Race to the Sky 2011 Veterinarians
Dr. Jim Brick, DVM
Dr. Brick is a 1965 graduate of the Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Brick, now retired, practiced companion animal medicine in Ohio.
Dr. Brick has a long history working as a veterinarian at sled dog races. He has worked on our race, the Race to the Sky, six times. In addition he has previously worked the Iditarod (10 times), the John Beargrease (3 times), the Atta-Boy300 and the Pirena Race in Spain. Dr. Brick is an outdoorsman and enjoys hunting. Dr. Brick is presently working in Aquaculture and becoming active in politics. He and his wife, Marlene, presently live in Ohio.
Race to the Sky Veterinarian Program
A Vet’s Thoughts……..
From the perspective of a Veterinarian, racing sled dogs have about the best “dog” life one could hope for. The basic ingredient of a sled dog’s life is to run. The second ingredient is to run on snow, the third ingredient is to run on snow with a team and a musher, and the forth ingredient is to do it all over again. Man what a life. These have to be the happiest dog’s in the entire universe come winter.
Sled dogs are a special mix of enthusiasm, conditioning, physical ability, mild temperament, and intelligence. Their natural abilities acquired and honed through thoughtful breeding programs and the dedicated husbandry and training of their human counterpart, defy expression. These canine masters of the winter sports world combine the joy of life with the majesty of sport and nature.
The care and nurturing of a sled dog begins in puppy hood. As with all well cared for canine pets, sled dog puppies get all the health care and nutritional care one would expect to be given to a household pet. In addition, during the formative puppy hood weeks, sled dog puppies seem to also get an extra dose of that all important Human-Animal Bond ingredient called “socialization”. Socialization is the bedrock of all future training and is the building block of trust. Trust becomes the essential cornerstone in the bond between musher and dog. This emphasis on bonding with the puppy is one of the hallmarks of sled dog owners and mushers. One can easily see why sled dog puppies are considered as probably some of the best cared for litters around.
As the puppies grow into adult dogs the care and bonding only intensifies. Nutrition and health care issues become paramount as training techniques designed to enhance ability begin. Of course a musher doesn’t need to coach a sled dog on how to run, the dogs do that naturally and with exuberance, but, as with any other world class athlete, the sled dog needs to learn the subtleties of team dynamics both for enhanced team performance and safety.
As conditioning, experience and individual skill sets continue to develop our puppy, now a seasoned athlete, joins his team mates along the towline for the thrill of the trail. To a sled dog this is the ultimate moment. This is the moment that our sled dog’s genes cry out to express. One could almost imagine the crime it would be to deny this well cared for, properly trained and outfitted canine running machine his day on the trail.
As a Veterinarian, I suspect sled dogs get better continual individual care (both medical and husbandry care) than most backyard pets. Mushers share every moment on the trail with their dogs. As such the musher’s attention to the individual dog’s running styles, variances from the normal, attitude and team work interest is constant. Mushers make themselves keenly aware of any needs the dogs may exhibit. Nutrition, water, rest, foot care, environmental stress factors are all at the top of the mushers “must do” list for each individual dog and the entire team. No musher would consider doing less.
Sled dogs are well taken care of critters. They are raised and prepared (trained) to compete in their natural element with minimal injury, maximum safety and endless enjoyment. Man what a life!
Steve Bowen, DVM
Race Veterinarians Come from Italy to Assist Race to the Sky
The 2009 Race to the Sky is honored to have two International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association (ISDVMA) veterinarians coming to assist Race to the Sky for their upcoming race starting February 13th for the Vet Check, Downtown Helena. They will continue their support through the end of the race on February 17th.
Dr. Laura Ravaschio was born in Genoa, Italy and Dr. Sergio Maffi from Rome, Italy will be assisting Race to the Sky this year keeping the dogs healthy.
Dr. Ravaschio received one year of college at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Milan, Italy in Veterinary Medicine. She wrote her zootechnics thesis in the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. She was introduced to sled dogs when she was the vet at the twenty day Transitalia (from Northern Alps to Southern Appenines) and just last year followed the Pirena Race in the Spanish mountains. Race to the Sky will be her first American race. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, sports, cars, eating, movies, and playing games.
Dr. Maffi received his veterinary degree at the “Universita degli Studi” in Milan with an experimental dissertation about “Cow’s milk freezing point”. He opened up his own private practice after military service and developed a special interest in small animals surgery (soft tissue as well as trauma-orthopaedic). Maffi has expanded his practice and deepened his interests in matter such as small animal mycology, rigid endoscopy and has done research for the past ten years with parasitology and pain medicine as well as gastro-intestinal zoonotic parasides and Heartworm disease. He also enjoys reading, listening to every kind of music, studying for my second university degree (Archaeology), building wooden models of old America’s Cup ships and Italian cooking.
The ISDVMA was formed over ten years ago to gather all veterinarians together for consistency in veterinary care for sled dogs. The organization is represented at almost every major dog sled race. Welcome to our Italian friends.
The health and care of the sled dog athletes is a primary concern for Race to the Sky. All sled dogs are given a pre-race veterinary check-up as well as an inspection at each checkpoint by our tremendous team of veterinarians. Many of our veterinarians are ISDVMA (International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association) vets and have a vast amount of experience working with sled dogs. More Information Contact Cara Gregor – 406-580-4349