Dr. Mike Davis is here from Oklahoma State University this week to continue some physiology research that he has been conducting for over a year. He and his two associates -- Jan and Pauline -- are studying the effects of fitness and exercise on insulin sensitivity. Their research is aimed at finding the links between the two and applying them to human research. Because Alaskan Husky sled dogs are the supreme athletes on the planet, they make excellent research subjects. Dr. Mike enjoys working with SP Kennel because our dogs are both among the finest and because they are such willing and cooperative subjects.
A total of 18 dogs are involved with this phase of the program, and here's the gist of how it works: First, Aliy takes 12 of the dogs on a training run, leaving the 6 "base line" dogs back at the Kennel. Once they return, the dogs are brought inside in a pretty continuous flow. Their first stop is in the crates of the "staging area" where, as you can see below, Tony, Teddy, Moonpie and Nutmeg are waiting their turns. Teddy is such a professional dog that she doesn't even need to have the door closed to keep her inside!
The next step is to give the dogs a mild sedative which, as Dr. Mike says, "It doesn't really put them under. It's more like a deep relaxation so they won't bolt and face any risk of injury." Below you can see that Teddy is an absolutely beautiful dog even when she's passed out and has an electrode clipped to her tongue!
The procedure itself is really pretty simple. A small biopsy needle -- exactly the same kind as used on humans -- is used to take a very small muscle sample from the dog's rear leg. It only takes a minute, then the dog is moved to the "Post-Op Ward" where one of us whom the dog knows well spends time holding, petting and speaking as the dog wakes up. It means we spend a lot of time on the cold floor, but we're happy to do it for the dogs' comfort. Besides, any time I get to hug and pet Teddy is a treat for me, too!
I hope to shoot a lot of video over the next few days as the run/test cycle continues and will try to post some more in-depth coverage over the weekend.