2004 Iditarod Sketch Pad

Jon & Jona Van Zyle's exclusive sketches, stories from the trail

Lighting the way
2004 Iditarod Poster
Jon Jona Van Zyle
Jon & Jona Van Zyle
Sneaking Out
2004 Mush Poster

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Main Page Meet Jon & Jona Introduction Bootie Call Drop Bag Delivery Day Vet Check Jr. Iditarod
3/7 Iditarod Restart 3/8 Trail Notes 3/9 Rohn to Takotna 3/10 Takotna a.m. 3/10 Takotna p.m.
3/11 Takotna 3/14 Unalakleet 3/15-16 Unalakleet 3/16 Unalakleet
3/17 Unalakleet to Nome 3/19 Nome 3/20 Nome Finish Line Group Photo
Jona's Reflections

3/5/2004 - Vet Check

Harmony Vet Services, Sandy Ferris, DVM

Sandy Ferris is Ellie’s main vet and also one of her race sponsors. Sandy works part time for Ravenwood Veterinary Clinic in Eagle River, Alaska and also has her own mobile vet service. Sandy has competed in both sprint and distance racing and still maintains a kennel of Alaskan huskies, so she’s very knowledgeable about sled dogs.

I had a chance to chat with Sandy the other day and she’s excited about Ellie’s Iditarod. She’s been very impressed by Ellie’s knowledge of her dogs and her conscientious commitment to their care. She’s found Ellie very levelheaded for her age, and not afraid to call immediately with questions or problems. Ellie’s alertness to potential problems and willingness to act should keep her dogs protected from potential problems on the trail.

Sandy thinks Ellie’s youth helps her stay open to new ideas and techniques utilizing massage, shoulder and wrist wraps and foot care.

View details on Ellie's team and race background

Sandy feels the biggest problems to face Ellie’s team are the virus and bacterial contaminates from other teams along the trail. Ellie’s dogs are all current on their vaccines, are micro chipped and were wormed again a few weeks prior to the race. She’s packed the vitamins and food supplements she’s been using since last autumn along with the National Performance 35/25 dog food she has been using for two seasons now. Ellie also plans to keep her team away from areas where other teams have camped.

Ellie’s team will have about 2,000 miles of training and 300 miles of racing before the start. The hard part now is keeping them healthy before the race. Every training run exposes the team to new strains of viruses carried by the variety of new visiting racers using our Chugiak dog trails. Racing season is in high gear and teams from all over the world are now in Alaska to compete.

Sandy’s recommendations to Ellie are applicable to all mushers worried about contaminated staging areas. Don’t drop your dogs around your truck; take them from their boxes directly to the waiting gangline. After your run, water them on the gangline before you reach your truck; them put them directly back into their boxes. The point is to avoid having the dogs stand in the same area that has been used frequently.

One other option is to park further away from the actual staging area, and then lead your team past the other trucks. It’s more difficult than dropping the dogs at your truck but easier than dealing with kennel cough and debilitating diarrhea especially just before the big race.

You can check the Iditarod web site for a complete listing of usable or prohibited medications that mushers can carry on the race.

Vet Check Day - Tuesday February 24, 2004-03-01Jon Van Zyle Vet Sketch

Ellie and Maegan loaded their dog trailer and headed out to Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla for the first part of the pre-race check.

Volunteer race vets perform EKG’s and collect blood samples from each dog on Ellie’s team. Her team passed with flying colors.

The second part of the check is a detailed, hands-on examination of each dog. Sandy Farris, DVM and nurse Technician Jennie Halstead preformed this part. Sandy listens to their hearts, carefully checks their weight, their eyes, noses, ears, teeth and gums, mouths, feet and private parts. A big concern for the males is frostbite on their testicles and sheaths.

Ellie’s leader Romeo, a very finicky eater, will have to be watched very closely to keep his weight up.

On the foot check for web cracks and splits, Ellie has one dog with a slight yeast infection on a web split. Ellis is treating this with a product called Malase Pledgets, which are anti-fungal, anti bacterial treated wipes.

The only dog not cleared to run because of a limp from a wrist injury. Ellie is treating him with Algyval rub and aspirin and the vets will recheck him before the race start. He should be healed by then.

Each musher carries a vet check book on the trail. The book records notes about each dog from each vet along the way as well as pre-race information so any health problems or conditions can be monitored.

Ellie’s team is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, energetic, upbeat and ready to run.

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For more information about Ellie and her home at Ultima Thule Lodge you can visit their web site at www.ultimathulelodge.com

More information about Ellie Claus can be found on the Iditarod web site www.iditarod.com

Sled Dog Central

2004 Jon & Jona Van Zyle
All material in the Iditarod Sketch Pad remain the property of Jon & Jona Van Zyle and may not be reproduced in any manner.