The next few years we had an occasional exchange, usually a question for her (a professional breeder) on what color she would consider a particular dog. Prior to her first Iditarod in 2000, she requested help with her site and I was more than happy to be 'on board'.
Before one of her pre-Iditarod departures to Alaska, there was one phone call I made to get a question answered before she went incommunicado (offline). Other than that, we only exchanged email, for years....until she was scheduled to be a judge at the Cleveland, Ohio Specialty in 2003. I thought to surprise her by attending the show....I anticipated the moment when I would introduce myself...."Hello Karen. I'm Ann." :)
(Alas, someone didn't know my intended surprise and mentioned it to her.)
It was still a delight to meet her in person and watch the whole event. Her post dog show slide presentation on her Iditarod adventures was every bit as good as forecast. Even though I knew almost every story and recognized so many images, to listen to her stories in person and observe her answer all types of questions was enthralling. Fanciers of the Siberian Husky, we are fortunate to have her as an Ambassador of our Working Group dog.
Another couple of Iditarod training & adventure rounds, more working dogs earning their Championships, new breedings, stories of up & coming pups, passings & placements....I sit quietly by and silently read, copy, paste, edit, insert images, update links, learn, enjoy, recall images from years past that might help detail the current entry.
I wait on baited breathe during the races for updates, searched for relevant articles and links to post, corresponded with others and ask permission to post their recollections or photos online as part of 'her' story. Occasionally, I'm tickled to receive positive feedback directly or from comments made to Karen that she shares with me. It is a pleasure to do it. During the winter, I often sit on my cushy leather chair or couch, my feet up, computer on my lap, the fireplace glowing as I read/update.
However, a part of me always wonders what would it be like to SEE those dogs...Karen has invited me several times to her kennel over the years, but I am a mom...initially, my children are small, one is handicapped (Autistic), perhaps someday...
Then one day, my husband heads off to work the night shift (6pm-6am). I sit down to see if there are any NorthWapiti updates prior to the weekend's race. There is a simple request for a handler if anyone can make it.
Wow, I silently dream, wouldn't that be neat to just put all the daily details on hold for a week. I am my own boss and have been swamped for weeks, but now I only have one onsite consult on schedule for the week. My children are now teenagers, my family support network is very close and would so understand what the trip would mean to me. I joke and send out a couple of emails...I get replies..."Why would you not go?!?"
I call my brother-in-law who is always traveling during the week, so I often play step parent as needed to help my sister. I ask him if he has any airline miles leftover...
He asks where do I want to go... I tell him Anchorage.
"ANCHORAGE?!?" he replies...
When do I want to go... Tomorrow? I quietly ask...
Initial Email (5:00pm)
Ticket booked (11:44pm)
Laundry & packing (Midnight until dawn)
Leave for the airport (8:00am)
Wow...me...this time it's...
For anyone wondering about my husband's reaction to all of this...
(6:00pm) Husband comes back thru door (he, a Deputy Sheriff, is not in uniform)
(6:05pm) Announces he booked a sick day, he feels ill (his 3rd or 4th sick day in 18 years)
(6:07pm) I ask him if he would mind if I went to Alaska...
When? – “Tomorrow”, I reply.
“You'd go to Alaska when I'm sick?” (He had gone to the gym earlier in the morning to workout, but was definitely green at the gills now)
My reply (not well received at that point)
Oh, in a HEARTBEAT!!!
The husband is NOT amused...but he'll live...
(NOTE: We have three of our parents, three adult sisters and three brother-in-laws who all live within 5 miles of us and he has the next three days off from work on a long weekend...as I said, he'll live...
(8:00am) Disbelieving, but loving husband drives half-asleep wife to airport and tells me not to worry, enjoy myself, they'll be okay.
(9:30am) Unloading at the airport...When are you coming back?
“Next Friday (8 days)”, I reply.
The husband is NOT amused...but he'll survive...
Stay tuned, there is still much to tell :)
2006 Copper Basin - Rookie Handler