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Outside Unalakleet, Petit scratches after “weird” behavior from dogs

“It all just happened all of a sudden,” Nicolas Petit says about a very strange moment for his dog team, on the trail just shy of Unalakleet.

“All of a sudden, there was some strange stepping going on, weird slipping on surfaces that don’t slip… It looked like they were on ice, when they weren’t.”

Petit talked with KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen a handful of miles outside Unalakleet, at a section of trail where the musher stopped with his team and was eventually picked up by Iditarod crews on snowmachine (or snowmobile). He was taken back to Unalakleet and scratched from the 2014 race.

While the cause for the incident is unknown at this time, Petit shared with Laureli that he’d recently fed the dogs horse meat – something he’d never done before but that he’d heard would be good for the dogs’ hydration. Petit explained that he regularly gave his dogs different types of food to bring variety to their diet. “I like to change it up for them.”

As Petit described it to KNOM, his dogs had been healthy but seemed to deteriorate both strangely and quickly. “The dogs were cruising along, and then they started looking weird after stopping. These dogs (had been) very healthy; they were heavy, they were comparable to house dogs. They were fat. All of a sudden, they got skinny in no time.”

Hear Nicolas Petit, outside Unalakleet, just before scratching from Iditarod 42:


  1. Mel Carl on March 9, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Very nice interview with Nick Petit, I am very sorry he had to scratch in more ways than one, He is my Grandson!

    • Laura Collins on March 9, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks for reading Mel. All the best to Nick, hope he returns next year!

    • Denise on March 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Nick was racing an excellent race this year. So sorry he had to scratch! I’m sure he will do a great job next year. He will win the Iditarod one of these years.

  2. Karen Will-Hale on March 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Does sabatoge happen on the trail?? Would hope not.

    • Jim on March 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      No, I don’t think any musher or person would ever do that…..and people feed horse meat all the time…

  3. anna on March 9, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Nic, I am so sorry you had to scratch. Anna

  4. Jane Eagle on March 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    makes me wonder where he got the horse meat. In the US, horsemeat is not acceptable for human consumption because of all the drugs given to horses, which are detrimental to smaller animals (like humans…and maybe dogs?). So bummed Nick had to scratch; he was a serious contender this year. I hope he and the dogs are all okay.

  5. L Reader on March 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    I homeschool my 7 year old daughter and her assignment was to write a research paper on 1 of 4 selected mushers. One of her 4 was Nicolas Petit. She was THRILLED he was in 5th and doing so well. She is still proud of her selections and ultimately her final research was on him. She loves his dog “Ugly”. Congratulations on a job well done, in spite of the scratch. We plan to follow him again next year where we are certain he and his team will do well!

  6. Damon on March 17, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Nic…. Sorry to hear about things not working out. I’m glad you made the call for the health and safety of the dogs. You will come back stronger next year. Say hi to “dirt bag” for us.

    -ATT Uverse Production Crew