My dog Yukon was 1/2 Shepherd and 1/2 Wolf. We got him in 1996 as a 6 week old puppy. On the first night we had him, we brought him indoors for the night. He howled incessantly. We let him out into the yard and he didn’t spend another night in the house until he was 16 years old. I figured I must have been the Alpha male because Yukon followed me everywhere.

I live on 11 acres of land with approx 6 acres wooded. I would go for walks in the woods and I’d look around and about 50 feet behind me, there he was, following me. As yukon aged, he began to have some trouble with his hips. On one particularly cold snowy day, I went for a walk and as usual, Yukon followed me. He could not keep up in the deep snow and sat down. I continued on my walk not knowing he had sat down in the deep snow. When I realized he wasn’t behind me, I went back to look for him. I found him sitting in the snow, he could not stand up. I could not lift him because he weighed nearly 130 lbs (solid, not fat) and I had a hard time walking in the snow myself. I went and got my teenage daughter and we put him on a blanket and dragged him to the house where he spent his first night indoors since he was a puppy.

The next morning he was normal again. We had some other minor and major incidents with his hips and failing eyesight over the next couple of years. He was nearly blind and could not hear very well anymore. Then on a cool early December morning in 2004, I was out burning some scrap wood I had left over from building a pole barn. I was at the fire pit about 100 feet from the house and had a fire blazing. Again as usual, Yukon followed me. I walked back toward the house when I heard Yukon yelping. I looked back to see he had fallen into the fire and could not get out. I ran to him as fast as I could and I pulled him out.

As I was doing this he clamped down onto my hand with his jaws, causing a pretty severe wound on my hand. I brought him to the house and my wife and I checked him over. he had some serious burns on his body and was in obvious pain. We talked for about an hour about what to do. We made the decision at that time to put him down. We it was the best for him, although we didn’t want it to happen. He was 18 years old. He’s buried in my yard in a sunny spot where I can see him from our kitchen. I cry to this day when I think about him and what happened to him that day. We have other dogs, Bandit (Akita mix), Onyx (black Lab) and Josie (Lhasa Apso) along with 2 cats (Smoky and Molly). I am not looking forward to the day that I must put them down also, but I will love them unconditionally until I do.

Darrell from MI