Sherpa. Sherpie. Shei’rpana. A dog with the biggest heart. The toughest head. The most durable body. Smiley Sherpa. Always so full of zest for running, eating, breeding, and life.
Sherpa was one of the most amazing dogs we’ve had the privilege to know and love. He had an impeccable race record from the age of 18 months old to the age of 8.5 years old. Sherpa raced in our team for 8 competitive years finishing his career with a Solstice 50 win and one of the fastest times out of 29 teams entered in the 50 and 100 mile events. Pretty darn good for an old guy with an unknown tumor starting to rise. He was the toughest dog, as tough as they come. Durable. So durable. He had the nicest legs, wrists, and feet; even in his last days I admired his retained strength and beauty. Last night I dreamed of Sherpa’s robust feet. Yesterday morning I removed the dewclaws from his newborns. We admired their beautiful coloring and feet. Sadness with a future.
In November of last year I took Sherpa to the vet because he had a slightly enlarged look to his stomach area. His tests and bloodwork were all healthy. Leaving us to think it’s just his age catching up with him. His performance was still as strong as ever. In February he again passed his Iditarod vet exams and his bloodwork was perfect. I opted to not take Sherpa because I had 21 dogs to pick 14 from. It was a difficult choice and I took him to the start of the race. Sherpa was the kind of dog who when things got really real racing he was always there 100%. Without question. He was a tireless dog who made it all seem fairly easy. 30 races. You could always count on Sherpa to finish strong.
We loved Sherpa. I loved Sherpa. Losing Sherpa has been brutal on our hearts. I don’t cry. Well very rarely. Death. I feel that. I’ve never cried so much as I did this past week. I spent the last week of Sherpa’s life laying at his side. I didn’t want him to feel alone. I wanted him to comfort him and it comforted me to be with him. At times he looked quite perky, always very alert, but other times sad. I felt annoyed at my human emotions for holding him and not being able to control my sobs. I didn’t want to put that on him, to put sadness on him. He responded by nuzzling me, telling me it’s ok. Such an emotionally intelligent guy. He enjoyed his last ride with us in the car with his snout out the window taking in the world. He died in between his two last litters. Newborns born three days before his death and a litter due soon for a friend. He gave us 4 beautiful 12 week olds with Monarch and a tremendous litter of yearlings with her born last summer. His blood will continue to run strong in our yard for years to come.
Iditarod-Sherpa trained all season for the Iditarod and was a shoe in. I had 21 dogs to pick 14 from so I opted to take a young gun instead as Sherpa has already done so much in his long career. He came to the start as my alternate and I was tempted to take him on the morning of the race.