Tuesday, January 01, 2013

It's A "Happy" New Year!

Last Thursday night, I drove down to the Alaska Air Cargo facility at SeaTac airport to pick up a very special delivery. Right on time a brand new dog crate arrived, and after a little paperwork we were out the door... She's here!

Happy -- better known far and wide as "Happy The Sled Dog" -- has officially retired from SP Kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, and become my permanent canine companion.

After a quick walk around the parking lot to take care of business, we loaded up in my truck and drove north to Anacortes. Happy curled right up in the co-pilot seat for the 90-minute drive, only looking up when we finally parked at my camper.

A hot meal and another walk later, I introduced Happy to her new bed. She obviously had no idea what a dog bed was -- and probably couldn't fathom the idea that it was for her! -- so I actually had to physically put her in it and make her lie down.

Less than a minute later, though, she had it all figured out. The combined effects of the plane ride, the drive and the hot meal must have kicked in, because Happy was very happily down for the night. Home sweet home for Happy and me!

Here is Happy's official SP Kennel portrait. Don't let her looks deceive you: Underneath that bewildered gaze is a dog who pretty much hasn't got a clue about anything.

Happy was affectionately known as "the kennel idiot" up in Alaska. She never seemed to understand what being a sled dog was all about. She would frequently lose focus, bolt sideways and generally "go mental" (as Aliy describes it) on runs. To my knowledge, she is the only dog to ever start the Iditarod facing backwards!

To be fair, Happy has good cause not to be much of a sled dog. Although her mother was a trap-line dog in a remote native Alaskan village, her father is of completely unknown breed. One look at her, though, and it's pretty clear he was a hound of some kind. It's also pretty clear she got her body from her mom, but her face and brain from her dad.

And yet, Happy is as sweet a dog as you will find anywhere. She is always happy, always dancing and prancing, always full of life. She may not have been a very good sled dog, but when she was needed to fill out an Iditarod team one year, she made it all the way to Nome. It was her very first race ever, and that speaks volumes about her attitude and enthusiasm.

There's a lot more to that story, and a lot more to "The Happy Story" in general. For those of you who already know her story and are wondering if she will be "going public" with it again, the answer is "Maybe!" It all depends on how Happy takes to life as a companion dog, how she handles being around large numbers of strangers, and whether or not being in the public eye makes her happy. I'm game to revive her website, tell her story, print the t-shirts and go on tour, but only if it's good for her. So, we'll just have to wait and see!

Meanwhile, we are constant companions and doing very, very well together. My camper is a perfect size doghouse for the two of us, and the park we're in is large, wooded and full of great smells. So far we've had fun going everywhere together, including a hilarious trip to PetSmart where Happy made very good use of her hound dog nose checking out every package in the treat aisle!

So far, Happy is handling everything in stride. I was especially impressed with how calmly she strolled onto a ferry boat and enjoyed a 40-minute crossing to Lopez Island. Once there, we spent the day with friends who have a young daughter, now Happy's BFF.

It seems to me that picture pretty much tells the story for now. I am delighted to have Happy as my canine companion, the first permanent co-explorer on The Voyage of Macgellan. I have no idea what the future holds, but you can be sure that Happy will be a cherished part of it... Stay tuned!

On behalf of both of us, we wish you all a very "Happy" New Year!


Joanne from upstate NY said...

As a fan of SPKennel, this is the BEST news!! Have fun you two!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Stella and I wish you and Happy the very best. We know you'll experience many happy trails.

Lisa B said...

Hi Mac - longtime SPK follower here - so glad to read the news that Happy has become your permanent pet dog. I wish you both all the best!

Anonymous said...

From day one, Happy and you belonged together. I'm so glad that it has finally happened.
You two take good care of each other --- OK!


Michaela said...

Was just wondering what happened to Happy. So glad she has a good home (not that SP wasn't good to her. :) ) Give her pets for me.