With heavy hearts, we wished our beautiful redhead the best of comfort last night as we let her go. Goodbye Miss Cheesy. We will miss you.
Coming off a trail hiking many years ago, we met a Lakota woman. She was enamored with the dogs and insisted on meeting them. After chatting for a while, she said we would soon be adding a new Siberian Husky named Cheoah, the Cherokee word for Spirit.
Shortly after, we received a phone call from a volunteer at Sarge’s Animal Rescue Foundation. A Siberian Husky was abandoned when her owner’s house was foreclosed. They left her tied to a tree in the backyard. They needed a place for her to stay and since we were experienced with Siberian Huskies, would we take her in? We fostered her…and she stayed for more than a decade…the sixth member of the original six.
We made the decision to name her Cheoah to fulfill the prophecy. We thought the gesture was fitting, especially since we lived on the edge of the reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to confirm the translation, finding out only too late that Cheoah does not mean Spirit. It is the Cherokee word for Otter.
Fortunately, the name fit. Cheoah is the only member of The Herd to love water. She adored it. Ocean. River. Lake. Swimming pool. It didn’t matter, she would fearlessly go straight in, much to the amusement of those around her.
Water wasn’t her only love. She loved snow (sliding her head like a plow to maximize snow enjoyment), digging (the massive basement under our picnic table was her engineering), hiking, running, picking on her brothers, snuggling, sleeping in sunshine, and camping. And mischief. Oh, my, the mischief. She had the ability to create chaos, seduce her brothers into joining, and then stand innocently nearby while she watched them get into trouble.
When the Hu-Granddad was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a particularly heinous disease, Cheoah revealed an unknown skill—the power of therapy dog for seniors with dementia. She had a regular route among the residents of the facility, many of whom looked forward to her visits with glee and others who looked forward to meeting her for the first time each and every week. It didn’t matter to the Cheese—she greeted them all with an extraordinary kindness and patience.
We will never forget one resident who would roll her wheelchair to her room door and wait on the Cheese’s arrival. Each week they would converse, Cheese in her quiet ways and the woman in her murmurs that never arose above a whisper. Their conversation was strictly between them—no one else understood.
Unfortunately, age and arthritis caught up with our redhead of mischief. Dogs give us joy every minute of their lives and ask only that we help them in the end when they need it most. With lots of hugs and kisses, we let her go gently to sleep.
We will miss those beautiful eyes, that insistent woo, and her sheer look of innocence as she tricked her brothers into mischief…again. We expect somewhere Rusty, Qannik, and Kodiak are falling for it as we speak.
Please forgive us as we take a break for a few days. We will be back after a little healing time, a slightly smaller and quieter pack, but still full of laughs and fun.