Remembering Our Loved Ones

Here we remember the furry friends that we’ve loved and lost. Not a day passes that we don’t remember their contributions to our lives. They made us smile, laugh, and cry. We will forever miss our furry friends.

Remembering Annie
Annie remembered2Annie was adopted in June of 2006; she passed away unexpectedly on June 9, 2013. Typical for Annie, the exit was very vocal, a sort of howl of the wild, so loud that it brought the neighbors running. I held her in my arms as she passed and I saw a last glace of recognition before she was gone. Two nights without her have reinforced the finality of her passing.

There is no way to adequately convey the essence of Annie, but I will attempt here to describe some it. Annie was a “busy” dog. She loved to play with toys especially if she could involve humans. But there were many times when she entertained herself with toys by tossing them around and fetching them for another round. She sometimes lay on her back with a favorite toy held in her front paws above her as though she were examining it or waiting for it to move on its own.

Annie loved exercise. She looked forward to her twice daily walks and would not take “no” for an answer when the customary time came but the humans were too busy or forgetful. She used a cold nose, verbal requests and even an occasional nudge when she felt it was time. When I would sit on a stair putting my shoes on, she delighted in giving me a head butt and her patented smile at the same time. She loved the deck at our house in Arizona. It is expansive, running the full length of the house. Annie could get up to a gallop on the deck and get stopped again before reaching the other end. She did this when a something interesting approached the house or a bird dared to use the railing as a perch.

Annie was very vocal. As soon as she was awake, she started informing her human “staff” that there were things to do:
* “Let me out on the deck, please.”
* “Breakfast would be nice.”
* “Get dressed, I feel like going on a walk.”
Of course these requests were in verbal or physical form depending on the urgency and if not fulfilled by staff quickly enough they were repeated with additional and often louder “talking” to help explain the request.

She had a wide range of “songs” that she used to entertain or to inform. I most miss her “let me in” tune. It was a single note, not a bark, not a command, more like playing a single note on a base flute.  It was sort of “huuu….” She would repeat this once or twice with a good pause between. If this didn’t work, she would often just decide to do something else.

When her needs were more urgent, she would step up the volume and use howls or “yaps” that conveyed a clear desire to get something taken care of “now!” She also had a full range of barks and snarls that she could use when the situation warranted. The snarls were reserved for her communication with other dogs, never humans. I mention the barks, because Husky dogs that I have known rarely bark: She likely had a sprinkling of Shepherd or some other guarding breed in her background.  She used the barks to inform the household that a delivery van was approaching or that someone was walking their dog in the vicinity. A single “knock it off!” would generally shut this down.

She even used silence to convey a request! A few times the water bowl would end up empty. Rather than “talking” about it she would sometimes lie down and “point” the bowl. If she hadn’t been vocal for a while I would go looking for her and find that the bowl was empty and she was on the floor pointing it. On trips we used a lighter plastic bowl and she would just bring the empty bowl over and drop it with as much noise as possible.

Even when she was asleep she was entertaining. She found the most hilarious, contorted sleeping positions: on her back, one her side with her head propped up, on her bed with her head past the pillow on the floor, etc.

Annie’s relationships with other dogs were “complicated”. As affectionate as she was to humans, she generally did not develop bonds with other dogs easily. Her general approach to a new dog relationship was “You will submit or be vanquished!” I presume there was something in her early upbringing that caused this; she was a rescue dog with an unknown past. I took her to dog parks when she was younger in an attempt to polish her social skills but she made little progress in this area. She did occasionally make dog friends when the other dog submitted quickly. She even acted in an amorous way with two neighborhood Keeshond male show dogs. It was very much out of character for her

Goodbye Annie: I miss you. I miss your presence, your attitude, your sense of humor. I miss seeing your gaze focused on me from across the room seemingly conveying your devotion to me. Or were you just reflecting my own feelings about you?

Mishka

We remember NikitaMishka was about 5 1/2 at the time that we adopted him. You had pulled him from a shelter in Salinas in May–he was licensed, but his owner didn’t come for him. He had some serious aggression issues (leash aggression mostly) at the time and he had had 3 failed adoptions and 3 foster Norsled Moms, so you were willing to relax the rules and adopt him out of state. We are very glad you took a chance on us.

We have had 5 1/2 mostly wonderful years with Mishka. Our first month did not go well–he bit each of us when we were trying to take something away from him that he had stolen out of the garbage. He chewed his way out of his vari-kennel crate and destroyed everything in sight. Not surprisingly, he had some abandonment issues. It took awhile, and he finally figured out that we loved him and that we would always come home to him and he stopped the destructive behavior.

