Along with the joy of sharing stories of sleddies here, there is another side to that joy.
It may not be the full opposite, but it's a sadness that inevitably shows up once one of our community passes away.
Whether you believe there's a rainbow bridge or a dog park in the sky, or just an end and nothing more, i like to believe that when one of my sleddie friends passes, they join those who've gone before them and they continue an existence somewhere, playing, running, napping and doing whatever their sweet, sleddie, souls desire.
Maybe it doesn't make sense, but it works for me.
A few of my buddies in our community passed away in the past months - in fact I started writing this on April 1 and had to put it aside for all this time because the weight of coming up with something to write for each of them that may come close to conveying my thoughts and feelings about knowing them as individuals, was a big weight. I know it’s not about me, but the reality is, it’s just me here doing this thing and being human.
So, I suppose as some kind of a procrastination measure, I shared a collage showing 54 of the sleddies who helped me with Part One of this project, along with an ode to those of them who’d passed away since. Perhaps I foolishly considered it might buy me some time while I collected my thoughts. But by doing so, I got messages about some of my other sleddie friends who’d passed. Almost 2 months later, more friends have passed. And now I'm here, getting further behind a self-imposed 8 ball, wondering "now what"?
I've met each and every one the dogs I share. And because of that, I want to then share my individual experiences with them and what I remember about meeting them, one last time. But that’s not going to happen today. Today is recognizing that I want to share them here and now so I can ease the pressure I'm feeling and then down the road take the time I want to share more. I recently discovered I could add a Search button on this site, so between that and just perusing my archives, if you have some time, look up each dog and see how they touched just one life - mine.
To the families of each of the sleddies below, thank you for opening up your home and your heart.
May you rest in peace and love my friends, wherever that may be:
Fiddle (seen also in our blog header above xo)
I like to think Fiddle is reunited with all her old sleddie buddies <3 Thank you for loving them and sharing their stories.
At our last sleddie reunion back on April 26, 2016, we saddled up a few dogs with the GoPro dog harness, mounted the camera and let them go!
I'm not sure Question, Cane or Ash even realized it was on their backs.
To those who know the dogs in this video, they will see some friends they haven't seen in a while and some who've passed on - including dear Question - who showed us her view this day.
But aside from just being a light-hearted video, it also shows a reunion in which more than 50(!) former sled dogs got to choose.
Choose who they sniff. Choose what they sniff. Choose where they go. Choose their own route to the other side of the lawn. When to run with friends and when to lay down to chill. They had the chance to use their noses to smell their way around - where to go, where not to go.
The modern sled dog industry doesn't account for their dogs having choices. They have very little, if any choice in how they spend their days.
It's all routine.
Routine wake up. Routine meals. Routine pacing on the chain. Routine work.
Routine is efficient. Routine and systems keep the operation going. Time is money.
I understand dogs like routine. They're dependent on us so a routine can help them feel safe, get on a potty break schedule and when food is coming.
But when that routine is all encompassing and not just the Five Freedoms, but also the updated version of Five Domains Model of Animal Welfare, are not being met, that's a huge problem.
The research is there. The science is there.
The industry is antiquated and it's had its run.
The full blog post and photos from this reunion can be found here: www.wendynesbitt.com/blog/not-so-secret-society-of-sleddies
Thanks for checking in!
Three former sled dogs + one Piper dog set out to romp on the beach at Kye Bay, BC today.
Cane (formerly Hurricane) a Whistler survivor who I met back in September 2013 and who I wanted to bring home in my pocket. Cane has a bit of a wandering spirit so for his safety, he stays on leash. Colby (Colbs, the Imp) is the little man I met back in July 2014 when he came into care of the Victoria Humane Society. And Bella I first met her February 2018 when she was flown out from Thunder Bay, ON and whisked into the arms of a loving family here on the west coast. Piper, is Cane’s adopted sister and is the best photobomber dog around!
All of these dogs had fun running, playing and meeting new dog friends on a beach in the warm sun… happy dogs, cared for dogs, loved dogs.
