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.
The window opened up and the weather held. Just pockets of sun and a brisk chill in the air. The ground was saturated from the deluge of rain we've been getting here on the we(s)t coast which made the moss extra green, encouraged little mushroom families and created delicate droplets of water which hung from the lichen. But the dogs paid no mind.
They got to romp, run, trundle, and saunter over trails and bridges and throughout the forest.
They got to see old friends and meet new ones.
And Apex didn't run from me and my camera... a first in the 7+ years I've known him.
The regular sleddie walk schedule has been difficult to keep during Covid, but sometimes the last-minute plans are the ones that work out.
That was Sunday's walk.
Sleddie roll call: Apex, Bear, Biggie, Bruno, Calli, Flash, Jasper, Mary Kate, Portia, Roo, Saturn, Stevie + Sparky
... plus Tica (Bruno's sister while he's in foster) and Bear's new floofy siblings (Abby + Lola)
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.
Before I went to meet the new arrivals on August 9, I stopped off at Deb's place to say hi to her crew... and her.
This group always makes me smile -- so many personalities amongst them.
Calli, who I'd seen recently is so damn sweet and was first to greet me... with a big smile. I'm not sure if she's really 'smiling' so much as she's excited for a visitor... whatever, I'll take what I can get! Flashy I know has heard me pull up. And even though she won't take a treat from me (she did once a few years ago, but never again), she stands where she's knows I can see her so I toss treats her way that she promptly gobbles up. Roo and Mary Kate - who I haven't seen for a bit - were a bit slower to the game, but once they remembered, they were ready to accept the cupboard love. And Apex... well he just does his thing knowing I'll come to him when things have settled down.
We also had a little brush session because it isn't always about treats. Apex and Roo LOVE being brushed and with the warm weather, there's a lot to brush! Then it was time to head out to meet the new arrivals, Cally + Ice.
Here are a few pics from a short, but sweet visit with Flashy, Roo, Mary Kate, Calli and Apex, including Apex taking a treat from me... while I was taking photos with my phone... a first in the 7 years we've known each other.
It’s never a good time for our pets to get hurt, but right now things different and protocols are changing daily. But what if your pet is injured and you’re not feeling well? And what if your pet is extremely fearful and a big flight risk in most situations? Welcome to Flash’s world.
The importance of having a backup plan is crucial, but it’s hard when your pet is so so fearful. You can’t just ask anyone to help. You weigh the pros/cons of going out. The ethics.
Flash’s human circle is small- her life as a sled dog has left her with such deep-seeded fears that those who want to adopt her want to ‘fix’ her, they think she’ll ‘come around’- but Flash doesn’t need fixing, she needs sanctuary and safety. So when her foster mom was worried about the healing of her wound (and is staying close to home with a cold), she put a call out to Flash’s circle and with a bit of schedule re-arranging, I had the privilege of escorting her to the vet.
Flash had no idea how different things were- new procedures meant when I arrived at the vet I had to call the office from the car and then the vet came out to do an assessment through the open windows. Flash was of course tethered to the seatbelt and wearing her GPS tracker just in case and while the vet looked at her and talked to her foster over speaker phone, I watched Flash and could see her checking out potential escape routes. Thankfully it was determined that Flash is healing up as she should be, so she got a few yumyums and we headed back to her foster home.
It’s certainly strange times but I’m so grateful that people are working to find new ways to continue helping our animal friends, because for whatever we know is happening, they don’t know. They continue to rely on us to keep them fed and safe and cared for.
#iwasasleddog #sleddogsaredogs #victoriahumanesociety #adopt #sleddies
It seems like a lot of posts lately have been in memoriam.
I guess it's part of what all this is- this project following the lives of a group of dogs over the course of many years- some for almost eight years now.
But amidst the farewells, there are successes and celebrations. Today was one of those days.
