Lessons from the Iditarod

September 25, 2008

HILTON HEAD, SC--Dogs are often called "man's best friend," and rightly so. Consider, for example, that they never interrupt us when we talk, are always happy to see us when we arrive home, and provide comfort when we are lovesick. Since dogs became domesticated 15,000 years ago, they have worked with and lived next to humans, which some say may account for the special bond. Each of the 400 breeds and varieties are unique, but only one stands out as the ultra-athlete canine: the racing sled dogs.

Racing sled dogs are best known for their "mushing" each March during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the world's longest sled race. They are the premier ultra-endurance competitors, covering 1,100 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, sometimes in just nine days. It is unclear how they can keep running, despite heavy blizzards, temperatures as low as 󈞔°F, and winds up to 60 mph. No other animal has been found to come close to the physiological attributes these dogs display.

Dr. Michael Davis has focused on the mysteries of this breed for work for more than a decade. The professor at the Oklahoma State University's Center for Veterinary Health Sciences will discuss his recent findings entitled, "Metabolic Strategies for Sustained Endurance Exercise: Lessons from the Iditarod." His presentation is part of the American Physiological Society's (APS) (www.The-APS.org) conference, The Integrative Biology of Exercise V, being held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC.

How Do They Do It? The Exercise Physiology of Sled Dogs

The physiological understandings that Davis and his colleagues have uncovered thus far are extensive. Among their findings is:Next Steps

The mechanisms that make these four-legged athletes premiere in performance is still unknown. Dr. Davis theorizes that it may involve the regulation of extremely thin membranes in the muscle fibers and changes in the cells that are responsible for the body's energy production. "These are one-of-a-kind athletes. What we learn from them will undoubtedly tell us a lot about human performance as well."
-end-
Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function to create health or disease. The American Physiological Society (APS; www.The-APS.org/press) has been an integral part of this discovery process since it was established in 1887. NOTE TO EDITORS: The APS Conference, The Integrative Biology of Exercise V, is being held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC. Members of the media are invited to attend. To register, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Davis, please contact Donna Krupa at 301.634.7209 (office), 703.967.2751 (cell) or DKrupa@the-APS.org. There will be an APS newsroom onsite.

American Physiological Society

Related Dogs Articles from Brightsurf:

Dogs are sensitive to their owners' choice despite their own preference
Inspired by work on infants, researchers investigated whether dogs' behaviors are guided by human displays of preference or by the animals' own choices.

Researchers identify new Rickettsia species in dogs
Researchers have identified a new species of Rickettsia bacteria that may cause significant disease in dogs and humans.

Paleogenomics -- the prehistory of modern dogs
An international team of scientists has used ancient DNA samples to elucidate the population history of dogs.

Tracking the working dogs of 9/11
A study of search and rescue dogs led by the School of Veterinary Medicine showed little difference in longevity or cause of death between dogs at the disaster site and dogs in a control group.

Fighting like cats and dogs?
We are all familiar with the old adage ''fighting like cat and dog'', but a new scientific study now reveals how you can bid farewell to those animal scraps and foster a harmonious relationship between your pet pooch and feline friend.

Why cats have more lives than dogs when it comes to snakebite
Cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs, and the reasons behind this strange phenomenon have been revealed by University of Queensland research.

Adolescence is ruff for dogs too
The study, headed by Dr Lucy Asher from Newcastle University, is the first to find evidence of adolescent behavior in dogs.

Urban dogs are more fearful than their cousins from the country
Inadequate socialisation, inactivity and an urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in dogs.

Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise.

Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating
A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward.

Read More: Dogs News and Dogs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.