Yesterday, we lost a member of our animal family. Not one of the flock but our sweet Husky mix Blaze. Throughout the day memories of Blaze would present themselves and I found myself worrying that I was going to forget some of his funny quirks. They were begging to be written down.
Blaze didn't have an easy life before us. A neighbor rescued him from a kill shelter down south only to find he had stage 4 Heartworm. She treated him and he survived. But then they discovered he had a rare (at least in the Northeast) form of cancer called Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor. Yup - just like what it sounds like - Doggie STD. His behavior on the streets down south must have been a little questionable. That was treated and cured also, only to come back a few years later. Unfortunately our neighbor didn't have enough time for him so we took him in. He came to us as a pretty shy guy. It was clear he wanted to be loved but also that he didn't expect it. Soon he was walking on a leash like a champ and relaxing enough with us to sleep on his back. He continued to have separation anxiety up until the end but Prozac worked wonders. It made him a calmer, happier dog in general and even slowed down his prey drive enough so the cat could tolerate him. I think we gave him a good four and a half years since he joined our family.
This was Blaze's version of helping build the chicken run!
Blaze loved to sit with people. I don't think he ever knew he was a big dog. He loved to sit on laps. He was notorious with our daughters' friends. If they sat on the living room floor - he took that as an invitation to sit in their laps no matter the age or size of the child. It always ended up with the kids in fits of giggles. I can't think of a single kid that came to our house who didn't like Blaze. When I would sit on the front steps, he would either sit right next to me or one step down. Butt on one step and front paws on the step below. And he had been known to try to climb into Scott's lap in a chair. Quite a feat if you are a 55 pound dog!
Once Blaze gained some confidence after being with us for a while, he found his voice. It's funny that we never heard him the entire time he lived across the street. When he found his voice - he used it! But not to an obnoxious extent. He would howl with passing fire engines and on occasion would literally howl at the moon. He must have had a thing for performance because he would join in if people were doing anything in unison. Singing Happy Birthday to Mimi on the phone - Blaze had to join in; the family being silly singing Jolly Mon from Jimmy Buffett - Blaze had to join in; visiting one of the girls' second grade classrooms where the kids read me a thank you they had written - Blaze had to join in. And on occasion when he was feeling argumentative he would "back talk" us.
Walks were serious business not to be disturbed by other dogs. He walked beautifully on a leash and really liked to log on the miles. He knew my various routes and often would try to prevent me from turn for home by trying to nudge me the other way. It was a rare walk that he didn't get some sort of positive comments. He was always polite with other people and dogs but really just wanted to get back to the task at hand.
I also learned that Huskies are escape artists and in fact we probably should have renamed him "Houdini". We gave up on trying to crate train him as we were afraid he was going to hurt himself trying to get out. He even ended up with an arrest record of sorts with the local police department after he broke out of our house while we were at work. Of course he left the door wide open and the neighbors called the police. Given that it wasn't clear whether someone broke in or he broke out, they stationed a car outside our house until we could get home. Meanwhile, Blaze having finished his walkabout, sauntered home and the officer put him back on his rope. He was quite happy to have the company of the officer! Other times he would just let himself out and go visit the other neighborhood dogs. Quite the man about town!
He was such a tolerant boy. I can't think of anytime that he showed any irritation with any of us. If he didn't like something he would get up and move. But that was pretty infrequent. More often he just wanted to be part of the gang and would tolerate all sorts of things including photo shoots with a budding photographer who got her hands on Mom's camera.
Blaze didn't have too many bad habits. The big one was that he was a digger. We could have also renamed him "The Excavator". He loved to dig. There is an intricate network of dens under the front bushes that I am not looking forward to filling in once spring arrives. That will seem very final. But maybe I can finally replant my daffodils and tulips that were.... um... transplanted. They can be a little memorial garden.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Blaze was how he thought he could sneak up on you to cuddle. He was adept at slithering up onto the bed and lying as flat as possible so maybe no one would see him. And if by chance someone saw him, it's a whole lot harder to get a pancake dog off a bed. And plus those eyes.... "Me? Don't I belong on the bed? You looked like you wanted me up here." Just loved that sweet dopey face!
It was the same thing with his two favorite chairs. He and Scott had a long standing game of musical chairs. As soon as Scott would get up and leave the room, Blaze would claim the chair, even if he had already warmed up his own! And what a unique chair posture he had!
Rest well buddy! I hope you have your own chair, someone to play musical chairs with and a place to dig big holes!