Small Animal Alaskan Mushing CE Experience

Small Animals

Date: Sun 24th Jan 2021 - Wed 27th Jan 2021
Venue: Happy Trails Kennels
Location: Big Lake, AK (Anchorage International Airport)
Contact Hours: 18 (RACE approved)
Event Language: English
Price: (net price, no tax will be added)*
Qualified Vet USD 1150.00
USD 1290.00
1 Vet & 1 non-Vet Guest (no CE) USD 1650.00
USD 1790.00
Early Booking Deadline: Sunday 15th November 2020
Registration Deadline: Tuesday 15th December 2020

* VAT (= MWST/MOMS/SALES TAX) will only be added for certain UK vets attending events abroad and for all attendees when attending events in the UK.




Sun 24 – Wed 27 January, 2021  –  4 Days of Lectures & Amazing Mushing Experiences

Sports Medicine of Working Canines & Exercise Physiology



A well-conditioned working dog is a magnificent athlete, capable of activities far beyond the scope of an average family pet.  The upregulated physiology of an elite athlete dictates what a veterinarian should consider ‘normal’ during a physical exam and what sort of diagnostic and therapeutic measures are most appropriate to address clinical problems.

This event provides veterinarians with a comprehensive overview of how dogs develop into elite athletes and covers the implications of those morphological and physiological adaptations on the veterinary care of working dogs through 18 hours of lectures and case-discussion.  Attendees will learn how to help owners of canine athletes get the best performance out of their dogs through conditioning and nutrition and how to better diagnose and manage diseases that are common in working dogs.


This event will be held at Happy Trails Kennels, run by four-time Iditarod Champion Martin Buser in Big Lake, Alaska, 1 ½ hrs north of Anchorage International Airport.  Attendees will be provided with the unique opportunity to get hands-on experience with some legendary canine athletes that compete each year in the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  Most of the dogs at the kennel will be actively training for that race during the event.  They will however take some time from their arduous training program to give event attendees a taste of what it is like to race these impressive athletes.

During the afternoon of the first day, all attendees will learn how to handle sled dogs, including harnessing and other preparations, before taking a 1 ½ - 2 hour wilderness ride to get familiar with the experience of travelling by dogsled.  This will be the preamble for a longer half-day sled dog trip on the second day, during which the attendees will be able to drive their own sled and team of dogs through the Susitna Valley of Alaska. 


And for the very adventurous attendees, there is the incredible opportunity to take an amazing all-day trip driving their own team on the 4th day of the event.  Nothing compares to the experience of leaving civilization behind and traveling through the snow-covered Alaskan countryside on a sled pulled by some of the most elite athletes in the world – the racing Alaskan sled dog. 

Alternative optional whole day outdoor activities will be on offer for the 4th day, such as flightseeing around Denali or guided glacier hiking/climbing tours etc..  Regardless of whether you choose to mush, fly, climb, or hike, you will see parts of Alaska that very few ever get to see!

*This event fee includes two wilderness sled dog rides (1½-2hrs & 4hrs), a wine & cheese reception, a course dinner, refreshments, lunches on each day, extensive lecture notes and a RACE-approved certificate of attendance.  The event fee does not include flights, travel to and from Happy Trails Kennels (event location), accommodation and any of the outdoor activities on Day 4, including the all-day wilderness sled dog ride.  Attendees can book the all-day wilderness sled dog ride as an optional extra through VetPD.  All other outdoor activities on Day 4 need to be booked directly with each provider listed under the ‘Travel Information’ tab. 


Additional Terms & Conditions:

  1. VetPD Ltd, accepts liability for the event program only (lectures, refreshments and wine & cheese reception).
  2. Liability for travel, accommodation, lunches, course dinner, sled dog rides and alternative outdoor activities rest with the respective service providers. Cancellation of these components of the event is subject to the Terms & Conditions of each service provider (see here for further details).
  3. Attendees are expected to take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance in the event of unforeseen circumstances leading to attendees falling ill, suffering an accident or having to cancel their trip.
  • VetPD

    Mike Davis
    DVM, PhD, Dipl.ACVIM, Dipl.ACVSMR

    United States

    American Specialist in Large Animal Internal Medicine & American Specialist in Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation
    More Info

