A new sleddie has come to the west coast!
Leaving Thunder Bay early this morning Bella had a small army of super sleddie volunteers escort her on the journey to Victoria while her plane stopped along the way.
She arrived sporting her ThunderShirt (in case of anxiety) and was pretty relaxed, yet stunned, when she came out of her crate. Once her Tractive GPS was attached to her collar and her harness attached (safety first!) and leashed up, it was time to head out. But not before a nice lady stopped to say hi and was share her surprise at how small she was for a sled dog. After the humans explained a bit about sleddies, it was time to head out for some sniffing... and then the last leg of her journey to her new home.
As a retired sled dog from Thunder Bay, ON via the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society, Bella has come to live a life. A great life in fact. One where she'll have warmth, care, love and companionship for the rest of her days.
A sled dog in a commercial or sport industry doesn't live - it exists. Dogs like Bella here - who have slim builds and single coats - live outside 24/7. Their existence is tethered to a post on a 6-foot-chain. If they're "lucky", they get to run and pull - but with that can come a whole host of physical issues such as fused spines and arthritis. When not running it's back on the chain where they eat, sleep, urinate and defecate all in the circumference of that 6 feet.
It's not a life, it's an existence and as humans we can do better.
We have the capacity to evolve, look with fresh eyes, learn.
Just because something has always been done a certain way is not an excuse.
For commercialized sled dogs, the change has to happen now.
Please visit Humane Mushing or Sled Dogs film for ways on how you can help, today.
WELCOME to the west coast Bella and congratulations to your new family! xo
Back in June of this year I shared the story of Dave the Girl Dog.
My friend (and super dooper groomer to our little dogs) Kelsey brought her back after volunteering at Baan Unrak Thai Animal Sanctuary.
Dave has since had her back legs amputated and after some healing, she's starting to feel better - both physically and mentally.
Kelsey still has to help her express her bladder (photo 3) and change her diapers (no photos of that one), and Dave wears a onesie to help limit chafing on her undercarriage, but she can zoom around our yard - her back end coming off the ground - and looks like she's actually having fun and taking time to smell the air, the flowers, the pee from my dogs. ;)
It's so cool to see her continual transformation - she's more relaxed, she can read the cues of my dogs and she's even content to go snooze by her backpack.
This is truly a labour of love - Dave is a foster dog and Kelsey knows that the perfect home is out there for her - and it would open up Kelsey's home to another foster dog. Good thing lovely little Lily (last photo) is such a superstar and takes it all in stride.
For more on Dave's journey, please visit Dave Does Canada! on facebook.
Victoria Humane Society spokesdog Gus, a puppy "parade", some stylish clothes, a gaggle of adoptable dogs and some real 4-legged (and a super special 3-legged) superstars!
Thanks to Jaxx for giving me such a fantastic final shot... with his eyes closed. If you know me, you know how much I love photos of dogs with their eyes closed (I've made two books on it!).
Thanks to Outlooks for Men for such an incredibly fun event benefitting the important and tireless work of the Victoria Humane Society!
Super cool to have a photo session with these two... Bill met Brennan last year they met while both modelling at the 2016 Man and His Dog Fashion Show Fundraiser that was raising money for the Victoria Humane Society.
This year, they're the poster boys!
I got to photograph them for their ad... and Brennan, who's now Jax, was such a chill guy we had to wake him up from his afternoon nap (amidst the hustle and bustle of Outlooks For Men on a Saturday afternoon) to get 'ready for his close up'... here's some of the fun we had...
Can't wait to see these two strut their stuff this year!
This year's show takes place on November 9 at the Atrium, 800 Yates Street beginning at 6pm. Admission is $55 and includes one drink and nibbles. Tickets are available now at Outlooks, 534 Yates Street and online at outlooksformen.com
See ya there!
Part movie set, part stage set, all the mind of a creative genius.
For a complete tour of this studio which must been seen to be believed ~~
please click HERE.
i'm currently working on a NEW photo project of retired sleddogs titled "i was a sled dog" ~ to date I've photographed 35 sleddies at my studio so I wanted to share their "class photo"... the candids from their sessions.
The photos I'm taking specific to the project will be displayed at a later date so be sure to check back!
