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.