Remembering the Whistler sleddies today.
12 years ago today the infamous Whistler sled dog cull began and over the course of two days - April 21 + 23, 2010 (depending on confirmed vs. unconfirmed reports), 56-100 dogs used for pulling tourists around Whistler, BC, were killed.
Out of that tragedy, however, this community formed. A community made up of adopters, fosters and advocates sharing knowledge, providing support and handing out lots of sleddie love.
What happened can’t be undone, but for those first sleddies from Whistler who became ambassadors, they, along with their adopters proved that the old way isn’t the only way. And by forging a new path, the opportunity for hundreds more former sled dogs to make their way into warmth, comfort, safety and love has been created. It’s been pretty extraordinary to watch this group grow and evolve over the years as well as see the ripple effect it’s having.
In honour of the Whistler sled dogs, I share with you the faces and names of the 216 former sled dogs I've had the privilege of meeting and photographing over the last decade.
Rest in peace and love Whistler sleddies, you did not die in vain.
Your memory is being kept alive by everyone here.
In the wilds of Victoria, a small group headed out for some forest bathing. Clearly, some took that 'bathing' part quite literally by 'bathing' in some dead animal on the side of the path and 'bathing' in the mud. But clever Stevie actually did some bathing (and drinking) in the stream.
This small group included new arrivals Jack and Peach, along with more experienced retirees, Stevie and Portia, and the fella who's known the ropes the longest in this gaggle of sleddies, Jasper. The group was intentionally small this time so that new-into-care Peach could meet up with a friend from her working days, Jack, as well as hopefully some new friends... and she did.
Before we even got started on our walk, a familiar face showed up in the parking lot - it was Penny Stone, who heads up the Victoria Humane Society (VHS) and has been helping sleddies into care for over 10 years. VHS is the rescue that has made it possible for these 5 sleddies and many, many more, come into care. They cover the food, vet care, meds, as well as spay/neuter surgeries, dentals and whatever else is needed to help these sleddies along. And even though Jack was recently neutered, he still wanted to say hi to Penny.
Across the road and down the hill we went into the woods. Leashes came off for Jasper, Portia and Stevie. Off-leash time for Jasper and Portia meant they ran circles around us and put on a lot more milage than the rest of us. Stevie, though off leash, stays pretty close to his human and the rest of the crew. Jack and Peach were pretty jazzed about it all, but their leashes (and GPS trackers) stayed on, with off-leash time saved for another day when the humans get to know them a bit better and they get to know the humans. In the meantime they got lots of loves and treats as both are VERY snuggly.
Words that came to mind when editing this photo set: Jack's ears, Stevie the sentinel, Peaches the snuggler, Jasper the zoomer, Portia the smelly (after rolling in the dead stuff), digging, happy, adventure, brave, love.
Some new friends were made along the path, photos ops were had and when it was time to go, Jack said farewell.
Jack is currently reviewing his potential adopter applications and once Peach will be doing the same in the near future.
Thanks to the humans J, G and J for letting me tag along, once again and of course to Jasper, Portia, Stevie, Peach and Jack for being so perfect.