DAWSON CITY, Yukon — Boppy, a veteran dog on Hugh Neff’s team, died Friday morning.
Neff on Thursday informed Yukon Quest Race Marshal Doug Harris that he intended to scratch from the race. He alerted Harris early Friday about the dog’s death.
Neff arrived at the Dawson City checkpoint late Friday and immediately scratched at 9:05 p.m. Alaska time.
The two-time Quest champion was near Clinton Creek hospitality stop, roughly 45 miles outside Dawson City, when he made the call.
“Early this morning, he called me and advised me one of his veteran dogs, Boppy, had a medical issue and expired,” Harris said. “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.”
Harris said the dog’s body was being taken to Dawson City, the first checkpoint on the Canada side, by snowmachine and in the care of Canadian Rangers. He said he learned of Neff’s plan to scratch in Dawson City when the longtime musher from Laughing Eyes Kennel in Tok called him Thursday.
Head Veterinarian Dr. Cristina Hansen said a preliminary necropsy will be conducted on the dog, according to a Yukon Quest news release. Quest officials said the results from the preliminary necropsy should be available in the coming days.
“Hugh called me yesterday on his satellite phone,” Harris said. “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 (Friday). 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.”
Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMQuest.
Correction: The name of Neff's dog Boppy was misspelled in earlier versions of this story.