Candy, a shy former sled dog with soft chocolate brown eyes, has found a "forever home," the last of all former sled dogs that called Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) home temporarily.
Candy's adoption this week means 55 former sled dogs, including a litter of puppies, were adopted through WAG, roughly one-third the 168 dogs that needed new homes in the wake of the devastating dog massacre in 2010 in which it is believed up to 54 sled dogs were killed.
"I'm so happy to see them in homes rather than living outside," said WAG's executive director Shannon Broderick, adding Candy came to the shelter to visit this week with her foster parents and the new-found confidence and swagger of a dog who has found a place to call her own.
It reinforces the point, she added, that: "Sled dogs are adoptable."
But finding homes for the former sled dogs has taken a toll on the small shelter's bottom line, highlighting the importance of fundraising events like Saturday's Pet Photos with Santa.
In particular, that bottom line has been stressed in the last six months after the Whistler Sled Dog Company, a not-for-profit foundation formed after the massacre, folded and WAG stepped up to take charge of the last remaining 89 dogs.
"We did not budget for that company to close," said Broderick.
In addition to WAG, many dogs were placed through the BC SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Just 10 former sled dogs remain at the SPCA.
"Words can's express how appreciative we are, particularly to the BC SPCA and to WAG for all their efforts in assisting us in finding homes for these dogs," said Sue Eckersley, who created the Whistler Sled Dog Company.
"Based on our population (in Whistler), it's extraordinary how many people have taken them into their homes."
Councillor John Grills, who is the council representative on WAG's board, praised the work of Broderick and staff and all the volunteers, working to socialize the dogs and get them ready for adoption.
"It's a different world to them to being a pet or with a family compared to the life they led before," said Grills.
The dogs learned to play with toys, learned to walk on leash where they could stop and sniff along the way, and learned to behave and respond to one-on-one time with humans.
Grills said: "It's a very positive outcome to the story."
PET PHOTOS WITH SANTA
Support WAG on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Hilton, just outside the Cinnamon Bear.
Santa will be there for photos with pets, kids, couples. The event takes place from noon until 4 p.m.
"This is a really important fundraiser for us," said Broderick.
Prints will be $25 and digital photos will be $15. There will be puppies to play with and WAG swag to buy in support of the animal shelter. WAG hopes to raise $2,000.