What a peculiar name your original owners gave you. You have all the majesty your 100-pound Siberian Husky self commands, yet you are a love sponge whose bucket is never full, a living stuffed animal.
On the day we met, a dusty sky hung over the Rocky Mountains reminding my husband and I of the overwhelming grief we felt for our first Siberian who’d passed only a week earlier. As we entered the rescue yard, 20 Huskies bounded toward us while you quietly sidled up, sat down next to my feet and leaned into my legs as if to say,“I pick you.”
We put you and your equally sized sister, who you would not leave without, into the back of our little Subaru and made the drive back to our condo in Boulder. (YES, condo!) You looked like a newlywed couple, you in your black saddle tux and her in a white silky gown of fur. The thought of bringing two Huskies home was just crazy enough to distract us from our pain.
You were the perfect pet from the moment we met you. You didn’t bark -- only sang with coyotes and fire sirens, a rich guttural tone that called to the neighborhood, creating a chorus a howls for miles around.
We knew Huskies. We’d just buried one. They are beautiful, ornery, Houdini-esque work dogs bred to pull. At three, you were still a puppy in your need for affection, but a real sled dog when it came time to work. At first, you’d pull me happily along in tandem with your sister while I held on for dear life. We rode miles and miles of Boulder's bike paths wearing my rollerblade wheels to nubs as we passed pelotons of bikers with Iditarod zeal. When winter came you played in the snow with a smile in your bright blue eyes, your pink tongue hanging out like a child trying to catch their first snowflake.
Later, we found out we were having twins. I felt so bad for you. Your days of pulling me on cross-country skis and roller blades were over, but you didn’t mind. You spent the days with me in bed waiting for the twins’ grand debut. When they came, there was nothing more precious to you in the world. You’d stack your toys in front on their swing asking them to play. And when they cried you didn’t shy away from their shrieks. You planted yourself at their feet, letting little toes dig into your soft downy coat.
I trusted you enough to rig a double jogging stroller to your sled gear and you pulled us miles and miles as the babies slept, lulled by your familiar pants and the comforting rhythm of constant motion. As we grew as a family and the children aged, you never bared a tooth, not even when they pulled food from your mouth or tugged at your fur, playing on top you like bean bag. You just nuzzled their pink cheeks and licked their sticky hands.
When we lost your sister to cancer you mourned like a husband of 50 years. Everyone said you’d adapt and I guess you did, but your ears still perk up and sadness returns to your sky-blue eyes at the mention of her name.
11 years later, here we are. Your hips are riddled with arthritis, yet you never miss a chance to walk to the bus stop to soak up some love from the neighborhood kids you shepherded around as toddlers. You remind us everyday of the joy of living. You taught us that snow means play, that food on the floor isn’t a waste, but a treat, that bedtime isn’t the end of the day, but the beginning of cuddles.
Now you lay next to me as I type this, your breathing labored, your hips stiff, your whines growing ever more frequent reminding me our time is coming to an end. With tears in my eyes I just want to say thank you for being our pillow of comfort, our sweet boy with kind eyes and velvet ears. My only solace is knowing that you’ll be reunited with the love of your life sooner than I’d hoped.
We didn’t rescue you. You rescued us.
If you are looking into getting a pet, please, please consider rescuing an animal that needs a family. It doesn’t make you love them any differently than if you’d had them as a puppy. In fact, the appreciation in their eyes makes it that much sweeter.