Thursday, October 20, 2011

My "New" SP Kennel Dogs

"My dog" Teddy -- seen here in a photo I took at the end of the 2006 Iditarod in Nome -- has officially retired from racing. She is one of the truly great team dogs of all time and the dog who first really hooked me on sled dog sports.

By all accounts, Teddy is enjoying her status as a doyen of SP Kennel, spending her days between lounging around her dog house and training youngsters about what it means to be a sled dog who never quits. Teddy is a "dog-dog" -- as opposed to a "people-dog" -- and belongs with her pack mates at the kennel, rather than somewhere else on someone's couch. She may be retired from professional racing, but she's got a long, full coaching/training career ahead of her.

Like most humans who have ever met her, I have always been in awe of Teddy, and I have been honored to sponsor her for the past five years. Thank you, Teddy, for everything you are.

Aliy called me the other day to ask which dog's sponsorship I wanted to pick up now that Teddy is retired. We both had a good laugh, actually, because the answer to that question was decided two seasons ago when I pointed to a very special puppy with whom I bonded the moment we met and said, "I dibs that dog!"

Mac is now officially "my dog" and I wish him all the best as he becomes all that he can be. One of the truly great things about SP Kennel is that every dog is recognized and respected as an individual. Mac may turn out to be a long-distance racing dog, or a middle-distance racing dog, or even a freight dog. We don't know, and we don't care. We only want what's best for him. He's an outstanding canine, full of life, energy and love. My life is already better for knowing him, and I look forward to being a part of his future… Whatever it may be. Get after it, Mac!

I have also decided to "go public" and "make it official"… Happy is my dog, too!

Some of you may recall that Happy and I have a special relationship, made famous by a kiss. It is so hard to describe Happy in a few words, because just when you think you've got her figured out she completely surprises you. She acts like an idiot most of the time, but she adapts easily to whatever is thrown her way. She'd never raced in her life, then finished the Iditarod. She barks her head off at the kennel, then she behaves like a princess when staying at a fancy hotel. She constantly does "the Happy dance" like a dervish, then sits as quiet as a mouse on an airport waiting room chair. There's something about Happy that has always amazed and inspired me, and I bet that's true for many of you as well.

I don't know if Happy will ever race again, and I honestly don't care. She's already proven herself as a fantastic, amazing dog, far beyond any expectation or imagination. What I do know -- and care very much about -- is that one day Happy and I will be together. Whether we're driving cross-country in my rig, open-ocean sailing or just hanging out, she'll look at me -- probably like it's the first time she's ever met me -- and say, "Hi, I'm Happy! I'm always happy! That's why they call me Happy!"

(Note to Aliy: That's me saying "I dibs Happy in her retirement!")

To Mac, Happy and all the fantastic dogs at SP Kennel, I wish you a great season and another fine year of a dog's best life…

Love, Macgellan

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