[This write up was originally posted to the volunteer/advocacy section of my personal website but I moved it here and have updated the write up over the years]
"A sled dog operation in Pemberton, BC, closed and the dogs who worked pulling sleds needed a home. They were scared, nervous of everything and hadn't had much positive human contact. But VHS volunteers stepped up and started to help ease the dogs into positive contact with humans by sitting quietly with them and taking them for walks in a rural setting to get them used to walking on a leash and encountering new sights and sounds.... here is one of their first walking excursions... and even the young humans came out to help.
Introducing: Colby, Shivers, Dave, Felix, Mars, Frankie, Charlie, Apex, Sinatra + Punk"
I would meet up again some of this group down the road, including one of my spirit sleddies, Apex. Back in 2014, on this walk though he had to walk at the back of the group and if you looked at him, he would stop dead in his tracks. He still isn't super easy with people, but he's found his stride and is a happy snuggle bug in his home with Deb.
I also got to see more of Colby when he was fostered with my friend Deb. On walks and gatherings as well as the time I joined Deb as she and her crew went in search of Apex was missing for 5 months in the Sunshine Coast. And then in the summer of 2019 I got to see Colby along with a few other sleddies on a sunny beach in Comox, BC.
I'd also reunite with Shivers, who was later renamed Lunar and participated in Part 1 of I Was a Sled Dog (he loved us talking about him and looking at himself in the mirror) as well as Punk, who was renamed Willow. Willow got incredibly nervous in cars, but her human gave it a try to bring her over so she could join the other sleddies in my photo project. Poor Willow got super sick not long after leaving their driveway, so she turned around and took her back home. Sweet Willow passed away not long after.
After coming into care it was discovered Mars had a shattered hip or pelvis injury that had been left untreated and his back was leg amputated. He came to a couple reunions and was clearly happier on three good legs.
Charlie, who looks more like a hound than the others is the brother of Trixie, who participated in the project. Charlie loved getting brushed so Deb made sure he got as much as he wanted!
Felix, who had dental surgery after coming into care had some teeth extracted and I ended up with them as well as some of Apex's so I photographed them. It was shocking to see the damage to these teeth.
Dave I never saw again, but I had updates that he lived a pretty sweet life.
Frankie + Sinatra are the pups. They were fearful, but interested.
No one really knows what happened behind the scenes with this crew, but the fear and distrust was there - and it was more evident in some, than others. Why? Because each of these seven dogs was an individual - not to be lumped into one pool under the name sled dog. And though veterinary care helped some of this crew feel better physically, the mental scars have stuck around with them to this day, in various forms.
There are quite a few photos in this set, but I think it helps tell the story of this walk better. Although one image can be powerful, sometimes I find it necessary to show more of what's behind that photo. Sometimes dogs are super stressed in one photo and not so much in another and I want to be sure to tell as much of their stories as I can.
[January 2022 update: it's been almost 7 years since I met this crew and there have been more of the dogs from this group arrive into care over the years. I recently heard that there are still two more awaiting retirement.]