Mushers #metoo

This story was updated on April 27, 2018

FAIRBANKS – Banned Yukon Quest musher Hugh Neff – seeming to channel the spirit of self-exiled Iditarod musher Dallas Seavey – says he is the victim of a “personal vendetta” spawned by powerful, unnamed conspirators.

The accusation was leveled by the two-time winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, in a nearly seven minute video posted to YouTube on Thursday. 

As with Seavey, Neff accused race officials of conducting a shoddy investigation. He said that led to veterinarians who’ve never visited his kennel deciding to banish him from the race he loves.

“They never even interviewed the people at Fortymile where this incident happened,” Neff said.

What exactly happened at or near the confluence of the Yukon and Fortymile rivers is not known. What Quest records show is that Neff left the Eagle checkpoint on the 150-mile run along the trail to Dawson City, Yukon, with 11 dogs in his team, and that he showed up in Dawson more than two days later with only eight dogs.

During that time period, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Neff made at least two satellite phone calls from near Clinton Creek, an abandoned mining town, to race officials 40 to 50 miles away in Dawson.

“Early this morning, he called me and advised me one of his veteran dogs, Boppy, had a medical issue and expired,” race marshal Doug Harris told reporter Brad Joyal on Feb. 9. “Rangers arranged for the dog to be brought into the vet team here and (Neff) was going to continue on with his team as he originally planned.”

“Hugh called me yesterday on his satellite phone,” Harris added. “He was at the hospitality cabin at Clinton Creek, and he advised he was going to take a long break there and drive into Dawson City. He said when he got here, he was going to scratch because he has a young team of dogs and it’s extremely cold. He just thought it was best for everyone.”

Harris did not return phone calls on Thursday. One of the people involved in helping to recover the body of Neff’s dead dog, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said two live dogs were also hauled from Clinton Creek to Dawson by snowmachine along with the dead dog. Neff did not respond to a request for comment.

Quest chief veterinarian Nina Hansen Friday confirmed that report and said the two dogs were alive. She said patient-client privilege prevented her from saying anything more about the condition of the dogs. Quest mushers sign a waiver allowing the disclosure of information about dead dogs, but not other dog information, she said.

Clinton Creek is not a Quest dog drop. It is what is called a “hospitality stop.”

Any musher who dropped dogs there would be disqualified upon reaching Dawson. Disqualification is considered something of a black eye in mushing circles.

The Quest on its website reported Boppy died early on Feb. 9. It reported that Neff arrived in Dawson at 10:05 p.m. that day and scratched from the race. There was no official mention of Neff’s Feb. 8 call to Harris or of any dogs dropped at Clinton Creek.

A Quest necropsy later found five-year-old Boppy died of aspiration pneumonia. The team was then resting at Clinton Creek and Boppy was reported to be in a cabin being cared for.

Healthy dogs at rest do not usually inhale their vomit, the cause of aspiration pneumonia. But the ailment can be slow to develop if the dog inhales only a small amount of fluid or other contaminant while running.

Cat in the Hat

A former Chicagoan who likes to entertain children and sometimes sports a Cat in the Hat headpiece as worn by the Dr. Seuss character,  the 50-year-old Neff regularly goes on the road across the country to promote sled dog sports and himself as an all-around good guy.

He alluded to his promotional efforts in the video.

“I travel more than any other musher,” he said. His talks to school children have built him a solid fan base. His fans, as were the case with Seavey, were rallying to his support on Facebook.

A post from David James was representative: “You love your dogs bro. This I know. Standing with you in MN!!”

None of Neff’s critics wanted to speak on the record for fear of becoming the targets of fan attacks. Privately four of them questioned whether Neff’s team should even have been allowed to start the 1,000-mile race.

Knowledgeable sled dog hands all, they said Neff’s dogs appeared underweight at the start, though they also freely admitted that assessing when a sled dog is underweight is not easy and added that Neff is a two-time Quest champ whose personal opinion as to weight warrants considerable consideration.

