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I recently watched a Brit video on why foxes make poor pets. It took me no time at all to realize they were describing Lulu to a T. She might allow us one pat on her head a day and often that is asking for too much. She’ll take food from our hands but runs away as fast as she can. She does hang out with me –in the morning she lies in front of my office door and groans getting up if I leave. I’m pretty sure she is there because I often give her a saucer of milk when I make my coffee. But, lately she’s been sleeping late, so my coffee is long gone before she appears in the doorway.
She eventually goes out into the back yard and I watch her from my office window. She loves exploring and digging grave-shaped holes. She’s dug a nice saucer-shaped one under the deck near the doghouse -yes, the dog house has a deck! It’s actually a bridge from the pond that was swept away in a flood and dragged over to the dog house. She loves the dog house and loves it when either Quinn or I chase her into it. That’s the limit of her games, chase into dog house, look out smile and wag tail. She doesn’t like dog toys and if it has a squeaker, it gets shredded, if it has filling it gets pulled out.
She convinced our late male-alpha, Mukki, that he was the father of her puppy Quinn. Sorry but no, Mukki was neutered (sorry Mukki) and she was pregnant when we started fostering her. But, she meant well. Sadly, Mukki never did figure out why Quinn wasn’t smart, trainable, a good alpha or intelligent. Mukki was ofter seen staring quizzically at Quinn and heard sighing a lot. When Mukki passed on to run in the Bifröst on an eternal mushing adventure, Lulu never forgave us. She spent days, months and years glaring at me from a distance. I still try to bond but after nearly eight years it’s getting through o me that this may never happen.
She enjoys a walk but not a very long one anymore. Also, catching her for a walk wears me out! She wants to trust me but just can’t. The rescuers and vets who went in and rescued her with 35 of her nearest and dearest friends told us she was 5 years old, kept in a crate and been bred continuously. Many of the dogs had dead puppies in the crates and more found in a shed. After Quinn turned six weeks, Lulu spent more time with a stuffed squirrel toy in her mouth crying than she did with Quinn. She carried it everywhere crying. It was heartbreaking and this is why Lulu was forgiven for refusing to be trained or sit or give a paw… frankly, my dear –she doesn’t give a damn for our domination games.
So, this is our life, crazy, wild and energetic Quinn and his skittish fox Mom. I recently did the math using an online dog-age calculator and Lulu is anywhere from 80 to 93 years old.
And a few nights ago I had a dream that felt more than a dream. I was walking around our pool (definitely a dream!) and Lulu was standing at the deep end. She looked at me long and hard and then walked into the water. She slowly sunk and made no effort to swim or save herself. I checked to make sure my iPhone wasn’t in my pocket and I dove in after her… I scooped her up in my arms and cradled her. She was dead. I carried her to the shallow end and just held her. Dream me was catching up on all the snuggle hugs she never let me have. I woke crying. Yes, Lulu is probably 92 and has little time left with us but she’s outlasted the healthier alphas.
My husband thinks the dream is a forewarning but one with a message. She wants to go on her own terms, maybe in her self-dug hole in the yard or under the fan in the screen room. Or maybe it’s all just a dream. I did manage to corner her yesterday and sat with her scratching her head. I could tell she was torn between enjoying it and hating me touching her. Too bad, if she’ll take a cookie, she needs to take a hug.
I would like to have a pool but I’d rather have Lulu a little while longer. I seem to have no choice in either. You might wonder where Lulu got her name. I named her after my great grandmother, Lulu Bastion Teisse Desrosiers. I lived with her for five years, she came here from Tessin in Northern Germany –actually it was Prussia when she left in 1883. I was her little liebchen and she was my Mi’mamma. There was something about Lulu’s fierce loyalty and love for Quinn that made me think Lulu would be the perfect name.
Another hot muggy morning in North Carolina, where we wake to carnage… Quinn keeps coming inside to bark at me. He wants me to fix his new friend who won’t play with him anymore… sigh… If you are considering a Siberian Husky as a pet, can I point out they are ‘Prey Driven’ beasts -like a cat with a mouse, they have a natural instinct that is not protecting your home or defending your virtues. Get used to it or choose another breed. Poor baby o’possum.
And now I know why the little monster picks up mouthfuls of kibble and dribbles it on the boardwalk!
Not everyone in the house is as disappointed as me… well, actually, I’m the only one disappointed. Others say:
“Quinn is a really cool Siberian Cossack Special Forces Assassin!”
“Yeah! Thunderbird is revenge by the mighty Quinn!”
(Thunderbird was my cousin’s favorite chicken, who was eaten by a opossum… circle of life… circle of life.)
Or a “cold blooded murderer of cute adolescent o’possums” –my quote 😦
And let’s not forget Quinn’s very first prey friend, the bottom half of an 8 foot rat snake. We should have name him Genghis Khan!
I raised him better:
I have put off writing this post for a long time, well for two months. Tala passed away on April 28th, 2016. I thought losing Mukki last year was hard, losing Tala damaged my soul. We fought like hell to find out what was wrong but she failed fast. The vet decided to do some aggressive testing which came up negative, then she called to tell me that we needed to put her down, she was suffering.
