With sick dogs, Zirkle takes her 24-hour rest earlier than planned

Aliy Zirkle getting water while stopped at the Nenana checkpoint. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media.)

Iditarod veteran Aliy Zirkle has had to upend her race plans and declare a 24-hour rest in Galena because of sick dogs.

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After pulling off the Yukon River, Zirkle had several vets checking out her team. She said the leaders started looking ill on Tuesday afternoon.

“My dogs aren’t extremely healthy right now; they all have this bug, and a few of ‘em have a fever,” Zirkle said.

Aliy Zirkle coming into the checkpoint in Galena (Photo Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media)

Zirkle was feeding the dogs medicine to help with diarrhea, and vets were monitoring temperatures up to 105°. Normally, dogs have a resting temperature of 102.5°. Zirkle doesn’t think the problems came from something they ate, but a lot of the team ran the Yukon Quest a few weeks ago.

“Some of these dogs were sick on the Quest,” Zirkle said. “I don’t know if it’s a bug that never went away. I dunno know, really, elementary schools get bugs and dog races get bugs.”

The illness throws a wrench in Zirkle’s plan to push to Huslia to take her 24-hour rest. It was a move she budgeted for when she opted to rest for a few hours in Ruby, in preparation for a big push. But she’s hoping the layover in Galena gets her team, and her, back in shape for the hundreds of miles ahead.

“I’ll be doing alright if my team’s doing alright,” Zirkle said. “I’ll be a little mopey if my team’s mopey.”

Zirkle will be cleared to leave her 24-hour break on Friday afternoon after 1pm.