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With Sick Dogs, Zirkle Takes Her 24-Hour Rest Earlier Than Planned

Aliy Zirkle arrives with her sled dog team in Galena

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

After pulling off the Yukon River, Zirkle had several vets checking out her team. She says 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 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. 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. 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.

Aliy Zirkle and her sled dog team, astride an Iditarod checker in Galena

Aliy Zirkle coming into the checkpoint in Galena on Thursday. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media.


  1. […] everyone’s in Galena because they want to be. Aliy Zirkle’s dogs started showing signs of illness Tuesday, and in spite of her original plan to make it to Huslia, she declared her 24 here […]

  2. humanemushing on March 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    She should not be pushing sick dogs to race. This is one of the many problems with extreme distance racing. Honestly, this is the main problem with our sport in general – putting competition above dog welfare.