The U.P. 200 has been one of the most emblematic events in the dog sledding circuit for more than a decade. For the past four years, a lovable Alaskan Malamute named Banshee has been the face of the race. Unfortunately, three weeks ago she passed away. Although she’s gone, she’ll never be forgotten.
Todd Hennigan picked Banshee out of a litter of pups in Newberry thirteen years ago, not knowing she would go on to be an ambassador for the mushing community; going to countless schools to show kids that sled dogs were nothing to be afraid of.
“I was looking for a purebred Malamute, and it took me a year to find her,” laughed Hennigan. “Not having children ourselves, she automatically became our daughter, just a big fuzzy cute furball. They’re a very talkative dog. So Banshee, even in the midst of a class, would start arguing with me and what not. She would let you know things just as a dog would, but she would come right up to you and let you know ‘Dad, I think I stink a little bit, I need a bath.’ That’s just the way she was.”
Banshee kept up with her admirers through Facebook; documenting her adventures for all to see. After years of visiting patients in the hospital, presenting check to city officials, and taking pictures with any and everyone who asked, she grew weary, eventually passing on. But luckily, she groomed her baby brother Seamus along the way, who will now take over in her stead.
“We knew eventually that the time would come, that she would depart from us. So, it was pondered what we could do for the fans. By doing the memorial, we want to be able to celebrate the life that she had, what she did for the community, and to give them a little bit of closure,” Hennigan added.