ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Iditarod musher who was hours ahead in the Alaska race when his dogs refused to keep running is dismissing critics who say he ran them too hard and is chalking it up to a bad memory that spooked them.
The team stopped last week after Frenchman Nicolas Petit (PUH'-tee) yelled at a dog that was bullying another, but he said they "did not slow down like a tired team would."
It came a year after they got lost in a blizzard near the same spot along the Bering Sea coast.
Petit said this week that the dogs are treated well and they get plenty of rest during the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
He faced blowback, including from an animal rights group. Some speculated that Petit overexerted the dogs.
He denies the claims and says he'll stand by his dogs.