i was a sled dog blog
one person's journey advocating for sled dogs - rescued, retired, former, fired, or in need of help
one person's journey advocating for sled dogs - rescued, retired, former, fired, or in need of help
Today I wanted to send my condolences out to the family of Lola.
Although Lola was never a sled dog, if you had to bet which of Shannon's dogs was a former sled dog, chances are, you would've picked Lola. She was bigger, fluffier and with her all-white coat she was what we envisioned a sled dog to look like.
Lola was an only dog until Shannon adopted ChiChi in 2012. I had gone to middle-school with Shannon and we lost touch over the years. Then in December 2012 as I was photographing pets with Santa at our local shelter, a familiar face came in with two dogs. I had started focussing on sleddies by this time so I recognized ChiChi right away, and then was happily surprised to see she was with someone I knew, Shannon!
I was then introduced to sweet, sensitive Lola Granola.
Lola didn't come on all sleddie adventures, but she had her circle of familiar sleddie and non-sleddie friends and this smaller group had some fun adventures together. Lola would often be found heading into the water, digging in the sand and carrying sticks... and being a treat mooch, of course!
Thankfully Lola was never a sled dog, but she was part of the sleddie extended family here and I wanted to share a snippet of her life, the one she shared with special human and sleddie sibling.
Shannon gave her 'Birdie' a beautiful life until she had to say goodbye earlier this week at the age of 13.
Rest in peace and love, Lola.
Thanks for sharing your girl, Shannon...
It’s never a good time for our pets to get hurt, but right now things different and protocols are changing daily. But what if your pet is injured and you’re not feeling well? And what if your pet is extremely fearful and a big flight risk in most situations? Welcome to Flash’s world.
The importance of having a backup plan is crucial, but it’s hard when your pet is so so fearful. You can’t just ask anyone to help. You weigh the pros/cons of going out. The ethics.
Flash’s human circle is small- her life as a sled dog has left her with such deep-seeded fears that those who want to adopt her want to ‘fix’ her, they think she’ll ‘come around’- but Flash doesn’t need fixing, she needs sanctuary and safety. So when her foster mom was worried about the healing of her wound (and is staying close to home with a cold), she put a call out to Flash’s circle and with a bit of schedule re-arranging, I had the privilege of escorting her to the vet.
Flash had no idea how different things were- new procedures meant when I arrived at the vet I had to call the office from the car and then the vet came out to do an assessment through the open windows. Flash was of course tethered to the seatbelt and wearing her GPS tracker just in case and while the vet looked at her and talked to her foster over speaker phone, I watched Flash and could see her checking out potential escape routes. Thankfully it was determined that Flash is healing up as she should be, so she got a few yumyums and we headed back to her foster home.
It’s certainly strange times but I’m so grateful that people are working to find new ways to continue helping our animal friends, because for whatever we know is happening, they don’t know. They continue to rely on us to keep them fed and safe and cared for.
#iwasasleddog #sleddogsaredogs #victoriahumanesociety #adopt #sleddies
I usually focus on the 'after' stories of sled dogs, but I feel the need to share a video because of its relation to the bigger picture of what the Iditarod 1000-mile race means for the dogs.
I shared this post to the facebook page after commenting on the original video shared by Humane Mushing, who's in Alaska documenting what she sees:
"Even though the dogs have (what look to be) leashes attached, they still get dragged by their collars... it's no wonder so many of the former sled dogs I've met have issues when it comes to collaring, harnessing, and being handled.
Time is $$$.
If people saw their neighbours handling their dogs like this, or knew their neighbour forced their dog to run so far and fast they choked on their own vomit and died, they'd be reported to the authorities, but because of a skewed idea of history, animal protection laws are different for sled dogs so it's "ok" for 'sled dogs' (really, just mixed-breed dogs that are used to pull a sled) to be handled and treated this way.
Everything about this video - and the others you've been sharing while being witness to this f'ing awful race - show nothing but stress and stressful situations for the dogs and abhorrent cruelty.
The spectators along with the organizers, sponsors, mushers and everyone involved in supporting this are complicit in this cruelty."
Welcome to Alaska. Where dogs used for pulling sleds (as well as animals used in rodeos) are exempt from the same laws and protections afforded dogs who don't pull sleds.
This has to change and it's up to us to help change the laws and the minds of those who think and believe these dogs are somehow inherently different than the dogs we share our homes with.
If you'd like to view the video, you can find it here:
It seems like a lot of posts lately have been in memoriam.
I guess it's part of what all this is- this project following the lives of a group of dogs over the course of many years- some for almost eight years now.
But amidst the farewells, there are successes and celebrations. Today was one of those days.
My friend Deb has been involved in the sleddie group since adopting Question back in 2013. She then adopted Daffy, then started fostering sleddies. I have no idea how many she's fostered over the years but I'm guessing it's close to 20 or more. Along with fostering she's also opened her home to sleddie sitting on occasion. Currently she's got five sleddies in her care- adoptees Apex and Calli and her fosters Flash, Mary Kate and Roo.
