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Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Miss Kiska yesterday. Her singing voice, security presence, and sweet disposition will be missed around Chez Herd.
In August of 2006, we were suffering from the loss of our first Siberian Husky, Nikita (who was born in 1993). Hu-Dad was meeting Siberians in various rescues trying to decide who would come home to join Natasha and Rusty and form our threesome (yes, once upon a time, there were only three). So many beautiful Siberian Huskies to choose from, but one ragged, scared, shy girl kept peeking out at us. The person running the rescue said, “Sometimes, you don’t get the dog you want. Sometimes, you get the dog you need.” And so Waverly came home with us, renamed Kiska (Russian for pure).
Miss Kiska had learned in her early life that humans were not to be trusted. The rescue had helped her so much, but she found herself in a strange place with strange people, unsure whether they were good. She resisted being touched and preferred to hide. Hu-Dad took to sitting on the deck with her, reading a book, and waiting for her to make the first move. Over the coming days, she would approach and sniff, before running and hiding. Each time she would get closer until the day when Hu-Dad felt the tip of her nose on the back of his neck. He sat still, waiting, hoping, while she investigated. After a long period of time, she rested her head on his shoulder while he read aloud to her. She had found her permanent home, the one that would keep her safe.
Kodiak joined us a few weeks later, Qannik the next summer, and then Cheoah in 2008. The Herd had grown to six, each settling into their respective roles. Kiska accepted two functions – the leader of the Sibernacle Choir and the Chief of Security. She took both positions seriously and insisted that everyone else carried their weight.
Sunday mornings became a routine. We would head downtown (2 blocks long) and eat at a table on the sidewalk, an opportunity for Kiska to meet strangers with the safety of the Hu-Dad beside her. She was always wary of people, but a precious few were allowed to approach her, scratch her ears, and compliment her luxurious coat.
After breakfast, we would find a trail – the more remote and difficult the better – and hike in our beloved mountains. Kiska, surrounded by her canine and human pack, felt safe and happy as the years rolled by.
Her friendship was strongest with Queen Natasha the Evil. They were inseparable – Natasha leading the charge and Kiska always at her shoulder. Together, they ruled The Herd for over a decade, raising the younger ones and training the humans.
After a long, slow decline in her strength, we noticed an acceleration of symptoms in the last couple of weeks. An x-ray revealed a mass on her heart and other masses spread into her lungs. Our brave Chief of Security needed the final gift that humans can offer, being held tightly in the Hu-Dad’s arms as she drifted into the final sleep.
Please don’t mourn. We are doing enough of that here. Celebrate her life. An animal control officer intervened. A rescue got involved. Kind volunteers helped prepare her for a better life. And she was adopted into a forever home. That is Miss Kiska’s legacy. Support your local rescue and know that the dogs they help will go on to big adventures and full lives.
Born – Unknown
Adopted – August 2006
Rainbow Bridge – September 19, 2018
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