One added that Neff’s wife, Olivia, had dogs in similar condition at the start of the Yukon Quest 300. Those dogs gained weight while running with her in the companion, middle-distance race run in conjunction with the bigger, international event.

Two expressed the opinion the Neffs shouldn’t have been trying to do the Quest, the YQ300 and the Iditarod all in the same year because they didn’t have enough quality dogs trained to cover so much racing, something Hugh alluded to in a News-Miner interview.

Hugh, the newspaper reported, didn’t expect to be a Quest frontrunner because he and Olivia split up the dogs from their kennel with many of the best going to Olivia.

The Whitehorse Star reported that Hugh’s personal veterinarian – not race vets – performed the pre-race exam on Hugh’s dog. Quest vets told the Star that Boppy appeared to have been in poor condition before the race.

Hansen said that Boppy should have been pulled from Hugh’s team in Eagle. Hansen wasn’t in Eagle when Neff left the checkpoint, but she said she remains ultimate responsible.

She told reporter Dan Bross at KUAC “that (the) dog was looked at in Eagle, and it was recorded to have a poor body condition. And that was not brought to my attention.”

“Everyone has dogs issues in the race,” Hugh said in his video. “Obviously dogs get skinny….”

It took Hugh 60 hours to cover the 150 miles from Eagle to Dawson. He left Eagle in ninth place in his race.  He was the last musher to arrive in Dawson. None of the 13-mushers who finished the 2018 Quest spent more than 40 hours on the Eagle-Dawson trail and most spent significantly less.

Unwarranted punishment?

Hugh suggested he’d been punished enough by the loss of Boppy – “Boppy was a special boy to us” – and that to be suspended from the 1,000-mile race for the next two years is unfair. At one point in the video he broke down in tears.

“This is my life,” he said. “I’ve given my life to the Quest.”

Race veterinarians, he argued, didn’t understand his love of the event or of his dogs.

“They don’t know what we’re all about,” he said. “So they’re just going off the paperwork and, oh, feelings about what they see the numbers as.”

A four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Seavey made similar accusations last fall after he was revealed as the musher who finished the 2017 race with a doped team. Seavey did, however, offer a broader range of possible suspects: jealous fellow mushers, animal-rights saboteurs, members of the Iditarod’s board of directors, and race officials.

Seavey also raised questions about why another musher found with dope in his dogs wasn’t declared to have had a “doping positive.” Hugh Thursday raised questions about why other mushers who’ve had dogs die on the trail weren’t banned.

Battling on

Looking haggard, Hugh sat in front of the staircase in his log home wearing an “Alaska” sweatshirt with a Yukon Quest poster to his right as the video opened. The video later cut away to his hooking 18 dogs to a four-wheeler, taking them for a run near his Tok residence, and then returning to feed them chunks of fish.

The dogs looked happy and enthusiastic. One jumped into Hugh’s arms and Hugh caught and held it.

In the video, the musher said that he, other mushers, vets, fans and “dogs…love the Quest.”

He promised he’d never abandon the race, but added that  “I’m not going to go up in front of a board of people that don’t like me.”

He said he would appeal his two-year suspension from the race, but would do so in writing. He promised to mush on.

“I’m still racing,” he said. “I’m doing Iditarod. My wife is racing.”

Hugh finished 21st in the 2018 Iditarod. Whether he will be allowed to race Iditarod next year is unclear.

Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) spokesman Chas St. George said the race was aware of Hugh’s problems with the Quest and monitoring the situation.

“At this time,” he added, “the ITC is in the fact-gathering stage and cannot comment on whether it will take action of its own.”

The “Musher Qualifications” section of the Iditarod rules says “mushers must exemplify the spirit and principles of the Iditarod Trail Committee as set forth in the rules, policies, bylaws and mission statement.”

The rules also say, “mushers shall be disqualified for rule infractions involving
physical abuse of a dog, or for cheating or deliberate rule infractions that give a musher an unfair advantage over another musher. Mushers may also be disqualified for other acts involving cruel and inhumane treatment.”




