A month or so ago I was contacted by a musher up in northern Canada who needed to rehome some of their dogs and did I know of anyone. With few adoptions and full shelters in their area, they were in need of help.
I contacted my friends at the Victoria Humane Society (VHS) and they said absolutely they would take them in, as long as foster homes could be found. So I messaged Jill who helps co-ordinate all things sleddie for VHS and she thankfully jumped in taking over the arrangements with the sled dog kennel and then found foster homes.
And today, we welcomed Gino + Olaf to Victoria!
These sweeties are the first 2 of about 8 sleddies who’ll be making the trip to retirement in Victoria with the support of Air North who’s donated the flights and VHS who’s no stranger to helping find homes for former sled dogs.
With new arrivals, I usually meet the dogs once they arrive at the shelter and before they head to their foster homes, but today I got to go on the pick up with Jill!
The flight was to arrive at about 9:20am, so we met at the shelter at 8 to get prepped. A variety of collars and leashes were gathered into a bin, flea/tick and de-worming treatments were retrieved and food and supplies for the fosters were set aside.
After a short debrief, we were ready to head to the airport.
Without having pet escorts, Gino and Olaf flew as cargo, so once we figured out where to pick them up, it took another hour after landing before we got to meet our new friends. We were smitten at first sight.
They were pretty calm when we met them, though Gino had destroyed his bed in transit. We got their kennels loaded into the van and one at a time we removed their sled dog collars and Jill fitted them with their new collars, harnesses and GPS trackers. During the fitting, Olaf nuzzled Jill and gave her some kisses. Gino, wasn't kissy, but seemed to want to be close. We offered water and a couple treats and Olaf took one treat, but neither drank so we decided to get them back to the shelter to finish things up and they could meet their fosters.
It'd had been a long day for them already but it was important to spend a bit of time at the shelter with the foster homes to chat about what to expect as both were new to fostering sleddies. Though Gino and Olaf had been exposed to home life, kids, other animals and hadn't lived on a chain, this was still going to be a culture shock for them. It’s common for sleddies to find one spot to hunker down in and they may look for escape routes so instructions about keeping things quiet and safe so they can decompress is super important. Basics like leashing (they must be leashed when outside), keeping their GPS trackers on, it's normal for them to not eat, drink, pee or defecate for the first few days, and they may have accidents were reiterated. And then we hung out with the dogs and chatted about previous fostering experiences.
As the humans talked, it was pretty clear that Olaf was a big kisser and Gino was king of the head resters. It's been a long time since I met a new-into-care sleddie that would be so free with kisses and Olaf was that guy. It wasn't just me though - anyone on the floor got it. Gino, not much of a kisser, made sure to be close though. As I sat on the floor Gino stood on me for a bit, sniffing my camera and if I put my hand out, he'd rest his head on it. I only remember Louie doing something similar when he came into care in 2021.
The expression "dog tired" was evident as Olaf lay down and sighed and Gino's eyes were closing as he stood. It was time to get them secured into the cars and then head home with their fosters.
Jill and I emptied out the van, put the unused supplies away in preparation for the next intake, and then a VHS volunteer brought out a 3-week old kitten who's feral mom and 4 siblings were recently rescued.
From sled dogs to teeny, tiny kittens, VHS is doing an incredible job of helping as many animals as they can. As an organization who relies on foster homes, the sheer volume of animals needing help means it's pretty taxing on the fosters. So while fosters were found for Gino and Olaf, they're in need of loving homes who can commit to helping the sweethearts who find themselves in need of their help. If you think that's you, please contact them through their website.
Sweet Gino (black with spotted chest and front paws) is about 7 and was originally bred for sprint racing. We were told he's very loyal and friendly but can be bossy. He does have an odd-looking nipple which will be looked at by the vet soon.
Darling Olaf (white with blue eyes) is about 8 and we were told he lived in a home over the winter as he may have a straw allergy. Also he's very affectionate and loves the couch! He's missing the tip of his left ear so it doesn't seem to flop like his right.
Both came into care neutered thankfully so that's one less thing to worry about!
It's been a couple days between their arrival and posting this and both dogs are settling into their foster homes. We have a group chat where the fosters are sharing what they're learning and are asking questions as support is important to help set them up for success.
Welcome to the west coast Gino + Olaf!
p.s. thanks to Jill for the snaps of me getting Olaf kisses too!