My friend Deb has been involved in the sleddie group since adopting Question back in 2013. She then adopted Daffy, then started fostering sleddies. I have no idea how many she's fostered over the years but I'm guessing it's close to 20 or more. Along with fostering she's also opened her home to sleddie sitting on occasion. Currently she's got five sleddies in her care- adoptees Apex and Calli and her fosters Flash, Mary Kate and Roo.
I've met them all many many times over the years. We've been on walks together and they've come for photo sessions as well as to participate in I Was A Sled Dog, the project.
Today they came to hang out at the studio- the whole lot of them. There was some initial fear because they don't often go visiting people in their homes, but they did splendidly! Once we sorted out the bed situation and made sure everyone had a comfy spot to chill out, they found where they wanted to land and that was it... until Deb had to use the restroom and then a few got concerned because she closed they door and they couldn't go in with her (it's a teeny room), but it all worked out.
None of these dogs spent any significant time (or any time at all) in a home while they were working dogs, so we celebrate (on the inside, taking care not to scare them) when we see them settle into new indoor environments.
Thanks for the visit gang!
I played around with some treatments on these photos. I don't usually process them much, but I think it's interesting to see how a filter or treatment can change the mood of the photo and can make someone look at that image differently.
Today, it was a reunion of old mates from Thunder Bay. TJ, who was adopted in 2017, got to visit with his friends from his old foster home - Roo (his almost twin), Mary Kate, Apex, Calli, Flash and his foster mom Deb! Things were a bit intense at first - especially since all the dogs were on leash, but there was some good sniffing and a chance to hang out in the cool shade.
It was hot day here in Victoria, BC so there were a lot of long tongues and not a lot of running around, but TJ had some off-leash time which he was pretty stoked about!
TJ was adopted by the Umbrella Society and lives in a group home setting with one of the residents as his primary caregiver - in fact you can see TJ pop up on some of their blog posts! - and it's a beautiful thing to see a dog who has been so wronged by humans, learn confidence and know that he can trust again.
To see TJ's portrait from I Was A Sled Dog, please go HERE
When you step up to foster dogs it's sometimes unknown how long they'll be hanging out at your place.
In the case of former sled dogs, Mary Kate, Roo and Flash, it's been a while.
Through no fault of their own, they're taking a bit longer than their kennel mates to find that perfect match... but that's ok, their foster home is committed to helping, loving them, teaching them and keeping the safe, until the right forever humans arrive.
For information and inquiries, please contact the Victoria Humane Society.
p.s. Apex (last dog pictured) is not for adoption... he's landed comfortably with Deb.
Three super special dogs came into care - Nina, Flash and Pharaoh - and are currently getting their bearings... please watch the Victoria Humane Society facebook page for updates and adoption information!
I was riveted by this group... they couldn't have been more different as far as sled dogs go. Nina + Pharaoh were friendly and lovely. Flash couldn't hide any further in her own skin. She was so scared, but her safety was with the dogs, so she was clearly conflicted. It broke my heart and I couldn't help but wonder what had happened for her to be so stinking scared of us. That photo of the droplet coming from her nose is so telling about what is going on in her head.
As I write this, three years later, Flash is still in the same foster home and is slowly... and I mean S.L.O.W.L.Y... easing into this new life. She doesn't take food or treats from hands, you can't pet her (if you do it's because she's to scared to move), and she's always on leash. She does let you know when she's ready for mealtime and a few weeks ago she bopped Deb's back leg when they were all at the gate waiting to head out on a walk. I've come to know Flash as a sweet girl who needs sanctuary. Everyone interested in adopting her seems to want to 'fix' her, but she may never be able to be fixed, so until that day does or does not come, she needs a home where she can just be and feel safe. She doesn't try to leave her foster home, but a new environment could prove to be too scary and she is a flight risk and escape artist so potential adopters will have to take great care to keep her safe and contained. She also wears a GPS tracker on her collar... just in case.
Nina passed away while in Deb's foster care and Pharaoh passed away after adoption.
... here's a short video of pharaoh rollin in the grass...