Musher Brent Sass’ lead dog dies days before K300

brent sass
Musher Brent Sass is no stranger to the Kuskokwim 300. Photo: Chris Pike/KYUK-Bethel.

The dog that lead Brent Sass to victory in last year’s Yukon Quest has died unexpectedly. Sass is coping with the loss as he prepares to start the Kuskokwim 300 in Bethel.

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Brent Sass’s lead dog, Basin, died earlier this week. The Eureka musher is in Bethel for the 37th annual Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. Sass was in a remote area and wasn’t sure what happened to the 5-year-old dog.

“I left the dogs camping like I always do and when we came back down to the dogs, something had definitely happened. He’d gotten sick and was not in a good way. It went downhill fast.”

The area they were in was so remote that they weren’t able to bring Basin to a veterinarian.

“We did as much as we could. We gave him fluids and warmed him up and put him in a cabin — we did all we could to try and get him warmed up. But we couldn’t (save him). We did all we could given the circumstances.”

Basin’s death is a huge loss to the team which will now number at 18 dogs for the race. Sass said only time will tell how the healing process will be for his dogs.

“We’re all still in the grieving process. When we get out on the trail… time will tell, you know? I think it’s going to be a healing process. Whether it makes us go fast or slow… I think I’m going to find out when we get out there.”

Twenty-five mushers from all over Alaska and Canada picked up their bibs for race which starts this evening at 6:30 p.m. in Bethel. Racers are expected to arrive at the finish line in Bethel this Sunday.