45 replies »

  1. The sport is self destructing.
    I started mushing in 1975 and am a real fan of racing and of those competent mushers who take the right approach.
    There are some mushers I don’t think much of, tho.
    So far, with a few extreme exceptions, mushers have been exempt from Alaska’s animal cruelty laws.
    If Joe Blow had a horse that was in that dogs condition the horse would be confiscated by the authorities and the owner charged with a crime.

    • I’m not sure Joe Blow would be convicted of any crime as I recall an attempt to get some changes to animal cruelty laws changed, but once Alaska’s farmers found out that they wouldn’t be able to castrate their hogs it very quickly disappeared. And that situation was started over some horses that were left to fend for themselves in winter.
      Livestock are treated a bit differently, it seems.

      • Yep,
        And with guys like Vern Halter classifying K9’s as “livestock” in the Mat Su borough, there really is no other solution than ending the funding for these dog lots.

      • I think there is a case to be made that sled dogs are working animals, rather than pets that curl up next to the wood stove. That said, humane treatment is necessary but people seem to differ on what that (humane treatment) is.
        I can still remember the conversation on KFAR radio when the host (who supported the changing of animal cruelty laws) asked the Fairbanks farmer, who had complained that he wouldn’t be able to castrate his hogs, : “Surely they are anesthesized during this procedure?” “No Mam.” was his reply. This host was a big favorite of those rednecks on KFAR but after that conversation she disappeared from that station, never to be heard from again.
        She meant well, I believe, but she came between ideology and pragmatism IMO.

      • See Bill,
        The mushers have put themselves in a conundrum.
        They wanted sled dogs listed as livestock and in many areas they are.
        Problem is feds regulate livestock with USDA.
        USDA says NO animal (livestock) may be permanently tethered at ANY time.
        Well, the mushers just petitioned for a “chaining” exemption from the feds, now this is purely hypocritical.
        The “best care” we hear of cannot even follow USDA guidlines for livestock??
        There is nothing “best” about this treatment of Huskys.
        And my Husky by the fire has the same DNA of the Irod dog sitting out in the rain with a 4 foot chain.
        “Working dogs” is an anthropocentric slur of the twenty first century….they are just Dogs…not Hogs!

      • I suspect that the exemption would be granted for the simple reason that untethered dog teams would be too hard on each other. And individual pens would be too expensive.
        I know of no tethered dogs that can’t get out of the rain, do you? Why make up such bullchit?

  2. Hugh is in the unfortunate position of having a dog die when the entire sport is under intense scrutiny. The fact that he left a couple dogs at 40–mile indicates he knew he had dogs in trouble, and– by rule, he was likely to be disqualified.
    The bottom line is that the driver bears responsibility for his team. Period. The new mentality of our country, where we blame the bar for getting one drunk, should not carry over. Especially in an animal-related enterprise.
    There have been a few questionable deaths in dog-racing in the past where no penalty was given. Hugh is right there. But, because we have made wrong decisions in the past, does not mean we should continue to make them.
    I feel for Hugh, but his penalty is justified by the new mentality within the sport. Mushers must be prepared to accept stricter guidelines and stiffer penalty for infractions, whether they occur during a race or in the dogyard. The old way of; “ain’t nobody gonna tell me how to take care of my dogs!” will no longer be acceptable—not if one wishes to race or run a dog tour. Jeff King figured that out long ago…..

    • John, I guess you’ve never seen the video of how King trains dogs in his kennel during the summer. King puts a treadmill in front of an ATV and attaches the dogs to the vehicle. The dogs are put on the treadmill, which is made to go at top speed. The dogs are forced to run even when they’re tired, injured or dehydrated from the summer heat and sun.

      • Lisbeth: if there’s some video showing anything like this, let’s see it. i find it hard to believe if for no other reason than that it is illogical. running injured and/or dehydrated dogs does nothing to make them fitter. it breaks them down and lengthens recovery time. it would be counterproductive and stupid, and Jeff King is not stupid.

      • I don’t know Craig…
        Shooting a moose on Denali National Park land and getting busted by John Leonard for doing it is not very smart.

