For a time we let her ride in the sled bag so she could regain her strength...
Salmon was a wonderful sweet rescue who, while reserved in the dog yard, was a die hard sled dog out on the trail. She had such a desire to go that no matter what type of terrain we found ourselves in she was a real asset getting us through it.
When she was pulled into rescue we were told that she had had many litters in her previous home and was often overlooked for work in favor of the younger generations. We were a bit stumped by this since the only time we ever saw her give less than 100% was when she was getting into her senior years.
As with many retirees the decision to turn in the harness often happens fast. One season they are doing regular long runs over and over, then, at the start of the next season they seem to falter. By the time spring draws near, we could see the writing on the wall. The years seemed to have slipped by in a blink of the eye and those white hairs on her muzzle stood out all that much more.
Its tough making the decision to retire a dog, especially for a dog like Salmon who found such freedom in the forest. For a time we let her ride in the sled bag so she could regain her strength but what started out as a 30 minute ride turned into a half day trip and even when running loose she just couldn't keep up.
As she watched us leave the yard she remained fired up and ready to go, she was always ready, but over time she relaxed into the realization that life in the kennel was going to have to be just a bit slower for her. She still enjoyed free time around the yard and often would spend hours and days free in a pen set up for her and a few other good natured rescues who were waiting for their chance at a forever home.
When cancer raised its ugly head we knew we had a hard decision to make. Salmon was one of the most stoic huskies we had seen and would never tell us if she was in pain. As the cancer spread aggressively it was clear she was getting weaker and we had to make the decision to ease her out of this world. Letting her go was very hard but we knew it was the best for her and the least we could do for all the hours and heart she put into every moment on the trail.
To this day we have never had the honor of working with a more selfless, hard working sled dog...
Read more about Salmon in the September/October (2013) issue of Mushing Magazine...