The real breakthrough was in 2007 when I took a class on “the leash Mishkaaggressive dog” by Kathy Sdao, the animal trainer. It turned out to be simple–whenever you see another dog, you start feeding your dog special little treats and continue until the other dog is out of sight. I did this with Mishka, every single day on our walks for about 11 months. Mishka got tiny pieces of cheese. It was very gradual–first he started to tolerate a female Australian cattle dog who would come over to have a snack too. Then an 8-month puppy started coming over to us. Then Mishka began to let other dogs go by while he was on leash without yelping, growling and standing on his hind legs. Finally, he started wanting to sniff/say hello to other dogs. In the spring of 2008, Sammamish opened a huge new completely fenced dog park with fields and trails through the woods. It was a great day for me when I took Mishka there and he showed no sign of his former leash aggressive behavior. After that, we went to the dog park almost every day in the summer for Mishka to play with his dog friends.

He has been a wonderful dog, lots of fun, and a good friend to both of us. About a year ago, he got sick with an infection and since then, he has had some problems with his back legs–we don’t know if it was muscular weakness or pain. The X-rays showed nothing abnormal. The vet prescribed Prednisone. We helped him up steps when he needed it and bought him a Petco dog ramp for the car and we’ve been able to keep him on his normal walk schedule and keep him active.

Here is the sad part. Mishka passed away early Sunday morning, April 3rd. I found him lying on his blankets–he looked as if he were asleep, except he wasn’t moving. He must have died in his sleep, maybe a heart attack or a stroke. He looked very peaceful. We didn’t see it coming–he had eaten all his dinner the night before and had a long walk the day before and seemed fine. He was only 11 years old–it seems a little young for him to go. So that is our unhappy news. But having him and loving him has been a wonderful experience and we are grateful to you and Norsled for making it possible.

 

Clara

We remember NikitaOn December 7, 2009, one of Norsled’s sweetest huskies, Clara, went over the Rainbow Bridge. Clara is a very special girl, who captured the hearts of many of us at Norsled.

Clara was due to be euthanized in the Martinez shelter where her previous owner abandoned her. She was in bad shape but our Rescue Coordinator, Gail de Rita, fell in love with her the moment she saw her and took her into Norsled to be adopted. She named her Clara after the little girl in the Nutcracker.

As soon as we got her, Clara had to undergo a major procedure to remove six abscessed teeth – a result of gross neglect from her previous owner. Norsled President, Jane Cordingley, graciously cared for her as she recovered from the operation. Although she had lost some of her vision, was mostly deaf, and suffered from arthritis, she remained bright and trusting of the people around her. She spent her last months joyfully chasing squirrels, exercising her curious nose, going on long brisk walks, and cuddling up for her afternoon naps. Although we never found her a forever family during the few months she was with Norsled, Clara was loved and nurtured by her foster families and the entire Norsled family.

After suffering a seizure and losing her ability to function normally, we made the compassionate but painful decision to send her over the Rainbow Bridge. Clara is now in the wonderful and warm company of all of the husky friends that have moved on over the years – but she will always hold a very special place in our hearts. We miss you and love you, Clara!

 

Laika

We remember NikitaJust wanted to share the news that our much loved ‘Laika’ (AKA: “Walter”), one of two beautiful rescued Siberians adopted through NorSled, crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday at 5PM.

Laika’s sudden demise comes as shock to my wife and I, given the very recent diagnosis of stage IVb-V (terminal) lymphosarcoma of the gastric tract (a mere two weeks ago). Appearing to be otherwise healthy and happy, Laika suddenly started giving indications of having some serious overall problems. In the short span of two weeks Laika rapidly declined to the point where he wouldn’t even eat especially attractive treats and special food (soft boiled chicken and chicken jerky, etc.) fed by hand. Soon, Laika would remain in the same position without moving for hours on end, wasn’t interested in walks (having no energy), and gave every evidence that his condition had progressed beyond all reasonable hopes of remission or recovery. Having waited as long as we could in the interests of giving him as much time as possible, we finally decided the only proper course of action was to send Laika across the bridge. Poor little Laika had lost an appreciable amount of weight in those two short weeks since his first diagnosis, but despite the severity of his condition and his very obvious pain and discomfort, he bravely managed to walk in to the clinic with us through his own extreme effort.

Shortly thereafter and comfortably reposed on a nice soft pad, medication was administered via an intercath and Laika passed from this life to whatever lies beyond with tranquility, trusting calmness, and great dignity. Just as we said our last goodbyes, he managed to lift his head, looking at me with those beautiful blue eyes of his, and lavishly licked my face as if to say “Thanks for being my best human friend, boss, and helping me out of this pain…you did the right thing and I love you!” It just about broke my heart, but it certainly spoke volumes about the close relationship we had developed in the short 5-6 months our guys have been with us. As we have done several times in recent years with our other SIBS, we were right there with him, stroking him tenderly in our arms until he was on the far side of the bridge.

Laika was a unique Siberian with a distinct personality, like so many of these furry northern working dogs. Although most Siberians are fairly quiet and some are almost distantly dignified in their demeanor, Laika was a very verbal pup and would get quite excited at times, breaking into a bark to give urgency to his voluable enthusiasms. He was also a wildly affectionate snogger (GOOGLE it), giving anyone within the immediate range of his big pink tongue the full and unreserved benefit of its excellent slurping properties.