Each of these dog was different when they came for their session (I call them "sessions" as opposed to "shoots" because some of these dogs have survived an actual shoot... with a gun. As well, it's a common way for mushers to thin out the old, sick and dogs who don't want to pull so I like to keep that word out of this project)
Some of the dogs were totally comfortable, some were petrified. Some loved mugging for the camera, some I had to just had to sit and wait until they walked in front of my lens, click the shutter and hope for the best.
Sled dogs, like all dogs, have their own unique personalities and needs. They don't all love and hate the same things as some lead us to believe... and they are all deserving of the specific care, love and attention they require.
I'm still looking for more retired sleddies to participate, so email me if you're interested!
Want more retired sleddie stories? Click no further!
Cartier Farms in Prince Albert, SK has an incredible equine assisted learning (EAL) program. I spent a few hours photographing 'the instructors' - aka, the horses - with the help of my sister-in-law Gayle and my husband Rob, who played the role of lead horse wrangler.
Photographing horses and trying to get them to pose is a LOT different than photographing my usual dogs. None of the words, noises or squeaky toys from my grab bag could flap these unflappable horses... no jumping up and down, arm waving or tossing a tin can with rocks in the air would get their attention... they were cool as cucumbers.
They have to be.
These gentle giants teach kids with fetal alcohol syndrome, at-risk youth, kids on the autism spectrum and adults with PTSD communicate and trust. They help with team building, workplace communication and assist others in starting their own EAL programs. They trust and are trusted. And when I was standing in the middle of 12 of them and one started to run, not one came close to running into me (although truth be told I put my arms up just in case!).
Here's to the instructors:
Thank you to Cartier Farms - specifically Gayle Cartier, Daryl Cartier and Janice Boucher for their patience in answering this "city girl's" questions and for their incredible hospitality.
And to Slick... for being my buddy and letting me pretend I knew what I was doing when he let me ride him. He taught me.
I'm excited to share that plans are in the works for a photo workshop and photo sessions for horses and their humans at Cartier Farms in Summer 2018, so follow the Cartier Farms, or wendy nesbitt photographs on facebook for details!
For more photos from the farm and trip from the ocean to the prairies, please visit: Highways and Horses 3
There are some pretty kind, caring, cool people in this town. And my friend Kelsey is definitely one of them.
Not only is she a super talented, patient groomer to my dogs, she recently went to Thailand to volunteer for a month at Thai Animal Sanctuary. She saw some incredibly difficult things, but she also had some rewarding times. One of those rewarding experiences was the opportunity to bring Dave home. To bring her home and help give her another chance. She's only been here two weeks but she's settling in incredibly well. It's unclear if she was born with her physical issues or if it's the result of an untreated injury, but nevertheless this gal (yes, a girl named Dave) has an adventurous spirt. With no feeling in her back end she wears diapers a lot of the time and she's got two completely uneven, unusable back legs, but man can she run!
She came and hung out while her mom groomed my dogs and afterwards we spent time in the backyard - and she chased the ball and ran around the yard and sniffed and then just relaxed. She's also ball crazy.
She's almost ready for adoption through the Thai Animal Sanctuary via Kelsey, but she's gotta get her new wheels as her old ones aren't working so well anymore. In the meantime - and to enable her to be both more mobile and able to lay down when she's tired - she wears a shopping bag to help prevent chaffing and scratching on her underside.. but she wears it well.
She's amazing to watch.
Today she let give her pets and treats and and rub her ears, which she really loves because she can't do it herself.
She doesn't feel sorry for herself at all so it's easy to just admire her and the bright light that shines from her insides.
Yes - there are a lot of photos included with this post, but I just couldn't whittle them down any further... between Dave, her foster sister Lily and the lovely Kelsey... and the sunshine... gah.
Please also check out Dave by following her adventures on facebook: Dave Does Canada!
I can't wait to see the shenanigans she's going to get up to!
Their story, although shocking, is not new.
Fifteen dogs found abandoned on one foot chains. Three were dead and the others were close behind.
Tethered by a trapper’s hut in the Long Lac Greenstone area of Ontario. There was no food. No water. It was February 2017.
The OSPCA agents along with Thunder Bay & District Humane Society and Greenstone Want a Pet Rescue worked to bring the dogs into care.
