Delphine, you are one of the founding members of the Lekkarod, how do you feel to be at the third edition ?
I have missed the previous one and it will be a great pleasure to meet the whole team again, dog teams that I know (humans and dogs of course!) and new passionate people. The history of the race is written down year after year and I think that it is a story of passion. So, if I have to share a feeling, it is to be very happy to see this 3rd edition coming.
Can you introduce the veterinarian team ?
The veterinarian team is one of the most sizeable team of the race (thanks to Dominique Grandjean who, being a vet not member of the vet staff, attaches some special attention to this team! Even if we like the other ones as well!). This team includes veterinarians, each of them with their specialties, three vet assistants and one vet student. More than half of the team are vets who have alrready participated to the Lekkarod and some other sled dog races. We know each other well and, consequently, the running is smooth. We also have partners who help us : SCIL, URGOvet, Frontline, Veterion, Element.vet, Thermochip…
There will be close to 700 dogs on this edition. How will it be organized to follow up each one ?
It will be organized with a lot of work! I always say to the students I select “first out of bed and last in bed”. It will be very true. We work before the starts, after the finish and eventually during the stages (if it is required, for example, when there is a warm environment). Of course, the objective is to take care of the dogs who need to be taken care of (the sport may induce some incidents of small trauma which need to be taken care of quickly to avoid getting worse: digestive discomforts, sprains, paws pads injuries). But we also act to prevent troubles by listening the competitors. There is an important role of information.
On this type of race, with weather conditions which can be particular at the end of the winter, what are the specificities of your work ?
Heat is definitely our enemy at the end of the season. Then we need to prepare a place where the dogs can drink half way through the stage, or sometime even adapt the start time or the route. On top, soft snow when the snow is melting is more demanding for the tendons/muscles and for the proprioception. It often requires to help the mushers adapt the rest time of each dog. We have to adapt ourselves for the dogs in order to have them enjoying the race with their musher. The dogs always come first in the decisions.
This year, are you implementing special protocols or are you going to make some experiments ?
I do not like the word “experiment” too often associated to negative image. But yes we are going to take advantage of the event to learn new things about the dogs. Thanks to our partner Thetrmochip, we shall be able to follow up the under-skin temperature of two teams. We shall also have the opportunity to follow through the hydration of two teams thanks to a blood analysis on a volume particularly small and immediately available on site thanks to the analyzers of our partner SCIL.
Give us some more information about yourself … where does your passion for your work come from and your feeling about involving yourself in an adventure like the Lekkarod?
I love active dogs. Dogs who run, who use their nose, who help ensuring our safety, who help keeping cattle … I find that the merging and complicity between the man and the animal is simply magical. We must learn to know better these athletes and my work at the veterinarian school of Alfort allows me to do that. I am not inventing much because it is this passion which has driven Dominique Grandjean to create the Unit of Breeding and Sport Medicine (UMES) more than 20 years ago. But I hope to be able to bring my token to the improvement of this knowledge. And, to learn how to know, you also need to go out. This is why I attach a lot of importance to be on an event like the Lekkarod. I must also admit that the atmosphere is very nice!
If you had to define the Lekkarod with 3 words ?
Passion, sharing, dog care
What will you do in March 2019 😉 ?
I think I shall start by the World Championships in February organized by our club. Then the Lekkarod of course ☺
Find here the list of selected mushers for this 3rd édition