We did not run dogs at all the few days I was there. They had gotten a new batch of dog food and all the dogs were sick. I spent the time learning how to care for dogs with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This was a valuable lesson for me, because dogs will get diarrhea during the Iditarod. Diarrhea often means they are stressed, either from the driver pushing them too hard or running them in the heat of the day; or they have been overfed. The other reasons are not related to driver error and involve bad food or infections they get from other dogs. Doug said that as long as the dogs are pulling they can stay in the team for a day or so to see if things settle down. They need to maintain hydration and food is offered but water is encouraged. They will drink without difficulty unless they are too sick. If that happens, they will need to be dropped from the team. Doug’s rules were eating and pulling stay. Eating and not pulling, watch to see why. Pulling and not eating, watch to see why. Not eating nor pulling drop the dog. Minor injuries can also be watched and treated. If they get better with shoulder jackets or wrist wraps and Algyval, they can stay. If they do not improve they need to be dropped.
I helped out with chores around the ranch and kept up with my workouts by unloading and stacking large bales of hay one day and bags of dog food the next. I also tried, unsuccessfully, to find my wedding ring and watch, using a metal detector that I brought with me. I had wanted to visit with Jason and Harmony Barron, but we kept missing each other. I went home with the anticipation that the dogs would be better and I could begin training when I returned in November.