Friday, June 17, 2011

My Old Man

15 years young. Vet says he's in great health, so we have some time to continue enjoying his company. G'kar has been with us since he was about ten weeks old. He's been at my side every day I'm home, and still follows me where ever I go so he can lay by my feet. Every evening I come home he greets me with his "Haaaloooowww rrroo roooo!", and can't wait for me to pet him. He's the first husky to try to really talk to me, but certainly not the last.

When I sit to watch TV, he gently insists I get out the squeaky ball and play fetch with him, a game we've shared since he was a puppy. I think he still remembers the days when we would play fetch for hours, and each time he'd bring back his toy he would be loved on and played with. The sparkle is still in his old eyes that can barely see the movement of the ball any more, and will lose its location if he didn't watch where the movement stopped. He races after the squeaky ball just as he did when his legs were awkward with growth instead of arthritis. He loves this game more than any others, but a close second was pulling my son on the toboggan with the help of his lifelong companion, Valkrys. 2010 was a rough year for him, adjusting to a new life in Kentucky the year before only to lose his one and only mate in January due to her great age. I feared that he would soon follow her in his grief, but not G'kar.

Another adjustment in his life was the pack, the four huskies we acquired/saved in the early spring of 2009. He and Samantha were at odds from the first second they laid eyes on each other. At thirteen years, he was no match for healthy three year old Samantha. Since he learned that he could ignore Valkrys' snarling and still eat from the bowl she was guarding with impunity, he had been the pack second in command after me (at least in his mind).

Samantha had been the pack mom and protector of 'her boys', Yukon and Demon through a horrendous part of their lives. It was she that kept the pack together, and ensured their survival. The pup Freya was immediately added to her pack as the daughter of Demon and the four of them arrived at our house together. They were kept together in the same room, were allowed to roam around the 20x10 pen together, and taken on walks together until I could get the yard fenced, the dog door installed, and start them on mushing again.

Any time G'Kar and Samantha looked at each other, it was tantamount to a fight, and the first few months were hard. After time, they tolerated one another, and eventually became grudging friends. Their relationship was a rocky one until the day Valkrys passed on. G'kar knew the moment she was gone, and a deep depression settled on him. During that time, Samantha would lay next to him quietly, and Yukon would join her on the far side to keep the old man company in his darkest hours. Since those days, they have become good friends. Yukon and Samantha treat G'kar like an honored ancestor, and sometimes help clear the way for him, and Yukon even plays with him, allowing the old man to chase him. On days when G'kar is stiff from cold and arthritis, both Samantha and Yukon will lie down touching him, to help warm his joints, and you can see he is grateful even though he doesn't want to let on he is weakening.

It is so touching to see how the younger dogs treat him. None of them will take his treats unless he wanders off and away from them. You know it is out of respect when they blatently try to steal from each other all the time, especially Yukon. They try not to jostle him, and attempt to greet him with the respect they show to Yukon and I as the pack leaders. G'kar still isn't sure how to take being incessantly licked on his jaw and being goaded in to play by youngsters, but I can tell he enjoys the respect they give him.

The pack has helped him through the difficult times, and their loving support has made a huge difference in his life. You can see his smile as he wanders amongst the pack. He is still mentally sharp, and the spring in his step shows his happiness. We love you old man, and wish you many more happy healthy years with us.

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