We LOVE to get letters and correspondence from our young fans. (We enjoy our older fans as well, but you are currently not the topic of conversation!) There are many schools across the country that have 'Iditarod Curriculums' ~ thus we receive a multitude of letters, small gifts and cards. It is amazing to read the notes of encouragement or essays explaining a child's passion or hobby or simply a drawing of their dog.
I have told this story before:
I had been racing Iditarod for several years and had placed well into the top 20. But in 2004, my race was poor and I came in 34th. (Thus far, that is my lowest finishing placement.) Anyhow, much more was expected of me by: me, my friends, my sponsors and fans. It was a bummer to cross the finish line with only 6 dogs in harness. I got a lot of letters from kids that year saying: "Too bad", "I wish you did better", "I picked you to win... what happened?" These were all totally understandable comments.
By far, the BEST letter I have ever gotten in the 17 years of receiving letters from fans ~ young and older ~ came that spring from a young girl in Michigan. It said "I watched your race and rooted for you. I know that you didn't win any priz mony, so I sent you my allowance." Yes... I shed a lot of tears reading that one. And to this day, the taped up roll of quarters sits on our trophy shelf right next to Allen's Sportsmanship Awards, our Yukon Quest Championship trophies and my 'Spirit of the North' award. Those quarters are very, very important to me.
Allen went to the Post Office yesterday. And please note the stack of taped quarters in the center.
Needless to say, we do our best to write back to all of the kids. It is important. Personal correspondence seems to have less and less importance in society today and now many kids don't even think of writing a letter when they could just "like" someone on Facebook or "follow" their Twitter feed. Anyhow... I guess I am 'old school'. I am still in favor of personal correspondence at SP Kennel.
Maybe it is because when I was 10 years old, I wrote a lot of letters. One year, I wrote to the leaders of all of the nations who still commercially hunted whales. Whales were very near and dear to me back then. (Not surprisingly, so were dogs. That's another story all together.) I don't recall any specific names or addresses, but I clearly remember scribbling addresses onto small envelopes: To the Prime Minister of Japan, To the President of Taiwan and To the Leader of the Soviet Union. I do not know how my Mom actually sent those letters. Could an American actually send a letter to the USSR is 1980? Anyhow, I was very excited about writing and sending those letters and I checked to see if anyone wrote me back. No one did.
Quick history lesson: in the 1980's commercial whaling was a hot topic because it became obvious that the practice was harming the global whale population by killing more whales than were actually being born. At 10 years old, I became an enthusiastic part of the grassroots 'Save the Whales' campaign that was started by a 14 year old girl in California. I sold posters, t-shirts, walked door-to-door with petitions and sent letters. In 1986, both hunters and non hunters agreed to a commercial whaling was ban. Back then, I was pretty convinced that my letters had an impact. Whether my mom ever even mailed them... I haven't asked.