Photos and Story by Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks
After leaving the Eagle checkpoint, Brent Sass ran his team for roughly 40 miles before taking a five and a half hour break at a hospitality stop – Trout Creek Cabin – in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. He left the cabin and headed for the Yukon River when his wheel dog, Taco collapsed.
Sass says the dog was eating fine and he hadn’t noticed any abnormal behavior.
The Eureka musher loaded the expired dog into his sled and ran the remaining 60 miles to Slaven’s Roadhouse where he notified veterinarians and race officials that the dog had expired.
Taco is the third sled dog Sass acquired since he took up mushing in 2006. This would have been his fifth Yukon Quest. Sass called Taco his “go to wheel dog.” He said he would be thinking about Taco for a long time. Sass says he will continue in this year’s race despite his loss. He says Taco “would want the team to finish so it would be foolish to stop now.”
Results from a necropsy show no fault on the part of the musher.
According to the Head Veterinarian, the cause of death is inconclusive. Results of a histopathological examination will be available in two to four weeks.