The wholesale nfl jerseys Current cheap jerseys News cheap jerseys Magazine Kids – Where by feature writer, Amy Moore
This fall, a man was granted one of his wishes as he got to ride along with the Breakaway Kennels team.
The Dog Sled Ride Dream
Oct 22, 2013 Feature Writer Amy Moore
The Dog Sled Ride Dream
On September 21, one man received the experience of a lifetime thanks to a local dog trainer and his fiancé. The story starts back in February 2013, when Ellie (Alfend) Hall read a story on STLToday.com that featured Richie Camden, a dog trainer and dog day care supervisor at Murphy Animal Hospital in High Ridge.
The story, which was about Richie and his Siberian Huskies, reminded her of something her father had mentioned to her some time ago.
Back in late 2012, she and her husband Bill were talking with her father, 80-year old Jared Alfend, and his wife Joan, about the things they’d done in their lives as well as all the things they still wanted to do.
One thing that Jared mentioned to his daughter and son-in-law was the desire to go for a dog sled ride. Although the couple would like to travel to Alaska for that sole purpose, issues with balance when walking attributed to Parkinson’s disease, made the dream somewhat difficult.
After reading the article she said, “I posted my first ever response, on the off chance that Richie would see the comment and contact me,” she explained. “I didn’t really think he would, but at least I knew I had done what I could.”
The Friend Request
On February 11, Ellie received a “friend request” on Facebook from a name she didn’t recognize at first.
“I guess Richie looked me up using the email address from my STLToday.com comment,” she said. “He said that he’d seen my comment on the article and would be out of town for a race that weekend, but if I sent him my phone number, he and his girlfriend Leah, would contact me when they got back to give dad a ride!”
She couldn’t believe it was true.
At the time, Jared and Joan were back at their home in Chandler, Arizona.
“I called them to let them know about the opportunity,” she explained. “Dad sounded so amazed and could hardly believe that there was any way his dog sled ride dream could be coming true!”
The ride was still a long way off since the couple wouldn’t return to the St. Louis area until May, but the excitement was still there.
Richie and Leah’s Story
For this newly engaged couple, the opportunity to help someone check an item off their “bucket list” was something they couldn’t pass up on.
At first, Richie said, “We didn’t know if it would really work out or not.”
That was until they actually got in contact with Ellie and heard more details about her father. That’s when it became very relatable to him and he knew they would have to make it happen.
“It had always been something he wanted to do,” Richie said. “Then everything changed for us.”
“Here was a guy who had put aside his own dreams for the good of others,” explained Richie. “And now we had a chance to make his dream a reality. How can you pass up an opportunity like that?”
The group decided that scheduling the run once the weather was below 70 degrees would be best since anything warmer would be really tough on the dogs.
The spring was beautiful and cool but by May, the weather had already started to warm up.
“We agreed that since Dad was so excited, we could drive him out to where Richie works to meet the dogs after normal work hours,” Ellie explained.
On May 17 at Murphy Animal Hospital, Jared was introduced to Richie and the dogs.
“He led us back to the play yard and Dad sat down in his chair,” she explained.
Richie then brought the dogs out one at a time so that Jared could meet them in a not-so-chaotic fashion.
He spoke with each one of the dogs, getting a few kisses along the way, as Ellie sat nearby and Bill photographed.
When they left, covered in dog hair, Jared said “That was the best day of my life!”
As soon as they got in the car, he made a call to his wife, sharing the details of the meeting. He explained that they were the best looking, most well cared for dogs he’d ever seen and that he could tell that they were all loved and very well behaved.
He even added that they no longer needed to go “up North”, an option that seemed now even more far-fetched than before due to the length of the flight and distance they would need to travel to get anywhere near a dog sled.
The initial meeting prompted an album that came along with a story Jared took with him everywhere he went.
Going on a Sled Ride
From the date of their first meeting forward, the temperature continued to climb, giving everyone the impression that the weather wasn’t going to break. Although everyone knew the ride was happening though—no matter what!
Eventually the weather was on their side and on Saturday, September 21, the highly-anticipated dog sled ride dream was to take place. The group set out to meet at 7 a.m. in St. Charles near the Katy Trail.
Minus the white powdery stuff that helps the sled to glide, they would need to improvise.
Richie and Leah moved a go-kart into place, with rocks in front of the tires to restrict the movement, while they harnessed the dogs and Jared got in. A little surprise guest was able to ride along too…Ellie, who was able to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience with her dad by actually driving the kart.
Joan and Leah held the front of the lines to keep them straight as Richie brought the dogs down, one by one and Bill photographed to make Jared’s photo album more complete.
Ellie described what occurred from here in perfect detail saying, “Once they were all hooked up, Leah went to the front to keep the dogs from running off. Then, Richie came back to the kart, kicked the rocks out and hopped onto the back. Leah let go and the dogs started running!”
The ride was wonderful, with the dogs beautifully running together.
“They didn’t even seem to mind that I was driving,” she said. “They pulled so fast, and really enjoyed themselves!”
She tried to steer the best she could, wishing she had practiced on the Wii just a bit more!
Her Dad and Richie didn’t seem too nervous though!
With many miles behind them, the end of the trail was inevitable.
“We stopped the team,” she explained. “Richie and Leah unhooked the dogs and made sure they were taken care of with water and a bit of rest.”
One at a time, the dogs were reunited with Jared, who got a few more kisses and photos to bring their time to a close.
In His Daughter’s Eyes
I think the reason behind the story is best said by Ellie, herself. When asked why this was so important to her, she explained, “Dad’s life, as long as I’ve known him, has been about his family. Not just his wife (my mother) and his children (my sister Debi and myself), but his parents, his mother-in-law, and his MANY aunts and uncles. As the older generation aged, he was always there for them – making sure they had everything they needed. I watched as he nursed my mom through cancer, and then as he became both mother and father to us through the college and beyond years. He could have said that, surely he wasn’t supposed to be responsible for EVERYONE, but instead he quietly just took care of everything. He never complained.”
So why was this so important to him, I asked.
“He’ll tell you that it was just something he really wanted to do,” she said, “and that there were so many other more important things that had to be done before he could indulge in realizing those dreams. Then he’d say he just hadn’t had the chance to get to this one.”
By the time he was in a place of his life where he could possibly have this experience, he felt he wasn’t able to make the trip “up North”.
That’s where Richie, Leah and the dogs came into the picture with the help of his daughter, who realized this dream was supposed to come true.
“I’d like to think that he’s proud to know that there are people who love him so much that helping him reach those dreams makes them very happy too,” she explained. “After everything he’s done for all of us; after everything he’s gone through raising my sister and I; after all the things he’s taught me and Bill, and the wonderful example he’s set for us – the only thing we want to do is make him proud, and make his dreams come true.”
According to Richie, it wasn’t until after the ride that everything sunk in for him and Leah. “Seeing Jared so happy with all of the dogs around him was just an incredible feeling. It was by far the coolest thing we have ever done with the team.”
Richie and Leah are working on a new, improved cart for next year and have invited Jared back out for another ride, an offer I’m sure he’ll take them up on! Richie hopes to make this a yearly tradition.
Ellie says, “I’m sure we’ll remain friends, but I want to wish them the best of everything. I hope their dreams of running many more races, introducing the dogs to children through the schools and making Breakaway Kennels a huge success all come true!”
To learn more about Breakaway Kennels, visit www.breakawaykennels.com.
Murphy Animal Hospital is located at 1430 Gravois Rd. in High Ridge. For more information call (636) 677-8555.