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)
a little gathering of some new sleddies friends and a couple old friends - including one of the first sleddie friends I made back in 2012, SHREKKIE!
I met Mossy + Kit on Monday eve, and tonight I met their kennel mates Vinnie + Jo who were reuniting after not seeing each other for a bit. Apparently Vinnie and Jo are siblings of Casey who came into care back in April.
I don’t have much history on this group, other than they’ve come from Whistler, but they remind me of so many sleddies I’ve met in the past.
We met at a beautiful spot outside of town in a fully fenced area so the dogs could run and explore and relax. Experienced sleddies Shrekkie + Jasper didn’t have to show these guys how to have fun - all six of them were sniffing and running, checking in with the humans for treats and pets, then back to playtime. And Mossy - who was on a long line for his safety - even found a dead mouse to roll in.
It’s a sight that never gets old. There’s something incredibly special in being witness to a former sled dog running and playing and showing off that extra prance-y bounce they exhibit when not tethered to anything. It’s one of the many reasons I keep doing this.
Vinnie + Jo represent sleddies #182 + #183 that I’ve photographed.
I’m not sure what the future holds for the sled dog tour company Kit, Mossy, Vinnie + Jo came from. If they’ll continue to operate with Covid continuing to lurk about or if they'll be seeking homes for more dogs. And I wonder what the future holds for other sled dog tour operations, long distance racing kennels and operations that rely on the commercialization of their sled dogs. But I will keep featuring them as long as I can. I will keep sharing their faces and names to prove their existence. For as this project is just a small representation of former sled dogs in a small area of the west coast of Canada, I can’t help but imagine what this project would look like if I travelled across the country, the continent, the world - photographing former sled dogs. What that pool of diversity would be like. The stories from rescues and shelters, fosters and adopters. Proving existence to even more names and faces.
For now, I will continue to stick close to home and keep sharing the stories to help educate, advocate and remind people that sled dogs are dogs - just as deserving of love, care and compassion as the dogs we share our homes with.
Thank you to all the fosters and adopters who helped make this gathering happen.
If you're interested in adopting Kit, Mossy, Vinnie or Jo, please visit www.victoriahumanesociety.com
Update- June 30/20: Vinnie has since been adopted and Jo has a pending adoption!
Pique passed away last yesterday, Friday, September 13.
As a survivor of the Whistler sled dog cull, this gal landed in the lap of luxury at her adopted home and lived to almost 15 years old. I was lucky enough to go on many adventures with her and her family over the years - she was always a sweetheart.
Within the circle of retired sleddies I know, she is predeceased by her biological sister Question and adopted brother Sonny. She leaves behind her foster brother Coyote, her adopted brother Shrekkie and a whole bunch of family and friends who loved her to the ends of the earth.
Not one to turn down a treat, Pique would look at you with her eyes as blue as the sky and you would submit to her wishes.
Rest in peace and love Pique. xo