Tallys died today after a short fight with an unknown disease. We got him and his two brothers from a shelter foster litter and as soon as we met him as a tiny kitten, we knew he was one of the kittens we wanted to adopt. He was the smallest kitten in the litter, was extremely friendly and very snuggly, and he remained that way for his short life. He would spend all night curled up at my feet, or under the covers with Andrea, and in the morning he’d come downstairs and ask to be picked up while I made breakfast. He loved to be up on my shoulders, purring and kneading, and occasionally scolding me if I wasn’t petting him enough. He played with my feet under the covers, and would bring cat toys downstairs during the day while we were at work and the dogs were outside. He also made friends with all the dogs, and especially Monte, who would come in the house and bark until his friend Tallys came down to nuzzle him and play.
He also loved heat, so he was always the cat baking himself in the direct sun in the window, and especially liked winter because of the heat the wood stove put out. He’d lay in front of it (or sometimes directly under it) and his fur would get hot enough it seemed like he should be melting. And when the wood stove wasn’t cranking he’d flop down in front of our Toyo and soak up as much heat as he could.
He is survived by his brothers, Jenson and Caslon, and his two sisters living in another home in Fairbanks. Tallys, Jenson, and Caslon all got along at our house, sleeping in a ball on the bed, or chasing each other around. Tallys and Caslon would often sit opposite each other and lazily swat at each other until someone got in a good punch and they’d go bolting after each other.
He was a super sweet little cat, and our time with him was too short, but in those years he was a constant bright spot in our lives. We will miss him.
Yesterday we lost Koidern to complications from laryngeal paralysis. Koidern came to us in 2006 from Andrea’s mushing partner who thought she was too “ornery.” It is true that she wouldn’t hesitate to growl at a dog or cat who got too close to her food bowl, and she was protective of her favorite bed, but in every other way she was a very sweet dog. When she was younger she loved to give hugs, jumping up on her hind legs and wrapping her front legs around your waist. She was part Saluki, which made her very distinctive in Andrea’s dog teams and she never lost her beautiful brown coat, perky ears, and curled tail. I will miss her continual energy in the dog yard racing around after the other dogs, how she’d pounce on dog bones and toss them around, “smash” the cats, and the way she’d bark right before coming into the house as if to announce her entrance.
This morning I came down the stairs to a house without Buddy. He liked sleeping on the rug in front of the heater at the bottom of the stairs and he was always the first dog I saw in the morning.
Buddy came to us in August 2003 as a two year old and became Andrea’s mighty lead dog. He had the confidence to lead her teams even in single lead by himself, listened to whomever was driving, and tolerated all manner of misbehavior from whatever dog was next to him. He retired from racing after eleven years, but was still enjoying himself and pulling hard up to his last race.
Our friend, musher, and writer Carol Kaynor wrote this about him in 2012:
But it will be Buddy who will move me nearly to tears. He will drive for 6 full miles. On the very far side of 10 years old, with his eleventh birthday coming up in a month, he will bring us home to fourth place for the day and a respectable time for the distance. I’ll step off that sled as happy as if I’d won.
It wasn’t me pushing. I don’t get any credit for a run like that. It was Buddy pushing himself, like the champion he is.
Read the whole post here: Tribute to a champion.
After he retired, he enjoyed walking on the trails around our house, running around in the dog yard with the younger dogs, but most of all, relaxing in the house on the dog beds. He was a big, sweet, patient dog that took everything in stride and who wanted all the love and attention we could give him. The spot at the bottom of the stairs is empty now, and we will miss him.
Nika died today after fifteen and a half great years in our family. She was a Golden Retreiver / Australian Shepherd mix, which meant she was smart, aglie, and loved to swim. She had a beautiful, thick, dark coat that made people think she was a flat coat retriever. When she was a puppy, she needed a lot of exercise and entertainment to keep from getting bored, so she and I started a long tradition of daily (and often more) walks. I’d guess that in those fifteen years, she and I easily walked over 3,000 miles together. She loved running through the forest, swimming in every water body she came across, jumping high in the air after snow when we shovelled the deck, and when she was younger, fetching tennis balls. She came with us everywhere and was always willing to “go for a ride?!” even if it basically meant sitting in the truck once we got wherever we were going. I took her to work with me practially every day and walked her on campus, and later at the Peat Ponds.
She was a happy dog, eager to get up and go for a walk until the very end, when old age and declining strength meant she was prone to falling down and had a hard time getting up the stairs or up onto the couch. Eventually, it got to the point that we felt like she would probably rather not be around if she couldn’t do the things she loved.
I’ve spent so much time with her in the outdoors—on the trails around our property, walking up and down Goldstream Creek in the winter, hiking on campus and at the Peat Ponds at work—that I don’t know how I’m going to be able to go for a walk without missing her company. We used to sing, “Doo do da doo, Taiga Dog!” and she’d get all excited.
With the loss of Nika and Piper today, there’s a pair of huge holes in our family, and even though I know we’ll get over the pain of losing them, we will never forget them and all the happiness we shared together.
We lost Piper today to a neurological condition that seemed to rapidly take her bright and wonderful personality from her, and from us.
We got Piper from the Fairbanks Animal Shelter in December 2002. I wasn’t too sure I was ready to adopt a new dog, but when they let her into the visiting room, she immediately came up to us and won us over with her charm. She was a beautiful orange and white husky mix with bright blue eyes, a barrel chest, and quick, graceful movements like a fox. She loved sprint mushing with Andrea, was great with kids, and always knew for sure that she was the cutest dog in any pack. She came with us wherever we went, and even slept on a bed in Andrea’s office when she worked at the Alaska Bird Observatory. As she got older, I started taking her for walks on the trails with Nika, and she enjoyed bounding through the forest exploring and chasing snowshoe hares.
Last winter she almost died from an abscess in her chest cavity, and even though she was eventually cured, she never really got all her strength back. But the neurological issue that finally claimed her life was the hardest to deal with because it seemed to drain the happiness and personality from her seemingly healthy body. Despite that, I’m not going to let this disturb my memories of what a great little dog she was. Always a wagging tail, willingess to “Ooooh” on command, and to cheer you up with her infectiously happy behavior.
I could use some of that cheer right now.