As a result, although Laika (formerly: Walter) was his formal name, he was always more affectionately known within the family as ‘the snog dog’. His brother (Sooka) has become ‘the floppy dog’ for his habit of flopping down to get a chest rub, but Laika was the overtly affectionate, verbal, and ‘in-your-face-happy’ brother in this duo that we came to call ‘The Fabulous Flying Furry Fuzz Brothers’ (AKA: ‘The Bros’) for their hair’s breadth escape from certain doom in the LA Pound. [For those who aren’t familiar with their amazing story, both Laika and Sooka (both male littermates) were ‘red-tagged’ at the LA County Pound and were scheduled to be put down, simply because that facility had a shortage of space and because they were regarded by the pound as ‘middle-aged dogs’ with little chance for adoption. To their great fortune, they were rescued from that unhappy and undeserved fate with just hours to spare, and they immediately found a forever home with us.

Obviously we’re both grief stricken by this development and all the more so since we’ve now lost 3 of our guys in a short one year period. Sadly, the loss of any person or animal that one has deep attachments to is an irrevocable rite of passage for all human beings and it never gets any easier, no matter how many times it occurs. Fortunately, we still have ‘Sooka’ (Laika’s brother) and he seems to be one very healthy, happy guy (he’s also a great talker and howler, so we have frequent pack howls at the moon, although that lunar chorus will now be short its most illustrious alto voice, sadly). All we can do is hope that Sooka manages to cope successfully with the sudden loss of his close brother & littermate and that he continues to have a normal and happy life with us.

I’m not a religious person. I do not personally believe in gods, after-lives, or any of the conventional convictions shared by so many about what happens to the soul after death. I do believe, however, that if there were a God, he would have created dogs and placed them on Earth to provide us poor, confused, and emotionally peripatetic human beings with a source of comfort and pure love that transcends any faith ever imagined or conceived of by the more noted philosophers among us. All that matters at the moment, however, is that we have lost yet another true, faithful, and utterly loving friend and the emotional pain is still very palpable.

[Laika is the gray & white guy in the attached above pictures ) Best wishes to all who share similar feelings about our furry, four-footed friends and life companions. If you are a believer, say a little prayer for him and light a candle: he was a sweet, sweet soul whose life-force helped illuminate our experiential darkness!

 

Kiska

Nikita We RememberWe remember NikitaLittle Kiska! You were 15 when you came to us, and 16 when you left. In that time, your body healed and grew strong, and you ran and played.

Your happy, silly spirit soared! Sometimes you gave it words in your operatic voice. And we loved you so!! Run free now, little girl!!!

 

Dodger

Dodger Remember

 

Nikita

We remember NikitaThoughts of Nikita still bring tears to her human mom’s eyes.

Through her surgeries and chemotherapy Nikita still brought joy to her family. Not many “two-leggeds” can walk so lightly on their paws through life, much less chemotherapy and surgery. We celebrate Nikita – we will remember her every day. Run free sweet Nikita

 

Orion

We remember NikitaIt was love at first sight! A gentle soul in the form of a 90 lb ball of fur. Orion came to us a tad skittish. We think he might have had a hard life starting out before Norsled rescued him and he came to us. Slowly, he came to trust us and we fell in love with the first addition to our small family. He was unlike any dog we had ever encountered. He never barked, not once, but man was he a conversationalist! He seemed to have full on conversations with us, he always vocalized his needs. He hated baths, but loved playing in the open water, loved to be scratched behind the ears, but not on the belly. Within a few months he was attached to us at the hip and could not stand to part with either of us, whether we had to head off to work or run errands he wanted to come along. Even after I had surgery my 90 lb. puppy was up on the bed with me and would not leave my side no matter what, until I got better. He had a sixth sense and knew I needed him.

Through vet visits we came to find out Orion had been mistreated prior to his time with Norsled. They found a pellet lodged in his hip, our poor baby. But, he was still active and it did not seem to bother him too much. Later last year in September 2007 he started limping on his right hind leg. We thought it might be a cruciate tear or the pellet bothering him. We brought him in thinking that the worst case scenario would be surgery. Unfortunately, the doctor was concerned and took tests only to discover that Orion was suffering from advanced bone cancer.

It was devastating news, but we had to make a decision. We decided to let him live out the rest of his life as free from pain as we could make him. It was very hard watching him slowly stop eating and become increasingly withdrawn and immobile. We tried to keep his spirits up but spending as much time as possible loving him and giving him everything he could want. He didn’t seem to be in pain, and we were able to say goodbye and make him comfortable. Orion Petty passed away on 2/15/2008. We miss him terribly, but we know in our hearts that he is in turkey hot dog (his favorite) heaven running free and happy.