While training in Alaska for Iditarod 2004, Orion's health took
a dramatic turn. Highly skilled veterinarians worked with us to
try to save him, but when the chance of saving him no longer
outweighed the pain, the wrenching decision to let him go was
made. With my head against his and me whispering in his ear, this
once beautiful, strong athlete left us. He was 6 years old, a main
leader, a finisher of Iditarod, Race to the Sky, John Beargrease
Marathon, Grand Portage Passage, Knik 200, Klondike 300 and more.
This season alone he had traveled 1400 miles of trail with me.
He is being cremated and I've already decided where his ashes
will go. Last year on Iditarod we had a spectacular run from
Galena to Nulato on a cold, crisp morning. We were fresh off our
24 hour break and the dogs were raring to run. Ironically, I don't
remember who the other leader was, but I remember Orion being up
front and remember stopping to give them all a snack. Orion was
rolling around in the snow and grinning a big Siberian grin. It
was so obvious that he was loving what he was doing. His passion
for the trail shone from inside. That's how I will remember him
and that's where his ashes will go.
You were so, so loved, my friend.