TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE BEARGREASE: Sled dogs visit the vet for final race prep
PROCTOR, MN. (KBJR) - For many athletes, the day before a big race is spent relaxing and mentally preparing.
But for the K9 athletes competing in the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, it means a visit to the doctor.
“Today is our pre-race vet checks. Every team that’s running and racing the 40, the 120, and the marathon, every single dog gets a veterinary exam” said Katie Neshek, a Beargrease Veterinarian.
According to Beargrease officials, the exam is fairly extensive.
“So we’re going from head to toe, actually head to tail examining them and looking them over and making sure they’re in good health,” said Neshek.
For the dogs in the Beargrease, Saturday won’t be the last time they see a vet on the trail.
Veterinarians clear the dogs before they compete and are also available on the trail in case anyone gets hurt along the way.
“There are special times that the mushers and the vets are working together and looking at that team all throughout the race,” said Monica Hendrickson, the Beargrease Organization’s Marketing and Outreach Coordinator.
Though the dogs don’t speak the same language as the vets examining them, the humans that train with them seem to know what’s going on.
“Really what happens is a musher knows when there’s something wrong with their dog before a vet will pick up on it,” said Hendrickson.
Bucky Tippett is competing in the Beargrease 120.
According to Tippett, he’s a little worried about one of his dogs.
“Lucy, she’s my oldest dog, but she runs the hardest and her feet get cuts in them,” said Tippett.
To prepare her for race day, Lucy’s paws got the VIP treatment.
“I keep putting the salve on them, put booties on her,” said Tippett.
For Tippett, pampering Lucy is worth the extra effort.
“She’s one of those dogs that’s just like a hulk. If I had 8 of her, I’d win tomorrow easily,” said Tippett.
Beargrease organizers said that safety is their number one priority.
They said they have an ongoing joke within the organization:
“You’re better off being a dog than a human because we have more vets to take care of the dogs than the humans,” said Hendrickson.
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