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3/5/2004 - Vet Check
Harmony Vet Services, Sandy Ferris, DVM
Sandy Ferris is Ellies 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 shes very knowledgeable about sled dogs.
I had a chance to chat with Sandy the other day and shes excited about Ellies Iditarod. Shes been very impressed by Ellies knowledge of her dogs and her conscientious commitment to their care. Shes found Ellie very levelheaded for her age, and not afraid to call immediately with questions or problems. Ellies alertness to potential problems and willingness to act should keep her dogs protected from potential problems on the trail.
Sandy thinks Ellies youth helps her stay open to new ideas and techniques utilizing massage, shoulder and wrist wraps and foot care.
Sandy feels the biggest problems to face Ellies team are the virus and bacterial contaminates from other teams along the trail. Ellies dogs are all current on their vaccines, are micro chipped and were wormed again a few weeks prior to the race. Shes packed the vitamins and food supplements shes 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.
Ellies 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.
Sandys recommendations to Ellie are applicable to all mushers worried about contaminated staging areas. Dont 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. Its 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, 2004-03-01
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 EKGs and collect blood samples from each dog on Ellies 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.
Ellies 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.
Ellies team is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, energetic, upbeat and ready to run.
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
©2004 Jon & Jona Van Zyle
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