This website was started in 2006 (and moved to its current website in 2008) as a celebration of life for our Dear Nikita, the very first Siberian Husky we had ever had and a dog that will forever be a part of me. Originally written with just family and close friends in mind (who knew that there was an entire world out there that would actually read and care about our daily activities – and that wrote about their own fascinating lives?), I wanted to keep the website focused on the celebration of life – and not on the loss. Today, despite the fact that my heart is breaking and how much I am going to miss the Big Kode Red, I want to do the same thing with our Kodiak.
Knowing that Nikita’s life was coming to an end, we had adopted Kiska in August 2006 and had planned to remain at three (Natasha and Rusty were already there). But we had also contacted Siberian Husky Assist during our search and they connected with us just over a month after Nikita’s passing with a red headed male that we needed to meet. Kodiak joined The Herd in October 2006 and our foursome was complete (two hands, two people, right? What’s the difference between three and four?).
Within the first year that we had him, we discovered he was heartworm positive (both the rescue and we had performed heartworm tests that were negative. Kodiak was our medical lesson that dogs often test negative to heartworms during their first six months or so of infection). Once through that treatment, he finally began to add the needed pounds to his frame. Interesting that this summer we talked often about how healthy his coat and body was – lean, muscular and shiny coat.
Perhaps part of that health came from his love of blackberries and blueberries. We would simply be hiking through a trail and he had perfected the art of plucking ripe berries from the surrounding bushes and snacking during our hikes.
His age was always a mystery to us and we have often wondered whether he was six (assuming a year old when he first came to us) or more like ten. Regardless of his actual age, he loved being the lovable lunk. Easy going, affable, always the greeter when anyone approached us. Never the class clown nor the leader, Kodiak just liked being a part of the pack – the big brother to everyone else.
He also always looked forward to our hikes. When he saw the leashes appear, he would let loose with one of soulful howls – an expression of sheer joy at the anticipation of a new adventure.
He also loved his Jeep rides and would have spent every minute of them with his head out the window – if we let him. But when we were going slow, we indluged his passion.
He loved everyone in the pack, but his special friend was always Kiska. They were nearly inseparable from the very beginning and we often referred to them as boyfriend and girlfriend. Where Kiska often lacks confidence in new settings, she hung closely to her big boyfriend for confidence.
And no sleeping in the human bed for Kodiak. He certainly would come over for his good night hug and snuggle (boy, will we miss that icy cold nose), but then he was off for his favorite spot – his chair. We had debated over the summer here how nasty the chair was getting and that we were going to have to replace it, but were worried about where Kodiak would sleep.
His absolute best habit – and the one I will miss the most – is the Kodi hug. During play with the rest of The Herd, he would suddenly look over at me, run over, stand on his hind legs, throw his head into my chest and wrap his front legs around me and squeeze. After a few seconds, he would run back to play. You try so hard not to put human emotions into a dog’s actions, but I could never get over the feeling that he was saying thank you for bringing him home, to agreeing to just one more member of The Herd, and to make him a part of this family. I so wish I could feel that hug one more time.
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We would like to link you to two special items (because we do not have the copyright permission to republish them here on our website).
First, like most dog owners, we celebrate the Rainbow Bridge. But as Siberian Husky fans, we believe in a very special part of that world – North of the Rainbow Bridge. We invite you to read this short poem of the magical place where Siberian Huskies wait to be reunited with their humans.
Second, Donald Vann is a celebrated Cherokee artist and we have a reprint of this very special painting entitled Rainbow Bridge hanging near where computer work is done. This picture has been a deep comfort to us today.
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While we want this post to be a celebration of life, we also want to take a quick second to explain what happened. Feel free to skip this part.
Unbeknownst to us, Kodiak was born with a defect that had fused his C2 and C3 vertebrae (in his neck). Fused vertebrae force additional pressure above and below the fusion and Kodiak suffered from a tragic rupture of the disc between C3 and C4 during our walk on Friday morning. The rupture was so violent that it did permanent damage to his spinal cord. Sunday morning, we finally understood what had happened but also understood the consequences. The paralysis that had affected his front legs was spreading to also affect his lungs. Even if a surgery was able to be performed, he would never have recovered from the paralysis. And the anesthesia to perform the surgery would react fatally with the nerve damage that had been done. We simply reached a point where we ran out of options.
We would like to take a moment to think the doctors and staff of the hospitals we saw in the last 48 hours (listed below in the order we saw them). They were absolutely terrific in their support and care and we know that Kodiak saw some of the best people available. Our apologies for only knowing the doctors names, because there were so many professionals that treated us with such terrific care.
Dr. Chip Jackson – Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital
Dr. Katie Gibson – Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital (REACH) – Asheville, North Carolina
Dr. Brent Goodson – Animal Emergency Clinic – Greenville, South Carolina
Dr. Dermot Jevens – Upstate Veterinary Specialist – Greenville, South Carolina
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Please pardon us as we take a few days break from blogging. We just need some personal time for healing and grieving.