Mikayla was my first siberian, and was initially purchased as a pet. She is the reason I got interested in mushing to begin with and I began gee-haw training her at 6 months of age. By the time she was 9 months old she was bikejoring with me.
Mikayla loved to run in harness and initially ran on my race team - even completing a 30 mile race with us (something that still amazes me to this day, given her build LOL!). But as I began to get sleddogs from racing lineages she found it hard to keep up and although I still ran her with the other dogs for a few seasons eventually she "retired" early. She would still sometimes train with the puppy teams, or free run beside the adult team in the fall. She was also my favorite hiking partner for years because she was great off-leash.
By age 8 arthritis started to affect her and I stopped running her. She would still go hiking with me for a few years longer, until the arthritis got too bad. Eventually she just became Queen of the House and a loving companion, always accompanying me on trips to visit my family.
At the age of 11 she quite suddenly went blind and was diagnosed with diabetes. Mikayla adjusted quickly to her loss of sight and got around quite remarkably, even still acting playful and able to do short hikes in the woods. By the following summer however I was starting to see signs of senility, and her arthritis was worsening. By November she was mostly sleeping full time and having more and more periods where she appeared to be confused about where she was. She went rapidly downhill after our move back to NH, and in mid-December I knew it was time to let her go. She was just shy of turning 13.
Saying goodbye to Mikayla after all the adventures we'd had together, and having been my constant companion for over 12 years, was one of the hardest things I've done. I still miss her, I wear her ashes around my neck, and will never forget the sweet woo-woo girl that started me on the biggest adventure of my life.