We boarded a bus in downtown Anchorage and drove about 50 miles to the Iditarod Headquarters in Willow. In Willow we observed several truckloads of dogs come in for vet checks. Every single dog is examined top to bottom. The vets use the H.A.W. & L system which stands for heart, hydration, appetite, weight and lungs. Each dog is microchipped and receives an ECG as well as a comprehensive examination of their joints, teeth, paws and coat. Each musher is required to keep a vet check notebook and check in at all 24 checkpoints along the route. Dogs can be randomly drug tested at any point during the race. Their urine and blood will be checked for both performance enhancement drugs and drugs that mask pain. In the 15 years since drug testing began not a single dog has tested positive. I cannot stress enough how well these dogs are cared for. Since I included so many dog pictures in my last post I will share a few shots from headquarters.