Age: 13 years, female
Weight: 42 lbs
Sled dog name: Cerise
Age at adoption: 8 years
Adopted from: Victoria SPCA, July 2012
Coat: single/double: single, maybe light undercoat?
Likes: hiking, running through water, fetch, sticks, toys that squeak, food!, walk time, meeting other dogs, car rides
Dislikes: kids, strangers, has difficulty trusting people especially inside, sudden movements
Sleeping locations: couch, my bed
Off-leash time: yes
Escaped or lost: no
Siblings: Jeff (Joffre), “Bodies of Water” litter, Popeye, Meggie
Medical conditions: no
Spayed/Neutered at adoption: yes
Known history: ChiChi was born at the Whistler kennels and I have been told her mom was Venus not sure of her dad. I was also told by one of the mushers that this litter was not socialized - they were illegally (?) on property so had to keep the dogs quiet. They were seen once a day to feed and clean poop, but not socialized with at all. If they barked or made any noise, other staff would bang the houses with shovels or use an air horn to keep them quiet. At least one or two in the litter were killed as they were seen as “too sketchy” to interact with guests.
More retired sled dog stories at: wendynesbitt.com/retiredsleddogs
photographed May 6, 2017
SESSION NOTE: What can I say about ChiChi that won't make this the longest note ever.
I've known ChiChi since 2012 and have been on a lot of walks and hikes with her. She was not only one of the inspirations for this project, but I could fill a whole book of photos I have of her with her eyes closed. She's nicknamed the 'happiest dog in the world' because when you're out with her, she zoooooooms everywhere - and puts on 20 times more milage than the rest of us. And she is sooooo happy doing it!
But there's another side to Chich that I hadn't really experienced until this session. She's also a nervous girl. Coming into my studio without any dog buddies was really scary for her. Even though she knew me she was quite uncomfortable the whole time. Her mom kept her on leash to help her stay in position. After photographing her I wondered what I had gotten myself into and if I should be doing this. I mean if ChiChi was this nervous, what are the other dogs going to be like?
But I realized that that was what this project was about. The diversity of these dogs. They are NOT all the same and as long as I could keep the sessions short and as stress free as possible (even at the expense of some of the images), it was ok.
And at the time of writing this I've photographed 47 sleddies and each one surprised me in some way and even surprised their humans - the ones who know them best.
Why? Because sled dogs are not all the same. Given the chance, once they no longer have to pull a sled, their personalities may surprise you.
ChiChi is a survivor of the Whistler sled dog cull in 2010.