Updates and Gratitude

Tis the season to think back over the year and reflect, and a good time to share some things we’re thankful for. Gratitude is kind of an amazing thing– It gives you back so much positivity. That thing about thinking of three things you’re grateful for each day is (at least for me) real. It helps my mental state a lot. I don’t always do a good job keeping up with it, but it’s a concrete tool, for sure.

Speaking of mental health, mine has been up and down. To be frank, a lot of down. You may have read about that in this Twitter thread. Long story short, November is a rough month! Losing daylight, coming up against higher pressure in training, and various wrenches thrown into the works acting as the cherry on top. Somehow being able to see the reasons and patterns behind my brain waves seems to help modulate them. I’ll take whatever help I can get! After some smoothing of the turbulence, I was able to get out with the dogs and accomplish some big runs. The dogs did amazing! They were so ready to go I was braking going up hills. That was a great feeling! Now to see if I can carry them all the way to the start line of our races. After some successful miles under our belts, I am feeling more confident.

Not everyone is up and running, of course. Or rather, they are not all up to the miles. Rebel, Belle, and Marnie all had to recover from quill-removing incisions on parts of their legs. The good news is that after some healing, TLC, and down time, they are all looking great. Also VERY impatient to join the crew!!! Normally with one dog recovering you can “work them back in” by bringing them along on the run and then settling them into a comfy kennel in your sled or on a trailer behind. With three dogs, this is a bit more tricky. However, we’re testing out some methods to make this happen, and fitting runs in for the “recovery crew” when we can.

In case you didn’t know, Belle came through her last surgery– where I was worried about if she’d be racing ever again– with flying colors. The awesome vets found a giant quill in her wrist and removed it. She’s now finally all healed up from the incision and back to her old self. She’s run the last two “recovery runs” and is rocking it. I’m not sure if she and the other recovery crew dogs will get to the Copper Basin this year, but I have high hopes they’ll make it to the Quest 300.

Other dogs in and through recovery are Link, who had some tummy troubles that put her in the vet over night, and Cassidy, who grew a lovely large abscess on her face– Not to mention Mr. Mungry who was neutered a bit over a week ago. All of these dogs are doing fantastically! Link spends a lot of her day being a playmate to Pup. Mungry has to wait just a bit longer to join back in the fun while his stitches heal, but he should be up and running again soon.


We’ve had a much longer journey than expected this season. It’s amazing to think about how perhaps if I had left on the fateful porcupine run just a few minutes earlier or later, we might not have run into that particular wrench. However it went, I’m deeply grateful that not only are all of the dogs in decent health– But they are all now thriving. How lucky is that? It’s not just luck, either. It would not have been possible at all without the generosity of many folks. First and foremost, my parents, who unquestioningly supported our vet ER visit and more than one ensuing bill after. I am really grateful and deeply blessed to have them in my life and in my corner. Second, Shawn’s family, who have supported us both through thick and thin. Third, our VIP ATAO supporters, who consistently step up to the plate to help the kennel out in times of feast or famine alike. Thank you especially to Laurel, Erica, Jenny.

So much gratitude to our dog sponsors, a key element of our kennel. Welcome to the new sponsors! Your welcome packages will be coming soon. All of your sponsorees are lucky to have you behind them!

Deepest thanks to our Buddies. The Buddy Brigade is the backbone of the kennel. Without you, we would be nobuddy. See what we did there??? But really: thank you.

Thank you to everyone who has made simple donations, to those who follow along, to all of those who love these dogs from the four corners of the earth. We can feel that from near and far. It’s really and propels us “Onward.”

Thank you to our kennel family– Sarah, Padee, the house dogs, and our wonderful Two Rivers friends and neighbors who are there for us without condition. We are lucky to live where we live, and to be surrounded by and part of such a great community.

Thank you from me to Shawn. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. It’s not always easy, but we keep going and I am so glad to have you by my side.

And last but not least, thank you to the dogs. These athletes are… unfathomable. Indomitably happy. Unimaginably strong. A sacred combination of toughness and joy. I strive to be like them: to be as in the moment, to be as ready to embrace the trail ahead. I love them. I think I might be among the luckiest of humans alive to get to be a steward of their athleticism. A waterboy to the pack. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I hope you, too, feel some of that toughness and joy. The holidays can be rough; they can be glorious. The middle of winter is not easy. But you are part of our pack, too, and we welcome you to run with us. There is adventure and openness and a long and beautiful trail ahead. Ready?


2 Responses

  1. John Breiby
    | Reply

    Happy Thanksgiving, Will, to you and Shawn. Nice essay! Lots of thank yous 🙂

    You’re also lucky to be up in Two Rivers where there’s snow. We had snow, then it warmed up and blew like crazy and now we have ice. Walking is treacherous. Be thankful for snow, too, in addition to your other thankfuls.

    Best to you all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.