      • None of the dogs in that video look “tired, injured and dehydrated” to me. they are all trotting happily. And I don’t think that is in the summer. The men have coats and one has a stocking cap on so it is cold. The grass is yellow…not green like it would be in summer. There is snow on the hills in the background…looks like Fall training to me. And that is a very innovative set-up to use a four wheeler to power the treadmill.

      • Those dogs are all trotting and do not in the least look dehydrated. As far as the “top speed” you speak of, they only can go as fast as the slowest trotter and all of those dogs have a very tight tugline.
        My own experience with summer training in Juneau was that when temps were close to 50 degrees the dogs could overheat-fortunately for us here we had numerous ponds and lakes right alongside our training runs and the dogs would pile into that water when we stopped.
        That moose hunt was probably not Jeff’s finest hour!

      • I think King’s dogs look tired, dehydrated and injured. Yes, there’s a little bit of snow on some mountains. That happens in Alaska in the summer. There is no grass shown in the video. We only see dry brown dirt. It’s relative when people feel cold. So what that a couple of people are wearing jackets! People in the Conch Republic wear heavy sweaters when temperatures dip to 70 degrees F.

      • Lisbeth: there is nothing in that video to indicate those dogs are tired or dehydrated, and the video clearly shows they’re not injured. that’s a nicely moving string. i didn’t see a hiccup in anybody’s stride.
        they could be tired, and they could be dehydrated. but there’s no way of knowing. a key part of training is putting the body under stress to break it down a little so it rebuilds stronger. so, yeah, they could very ell be tired but there is no sign they are fatigued, ie. incapable of holding the pace.
        which brings us to dehydrated. that’s pretty much impossible to tell from a video.
        all i can see in that video is what i’d see if i went down the hill to the Alaska Club where i’m sure at least a dozen people are chugging away on the treadmills at this moment.
        there appear to be some sled dog contented rolling along on a treadmill in the middle of a well-maintained dog yard. one could take the barking to be a bunch of other dogs yelling, “my turn. my turn.”

      • Lisbeth. Why attack someone who is giving their happy dogs exercise in what appears to be May according to Facebook post date. Jeff king and I rarely see eye to eye but his dogs are well cared for . If you wanna say he’s a jerk I’m sure lots of people agree but you are showing your lack of common sense to attack this video . Can’t you be positive about something? Pet owners would beg to have their dogs get to go on this treadmill. Outdoors in Denali park !!! What’s better ? Attack someone for doing bad things. Jeff has awesome track record . Slandering someone who is conscientious about dog care makes me suspect you are paid to spew misinformation? Who are you ? Are you even a real person ? Perhaps you aren’t even a woman ? Your accusations seam so robotic. Can’t you be positive for once ? Find someone who does a good job and Bragg them up . We want to meet them ! So people know who to look up to . Thx

      • Steve Stine, what exactly does the moose kill have to do with this thread? You merely are dredging up old news to further sully someone who paid his dues on this issue. This is a mushing story, relevance of your post?

      • Sorry Tom,
        My comment about the poached moose was in response to Craig’s defense for King.
        “…running injured and/or dehydrated dogs does nothing to make them fitter. it breaks them down and lengthens recovery time. it would be counterproductive and stupid, and Jeff King is not stupid.”

        Some could agrue that poaching a moose within a National Park you live next to is both “stupid and counterproductive”…
        That was my point.

      • “Although the miles have tended to run together over time, there is one constant that I learned from my first race that stays with me even today. And, no, it isn’t to leave the bullwhip at home.”

        – King, Jeff. Cold Hands Warm Heart: Alaskan Adventures of an Iditarod Champion, Denali: Husky Homestead Press, 2008

      • He doesn’t use the treadmill for training. He uses it during his tourism business to demonstrate how the dogs line up and move. It is a brief part of the tourism experience and is good for the tourists to see how enthusiastic and coordinated the dogs are and more respectful of the dogs than to giving rides. The dogs go for a couple minutes tops. It’s not training or conditioning but it is engaging for these dogs to get to harness up and have some fun.

