Rebecca and Beans took their first dog sled ride. Beans was a lab mix, not a husky, but that didn’t stop him. He pulled along with the rest of the team. Rebecca was hooked. She wanted to sled. And to acquire a husky to partner with Beans. In the meantime, she connected Beans to a kick scooter, and he pulled her.
Rebecca’s 15 year old daughter Hero (named for a character from Much Ado About Nothing) thought her mom was “going through another phase.” Rebecca had raised doves for 8 years and at one point considered keeping bees. (Hero, afraid of bees, talked her out of the latter.) This time Rebecca was so driven to acquire a husky that she kept buying sweaters with pictures of sled teams on them. Hero begged her to stop.
Rebecca spent many hours online, hoping to give an unwanted Craigslist dog a home. She and Hero met with a few prospects. They were either adopted out too soon or Beans didn’t get along with them. After about a year of searching, Rebecca gave up. She was busy as a mom and full time librarian in Charlevoix, MI. Her dream of her own mini sled team faded.
Months later, on a cold October evening, a library patron mentioned seeing a bedraggled dog running through the parking lot. After work, Rebecca spotted the dog on the bridge. (A drawbridge connects two sides of town across a channel.) The dog was a husky! She appeared frightened and helpless. Her fur was stuck with burrs and so matted that her ribs showed. Rebecca called her boyfriend to bring a collar and leash.
Rebecca put the dog into her garage. Overnight she slipped out of the collar and fled. Rebecca drove the neighborhood, called friends. Finding that Animal Control had picked up the stray, Rebecca convinced them to release her.
No nearby humane societies or vet reported a missing husky. Rebecca later learned a local resident had picked up the stray some 90 miles away and driven her to her home. She fled that yard as well. Huskies love to run, Rebecca says, and are known escape artists.
Rebecca and Hero named their new refugee Polaris (“Po”) because her eyes shone like the North Star. They fed her, bathed her and gave her a home. Despite the small portions of food she ate, Po’s stomach became distended. Several weeks later, Po went into labor at 4am, Before Hero left for school, she and her mom witnessed four births. After ten hours, an exhausted Po delivered eight healthy husky pups.
Rebecca kept five puppies. “With Beans and Po that made seven. A lucky number for sure,” she says. She works on training her dogs every day. She has made fine friends in the sledding community and even messaged back and forth with the 2013 winner of the Iditarod. She hopes to compete with her team in local races soon. The friend who introduced her to sledding adopted the three other pups. Since he lives nearby, the siblings play together often.
Rebecca cites a favorite quote from The Alchemist: “‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.’” Her universe includes boyfriend Kevin, who helped in building a fence, trucking dogs, puppy walks and more. And coworker Jerry at the DNR (where she works part time) who built her sled by steaming and bending ash boards supplied by another coworker, Jimmy.
Rebecca says, “I’m excited about my new passion and love these dogs so much.” As far as Po’s concerned, there are two Heroes in this story.