It was noon and we were told to come and sit with her for as long as we needed –we could stay for the afternoon. I was panicking, it made no sense. Within a few weeks, she’d lost over thirty pounds and was just fading away. I rushed to the vet’s with my husband and we sat with Tala, she was so sweet. Just calm and happy. She put her head in our laps and then she seemed to snarl. The technician thought she might be in pain, so went to get the vet for pain meds. I took a final picture of her as she snuggled against my hand.
After the vet tech left, I leaned down to Tala, got real close and said loud and firm: “Tala! –go find Mukki, Hike Hike!” I don’t know why I said it, but it felt right. She looked at me, sighed and was gone. Just like that. Off to get Mukki. Off to run on the Bïfrost and feel no more pain. It was so sudden, I almost laughed when I realized that was the first time Tala ever did what I asked. She was so stubborn and independent. We both held her and cried. When the vet came, she was shocked –she didn’t think Tala was so near the end. I still felt Tala there, so I spent a good half hour telling the vet about Tala, how perfect she was, how precious to me. I was actually telling Tala not the vet, but the vet listened. We hugged her one last time.
Then Tala and Mukki got to say good-bye to us from the Bifrost. On the way home, a sudden hail storm hit and when we got home Quinn was barking at a huge mound of hail on the deck, right where Tala had been staying, ‘her spot’. We collected a bag of the hail and put it in the freezer and then scooped up two glasses and added Midleton’s Irish whisky -our Irish sendoff for my BFF, my wonderful wacky Tala. I can’t tell you how rare it is for a sudden hail storm to pop up out of a clear blue sky in North Carolina at the end of April -it may have been the perfect storm, a total coincidence but I’ll never believe it. I’d like to believe my Grandfather is mushing Tala and Mukki around the top of Mount Washington and they sent us a playful farewell.
I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun;
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
Where is Tala? Is probably something I say more than anything over the past eight years. She loves to hide. When she was young, that included under the beds but as her girth spread, so did her skills at hiding. For a dog that sleeps most of the day and snores really loudly, you’d think finding her would be easy! No, not so much. And she loves to hide. She smiles and tilts her head coquettishly when she is eventually found.
This morning I searched for a half hour and was getting worried. Where can a 75 pound husky hide? I was beginning to suspect her of changing her hiding place as I searched the downstairs, upstairs, screen room, deck and back yard. No doors or gates were open, so I finally got the husband out of the shower to search.
As he dripped and I explained, we walked into the hall and she bounded through the doggy door grinning… well, played Tala -she must have been moving around behind the doghouse as I searched the yard.
Our past year in the Gulag has been a challenge. Nearly a year ago, we lost Mukki our perfectly wonderful alpha. Not a day goes by without missing him and the house was wallowing in grief and loss, mourning him was done by all of us.
In January, I noticed everyone was eating and playing again. The dynamic is different. Quinn sleeps out on the deck and quietly watches the deer approach for corn, no more frenzied prey drive. That doesn’t mean the wildlife is safe, Quinn manages to catch a bird every so often and keeps it with him for weeks (outside!). The girls are more playful and enjoy a nice 1 mile walk with MrTall. He walks all three with a walking belt. Quinn has yet to grasp the fundamentals of walking on a leash and after seven years, we accept his limitations.
Last weekend we were blessed with snow, a pleasant surprise. The forecast was for ice and ice pellets but what we got was just enough for a mush! MrTall decided to take all three, even the girls who usually hate mushing. No, that’s not fair –Tala hates it and Lulu’s poor short legs can’t keep up. MrTall decided to keep his mushing expectations low and be satisfied walking behind the sled. Surprise! They all took off running, even fatty-fat pants Tala! Their return was slow but it was a vast improvement and definitely a sign that the mourning is over. Below I post two videos of real mushing in NC:
One day, as I pulled weeds, I heard a ruckus in the dog’s yard and I saw a huge black snake, he stood four feet high from a coiled ‘foot’ -just like those cartoon cobras! He was surrounded by the four demons from hell, the pack. What happened next was a bit of Animal Planet.
I screamed “No!” and ran towards the scene, I had this crazy idea that if I was fast enough I could grab it just under the head with one hand and scoop him up with the other. They were about five feet from the chain link fence and I was planning to toss him over into the woods.
Yes, I am a bit of a moron. No, I did not run fast enough… never in my life have I ever been able to run fast. As I got close, I saw the hunter’s genetic memory take over my Siberians. The two girls took a step forward, which made the snake turn towards them and in a flash, at lightning speed, Mukki took the snake’s head off.
They all then settled down for a snake picnic, as I dumbly muttered: “But,… but!”
They ate half and Quinn who was only a few months old, carried the remaining bit around for weeks. He slept with it and rolled in it… The dogs camped outside by mutual agreement with me for those weeks, as they do when they catch and kill somebody, although it’s usually a possum or raccoon or rabbit or squirrel or bird or -well, enough of that. A typical day for Siberian huskies, the genetic memory is strong.