    • How dogs appear is very much in the eyes of the beholder. And, “r,” your challenging my personhood is what’s called “a cheap shot.” Here’s a positive tidbit for you: hooking a bunch of dogs up to treadmills is abusive regardless of where they’re located— Lincoln, Nebraska, Manchester, NH or San Antonio, TX. The problem with treadmills is that humans control the speed of the machine. Dogs are often pushed beyond their limits. I think Kong’s dogs were pushed beyond their limits. Of that I’m positive!

      • Lisbeth: there’s a big difference between “can be” and “often.” there’s simply no evidence in that video to indicate those dogs are being pushed beyond their limits. the video actually shows the opposite. those dogs look quite comfortable running on that treadmill.
        am i big fan of treadmills? no.
        the Pavlovian implications are significant. you could use a treadmill and proper conditioning techniques to basically make a bunch of dogs into little canine robots programmed to run at a set speed for set periods of time on a treadmill like trail, which is the kind of trail the Iditarod has been working toward for a decade.
        as a fan of Rick Swenson’s observation from long ago – “if dogs were like snowmachines and all you had to do was put gas in them, anyone could win the Iditarod” – i’m not a big fan of Iditarod moving in this direction. i’d personally like to see more of a wilderness race. i’d like to know that Iditarod competitors are actually able to take dogs on a camping trip without checkpoints to support them as Alaska mushers did long ago.
        but it’s not my race. it’s up to Irod organizers and mushers to decide what kind of event they want, and they seem to want a doggy NASCAR.

      • Lisbeth there were no cheap shots . It’s a legitimate question. Who are you ? And why do you feel qualified to slander hard working people with excellent record ? Yet you appear not to have enough knowledge to present alternatives to guide mushers ? You make yourself sound like a paid schill when you refuse to present quality roll models or qualified veterinarians and then you go on to say treadmills are animal abuse yet millions of humans voluntarily step on a treadmill every day for entertainment and exercise. Jeff’s dogs are among luckiest on planet to have an outdoor treadmill for their personal use . My question stands ? Are you paid money to spew corrosive divisive emotional nonsense? Who are you and what’s your back ground? Or -What has made you so bitter that you begrudge dogs a chance to do what they love with the people they look up to ?

  3. This isn’t the first time Hugh has lost a dog during the Quest. Nor is it the first time he has had the vets criticising his dog care. Many racers have had long careers without losing any dogs while racing.

    So when you see Hugh start his Quest career with vets critical of his dog’s foot care and then you see him lose dogs over the years you start to think maybe, despite his professed love for his dogs, he just has not figured out how to take care of them. He has a reputation in the racing community as the one guy in any race that you would expect to lose a dog. It’s a shame because he could have been a good spokesman for dog racing. He speaks well- sometimes even wisely. He puts in the time with kids and travels to promote the sport. If he had spent more time developing his knowledge of dog care before and during the races and learned when to back off while racing he wouldn’t be in this situation now.

    We all know it is hard to perform at top level in every race and under all conditions. We can forgive mistakes if it looks like you are making some improvement. But at this point in a champion’s career deaths of this type should not occur. Just once I would like to see a racing champion who could just “man up” and show some humility. Stop blaming everyone else for their own failings. Apologize and promise you will try to do better.

  4. According to the Quest head vet Nina Hansen there was “a failure in the vet team” and they should have “clearly” pulled Boppy. So what is the punishment for the vets in this dog death? Are any vets now banned from the Quest? Is Hansen banned? The vets responsible should be banned before Neff. The Quest is taking the easy route, and likely the personal vendetta route, by throwing Hugh under the bus.

    • Do you know that a vet has the authority to “pull” a dog and for what reasons? This dog was written up as having problems in Neff’s vet book and its possible that Neff “over-ruled” the vet’s position.
      I don’t know the rules but can only say in my own case, when advised to drop a dog, I did just that.

      • Vets can easily get a dog pulled. They just report to the race official that the dog should not go on. The race official then makes sure the dog is pulled. This is sled dog race vet 101. Like Vet Hansen said, the vets failed at this basic function. They did not protect the dog. The vets involved should be named and banned from future Yukon Quests and Iditarods due to negligence and incompetence.

