Local woman to work at Iditarod
Set for adventure, Patti Kerscher Allen from Blackfoot is heading to Alaska to work in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She leaves on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and will work for three weeks assisting Vet Tech Cassandra Winslow, a former search and rescue canine handler, with whatever she needs done.
"I'll be whatever she tells me to do," Allen said. "It's going to be exciting.”
The race lasts at average of 12 days, but it takes a long time to get everything back to Anchorage after the race. Allen will be working the four “hubs,” flying with the dogs, and working with "drop dogs."
The "drop dogs" are the animals mushers have "dropped" from their teams for whatever reason.
Prior to the start of the race, the lead veterinarian and her team examine all dogs participating in the race. Each dog on a musher's team is microchipped, has an EKG and has blood work done to ensure it is in good physical condition.
This year, 67 mushers and their teams are registered for the Iditarod that begins March 2. Mushers and their teams of dogs run across Alaska from Anchorage to Nome, a distance of 975 miles.
The maximum number of dogs a musher may start the race with is 16. A musher must have at least 12 dogs on the line to start the race. At least six dogs must be on the towline at the finish line.
To hone on her vet tech skills, Allen has been working with Jason Moulton, D.V.M., at the Animal Health Clinic in Blackfoot.
"Patti has been helping in surgery and taking care of the animals to fine tune her skills," said Marty Kluesner, a receptionist at the Animal Health Clinic.
Allen’s business with Liv International helped finance her trip and is hosting a blog at www.livteam.com to track her trip.
"I just hope I have Internet service for the blog but I will need to get there to see," Allen said.
Allen said she is thankful to Dr. Moulton and his staff, family and friends for their support of this new adventure.
"I'm honored to be asked," she said. "I love working with dogs."
Allen has been a volunteer canine search and rescue handler for 23 years. She and her search partner, Nitro, a black Labrador, are currently with Snake River Search in Idaho Falls.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race started in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams. It has evolved into a highly competitive race. It takes place annually in early March.
The current fastest winning time record was set in 2011 by John Baker with a time of 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds.