# Winning Dog Care

When the mushers begin arriving in Nome at the finish of any race, there is a lot of focus on the race winner and who’s coming in next at the finish chute on Front Street. But, in the dog lot, where teams rest, eat, and wait for their airplane rides home, another winner is being determined.

Every dog on the top 20 finishing teams is evaluated by three veterinarians to determine the winner of the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award, recognizing the musher who provided outstanding dog care during the race while remaining a competitive team. (Practice inference skills: I can infer that the top 20 teams are considered competitive teams because…)

These three vets independently evaluate the dogs’ body condition, gait, attitude and hydration. They rub their hands over the dogs’ ribs and hips, gently pull the dogs’ skin on their backs up and release it, watching to see how it returns to normal, and observe the dogs’ attitudes while being worked with.

To evaluate the dogs’ gait, each dog is leashed by a volunteer and trotted away and towards the vets as they watch.  (Use context clues to define gait.)

Practice math: The top 20 teams are evaluated for the Seppala Humanitarian Award. Check the race stats for the number of dogs on each team. How many dogs did the race vets evaluate? What is the average number of dogs per team? Find the mean and mode for the number of dogs statistic.

Entered into a spreadsheet, the veterinarians’ scores are combined with a number which correlates to the team’s finish position (the higher the finish, the higher this number is) and a number which correlates to the number of dogs who finished on the team. Each vet on the trail during the race also submits their ballots for their choices of three  mushers who provided great dog care during the race, and the ballot results are added to the spreadsheet results.

(Draw a conclusion: Why would the number of dogs on a team at the finish line be part of the calculation for the award for good dog care during the race?)

At the Finishers’ Banquet Sunday night, the winner will be announced—for a highly coveted award. Keep an eye and ear out for the news.

Edited 12/2016