Monday, March 15, 2010

Iditarod Update #10: Welcome Home

From despair and heartache to delight and happiness with one phone call. I was expecting to pick up AJ at the airport on Monday based on an earlier phone conversation on Sunday in which he also told me that there have been several Whitey sightings around McGrath. Still no luck. AJ’s flight plan gave him another day to search for the missing mutt, but it didn’t feel right that Whitey might not be with him. I was glad I bought provisions in the form of cheesecake for another day of waiting.

About an hour and a slice of cheesecake later, I received another phone call from AJ with a very different tone. “Whitey’s sitting on my lap right now,” was all he said and my tears started flowing. Dog and musher were scheduled to be on the last flight in tonight. I sped into Anchorage in a haze of disbelief---could it be real? I drove overflowing with gratitude---the prayers and hopes of many were answered.

AJ with Whitey-Lance in tow stood among Iditarod volunteers, vets and a sea of gear at the airport. I didn’t know who to hug first---the amazing man or the wandering Whitey. Husband first, then dog. A bit skinny, a bit worse for wear, but all in all in good health and spirits.

Shortly after AJ’s first phone call this afternoon, it was reported that a group of people on the edge of McGrath had Whitey-Lance in their sights. To the Bat-mobile. After Whitey shying away from everyone including AJ, Whitey was lured in by a bite of salmon. While Whitey gave into the needs of his empty stomach, AJ wrapped his arms around Whitey and didn’t let go. From there, and truer to form Whitey-Lance stayed by AJ’s side all the way home.

To our surprise, Frank and Karen Washington waited at the airport for the trail hardened traveler’s return. As hugs were given, and words of encouragement were spoken, Whitey-Lance closed his eyes and fell asleep. Whitey is slumbering in our house tonight, but until he fell asleep he went from AJ’s lap to my lap and back again.

Thank you to all of you for the prayers and positive thoughts for Whitey. Thank you for reminding me that on either side of the valley we have been wandering are mountains---you know who you are. Thank you for all of your faith when my waivered. Thank you for helping me smile and laugh when it was the last thing I could imagine doing. Thank you for sharing in my hurt and now happienss. Thank you for helping me feel less alone; I usually love solitude, but this week threatened to be too lonely were it not for the comments on the blog, kind words, emails, texts, and phone calls. Thank you to the volunteers and residents of McGrath that helped AJ in the search, that rallied, that fed him, that stayed in the game with him to the end. You are all friends of Snowhook Kennel. We are beyond grateful.

Why should Waldo be the only red and white clad wanderer in the world? Look for Whitey-Lance to be wearing a red and white striped dog jacket a la Where’s Waldo at Snowhook’s next Ceremonial start.

Welcome home, bud.

RHS

19 comments:

FuzzyThyroidBrain said...

Amazing, amazing, amazing!

And darn you Whitey, you have me crying again!

But this time the tears are rolling down my cheeks past the biggest smile!

FTB, in Ireland x

argentinamom said...

Tears are flowing here in Kansas as a read your good news this morning. I fell asleep last night praying, Heavenly Father, PLEASE lead them to Whitey and let him come home. SO grateful prayers of many are answered. Give him lots of loves and I will always be a follower of Snowhook kennels from now on and will be looking for Justin next year!

An avid dog lover from Kansas transplanted from Utahsunshine01

argentinamom said...

Tears are flowing here in Kansas as a read your good news this morning. I fell asleep last night praying, Heavenly Father, PLEASE lead them to Whitey and let him come home. SO grateful prayers of many are answered. Give him lots of loves and I will always be a follower of Snowhook kennels from now on and will be looking for Justin next year!

An avid dog lover from Kansas transplanted from Utahsunshine01

Kate said...

Tears again!This news will carry me through the day! Words can not express how happy and relieved I am for you all. And now, I get to go in and happily extinguish the candle that has burned continuously to call Whitey-Lance home. So glad he got home before the red lantern! Best to you both, and see you next year!

Olson Occasions said...

I am so happy both Whitey and my brother are home safely. I know this has been a trying experience, but what sometimes tests us most only makes us stronger. My love to both of you. I have a new interest in the world of mushing and a great desire to help you both for next year. I will rally the locals here for monetary and moral support, i also have my sewing machine and a friends readyl and willing to help you with the task of sewing for next years race. Please let me know when to start. Also, please have my brother call me as soon as he is rested and can or I will be phoning him. Love to all of you (dogs included).

VAFOLLOWER said...

What a relief! I am following this race from Virginia. I have friends in AK who introduced me to it years ago. The Whitey story touched me. I am truly glad Whitey is back.

Loon said...

Yay!

Arctis said...

Congratulations and welcome back, Whitey!
We're glad to hear, that everything turned out well.

Meg said...

Goosebumps, tears and alas, a big smile! Great news about Whitey-Lance. I can only imagine the embrace in Anchorage...

I work with Bart (the guy in the red coat!!) at Progressive and he has a crew of us following diligently. Suffice it to say I became addicted to the blog from the start! He said you two are the nicest people and this blog and story support that 100%.

Thank you for sharing the experience... full of valuable life lessons.

Jay said...

Justin, Rebecca and Whitey-Lance,
Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits and gravy! Big hugs all the way around... I have a smile from ear to ear, yes! Maybe Whitey was just trying to live up to the "Lance" part of his name or maybe heeding the "Call of the Wild?" I'm sure we will never know exactly what was going on inside that little doggie brain of his...
WELCOME HOME BOYS!
;o)

dogsindanger.com Plz save a life said...

I am so happy that Whitey-Lance is safe at home...I LOVE DOGS, and was following the Iditarod, when I noticed your husband was held up at Mcgrath due to Whitey going AWOL. I could feel your despair and heartache, and could only imagine what Whitey-Lance was going through, hungry and alone without his pack. I'm so glad that you and your husband didn't give up on Whitey. I prayed every night that A.J and Whitey would find each other, with a special added prayer last night. The first thing I did this morning was check your blog for the update...I must admit the tears started flowing out of joy, I am so happy for the three of you. I hope to see you in next years Iditarod...Give Whitey-Lance a hug and kiss for me. Pat

Michelle said...

YEAH!

Late Friday night at a church in New York State, a small quilt group of 15 quilted till midnight and prayed for all to be reuinited in AK. We knew they would be, but prayed for that moment to be sooner than later.
I am so proud to have supported this team in at least a small way.

Whitey was able to show the world what great people you are.

WolfMoon said...

This is so great to hear! So happy that this story has had a happy ending. Please give Whitey-Lance a hug from all of us!

Alice
http://sleddoggin.com/blogs/wolfmoonsleddog/

Christine said...

Happy endings still happen! I'm so glad your Whitey was found & home safe.

Donna Quante said...

How wonderful!!! Glad everyone is home and safe.

The Thundering Herd said...

Congratulations on Whitey's return. Many of us out here have been following the stories and praying for his safe return.

yellowrose28 said...

I'm so thrilled Whitey is home with the ones who love him and care for him. Please give him a big hug for Nana..I hope you let him sleep close tonight. God bless, Thanks for sharing

jennifertn said...

Like everyone else, I'm sure, I read your post with tears in my eyes. Many prayers answered! I posted a few days ago that my fifth grade class has been following the Iditarod and have asked daily about Whitey. They will be so excited when I share the news!! So happy for you all!!!

Judi said...

So excited, when I checked in last night, to read that Whitey is safely found. So thankful God is compassionate and protected him and brought him back to you.