Lukey, Daisy, Keeta, Bear, Thumper, River

I’ve always had dogs. In childhood, when I had Lukey, a coon hound mix who finally had to go to the “farm” because he kept biting people. Lukey reappeared the next Christmas Eve just as we returned home from Mass. He just stood and looked at me and then ran back into the night. I was only 5 but will never forget it.

Next Daisy, the crazy, wild, wire-haired Fox Terrier who was purchased from the Sears catalog and who arrived by train. But my first dog bought as an adult was Keeta, a purebred Alaskan Malamute. My life was in turmoil. I had gotten a divorce and my new husband to be and I were packing up and moving to Northern Wisconsin with my 2 young children to open a bar and restaurant. It was going to be crazy, and keeta only added to the excitement. She was “skunked” twice, quilled by a porcupine three times, ate chipmunk poison, was hit by a car, and caught in a fox trap. But everyone loved her and she was the guardian of the plethora of strays that we took in over the years and found loving homes for. She lived to be 12 and we kept her alive far longer than we should have, suffering as she was with Cushings Disease.

It was five years before my husband could bring himself to accept another pet. Trip after trip to our local animal shelter were in vain until finally he was beguiled by a fur ball of a husky crosss that we named “Bear”. Bear will soon be 11. Bear was followed 2 years later by “Thumper”, another purebred Malamute. The shelter director had called. Steph, I have something I want you to see. We went out and it was Thumper. My husband didn’t hesitate. How soon can we have him? He had been abused. He had a gash on his leg, and was healing from an imbeded collar. He was littered with buckshot. But we never, ever, heard him growl. He was the sweetest tempered dog I have ever experienced. And whe he was happy he would bounce up and down like a bunny.. hence the name “Thumper”.

2 years later we added the third member of our family in a 1000 sq ft home.. River. Also a rescue.. a dog of very indeterminate lineage. About all we can swear to is chow (because of the black tongue). Otherwise she looks like a chocolate lab with a retreiver’s tail and orange brindling. A few months ago Thumper was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and put on medication. He lost almost 20 lbs and was loving life when an annual checkup showed something amiss. In mid In mid-August he just wasn’t acting quite right. On a Friday night, the “gang” and I were watching TV when River walked over to Thumper and, laying down with her front legs over his, started going over his face with hers. Not licking, just rubbing. Over and over. Thumper, who usually would get up and walk away when she pestered, just lay there and let her.

The next morning I told my husband that something was REALLY wrong with Thumper. In just 2 hours he went downhill terribly. We called our Vet who said to bring him in immediately. I told my husband that I didn’t care what was wrong. If it was something that they could fix, no matter what the cost, we were doing it. I needed have voiced it. He loved that dog with all his heart. Two hours later he returned with just Thumper’s collar. Liver cancer. Just like that. It has been 4 months and we both cry when we look at the photo of him on his last day that is sitting next to his cremation urn. We love all of our dogs. But this gentle guy, even with his terrible beginning, gave us six years of nothing but unconditional love.

Stephanie from WI