Waylon is definitely special. Always has been.
He is a crazy faced, brilliant blue-eyed, opinionated, loud, talented fellah. But, what often strikes people is the fact that he has literally ZERO husky fur, enormous rabbit ears and long thin legs. And… he weighs in at just over a sack of dog food = 40 pounds.
I remember the Iditarod Insider crew showing up at a pre Race filming session and long time sled dog enthusiasts and commentators, Bruce Lee and Joe Runyan, looked at Waylon and actually giggled while asking: “This is your Lead Dog?“
But, Waylon absolutely loves being who he is. And he is extremely talented at it. He wouldn’t change his life passion for anything. Waylon’s sled dog energy and enthusiasm make me want to be a musher. He makes me smile, dig deeper and try harder.
An excerpt from my 2016 Trail Notes: “Waylon is a firecracker. He was the main leader for the first half of the race because he loves being in charge. But after the halfway point, he wasn’t ‘busting a gut’ to run. Then, I believe, he was somewhat injured by the snowmachine attack – although I could never find anything specific. In the end, Waylon knew that he could do anything I would ask, so he powered through and made it to Nome.”
Waylon ended his 2016 racing season with a superb 3rd place Iditarod finish. At first, he seemed to recover from any trauma that might have occurred and during the Springtime he was the happy-go-lucky guy that we all know. But at mid summer, Waylon began limping on his front right foot. We did an X-ray of his paw and Dr Rose seemed to think the issue was either a serious bone infection in his small toe or… cancer.
We moved him out of the yard and into the dog room (or the “big” house) for a month while on several strong antibiotics and anti inflammation drugs. When we went for a follow up exam and took another series of X-rays, they showed zero changes. There were still signs of bone degradation and no improvement. He was asleep during the X-rays, in order to manipulate his toe position. So Dr Rose prodded his toe with a needle to see if there was fluid in the enlarged digit. When she did this the toe bone broke!! We were very surprised. She had to then immediately amputate the toe — we couldn’t leave him with a broken toe that would never heal — and there were really no other acceptable alternatives. So, Waylon came home 3-toed.
He lived indoors and had daily bandage cleanings and even had to wear the “cone of shame” for a few very LONG days. But, it has healed up nicely. The biggie was whether the broken bone was degraded due to cancer — which is honestly what we all assumed. The toe was sent to a Lab and after a very long week the results came back cancer free! Yippee. The results said that the toe was in that condition probably due to some sort of injury and then arthritis. When exactly that injury happened, we do not know.
So… long story short Waylon and I are in exactly the same boat this coming season. I had arthritic toe surgery and over 8 weeks recovery time. Waylon had toe surgery and after 6 weeks recovery he is already looking good. Both of us are now training for the coming season.
Waylon now must wear a dog bootie all the time and his training regime is slower — but if any dog can do it: Waylon can.