    Michael graduated from the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1988.  Following 4 years in private veterinary practice, he completed an equine internal medicine residency at the Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, VA while also earning a Masters of Science in Veterinary Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1995.  Michael then earned a PhD at Johns Hopkins University in Respiratory Physiology in 1999.  He moved to Oklahoma State University in 1998, where he has progressed to his current rank as Professor and John Oxley Endowed Chair in Equine Sports Medicine.  Michael is board-certified in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation – in the latter, he is currently slated to serve as President of the ACVSMR from 2019-2020.  He has been awarded the Regents Distinguished Research Award, twice been awarded the Pfizer/Zoetis Award for Research Excellence, and was the inaugural ACVIM Hero in Medicine for his research in the pathophysiology of exercise-related illnesses.  Dr. Davis’s current area of research involves how athletic conditioning improves skeletal muscle function – from uptake of oxidizable substrates to the mitochondrial mechanisms for maximizing ATP production from those substrates.

    Full details

Event Program

Happy Trails Kennels


19391 West Lakes Blvd
Big Lake


Happy Trails Kennel

19391 West Lakes Blvd

Big Lake, Alaska USA 99652




From Anchorage:
North on Hwy 1 (Glenn Highway)
Hwy 1 turns into Hwy 3 (Parks Highway )
Go through Wasilla
Turn left on Big Lake road at mile 52
Go 3 ¼ miles on Big Lake road turn right on Beaver Lake road,
Go 1 mile, turn left onto West Lakes Boulevard (long name, short sign "W.Lks.Blvd")
Go 4 ½ miles to our driveway on right.  Look for tripod with sign.

Please head the following advice on driving in Alaska:

  • Make sure everything on your car is working and in good shape, including good tires, wiper blades, and lights.  Make sure you have an ice scraper for the windshield and windows, and maybe also some paper towels or napkins to clean grime and ice off your headlights if they seem to be getting dim.  In January, you will only have a few hours of bright daylight so headlights are a real necessity.
  • Very few rental cars will be equipped with winter tires because the cars mostly get used during the summer tourist season.  Don’t try to keep up with the locals driving metal studded winter tires – just because they can drive safely at a certain speed (or think they can) doesn’t mean your rental car can too.  Make your own decisions regarding your speed on a particular surface and let them go around you if they want to go faster.
  • Know the road conditions before you leave.  Alaska maintains a very informative, very useful website ( with all of the road conditions posted daily.  In many cases, these conditions are updated several times a day as the highway department trucks travel down the roads.  If the report on the section of road of interest is more than a day old, it usually means the highway department hasn’t been able to get down it.  So you probably shouldn’t try.
  • Road conditions can change rather abruptly – one moment the road is dry because it has been in the sun for a few hours, the next moment it is wet ice because it is in the shade.  Take your time and enjoy the scenery.
  • Watch out for wildlife, particularly moose.  In areas of deep snow, moose will get frustrated at having so much difficulty moving around, so they go looking for someplace with less snow – like that nicely plowed 2 lane highway.  And they won’t leave just because there is a very large vehicle bearing down on them at a high rate of speed.  If you see moose anywhere (on the road or just alongside it), slow down.  They are extremely stupid animals and will quite willingly walk right into your path just because….well, who knows why moose do what they do.
  • Don’t let your gas tank drop below half-full.  Gas stations can be few and far between, and may or may not be open in the more remote areas.  Besides, you needed to stop for some coffee and stretch your legs.



 Distance from Anchorage International Airport: approx. 67 miles


We recommend lodging in a B&B in the Big Lake area to enjoy the complete experience of the Alaskan wilderness. Happy Trails B&B (, where the event will be held, has 4 rooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom. Not only is it the most convenient, but you will have the unique experience of staying onsite at a world-class racing kennel. To book a room, please contact the B&B direct by emailing

Other B&Bs in the Big Lake area can be found on

The actual village of Big Lake is about a 20 min drive from the kennel, depending on road conditions. For more standard lodging, we recommend the Best Western Lake Lucille in Wasilla (, about a 30-40 minute drive from Happy Trails Kennels, depending on road conditions). Rooms at the Best Western will generally be less expensive than Big Lake area B&Bs and more convenient to a variety of restaurants and shopping centers, but will not provide as authentic an experience as staying in the Big Lake area.

