Many sled dog kennels have handlers come and go without a lot of notice. The handlers have entirely separate living quarters and most of the interaction they have with the 'human family' is in the dog yard. That is not us. The handlers who come volunteer for us over the winter eat, live and work alongside us (especially me) every day. Most come back for a second (or third or even fourth) stint with us. Basically they become family.
On Wednesday we lost one of our family - Brittany Butt. Brittany leaves behind her husband, Jeff and her adorable young son, Teige. So very tragic.
Brittany first came to the kennel in the fall of '11 for 2 months and then again for the winter of 12/13. She seemed to pop up frequently when we were in Alaska to help out too, both in 2012 and last winter.
Over that time Mark and I had the privilege of watching Brittany transition from a lovely young woman to a wife and mother.
Our memories of Brittany are many. She had a big, bright, often and easily offered smile - and no trouble laughing at herself. Which was good, as she was one of the most uncoordinated handlers I've ever had. I remember suggesting she not wear shorts in the house as the multitude of bruises she was always sporting was slightly disturbing. She took great pride in them all - even if she couldn't remember where they all came from.
I came to rediscover biking during Brittany's stay here. I was shocked to find out she didn't know how to ride a bike, so gave her my old one. She crashed a lot, but didn't give up. When she moved to Alaska, she took the bike with her and contacted me last summer looking for recommendations for a more comfortable seat for it. I was happy that she was on the seat enough that that was a concern for her!
There are also a lot of 'food memories' around Brittany. She was always appreciative of the food put in front of her and like one of my sled dogs, ate with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Mark and she could polish off a 9 x 13" pan of chocolate zucchini cake in a startlingly short amount of time. Nice to know your cooking/baking is appreciated.
She also had a huge fondness for Canadian chocolate bars. If I was running errands in town without her, throwing an Aero bar into the cart would be sure to bring out a big smile when I got home.
And then, of course, there are the dogs. She had nicknames for most of them - and a number of them like 'Etch a Sketch' for little Skecher have become part of the kennel language.
The dogs were often a source of her bruises and crashes - like the time the front end of my 16-dog main string knocked her off her feet and dragged her down Highway 2 trying to get after the disgusting carcass of a road killed moose - but she never held it against them (and they didn't get the moose either!).
|Brittany tolerantly dealing with young and enthusiastic Chewie!|
|Super handlers Helen, Simone and Brittany helping me get organized for the 2013 Eagle Cap Extreme.|
|Keeping her high maintenance traveling partner, Bet, happy on the way to the 2013 Canadian Challenge.|
|Chris Smith - another of our extended family - and Brittany at our 2014 Alaska Open House.|
|About to dye her hair 'kennel colours' in '13|
|Helping load straw bales in '11|
|That Brittany smile.|
|Camping with the team in '11|
Some of the cartoons Brittany (also known as Briffany when Bet got her name wrong) inspired by her misadventures at the kennel. She was such a good sport about being cartooned for them.
We are all shocked and in mourning at Brittany's passing. We wish courage and strength to Jeff and Teige as they deal with this all. And Brittany, from the bottom of ALL our hearts, we hope you are at peace.
With love and sadness,