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
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
Something cool happened yesterday... I got to meet a new sleddie!
My friend Heather, who has a lovely ol' sleddie named Fiddle, jumped at the chance of fostering a young, newly retired sleddie named Bran for a local rescue. Even though Fiddle is 14 she is nothing but sweet and gentle and along with her other brother Ralph (not pictured), they're doing a great job showing Bran about being a house dog and that it was ok to take treats from me!
The info about Bran I was able to glean is he came from a smaller, recreational operation in the Yukon. He’s about 2 years old and the musher said that he just didn’t want to be a sled dog. I’m not sure what that means on the musher’s side of things but his foster home says that he’s a total snuggler. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, he wants to be up on your lap and snuggle. He loves people and although is a bit shy at first - something quite normal for dogs who are new into care - he warmed up quickly and took all the pets I could share.
Shortly after writing and sharing this post I got some more information about Bran and his background and why he needs a new home:
"When Bran was a pup he ate a rock and required surgery to remove it from his intestines. He subsequently spent a lot of his time inside recovering while growing up, so prefers the inside house dog life. His owner, “the musher” takes very good care of her dogs, rescues dogs from other places, and if they do not want to run/pull or would prefer to be house dogs then she finds them suitable pet homes. She contacted us when she was unable to find suitable homes in her area. She paid the shipping and crate expense to send Bran and Yam to Victoria. Yam and Bran are adjusting to indoor life, but they are very well socialized and have been around cats, babies, and are very good with other dogs and people. "
I’m thankful the musher saw he was not cut out for sled dog life and instead of forcing him to pull, selling him or euthanizing him, Bran made his way into the care of a rescue. He has since been neutered and the rescue will now work on finding him a super home.
Last but not least, I should also mention that Bran is a fantastic head-tilter and will show you his impressive extension for *just* the right sound!
Welcome to sleddie life Bran!
Thanks to The Farm rescue for helping him and to Heather and her family for fostering him and helping him along this journey!
Please click on the thumbnails to see Bran + Fiddle in all their glory.
Today, it was a reunion of old mates from Thunder Bay. TJ, who was adopted in 2017, got to visit with his friends from his old foster home - Roo (his almost twin), Mary Kate, Apex, Calli, Flash and his foster mom Deb! Things were a bit intense at first - especially since all the dogs were on leash, but there was some good sniffing and a chance to hang out in the cool shade.
It was hot day here in Victoria, BC so there were a lot of long tongues and not a lot of running around, but TJ had some off-leash time which he was pretty stoked about!
TJ was adopted by the Umbrella Society and lives in a group home setting with one of the residents as his primary caregiver - in fact you can see TJ pop up on some of their blog posts! - and it's a beautiful thing to see a dog who has been so wronged by humans, learn confidence and know that he can trust again.
To see TJ's portrait from I Was A Sled Dog, please go HERE
Three former sled dogs + one Piper dog set out to romp on the beach at Kye Bay, BC.
Cane (formerly Hurricane) a Whistler survivor who I met back in September 2013 and who I wanted to bring home in my pocket. Cane has a bit of a wandering spirit so for his safety, he stays on leash. Colby (Colbs, the Imp) is the little man I met back in July 2014 when he came into care of the Victoria Humane Society. And Bella I first met her February 2018 when she was flown out from Thunder Bay, ON and whisked into the arms of a loving family here on the west coast. Piper, is Cane’s adopted sister and is the best photobomber dog around!
All of these dogs had fun running, playing and meeting new dog friends on a beach in the warm sun… happy dogs, cared for dogs, loved dogs.
Dogs who are being loved for who they are and have been given space to relax, learn and thrive in the safety of some incredibly loving humans.
You may not realize it, but I think about sled dogs - both former and working - every day of my life. I see their photos, I know their names and I remember their stories so it makes me burst with happiness when I get to see them in person - being loved and living a life where they are treated as a beloved member of the family.
Thank you to team sleddie… wherever you are!
The first former sled dogs I ever photographed, Magic + Cuddles on March 21, 2012.
Shortly after this we took them (and a few other sleddies) into the indoor gym for photos, but this was my first look... had I not known, I never would’ve thought they had been sled dogs. They looked and acted pretty much like any other of the 500+ dogs I’d photographed in the care of a rescue or shelter at this point... friendlier than some, more nervous than others. If it looks like a dog and acts like a dog, why can’t it just be a dog, protected under the same laws as the dogs we share our homes with? Why is protection different while they’re sled dogs but once adopted, they have (in theory) more protection? They’re the same dog aren’t they?
Welcome to the I Was A Sled Dog Blog!
The name is a bit of a mouthful so I'm hoping to come up with a shorter name for it (ideas welcome!) - in the meantime... here it is!
This site and blog is where I will now be posting my sled dog advocacy journey content - from photos and stories from my archives to stories adopters of sled dogs want to share. From action alerts to sled dogs in the news and whatever else that could help people see sled dogs as the sentient beings they are.
Most of the content on this site used to reside on my personal website and some old blog links still will track back there because I can't move them over in any way that seems reasonable (and there are some comments I want to keep visible), but I thought it was about time that the sleddies got their own site, their own domain, their own landing spot. When sharing links from this page, I want people to share, reference and remember I Was A Sled Dog and not me personally.
Herein you will see the focus is on the after, the second chapters, the adventures and the rescued/retired/former/fired sled dogs that I've met and photographed along the way because each one holds a very special spot in my heart.
Please take a look around and join me on my journey to see the variety of breeds that make up the 'modern' sled dog, what other things they can do for fun (because there's so more to life for them than pulling sleds), and what kinds of remarkable lives former sled dogs can lead if given the chance.
April 2020 UPDATE: After I began this blog I ended up adding some pages for previous years so I could fully update my archive back to 2011 in a way that meant I didn't have to add a bazillion new pages to this site... so while this really was the first post on my blog in February 2019, it now seems out of place... which may be confusing... but I really wanted the older posts in chronological order... thanks for your patience!
I was going to do a fundraiser for VHS, so I set up a Who Do You Love themed photo booth for Valentine's Day. And who better to help create the photo booth than Mary-Kate and Roo and their very creative foster mom, Deb?
These two have been in care for a while - as former sled dogs they had a rough start to life - but they are barrels of fun. They love to go adventuring, but they can be absolute couch potatoes and prefer hanging out inside with the family... and you can see they're also very silly.
We had lots of breaks and while they didn't physically help, they were both moral support and fantastic models!