galute, the gentle bear
My ol' pal Galute passed away the other day.
His mom sent me an email to share the news and included a lovely little slideshow of photos of him. He looks so handsome in all of them. His coat gleaming while he just soaks up his surroundings in the sunshine. It wasn't wholly unexpected. He was an old fella (even though it said 5 years when he was up for adoption). But when I hear of my sleddie buddies passing on, it still brings on a sadness like no other, and I have to honour them.
I met Galute (Galoot) in March 2012. In the gymnasium of the local SPCA - he and another dog named Vixen were just hanging out. Galute posed for photos and sat next to Penny and let her talk gently into his ear and get kisses. He lay down on the ground and let me give him love after love after love. He let a camera crew film him and paid no mind to them at all.
Galute (Galoot) was one of the first group of sled dogs from Whistler to come to Victoria to find a retirement home.
There had been talk that the sled dogs were feral. They would never be happy living in a house. They couldn't be happy not running.
But that wasn't the case with this guy.
Galute was a big, gentle, stoic bear.
He was adopted by a friend so he came to all the reunions he could - from the first retired sleddie reunion in November 2013, to the most recent one in April 2016. He got so many hugs and loves everywhere he went... and he seemed to just soak it all in.
When I started a new advocacy project focussing on sled dogs, I reached out to his mom and she was eager to have him join in. He came to my studio in May 2017 and had a hard time getting up the three steps at the front door. He only had one eye that didn't work so well (the other one was lost during his time as a sleddog), he was basically deaf and walking seemed to be a bit tough. He was really uncomfortable during the session so we put down a mat to help him stand in one spot, but even that was tough - his humans had to keep him harnessed otherwise he'd lay down. Needless to say we made it a quick session. But damn if didn't look absolutely beautiful. And seeing him seek comfort from his humans, and eating wieners was a lovely thing.
Having his life spared in the Whistler cull of 2010, led him to his humans S & A. For almost 6 years he lived a life getting whatever he needed to be comfortable. He got love, and soft beds and a dog buddy to go for walks with. And for that I am beyond grateful.
Rest in peace and love ol' pal, Galute.
Please enjoy the photos below...
Need more sleddies? Click here for more photos of retired sleddogs!
welcome to the west coast!
A new sleddie has arrived on 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 in this evening sporting her ThunderShirt (in case of anxiety) and was pretty relaxed, yet a bit stunned at her new surroundings, 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 be yet another person to register surprise at connecting this petite dog with being a sled dog. Of course the humans jumped at the opportunity to explain a bit about sleddies and the industry and then it was time to head outside for some sniffing, some business... 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.
WELCOME to the west coast Bella and congratulations to your new family! xo
More at: www.iwasasleddog.com