Dog dies on Yukon Quest trail, past champ Hugh Neff drops out of race

Neff's dog Boppy died on the way to Dawson City, race officials say. The 2016 winner has also withdrawn from the race, becoming the tenth musher to drop out this year.

Neff's dog Boppy died on the way to Dawson City, race officials say

Hugh Neff on the Yukon Quest trail in Alaska earlier this week. Race officials say a dog on Neff's team has died, and the veteran musher has dropped out of the race. (Julien Schroder/Yukon Quest)

Yukon Quest race officials say a dog on musher Hugh Neff's team died on the trail.

Neff — a two-time Quest champion and last year's second-place finisher — also plans to drop out of this year's race once he reaches Dawson City, officials say.

Race marshal Doug Harris says Neff notified them before his dog died, to say that he was going to withdraw from the race.

"He just said that he was running a young team of dogs and they weren't having any fun," Harris said. "It was very cold, and he just thought it would be best for his team."

Early the next morning — Friday — Neff contacted officials again to say his dog, Boppy, had died.

"It was one of his older, more senior veteran dogs," Harris said. "It happens, unfortunately."

It's not yet clear how or why the dog died, Harris said. The race's head veterinarian will perform a necropsy, and a more detailed examination will be done after the race.

Neff, from Tok, Alaska, has been a mainstay of the race for nearly two decades, having competed nearly every year since 2000. He won the race in 2016 and 2012.

Neff has run the Quest 17 times before this year, and was the champion in 2016 and 2012. (Julien Schroder/Yukon Quest)

Three mushers have now been scratched or have withdrawn from the race in the last two days. Alberta musher Jason Campeau called for help from the trail on Wednesday and was flown out by helicopter for a "medical issue." His wife, Jennifer Campeau, also scratched Thursday.

Since the race began last weekend, nine mushers have scratched or been withdrawn. Sixteen are still in the race to Whitehorse.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story, based on information from Yukon Quest, said musher Severin Cathry of Switzerland had been withdrawn from the race. In fact, Yukon Quest clarified on Feb. 9 that Cathry remains a competitor in the race.
    Feb 10, 2018 1:46 PM CT

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