them, the humans who train with them seem to know what’s going on.

“What really happens is that a musher knows when something is wrong with their dog before a vet picks it up,” Hendrickson said.

Bucky Tippett competes in the Beargrease 120.

According to Tippett, he’s a bit worried about one of his dogs.

“Lucy, she’s my oldest dog, but she’s the hardest running dog and her feet are getting clipped,” Tippett said.

To prepare her for race day, Lucy’s paws were given the VIP treatment.

“I keep putting balm on them, I put slippers on him,” Tippett said.

For Tippett, pampering Lucy is worth the extra effort.

“She is one of those dogs that looks like a hulk. If I had 8, I would easily win tomorrow,” said Tippett.

Beargrease organizers said safety was their number one priority.

They said they had a running joke within the organization:

“It’s better to be a dog than a human because we have more vets to take care of dogs than humans,” Hendrickson said.

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Bette C. Alvarado