The sun has set.
That was the first thing I though of when I heard that Sun passed away.
Each of the 183 sleddies I've met holds a special spot in my heart and Sun was no exception.
I first met him in September 2013 when I went to Whistler to photograph survivors of the 2010 Whistler sled dog cull. I spent 3 full days at the kennels where the dogs were living - doing my best to learn the names of 43 new friends I'd made. Sure some of them were more on board with being my friend than others, but no matter how friendly, shy, scared or indifferent they were to me, each one was truly unique in personality and spirit.
I could feel Sun watching me a lot over those day. If I ever wandered from the group to photograph something that caught my eye, he followed me... at a distance... and then he'd bark... maybe at me... maybe alerting the others...? I liked how attentive and curious he was, but he never seemed to be curious enough to come too close for pets.
Sun's biological siblings were Sky + Moon, and though they may have had similar builds, Sun was golden brown and they were black. Sky + Moon got adopted together, and Sun got adopted later with a kennel mate named Silly.
I didn't see Sun again until November 2013 at a sleddie reunion and I was so stoked to see his transformation. He was loose, relaxed and ran around taking treats and getting pets from strangers - including me.
His retirement was charmed. He and Silly had two canine siblings who, being malamutes, looked more like sled dogs than the actual sled dogs of the family, which confused people. But his devoted humans used that opportunity to advocate and educate others about the plight of sled dogs.
I saw Sun a few more times over the years and even bumped into him and his siblings on the street a couple times, which was always exciting (for me!).
Sun came to participate in Part 1 of I Was A Sled Dog in June 2017.
The sun rises and the sun sets. And though I'm continually saddened by the passing of my sleddie friends, I remind myself that their leaving is part of life and I take comfort in the fact that there are some incredibly devoted adopters that have done all they can to ensure their special sleddies get to live loved and spoiled lives and have the opportunity, when it's time, to pass from this life with dignity, respect and surrounded by love.
Rest in peace and love, Sun.
please click on thumbnails to view captions of photos below