Thursday, January 23, 2014

A one of a kind dog

It's taken me over a week to write this post as I have struggled to find the right words to say good-bye to Hobo.
He was truly a one of a kind dog.  Every day we had with him was bonus time.  The very first night he was here a wolf came through our yard and tried to turn Hobo into her dinner.  I didn't even know his name as we rushed him to the vet.  Had no idea how I was going to explain this to the musher who actually owned him at the time.  Jim Bartlett, if you find this somehow, thank you for leaving Hobo with us.  At the time, maybe it looked like we were doing you a favour, taking on the cost of a badly injured dog who would like never run competively again, but Hobo was actually a gift to us. 

Hobo was unfailingly happy.  It didn't matter that we were strangers or that he was in pain.  He was happy someone was feeding him and petting him.  For every single day he was here,  he was happy.  Hobo truly lived his life, every damn second of it.  He believed in finding the joy in everything from meeting new friends to running in harness to slow walks down to the lake.  He never wasted a second worrying or looking back.  The world would be a better place if people could be more like Hobo! 
Hobo turned 17 this year...17, a remarkable age for any dog, stunning for a dog who's body had been through what his had.  In the end, Hobo had simply used up every ounce of energy  his body had to give.  His enormous heart and will to live was still strong, but his little body just couldn't keep up anymore.  There are many things I miss about Hobo, but more than anything I miss his happy presence, his boundless joy.  I will try to remember the lesson he tried to so hard to teach...that life should be enjoyed even if you have to search for the joy. 
Godspeed and thank you, Hobo. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Good-Bye Big Guy....

We said goodbye to another pack member this weekend.
Heyoka has been here for ten years or so.  He wasn't the kind of dog we normally took in; he was very adoptable, but Stuart fell in love at first sight and decided we deserved an easy dog for a change.  Some guilt went with that decision which led to us also adopting Raven, a far less adoptable, long term shelter resident, on the same day. 
Heyoka was in many ways an easy dog.  He was the anti-malamute.  He had none of the traits that make malamutes so difficult at times.  He didn't eat cats; he wasn't same sex aggressive; he was reliable off leash and obeyed most commands.  He also had no work ethic and my attempts to turn him into a working sled dog were futile.  He was a pet, a delightful, happy, goofy, pet. 
 His name meant clown who teaches or a shaman who does everything backwards.  It fit him perfectly.  He was a clown.  Silly and happy all the time, even as he aged and his body let him down, he remained happy. 
Heyoka's health has not been great for much of his life.  He was a shelter dog but we know who bred him, a lousy backyard malamute breeder who bred solely for size & did not care about the overall health of his dogs.  Heyoka paid the price for that negligence.  A couple years ago we took Heyoka to Anchorage for surgery on his throat.  He loved being an only dog for a week and we are forever grateful that he had over 2 years able to breath with ease!  His spine started to degenerate several years ago.  He occasionally had difficultly getting his legs to do what he told them!  With help from our wonderful vet and good chemistry, he was pain free and mobile. 
Three weeks ago, Heyoka refused to eat and was working hard to breath.  His throat surgery left him at high risk of aspiration pneumonia, which he did have at that time.  Unfortunately, we also discovered that he had lymphoma.  He'd probably had it for a long time and the drugs we gave him for his other issues controlled the symptoms.  We elected not to try chemo.  Heyoka was not young dog and was not healthy to start with.  He also truly hated the vet clinic.  He had no problem with the doc, but he fought going in her building with everything he had!  Putting him through the stress of very frequent clinic visits didn't seem worth it.  We elected to keep him comfortable for as long as possible.  Unfortunately, it wasn't very long. 

Saturday morning, Heyoka was lethargic and refused to eat.  Heyoka always delighted in food.  We always assumed he needed immediate vet care if he didn't eat.  Our vet found he was running a very high fever.  She gave him a couple injections & said if he didn't respond in a few hours, we would have to make a decision.  We knew leaving the clinic the end was near for Heyoka so we spent the afternoon enjoying his company on an unseasonably warm day.  That evening we let him go, surrounded by the dogs, cats and people he loved and who loved him. 
I miss everything about him...his big raspy wooo, watching him chase his own tail, listening to his gentle snore, big dog cuddles on the couch, the way he bounced waiting for his dinner.....the list is endless.  There will never be another like him.  I am heartbroken & so glad we broke the rules and took that "easy" dog. 
Every dog leaves a hole when they leave, some  bigger than others.  Heyoka leaves a hole several times bigger than his 130 body.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More Running Fun!

I spent last weekend in Victoria.  Three blissful nights of uninterupted sleeep!  No senile old dogs who want out every two hours all night long!  That alone was enough for an epic weekend, but I was there to run another half marathon...the Victoria Goodlife Fitness Marathon!
So I was up ridiculously early on Sunday morning, hanging out with 5000 other people running the half!  Over 10,000 people ran various events that day, from a one mile kids' race to a full marathon!

 I trained all summer for this run and was hoping to finish a few minutes faster than my first half marathon in Mayo. 
 It went better than I'd hoped!  I didn't cramp up, didn't feel like I was going to die at any point and I finished a whopping 16 minutes faster crossing the line in 2:23:07!  Running in the middle of the pack in a bigger race is a lot of fun!
My first finisher's medal!  I am ridiculously proud of that thing! 
I'm going to run a few more halves next year.  I'm registered for one in Calgary on June 1.  Next October, I'm planning to run Victoria again, but as my first FULL MARATHON!