Lolo

Yesterday, after sixteen-some adventure-filled years together, it broke our hearts to say goodbye to our beloved Romano.

Romano was a good man! He didn’t have a sneaky bone in his body (which, for an Alaskan husky, is really saying something). He was a saint among dogs. He touched the lives of so many. I like to imagine him in Heaven, hanging with all of the humans who adored him—Dwight, Brenda, Mom, Dad—as well as the long string of dogs leading him to the Heavenly smells and sights—Lolo, Borage, and his brother, Stinky, along with the rest of the Cheese Family… and the many other dogs from both the Gilliland’s pack and my own… the list goes on and on.

Thank you, Romano, for being you. 

We’ll miss you… 

Mush, Romano! Mush!

 

 

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Thank you, Nicole, for sending these great photos of our Iditarod Skype session last week. It’s so fun to see what it looks like from the classroom’s perspective on the other side of Skype. The students at the Boyle Road Elementary School in Port Jefferson Station, New York were well-prepared to visit with Alaskan Huskies, Noggin and Romano, and their musher (me); the entire class donned their favorite winter hats and mittens/gloves for the occasion. What fun!

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Tyler Short (L), Karen Land, Steve Brinkworth, and Romano

Laura McCracken, a devoted Iditarod teacher from Northside Middle School, Columbus, IN, writes:

Tyler Short was a Trailblazer last year when he was in seventh grade. He was captivated with the Iditarod and with meeting you and Romano, seeing an actual Iditarod sled and all the gear. Each of his classmates wrote a letter to an Iditarod musher using an address provided via the Iditarod education website. However, Tyler took his letter writing to the next level. He wrote one very good letter and we photocopied it. Then he painstakingly addressed each envelope by hand. He sent a letter to every single musher who provided an address. This came out to be about 60 letters.

During the summertime, he enjoyed checking the mail because he received replies throughout the summer. Seventeen mushers wrote him back. Dallas Seavey sent his Iditarod identification pass, some brochures, and a very kind letter. Tyler also received lots of dog booties and photographs. Pete Kaiser sent a two-page handwritten letter and some booties.

Tyler explains: “I was having a great time learning about the Iditarod and when Mrs. McCracken said we were going to write letter, I got super excited. I was excited because I was actually about to write to a musher! Someone who had actually gone through the Iditarod and knows what really goes on! Then I had the idea of writing a letter and sending it to all the mushers. I talked to Mrs. McCracken and she said that they could pay for the stamps and that’s when the determination kicked in. I actually had a letter done in 20 minutes and sent that exact letter to every musher. It took forever to fill out all the envelopes and sign all the letters.”

Today, Lolo is enjoying the early arrival of her 14th winter. DSCF2564It’s hard to believe that it has been almost eleven years since Lolo (along with Pig, on the right) led our 16-dog team out of Anchorage on the 2004 Iditarod…

2004RacestartAnd, of course, both of my tiny, 40-lb. girls led the entire 1,100-miles across Alaska… girl-power at its finest. The photo below is our team climbing up off of the sea ice of Norton Sound and onto the Front Street of Nome. That year was our best time at 12 days, 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 19 seconds…

DSCF0338At age 14.5, running still brings Lolo joy… which, in turn, makes me smile too.

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Mush!