Sick dogs forced Whitehorse musher out of Yukon Quest

Whitehorse race veteran Normand Casavant scratched after one day on the trail because his dogs were ill with a virus.
Whitehorse musher Normand Casavant withdrew from the 2014 Yukon Quest sled dog race at the Central checkpoint. (CBC)

As Yukon Quest mushers make their way toward the finish line in Whitehorse, race veteran Normand Casavant is considering whether he will run the race again.

Casavant says this was an extremely disappointing Quest for him. After one day on the trail he was forced to scratch because his dogs were ill with a virus.

"Some of my dogs, they were not eating well, they were not eating at all," he said. "My wife called me from Tagish and said 'All the puppies are sick right now.'"

While on the trail, some of the dogs began vomiting and he worried they were becoming dehydrated. He dropped out of the race at the Central checkpoint, one day after leaving Fairbanks.

Still, Casavant says he doesn't regret his decision to run this year.

"I scratched, but I didn't scratch while I was sitting in front of my television eating chips and drinking beer," he said. "I scratched while I was doing something that was fantastic."

Casavant says it costs around $20,000 to prepare for the Yukon Quest, and up to $50,000 if he includes the cost of dog food and outfitting the dogs for the trail.

"Just in booties [for the dogs], it's close to $3,000," he said.

He says he's not sure whether he can afford to run again next year unless the purse is raised or he gets more sponsorship.