Happy Trails B&B

Mile 4.5 West Lakes Blvd 19391 West Lakes

Big Lake

Alaska 99652

4 rooms only. 2 left.

Book direct!

0 miles


Best Western Lake Lucille in Wasilla

1300 W Lake Lucille Drive


Alaska 99654

26 miles

From $99.99

Cole' Cabin


Alaska 99652,%20AK&adults=1&check_in=2021-01-21&check_out=2021-01-27&source_impression_id=p3_1594756340_EXHWT7SiCAjKQgpn&guests=1

0 miles From $133

Walle's Place on Horseshoe Lake

Big Lake

Alaska, 99652,%20AK&adults=1&check_in=2021-01-21&check_out=2021-01-27&source_impression_id=p3_1594756578_MDS+hKEct3OBNnb8&guests=1

0 miles From $165

Blue Lantern Lodge- "Hannah's Room" 

Big Lake


15-20 miles From $150

Blue Lantern Lodge- "Holly's Room" 

Big Lake


15-20 miles From $150






Wasilla Lake



The lake named by workers constructing the Alaska Railroad after a nearby creek named Wasilla Creek. The lake shore is the site of a city park, Newcomb Park. It is the northern terminus of the Seven-Mile Canoe Trail, the other end being at Finger Lake. Outside of the park areas most of the shoreline is private property. The lake has a stable population of rainbow trout and fishing is considered good for bank, boat, and ice fishing.


Palmer and Alaska State Parks

Trail maps and passes can be found here:


Gold Panning-Hatcher Pass


More information on winter activities (mountain skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling) can be found here:


Independence Mine State Historical Park


Learn what it was like to live and work in one of Alaska's largest gold mining camps.


Thunderbird Falls


One of the most popular “first hikes” for families with small children, the one-mile trail to Thunderbird Falls traverses a handsome birch forest along the Eklutna River canyon to reach a deck with views of a 200-foot waterfall.



Fort Richardson


Fort Richardson is a United States Army installation in the U.S. State of Alaska, adjacent to the city of Anchorage. In 2010, it was merged with nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base to form Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The post’s largest military tenant is the Alaska National Guard, with facilities at Camp Carroll and Camp Denali. Fort Richardson also hosts several non-military activities, including a United States National Cemetery and a state-owned fish hatchery.


Knik Glacier


The Knik Glacier snakes out of the Chugach Mountains, tumbling into an iceberg-studded lake that feeds the Knik River. With a five-mile-wide face and daily calving, it’s an impressive sight: 400-foot ice walls rise out of a lake filled with icebergs that are floating, turning, and breaking apart. There are no roads in here, but tour operators travel up the Knik River to the lake. There are also flightseeing trips over the glacier and a dog-mushing camp on the ice. You can also catch a glimpse of the glacier as you're driving the Glenn Highway south of Palmer.


Glacier Hiking-Matanuska


Matanuska Glacier Park is privately owned and charges per person every time you go thru the gate; Alaska State passes do not apply. Regular 2020 entry fee at gate is $30 per person. Hiking season is May to September.


Wasilla Creek Wetlands Trail

5990 Nelson Road

Wasilla AK 99654

Wasilla Creek Wetlands has a gorgeous boardwalk trail that is easy enough for the whole family to enjoy.

The trailhead can be a little tricky to find: After you pass The Ranch Alaska you'll pass over a tiny bridge labelled "Wasilla Creek." The parking lot will be on the left.


“A once-in-a-lifetime experience combining continuing education with adventure - very professional and flexible organisers.”

Tore Malmei, Veterinærene Nyland & Malmei, Norway

“Very well-organized event with superb wetlabs supervised by highly-dedicated speakers. Great spouse program!”

Päivi Nussbaumer, Clinique du Vieux Château, Swizterland

“Well organised, small initmate course with great academic content.”

Angela Rogers, Blue Hills Veterinary Hospital, South Africa

“Super meeting with vets all over the world, real holiday atmosphere, a congress I would book again anytime, Super staff and service of your team and Mongena, we really enjoyed it and still do.”

Michael Saxer

“Very good quality conference with amazing outside activities, great accommodation & food which made it a very enjoyable week. It is easy to very nice to meet the other attendees.”

Mailys Giradoux