I've met them all many many times over the years. We've been on walks together and they've come for photo sessions as well as to participate in I Was A Sled Dog, the project.
Today they came to hang out at the studio- the whole lot of them. There was some initial fear because they don't often go visiting people in their homes, but they did splendidly! Once we sorted out the bed situation and made sure everyone had a comfy spot to chill out, they found where they wanted to land and that was it... until Deb had to use the restroom and then a few got concerned because she closed they door and they couldn't go in with her (it's a teeny room), but it all worked out.
None of these dogs spent any significant time (or any time at all) in a home while they were working dogs, so we celebrate (on the inside, taking care not to scare them) when we see them settle into new indoor environments.
Thanks for the visit gang!
I played around with some treatments on these photos. I don't usually process them much, but I think it's interesting to see how a filter or treatment can change the mood of the photo and can make someone look at that image differently.
Daisy passed away.
We met back in March 2015 just after she arrived into care with the Victoria Humane Society. My husband had come with me to the foster kennels to help keep track of who I was photographing that day (there were about 8 or so dogs) and this darling girl stole our hearts. There was something about her that connected with both of us, but we knew the timing wasn't right- we just couldn't bring another dog into our home at that time. Thankfully, a friend who was well-versed in 'sleddie' and had adopted GreyGrey, fell in love with her and she was welcomed Daisy into their super loving family where she spent the last few years having so much love and going on adventures and getting spoiled.
Both Daisy and GreyGrey participated in I Was A Sled Dog- coming to my studio to help show the diversity of the breed- these two couldn't have looked more different on the outside.
Grey passed away in November 2018, and then Daisy- the social butterfly that she was- got a new dog buddy.
But we can only control so much in the lives of our dogs and Daisy passed peacefully with all the
love in the world at her side on Jan 26.
Thank you to her family for bringing this sweetheart into your home and showering her with love and care.
Rest in peace and love dear Daisy.
I don't have a ton of photos of Daisy out romping around- probably because she was always on the move and didn't have time for me and my silly camera!
The game is called "pick out the sleddies"!
An annual walk with some friends and their dogs- some being former sled dogs, some aren't... can you figure out which is which?
[Hint: the sleddies are named below the photo gallery- click on their names to learn more about them as part of the I Was A Sled Dog photo project]
It was more of a forest bathing mud bath after a big rain and wind storm yesterday... but nevertheless, big thanks to ChiChi + Tica, Trixie + Penny, Niv + Cedar, Mary Kate + Roo, Sassy, Fiddle, Jasper, KC, Chester, Falen, and your amazing humans for coming out today!
Please click on the first photo and then scroll through the gallery- there are 70 photos including multiples of similar images so you can see the change of tail wags, facial expressions and what the dog is interested in. There's a photo bomb, some blurry ones and some of the dogs just standing and looking around (there's always some of that).
This is all intentional as I want to help you feel as close to being there with us as I can, because it's that magical!
Three of the dogs on the walk today are survivors of the Whistler sled dog cull and 2020 will mark the ten-year anniversary of that horrific event. And even after all that happened, there continues to be sled dogs that need help. Animal protection laws for working sled dogs here in British Columbia, Canada and beyond are atrocious and it's incredibly sad and unfair that working sled dogs are exempt from animal protection laws in Canada, just because they're classified as sled dogs. But sled dogs aren't a breed- they're a mix of any number of breeds, and you can see the diversity in the photos below as well as in I Was a Sled Dog, Part 1 + Part 2. The fact that, for example, "Dog A" is classified as a working sled dog on a Monday and therefore exempt from the same laws that protect the animals we share our homes with. But when "Dog A" gets adopted into a home on a Tuesday, suddenly- as if by magic- he's covered by those same laws he was exempt from the day before. It makes absolutely no sense. The dog is a dog is a dog.
I could go on, but right now I want to enjoy the memory of today's walk with these remarkable dogs and their wonderfully compassionate humans who love to celebrate them as much as I do.
Happy New Year sleddie family!
Whistler sled dog survivor Chichi is a grand 15 now so we went for a trundle through the forest at her pace...
except for her little sister, Tica... she ran enough for all the dogs combined!
the woodland trundle stars: Chichi + Tica, Saru + Chester, Mister Coco + Bella Boo
~ thanks to the humans: Shannon, Heather and Rob
Pancake passed away yesterday, September 13.
I first met her at the Whistler kennels in September 2013. Over the few days I was there she became my buddy. I sent notes to my friend saying I wanted to bring her home. But we had just adopted a second dog earlier that year and he had medical needs of his own, so I said my goodbyes to Pancake when we left, not knowing if I'd ever see her again.
But I did.
In April 2016 her family brought her and her sister Midge to the reunion. I was super emotional that day and did my best to say my hellos but I think she was much more interested in seeing all her other buddies that day... I can't blame her... there were more than 40 of her former kennel mates at that reunion.
I decided to watch her from a distance and just love the fact that she was loved.
She was a Whistler sled dog cull survivor who got a lovely retirement.
Rest in peace and love Pancake.
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