Dr. Gayle Tate, DVM of Woodbury has been selected to be a trail veterinarian for the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which covers approximately 1000 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.
The race will start on Saturday, March 2.
Forty-five volunteer vet-erinarians will move along the trail to Nome, which typically takes 14-15 days for all of the sled dog teams to finish.
To be selected, vet-erinarians must have at least five years of clinical experience and be prepared to work long hours in arctic conditions. Since there is no road access, volunteers travel by small airplane to the checkpoints. Accom-modations vary from wilderness wall tents to small community buildings in native villages.
Annually, approximately 80 percent of those veterinarians selected to the staff are veterans of the race, with the remaining 20% being rookies to the Iditarod. As part of their preparation, rookie veterinarians are required to attend a three-day training seminar prior to the race start. Working with the mushers and their exuberant canine athletes, meeting other enthusiastic volunteers, visiting with residents of remote villages, and experiencing the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, are all reasons why veterinarians choose to volunteer year after year.
To be eligible to enter the race, each canine athlete must pass a physical exam and undergo comprehensive screening, including electrocardiography (ECGs) and blood tests (CBCs/Chemistry Panels). In addition, all are permanently identified by a microchip implant.
It is estimated that over 10,000 routine veterinary examinations are performed along the race course. Heart rate and rhythm, hydration, appetite, attitude, body weight, lungs and feet, are typically evaluated. Each musher carries a dog team diary which is presented to a veterinarian at every checkpoint. These serve to document the physical exams.
During a 24 hour period, dogs will run a total of around 12 hours, with run rest cycles of approximately 4-6 hour intervals. Mushers and veterinarians receive far less rest!
For more information on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, visit the website, www.Iditarod.com
or contact Chief Veterinarian Dr. Stuart Nelson, Jr. at (907) 351-1459.