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It's a harsh life in the frozen wilderness, especially for the hardworking dogs on the trail. The sub-zero temperatures, the extreme exhaustion, the lack of food, and the vicious attacks by wild dogs all take their toll on the animals, physically and mentally. Under the circumstances, it wouldn't be at all surprising if one of the dogs should go completely insane. Sadly, that's precisely what does happen one morning, when Dolly, one of the sled dogs, goes mad and starts chasing Buck. Francois knows that a mad dog is absolutely no use to the team and represents a clear and present danger to itself and others. He kills Dolly with an ax, but not before Buck has become thoroughly exhausted by the mad chase.

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