    • James, you make some excellent points. Veterinarians should not allow sick, injured or underweight dogs to be entered in sled dog races. The stark reality is that the vets work to help mushers, not the dogs. Quest and Iditarod vets “work” in either of these races to establish their creds with husky and malamute owners. One vet who did necropsies for the Iditarod use to advertise this fact on her website.

      • I don’t buy your assumption (vets are for the mushers) here, Lisbeth.
        That said, at least one vet wrote up “Boppy” as being in some trouble. I don’t know if that vet had authority to “pull” that dog but if Neff over-ruled that vet, and even if he didn’t, the result is clearly on Neff. Neff made the decision to go on with the dog, specifically mentioned as “in physical trouble,” and he is on the hook here IMO.
        The Quest is completely in the right, here.

      • Lisbeth it’s more complicated than first appears. Vets are there mostly for the dogs , occasionally themselves and rarely for the musher. This is guaranteed fact if you carefully observed each vet for 50 years . They do best job they can but often are out of their element. The vets should only face punishment when they don’t follow professional protocol or fail to put in valid effort to save a dog in their direct care . It is truly rare when that occurs. I saw it once in the Iditarod. A vet let a Doug swingly dog die because the vet had decided it was probably going to die . The vet gave up . Maybe the vet was tired . Maybe he felt helpless. That was once in 23 years. Usually the vets are working tooth and nail to help the dogs any chance they get . Their hearts are in the right place . That said there are to many rookie vets on the trail compared to experienced sled dog vets . That puts them at a disadvantage. This should be rectified even if the distance races have to somehow pay the veterans or top sled dog vets . Perhaps er care vets . I suggest Justine lee or Karin Schmidt could be consulted to assemble an exceptionaly competent crew . To be on site . This suggestion could be implemented and would assist everyone. The current vets are very good people with skills but they could use more experienced help. Yeah it costs more but then the race would look better and more people would back it and in turn more money would be available to pay top class experienced vets . It’s very hard for the vets to balance their professional knowledge while dealing with harsh elements during race conditions as well as individual musher personalities. That’s truly a hard equation while throwing in lack of sleep. The musher alone must be held responsible for his team condition not the vet . Once the dog is left in a vets care then it’s their responsibility to assure the dog is happy and survives even if they need the dog airlifted to a clinic . In this style of event a dog must be treated as a human would and guarantee available prompt medical care . That’s how I see it .

      • Vets work for the dogs, and they do their best to support the mushers. They help the mushers in order to help the dogs. But they cannot force a musher to take their advice. There are race officials for that — and this incident will lead to improvements all around.

      • Ramey, I agree, if all vets were Karin Schmidts then there would be no vet problem. But that is not the case. Many of the vets are bozos on a vacation, just trying to escape from spaying and neutering cats and dogs for a couple of weeks. And often they have old-school views of dogs. That a dog is a thing, not a personality. Stu Nelson is a prime example of this. I remember talking to him about my dogs 25 years ago. In 10 minutes I realized he was an idiot that lived in the dark ages of dog care. I talked to him just a few years ago and realized he still lives in the dark ages. The head wags the tail. So with idiots like Nelson heading vet services, vets will continue to make bad decisions (or not decision like which caused the death of Boppy).

      • Karin Schmidt shouldn’t be held up as a role model for veterinarians. Schmidt told mushers how to avoid having their dogs test positive for drugs.

        Veterinarians should be required to pull every sick, injured and exhausted dog out of the Quest or Iditarod. Any vet who fails to do so should be charged with animal cruelty.

