But that’s exactly what Norton, a short-haired German pointer, did on Thursday seconds before he took gold in the Swedish national sled dog (draghund) championships.
“He really, really needed a poo,” his owner Cajsa Grape told The Local.
“At first I tried to make him run, but I know that when he runs, he poos very quickly and he was a long way ahead of the next racer, so I just let him do it. It was lucky that it wasn’t a neck-and-neck race.”
In the competition, highly trained dogs drag weighted sleds, with their handlers following behind on skis shouting out instructions.
According to Grape, 24, who is training to be a vet, handlers encourage their dogs to defecate before the races begin by inserting matchsticks into their anuses.
“It didn’t work this time, because he was a little bit stressed before the race,” she explained. “He wanted to run so much that he didn’t have time.”
“During the race, his stomach started working and then a few hundred metres before the finishing line, I saw him go out to the side, and I knew that he wanted to poo.”
According to Grape, Norton is one of the best sled dogs competing in Sweden today.
“He is very easy to train. I just need to focus on making sure that he doesn’t get too tired, because he thinks it's such fun. His brain is the strongest part of him.”
“I think maybe I will get a dog like him once in a lifetime.”
Christer Ornby, a sled dog expert, told Sweden's SVT broadcaster, that, pooing aside, the race was the best he had ever seen.
“I have not seen such an impressive run ever before,” he said.