Chasing time. Chasing memories.
The years are flying by and my memory for some details regarding my sleddie friends is getting a little fuzzy. I was trying to remember the first time I met Chase. I don't think it was at the Man & His Dog Fashion Show Fundraiser in October 2016 (first 3 images below) because a friend had been fostering him... but maybe it was?
He was such a sweet guy right from the start and honestly just wanted human attention - especially neck rubs and belly rubs.
After he was adopted I reached out to his new human and she brought him to my studio to participate in I Was A Sled Dog. I remember that day well - April 15, 2018 - it was my anniversary and it wasn't the first time I'd spent it photographing a dog.
When Chase arrived, it'd been about a year and a half since I'd seen him, but he was as loose as a goose. He stood in position easily, mugged for my camera by showing off all the head-tilt angles he could muster and then laid down for a nap. There wasn't much history on him other than after he was 'rescued' from being a sled dog, he was taken in by a rescue that couldn't keep up with the animals in its care. It shut down and the Victoria Humane Society jumped in to help.
Over the course of the photo session, it was obvious how much he had connected with his new human and how much she loved him.
Last week I got a note though:
“well my beautiful boy passed last month. he was 17. and i miss him every day!!! he was my beautiful beautiful boy!”
My heart broke for K and her loss of her buddy, but I knew that he got some good years in to experience love, nurturing and lots of off-leash adventures.
The memories will now be ours to chase.
Rest in peace and love Chase.
p.s. check out just how much he loved belly rubs... there were people and stuff happening all around him, and this was the place he wanted to be (thanks Heather for helping make this happen!)
It's Thanksgiving here in Canada and though I am thankful for the multitudes of humans who are adopting former sled dogs each and every day, today was extra special because I got to re-meet four sleddies who live in my neighbourhood and meet their adopters.
Batman and Stevie came into care back in January 2021, Biggie in April 2021 and Cally in August 2021. Photographing them when they're new into care isn't about trying to get a "happy" adoption photo, at least not from me. It's great when the dog is pretty non-plussed about it all, but in my experience, that's not often the case. Sometimes they're almost frozen in fear so they don't move, don't look at me, don't react. Basically hiding in plain sight.
So when the opportunity arrives where I can re-meet a dog, it's pretty amazing. I take some deep breaths before meeting them (because I'm so excited), gather my gear and set forth.
All the dogs did so well and it made me think back to the reunions we used to have. The first one in 2013 where we had 9 sleddies, to the the ones where we had 50+ former sled dogs running around. The park we met at today wasn't fenced but Cally did get some off-leash time.
You'll see a wrap on Batman's leg. This old gent has pretty bad arthritis and he's been fixating on his sore leg joint so it's wrapped up. Arthritis isn't uncommon in sleddies, but sometimes that comes with other pains that are difficult to diagnose. Thankfully his devoted human has been working with their vet to sort out options that work best for him, but for now, he saunters along, sniffing and going at his own pace. Oh, and he likes impromptu belly rubs too! Stevie you'll see is pretty glued to his human. Meeting at this park was new for him, which can be very scary, but he took time to sniff a bum or two which was a good sign! He's gone on a couple runners since he was adopted, but thankfully there is also an invisible tether between he and his human so he's made it back to her safely. Biggie was a treat hound and showed me some of the best head tilting I've seen in a long time! He lives with his humans and little staffy sibling and they're becoming buddies slowly, but surely. He loves watching the world and getting ear rubs by his human. Cally just wanted to say hello to everyone. Actually, she wanted the treats first - especially the ones in my pouch - THEN to say hello! No fear in the people we met, however upon meeting Batman, he let her know not to get too close, too fast, to which she acquiesced and all was good.
On what turned out to be a beautiful autumn day for this mini meet-up, it's because of these humans and the hundreds of others who have stepped up to help sleddies through rescue, fostering and adopting that I have titled this "thanksgiving, thanksliving". Without them, it's not known what would've happened to these dogs, but with them, we know an often overlooked group of dogs are getting a chance to live in warmth, comfort and with love.
p.s. for those new here, as always, photos are in chronological order and I have included sets of succession images to help show as much of the dog's personality as I can.
p.p.s I also have a 'thing' for pictures of dogs with their eyes closed so have included those too :)
Thank you to the Gorge Park Gang for this visit today!
It's official!!!! Our dear Mary Kate and sweet little Flashy pants now have an official home for life!
And even more great news is they’ll be staying right where they are; Where they’re most comfortable, know the routines, don’t try to escape from (anymore) and with those who know them both the best… their super duper foster mom, Debbie and adopted siblings Apex + Calli!
(Handsome Roo (last pic) is still part of the crew while he awaits his perfect match to come along and whisk him away to a life of fun times, love and complete devotion to his adorable ways. Know anyone?)
Thanks to the Thunder Bay SPCA and team for rescuing Mary Kate back in 2018 and to the Victoria Humane Society for bringing Flashy into care and continuing to be such dedicated supporters of our sleddie friends.
Ginny + Bruno.
I was going to make a little video of their photos thinking I needed to switch things up a bit. But my video program kept gacking at me so I will share the intake photos as I usually do... lots of succession images to help show more of each dog's personality. I know the power one single image can have and I appreciate that, but when I photograph the arrival of new sleddies into care, I want to show as much of them as I can in the hopes that you see what I do.
Bruno apparently originally came from a kennel that has provided seemingly no end of very mentally damaged sleddies. Dogs (with names that you may recognize from my posts) that are fearful (mostly of humans) in a way that they can't seem to shake -- Apex, Flash, Colby, Lunar, Summer, Ace, to name a few. But Bruno surprised us all. And that’s what’s so cool about these dogs… time and time again they prove just how individual they are. They're not all machines born and bred to do one thing: pull sleds. If we label them as one thing, they may show us different. And that’s ok. We can adapt to their needs.
These images in this galley show Bruno coming out of the van - the looking, the sniffing, the baby steps and then taking that step that will land him on new ground. Bruno had been retired for a bit up in Whistler but it wasn't until his care was transferred over to the Victoria Humane Society that he became protected under the same laws that protect the dogs we share our homes with. (something that advocates are working to change) This older gent apparently spent a lot of time in his kennel laying down, so while Ginny was fitted with a new harness and volunteers looked to find one that fit him, he was let to explore inside and once he found the bed under the front desk at VHS, he knew what to do and the infamous 'sleddie donut' appeared.
Then, once both had harnesses, we hung out a bit upstairs at VHS and they got to explore even more.
Ginny was a go-go girl... on the move. Watching. Following. Coming when we called her name. She seemed to go up the stairs no problem, but down held a bit of a learning curve. So did squeaky toys. She was interested, but maybe didn't realize she could make the fun squeak herself. Time will tell.
Afterwards, both headed to their foster homes with the help of Jill + Deb and will be in care until they get any medical needs sorted out, then they'll be adoptable through the Victoria Humane Society.
Welcome to retirement Bruno + Ginny!
Thanks for stopping by,