Dogs who are being loved for who they are and have been given space to relax, learn and thrive in the safety of some incredibly loving humans.
You may not realize it, but I think about sled dogs - both former and working - every day of my life. I see their photos, I know their names and I remember their stories so it makes me burst with happiness when I get to see them in person - being loved and living a life where they are treated as a beloved member of the family.
Thank you to team sleddie… wherever you are!
Welcome to the I Was A Sled Dog Blog!
The name is a bit of a mouthful so I'm hoping to come up with a shorter name for it (ideas welcome!) - in the meantime... here it is!
This site and blog is where I will now be posting my sled dog advocacy journey content - from photos and stories from my archives to stories adopters of sled dogs want to share. From action alerts to sled dogs in the news and whatever else that could help people see sled dogs as the sentient beings they are.
Most of the content on this site used to reside on my personal website and some old blog links still will track back there because I can't move them over in any way that seems reasonable (and there are some comments I want to keep visible), but I thought it was about time that the sleddies got their own site, their own domain, their own landing spot. When sharing links from this page, I want people to share, reference and remember I Was A Sled Dog and not me personally.
Herein you will see the focus is on the after, the second chapters, the adventures and the rescued/retired/former/fired sled dogs that I've met and photographed along the way because each one holds a very special spot in my heart.
Please take a look around and join me on my journey to see the variety of breeds that make up the 'modern' sled dog, what other things they can do for fun (because there's so more to life for them than pulling sleds), and what kinds of remarkable lives former sled dogs can lead if given the chance.
April 2020 UPDATE: After I began this blog I ended up adding some pages for previous years so I could fully update my archive back to 2011 in a way that meant I didn't have to add a bazillion new pages to this site... so while this really was the first post on my blog in February 2019, it now seems out of place... which may be confusing... but I really wanted the older posts in chronological order... thanks for your patience!
I'd heard a sleddie I met when I was up in Whistler in 2013 was coming into care. Hurricane was his name and eating lens caps was his game. Yes, the same fella who had a grand time chewing one of my lenscaps, but carefully gave it back when I asked him for what was left of it, was coming into care. Hurricane was such a sweet fella and I was excited to see him again. My friend Deb brought fostered him for VHS and I went to see him on May 24 (and also managed to sneak in a photo of Apex). I had planned on heading out to the foster kennels to get some photos of the new arrivals, but while I was there I got a call from my husband telling me his mom had passed away. It was expected, but I had to tend to family, so a couple days later I made it out to meet the new arrivals. There's nothing quite like a silly puppy to find the happiness that can be buried deep inside. Zazou was that dog. He and Tag romped and played and he chewed my camera strap, my camera bag and my hair and it was wonderful.
I also got some photos of Stuart Little's bunny tail- no idea what happened to him in his previous life, but it was so darn cute I had to make sure potential adopters would appreciate it.
Piper + Trixie were still there so I also stopped by to say hi and give them some loves and treats.
Some of these photos first appeared on my personal website along with the following post:
"We had a death in the family this week. We knew it was coming, but it doesn't make it easier.
But time and dog therapy helps. I was going to wait to go get photos, but this compulsion of mine won't stop and I knew it would be something that would give me focus on something else. The time flies by and the world stops.
Today I got to meet some new retired sled dogs who are ready for adoption.
Hurricane I met back in 2013 up at the kennels in Whistler. He's famous for chewing up my lens cap, which I still have and will keep as a reminder. Things with his human have changed and he's in need of a new home. He's smart, sensitive and very food motivated!
Stuart Little, Tag, young Zazou were just love bugs. Cherry's going to take some time, but I'm sure once her confidence kicks in, she'll be a lap dog.
Lastly, I must thank Nichole, the owner of the kennel who boards the Victoria Humane Society dogs. She's so patient with me and helps with wrangling the dogs... and today she took a photo that makes me cry. I prefer to be on the other side of the camera whenever possible, but when hugging a dog, all bets are off.
Sleddie roll call: Hurricane (now Cane), Cherry (later Cherish), Tag, Zazou, Stuart Little (now Storm), Piper and Trixie
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