12 Teams came to the Whitehorse Vet check. 10 from the Yukon and 2 Alaskan Mushers. Misha Pedersen and no other than Yukon Quest Campion Hugh Neff. Off course his prize lead dog Walter was there, wearing his trademark Laughing Eyes Kennels Bandana. Laughing Normand Cassavant cheerful as ever came, Dawson City´s Brian Wilmshurst drove south to Whitehorse and with the weather here being a balmy minus 20 C ( about 5 below F ) he was donning shorts. Way to go. Over all many nice looking teams were examined by a team of veterinarians. And they looked good. If any, there were quite a few ” porky dogs “. Fabian Schmitz, Gene Ennis and many other made sure the event worked like clockwork.
At the same time, there were free dogrides in the Shipyards Park, given by no other than Quest Legend Frank Turner. Kids were eager to line up to be driven around a loop. Smiles and giggles all over, despite some blustery conditions. Inside Yukon Quest Sponsor Air North was on hand , bannocks were sold of course not to mention donut and cookie galore. In the morning I took the Skunk pups to town, they are at a ” monstercute ” age with 14 days, and they were set up in a nice pen for childen ( and adults alike ) to pet and cuddle.
One week to gametime. The energy is building up. The vet check is an integral part of the race. The dogs health is most important. Feet are checked for splits and cuts. Dogs are stretched and flexed to see if their are any underlying stiffnesses. Dog who have never run the Quest before are fitted with an AVID microchip, so they can be scanned throughout the race. Their temperatures are taken, their heart rates as well as respiratory rates. Winter time brings certain problems, and the dogs, specially the males are checked for any potential frostbite areas. Teeth and gums are check and once a dogs gets a clean bill of health, and all their vaccinations papers are in order, they go in a rooster of 16 dogs.
Mushers still have the tough task, of deciding who to leave behind for February 2nd. Of course Mushers are relieved, when yet another stepping stone toward the start of the race is done. For some like Brit Rob Cooke, its leading up to a dream of a lifetime, FINALLY to be at the Quest. For others, veteran Musher Ed Hopkins of Tagish Lake Kennels, it is a dejavu. Has it really been 8 years, since Ed ran in 2005? Time flies. That was my second Quest and heck, now I am retired.
Enjoy the pictures of this fun day!
” the Armchair Musher" Sebastian