2021 in review
24 new retirees in 6 sets of new arrivals
12 meet up photo ops
53 gb of raw images
thousands of shutter clicks
1 sleddie turned 17
6* sleddies passed away
It was a year like no other... but then again, aren't they all?
24 more sleddies joined the 'officially retired' team. I use 'officially' for two reasons: 1) because a few of them had retired while at the sled dog kennel but they didn't have anywhere to retire to; and 2) because the moment they left the kennel and were in care of the rescue, they became 'domestic pets' and thus covered under domestic animal protection laws here in BC. They may be outdated laws, but they're a LOT better than the agricultural animal 'laws' that covered them previously.
I'm not sure of the costs incurred to date, but it would be well in to the thousands - gas, ferry fares, spay/neuter surgeries, lump removals, dentals, specialist appointments (Pumpkin's eyes), food. Plus the volunteer hours provided by foster homes who not only opened up their homes for months to some of this crew, but made sure they got to all their medical appointments.
Some arrivals looked more like what one thinks a sled dog should look like - a bit floofier and husky-like (Ace, Ice, Saturn), some looked more like hounds (Biggie, Ginny), some had piercing blue eyes (Saturn, Centurion, Ice, Batman, Loki, Meso, Toledo), and some were incredibly fearful but are coming out of their shells at their own pace (Ace, Bear, Catty, Bruno, Herman, Stevie). Two were adopted by their foster homes (Pumpkin, Sparkle), one was adopted by her transporter (Portia), and one was just a puppy (Bamboo).
And at the time of writing this, one is still awaiting adoption... Bruno.
It's one thing to photograph dogs at intake as it's not really the best photo op. It's confusing, they may be scared and not themselves, there's new people, smells, they're getting fitted for new harnesses and collars. Their GPS trackers are getting tested. They may be getting a flea & tick or deworming treatment. They may just want to sleep because it's been a big travel day. They may just be super shut down. All the while I'm trying to be a bit of a fly-on-the-wall to get a photo of them, to document their existence and give them space in this world, while they hide behind another dog, a human, under a desk. It's a lot. This is why I'm so incredibly stoked to meet up a few days, weeks, months down the road. There is always a positive change. To see them more relaxed and comfortable, have time off leash, taking treats, giving eye contact, responding to their name instead of tucking their tail. Sometimes it's a teeny tiny change, but it's celebrated. These meet ups are also a lot, but in a super beautiful way.
With a passionate group at the helm, there were chances for (safe) meet ups and connection for both the humans and sleddies and its inspiring to see this community continue to grow and evolve.
2021, for me, meant year 10 of sled dog advocacy, bringing 24 new ambassadors into my world and the total number of sleddies in this work to 208. There are now 24 more faces and names whose mere presence in this world can help advocate for those who are still being exploited. They don't need to do anything else except learn to be themselves.
2022, for me, will mean 10 years since I clicked the shutter on my first sleddie. Ten years of following the 'after', what some may call the 'hard part'. But knowing there are more sled dogs ready to come into care if foster homes can be found, I will continue to share the names, faces and stories because as long as the sled dog industry exists, there will be dogs in need. I know our transport team is ready, are you?
Thank you to the Victoria Humane Society who foots all the bills for these retirees, and to the volunteers who arrange fosters, help with adoptions and support in any way they can. Also, to the transporters of this precious cargo: Jillian+ Debbie, Jillian + Charla, Bobbie, Jillian + Amanda, Debbie + Jillian and Jillian and her mom.
In alphabetical order, meet the new I Was A Sled Dog ambassadors!
Ace, Bamboo, Batman, Bear, Biggie, Bruno, Cally, Cap, Catty, Centurion, Ginny, Herman, Ice, Kerri, Loki, Meso, Portia, Pumpkin, Saturn, Sparkle, Stevie, Teddy, Tig, Toledo
*this is the number of sleddies I've heard passed away in 2021, the number could be higher
Bruno + Ginny: new retirees
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,