      • Lisbeth . Fill us in how you know so much about who is a good vet and who is not . What are your credentials? You maligned an incredibly astute veterinarian who has proven capable time and time again . Way above the crowd. I’ve known her for almost 40 years . I’ve known many vets in 40 years . She ranks at top . I know only a handful in her league. She has been on both sides of the fence and understands the issues at hand . She has already been through the fire and came out wise and capable. She is anti drugs for competition. That I can gaurantee . Doubt she has time to help this event but if she chose to she would be top of the line . Do us a favor and present a vet who is better . More skilled with more experience base ? Then please contact them , get them to help out . A little positivity would be helpful. Karin would help your cause of finding qualified veterinarians. So don’t malign her . It makes you look bitter and damages your nice credentials. I’m truly listening for a more qualified vet from you . Thx!

    • James,
      If you read Nina’s report…
      This dead dog did not even have fat around his heart muscle.
      This was not just muscle wasting while in a race, this was poor treatment and feeding schedules for a long time.
      As per rule 44 Hugh has been censured for killing another dog in the race.
      This is no personal vendetta.
      Neither was Dallas’s positive drug tests.
      This is the losers getting busted at their own b.s. commercial mushing “game”.
      40 states have banned dog racing and 4 more will not allow it either, so AK is in the “dirty” half dozen of states…right up there with Texas and West Virginia…two other extraction, pollution, “no rules” states.
      AK residents are not looking to own 50 dogs on chains anymore…real athletes walk, ski,run or bike the Irod trail these days.
      The trail has been preserved.
      Snowmachines also work well out there.
      Majority of “sled dog” sports through Europe are ski jor, bike jor and canicross.
      Running a dog team 1,000 miles and running dogs to their death is “not cool” anymore…
      Now Hugh got the memo.

      • Steve can’t you find some middle ground? Work for improvement? Rules committee just prepared to propose harsher deceased dog rule last night. You make yourself sound way off base though your heart is in right place . It never was cool to race dogs to death ever . That was nonsense and makes it hard to listen to your great ideas .

      • Ramey,
        And what base is that I am off of?
        I only own 3 dogs for a reason.
        I would have no life with 50 dogs, let alone have money to feed them.
        I do not see this sport (commercial sled dog racing) as humane.
        The fact that it is a husky breed in the snow, makes no difference to me.
        A good pal back in PA adopts injured Greyhound dogs.
        Him and his wife drive down to WV to “rescue” these dogs from the crates they live in.
        Same deal…skinny as hell when he finds them.
        Fed more Cocaine than NSAIDs down there.
        Dan is a chiropractor and only has 2 dogs at a time…he cannot believe the videos I show him of dog lots.
        To him it is the same.
        (Racing dogs for money)
        I cannot see why it goes on.
        I am not against mushing or having huskys, but the commercial sponsorships of dog lots like Neff’s that turn out a dead dog with ulcers, worms, aspiration and no fat around it’s heart must slowly go into the books.
        There are still many ways to enjoy a dog tugging in harness, go up to Hatcher Pass and Ski Jor or recreation mushing with family and friends.

      • Steve . Your comment about being “cool” to run dogs to fatality. Is off base . Never was the case for anyone I ever heard of . Sounds pretty disgusting and turns me away from listening. Fine and great to have different opinions but no sense in making things up . Even if it’s to help prove some point . Make sense ?

      • Steve you know what surprises me about you ? That you and I agree so often on so many subjects! Pretty crazy . Somewhere way back we’re cut from similar cloth . Keep it up man !

      • Ramey,
        Sorry the “cool” thing offended you.
        There was little opposition to these endurance races years ago.
        I do consider you in my comments as I feel you are probably in the 5 percent or so of just “family” run Irod kennels.
        I know you have some friends helping, but no full time handlers.
        I guess the differences between us, is that you grew up in this environment and I am the transplant.
        My life outside of AK and USA has shown me other ways of living.
        There are also different personalities in Alaska and some are more competitive than others.
        What we are seeing now, is there are also “disadvantages” to having a competitive personality…

    • Vets don’t actually “pull” dogs — they advise the musher, and as needed, race officials, that a dog should be dropped. The vet reported the condition of the dog in Neff’s vet book — he chose to run the dog anyway. The Vets recognize that the information should have gone also to an official, and that was the mistake they made. However, Neff was solely responsible for choosing to run that dog in spite of the vet’s report.

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