“When the 12 dogs entered the shelter, they were unable to walk, were barely breathing, and were extremely emaciated. These 12 are emotionally, physically, and mentally bruised.”
These were sled dogs. And if you know me at all or follow my advocacy work, you’ll know my love for sled dogs. I’ve met and photographed hundreds of retired sled dogs since 2012. And although the horrific events in Whistler in 2010 brought to light the plight of dogs used in both the commercial and sport racing industries, the abuse continues and the myths about these dogs prevail. ”They’re working dogs, they’re different”, “They love what they do”. “I love my dogs, I treat them like family” are all statements still claimed by those in the industry. But here’s the problem… sled dogs are actually just dogs. Mixed breeds built for speed and endurance and to make money for the humans who are supposed to take care of them. And like all dogs, they are entitled to a certain level of care. But when the money dries up or is spent elsewhere, the dogs lose. Abandoned, turned loose, sold, given away, or killed. I say this not to be dramatic, but because more often than not, it's the truth.
These twelve dogs, along with another 17 found on the property survived and are now getting a second chance at life, as pets.
Tuesday night I accompanied my fellow Victoria Humane Society volunteers to the Victoria International Airport to welcome and meet the first two of eight of those very special “sleddies” who will be retiring to the west coast. With the remarkable community that has grown because of the sleddies here out west, the staff and volunteers at the Thunder Bay and District Humane Society agreed to entrust us with some of their special crew.
Mary Kate and Ashley were to arrive at 8:59, but their flight from Vancouver was delayed once… then twice. At 9:24 they arrived.
They were the first "baggage" to arrive at the claim area - Ashley in the lead, then Mary Kate.
The kennels were off loaded and moved to the side. Opened carefully so the dogs could be double-leashed for safety. First out was Ashley. She came out willingly and her GPS unit was attached right away. When Mary Kate came out of her crate [leashed and GPS'd], she spied Ashley, tucked in right behind her, and rested her head on Ashley’s back.
The production, along with the neon welcome signs had created a stir, and a crowd had gathered to watch. People were wondering what the fuss was all about - why was everyone hugging, laughing, smiling and wiping away tears? And how cute were these dogs!? When we told them they were sled dogs, people were amazed at their size. “They’re so small”, “They’re sled dogs?”. So after a short educational moment with those who were interested, we finished our q + a, gave huge thanks to the wonderful women who helped make their escort to us possible (thank you Debra and Joanne!) and then it was time for the girls to walk on the west coast. A chance for a potty break first and then off to the van where the girls jumped in without hesitation. Once secured inside, off they went.
Mary Kate and Ashley will be in foster with the Victoria Humane Society and once they are spayed, they will be ready for adoption.
There are so many people who made this possible - I can't name them all and I don't know them all - from the people who first saw them in distress and spoke up for them to those who brought them to safety, to the people who co-ordinated flights and transportation, to those who have cheered them on along the way, to the gem of a woman, Debbie, who will be fostering them. A second chapter is beginning for these girls and if it's turns out like the gaggle of sleddies I know already in retirement, it's going to be pretty fantastic.
Donations to help pay for their spay surgeries, food while in foster and flights for the remaining sleddies coming our way are greatly appreciated and can be done through the VHS website with a click of the big orange button on the homepage HERE!
To follow more of their story and the remaining sleddies coming into care, please visit the Victoria Humane Society facebook page.
If you or someone you know will be travelling from Thunder Bay or Toronto, Ontario, and are interested in being a pet escort to help bring a couple remaining sleddies to Victoria, please contact the Victoria Humane Society. It's super easy and won't cost you a thing!
More links about their rescue:
Thunder Bay Newswatch
Thunder Bay & District Humane Society facebook page
Let the love begin!
Books and music together again... spent my evening - a beautifully-warm-almost-summer-evening ~ in Bolen Books tonight. Why?
Because Grant Lawrence, author and lead singer of The Smuggler's, was in town to read from his latest book "Dirty Windshields" AND... Rob and Andrew from Bum sat in to play a few acoustic numbers... for the first time in public!!
Even though the A/C was pumping in the store, it couldn't overpower the warmth in that place tonight - hilarious stories told so vividly by Grant it was easy to picture the shenanigans of a band I've know for over 20 years. I can't wait to read the book.
So many friends, so many hugs.