Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

DOG CHECKUP – (Left) Rookie Quest musher Claudia Wickert holds one of her dogs at the vet check Sunday morning; (Right) Veterinarian Kim Friedenberg, left, uses a smartphone electrocardiogram application during a dog check.

Vet checks signal countdown to Quest start

The countdown is on to the 35th running of the Yukon Quest dog mushing race,

By Dustin Cook on January 30, 2018

The countdown is on to the 35th running of the Yukon Quest dog mushing race, signalled by the events ahead of time as protocols for the race, including the vet check Sunday in both Whitehorse and Fairbanks.

The 1,000-mile dog mushing race starts Saturday in Fairbanks, Alaska and prior to the race every dog had a baseline check from volunteer veterinarians.

“It really signals the beginning,” Natalie Haltrich, Quest executive director - Whitehorse said. “What I love about vet checks is it’s all about the dogs, everyone is in good spirits and it’s an enjoyable event.”

Haltrich also noted the seriousness of the checks in ensuring every dog is thoroughly inspected to make sure they are healthy and ready to go for the race. Six dog mushing teams had their checks Sunday morning at Northerm Windows & Doors in Whitehorse while the other 20 teams were in Fairbanks. Haltrich said this lower number is quite common on a finish year in the Yukon and many mushers have been up in Alaska racing in preparation for the race.

The six teams were checked one at a time by four local volunteer vets from the Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre, who Haltrich noted is a sponsor and have been a part of the vet checks for many years. Many of the volunteer vets have also taken part in the race on a larger scale as race vets along the trail. Although happening in two different locations, Haltrich said the vet checks are run on the same day and as similarly as possible to ensure it is the same for all teams.

First-year vet check co-ordinator on the Whitehorse side Katrina Wohlfarth said the baseline checks also provide an opportunity for the mushers to communicate with the vets and get specific feedback ahead of the race.

During the thorough checks of each dog, the vets take the dog’s temperature, check their teeth, mobility, heart rate and general health.

“Temperature checks, scanning microchips, inserting microchips if needed, and then the vets are just checking general health prior to the start of the big long race,” Wohlfarth said.

Potential concerns spotted by the vets on Sunday such as higher than normal temperatures on some dogs were flagged and are expected to be monitored by the mushers.

“Earlier today we had a dog, it sounded like the valves were closing in its heart a little earlier than the vet was expecting,” Wohlfarth said. “We had an on-site EKG that hooks up to the smartphone. We couldn’t get a definitive thing but we just flagged it for the vets in Fairbanks to just double check ahead of the start.”

Be the first to comment

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.