Today was it. The day I got to meet Troy.
As one of a number of dogs seized from an operator in the interior of BC last year in a cruelty case, Troy brings with him a bit of a backstory.
But I don't want to go into all that right now.
I want to share this new part of his life. The part where he's now covered by animal protection laws and is no longer beholden to someone for their livelihood and his life. The part where he now has choice and opportunity.
I don't know how fearful (or not) he was when he was first taken into care last year (about 340 days ago), but when he arrived today and hopped out of the van, he came right up my front steps to greet me. When I pulled out a treat, he sat down and looked at me. I don't really ask dogs to do much for a treat other than look cute -- which all dogs nail 100% of the time -- but after my surprised look at this sit performance, I was told Troy's been learning some new things while in care, and learning to sit* was one of them.
What's that saying you can't teach an old dog new tricks? BAH!
*Note: Although sitting is often one of the first things humans seem to teach dogs, in the sleddie world, this and similar movements are taught with some extra care, especially for the seniors. Not all dogs come with vet records, and if they do, they can be pretty limited so some level of arthritis is a given. But depending on the severity (along with any other undiagnosed joint and spine issues) sitting can be difficult, painful or even impossible. So if new-into-care sleddies aren't quite learning this new ask, it's not because they aren't smartie-pants, it could likely be pain related.
Before we headed off to the park though we took a moment in my yard to chat, I sat down and Troy came over and I gave him some scritches while he sniffed my face and head. I brought out the treat baggie and the results were: Dried fish snacks? Sure! Soft Milk Bones? Maybe. Stella & Chewy's Surf n' Turf? YES PLEASE!!
Golden Oreos? Nah.
Then off we went with Troy's nose to the ground.
Boy this guy likes to sniff. And rightly so... living life on a chain as a working sled dog meant his sniffing world was very small. But now, at 9 years old, this guy has the opportunity to sniff this big, wide world of ours and it looks like he's gonna make up for lost time!
During today's short visit, Troy eagerly sniffed the park pathway where all the dogs pee when they arrive at the park. Also, the walkway, the brambles, the grass by the rocks, the rocks, the top of ocean, the actual ocean (as he stuck his nose in the water), the otter in the distance eating a fish, the birds above and in the water, some new strange humans and dogs, and then once back at my house, a good sniff of my backyard where he peed on all my dog's favourite pee spots!
Today's adventure also included a blackberry thorn removal from above bramble sniffing (see photo 5) and scritches. Troy loves scritches. He loves them on his face, chest and even the top of his head, especially when you use your fingertips like an octopus (see photo 13).
I think though, the moment that best describes this outing was the one where he stood still and turned his face to the warmth of the sun, eyes closed. (photo 27)
Maybe I'm putting my human-ness on this action, but he looked pretty blissed out there for a moment.
I'm incredibly grateful that I got to meet this fella because although he's come from a different kennel than many of the 200+ sleddies I've met, he's yet another former sled dog proving that he's an individual with his own likes, dislikes, needs and personality. I can only imagine how big his world will continue to get now that he has the opportunity, along with a huge community of former sled dog adopters behind him, cheering him on. 100%.
Troy is in foster with super-sleddie adopter/foster Deb, but is adoptable through the SPCA in Victoria.