Today, we took the 16 potential Yukon Quest athletes to Summit Logistics for the official Quest Vet Checks. This means, we had to make the final cut for 16! The Yukon Quest allows 14 dogs per team, so we are allowed a couple extras before deciding the final team for next Saturday. It was a very hard decision with lots of incredible canine athletes. A few traits that we consider are:
1- Good Appetite/Weight: With all the exercise, these guys are burning lots of calories. On the race, the dogs can burn anywhere from 10,000-12,000 calories a day. If a dog is at all picky, they can quickly loose weight. A good appetite is a must. It's also helpful for the dogs to have great weight going into the race, so that they have a nice base of fat reserves should we run into weather, extreme cold, or any other challenges. Some youngsters are still such high burners (particularly if they are not spayed or neutered), so even if they are good eaters, they don't hold their weight too well yet.
2- Experience: Having a dog who has finished a 1000-mile race (especially the Yukon Quest) is a huge advantage. The dogs remember the trail and know how to pace themselves over such a long distance. If they haven't run 1000-miles, have they finished a 300 mile race? It's advantageous for the dogs to have already learned the pattern of run/rest/run/rest/run/rest.
3- Healthy: This seems like a no-brainer, but just like human athletes, the canine athletes can develop strains or pulled muscles during training or racing. Oftentimes, the dogs will try to convince you they're 100% as if screaming, "Put me in coach!" and they would be fine for 20 miles or even a couple hundred miles. But, what about 1000 miles? The vet check helps to determine this, but we should have a good grasp of the dogs health ahead of time since we spend every waking moment with them.
4- Attitude: Do they want to run 1000-miles? Are they excited and enthusiastic to run no matter the day, time, temperature? Most of the athletes would LOVE to travel day in and day out, but some would prefer to go a little shorter distance. Take Drummer for example. She's healthy, a great eater, is a Quest finisher, and is in her prime, but she'd really just rather not run 1000-miles. Fair enough! Lefty, on the other hand, he can't scream "Pick me!" loud enough!
5- Age: Ideally, all the dogs in the team would be between three and eight years old. This is the prime age for competitive sled dogs. Of course, there are exceptions, with two-year-olds being particularly mature or older dogs being spry and fast; however, the norm is 3-8. In my case, I'll have several two-year-olds on the team because the kennel currently has several youngsters, and they meet the first three attributes better than older dogs.
So after all that- WHO WERE THE SIXTEEN ATHLETES?!!
Well, recently Liz got me hooked on reading Ready Player One (she reads all the time, and I realized I rarely do in the winter, so this seemed like a great relaxation book). Anyways, it's a great book and has lots of puzzles and riddles. So, we decided to make little riddles for each dog. The riddles either have to do with the dog themselves, or with the meaning of their name. Have fun! We'll post the answers in the next couple days.
Th athletes in no particular order:
Athlete 1- She traveled many parsecs from Endor, and now she might travel many miles on the Yukon Quest!
Athlete 2- If he’s not on the team, this will be the first time ever. EVER.
Athlete 3- He doesn’t fly south for the winter, but he sure is a pretty boy.
Athlete 4- She’ll have the best looking coat out there!
Athlete 5- This dog’s frontier exploits should make her a folk hero legend!
Athlete 6- This ladies’ man would be a perfect buddy to take to the bar.
Athlete 7 Contrary to his name, this athlete prefers to run on the right.
Athlete 8- This dog would stick out like a sore thumb if she traveled south of the border.
Athlete 9- I’m really cute, I’m such a hoot, I’m not a brute, my name is_________!
Athlete 10- My mother’s favorite dog.
Athlete 11- These famous Colombian groups secretly run the world, we’ll just run the Quest.
Athlete 12- She’s rounding out our furry crew coming from down under.
Athlete 13- Almost a quarter of the kennel are his relatives, but he has not siblings here.
Athlete 14- The loneliest number, in Juarez.
Athlete 15- She’s the prettiest girl at the ball.
Athlete 16- She’s one of the United States natural wonders.
The first two people to guess all the names correctly (either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the comments below) will get a 2018 Ryno Kennel calendar!
THANK YOU to the Yukon Quest veterinarians for all the time, assistance, knowledge, and passion you bring to this race!