Rest in Peace my Dearest Flash
Flash taught me more about dog mushing then any other being on the planet. His short life was filled with important milestones. We purchased him in Alaska from a very large touring kennel. Lee and I drove with my best friend Emily to Alaska so she could have her car for a summer internship. We bought yearling Flash while we were up there and flew back to New England with him. Flash was the 3rd dog we got and I felt like I had a real team after getting him. Flash loved to run, and was very serious about his passion. He was stand offish with us until I had a harness in my hand then he would leap and jump at me almost saying " Get that thing on me lady so we can RUN!". He was always ready for a challenge, eager to learn and please. I ran him in wheel at first, he was just so nuts, but I quickly realized his potential. As soon as he was in lead he seemed to know everything. He learned commands quickly and was willing to make mistakes and learn with me.
In our first race I ran 4 dogs in the 12 mile 4 -6 dog Stratford Nighthawk race in 2007. We came in 6th out of 23 competitors! I was totally stunned by his drive. Over the years Flash became my main man. I could always depend on him to do his job and do it really well. We learned about training, breaking trail, speed, working around other teams, camping, racing and most of all trust. I trusted Flash with the whole team and myself on the back of the sled. If I gave a command he wasn't sure about he would look back at me, and he was usually right! I swear he could read trail markers ( probably just smelling the other teams but he was smarter then me!). His quivering bark during hook up reminded me of the woman at the end of "Goonies" with the bag of gems rambling on. I loved Flash and worked with him off the trail too. When I broke my ankle in February of 2007 I would spend hours sitting in his "spin zone" trying to touch him until finally he would come close and I would pet him. I taught him how to walk on a leash and go hiking off leash. I never was able to teach him how to sit and I rarely saw him sit even in the kennel. He loved to get the other dogs to chase during play time. He was in love with all the girls, who of course didn't want anything to do with him! When he did relax he loved to snuggle up with the other dogs on the couch and dog beds; where ever Jersey was he was snuggled right next to her.
In 2008 Flash developed a persistent cough that sometimes made him vomit. We tried everything to clear his lungs and we battled with different medications/treatments and then last summer he was diagnosed with Canine Chronic Bronchitis. Last winter the cough got so bad he was having serious trouble running. He wasn't recovering well from even a short run and his skin was becoming very fragile. He had to sit out the racing season and ran/lead recreational with friends. This was very crushing for him when we would leave him at the truck for long runs. He was diagnosed with Cushings Disease this spring (which he developed from the medication he was on to ease his cough) and went down hill from there. I won't get into detail but it was probably the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. Flash didn't deserve to be as uncomfortable as he had gotten. He was given a chance that many tour dogs never get, he slept in a house, he was the leader of his team, he was pampered when he was sick and he was loved deeply by his owners. It has been 11 days since the little man went to heaven but his short life here has been branded in my heart and it has been hard for me to think about. I don't know if I will ever fully recover from his loss. What a good doggie.
Update: We got a card from the vet's office in the mail. Inside was filled with notes from all the vets and vet techs there. I cried for hours especially after reading: "When dogs go to heaven God doesn't give them wings because he knows they love to run."