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October 13, 2017

Nanuq

The first time I saw him was nearly fifteen years ago on Hallowe'en night. Fort Liard's kids were making their rounds on a snowy night, going door-to-door collecting candy. A tiny white pup struggled behind, trying to keep up. Not many days after, the bylaw officer showed up at my house. He knew I was looking for a dog; would I be interested in that same little white ball of fluff?

I was.

It wasn't easy at first. I was up every couple of hours to let him out to pee. His bladder was so tiny. I was exhausted. It got better, of course. Now, fifteen years later, it seems like we've come full circle. He's not the same little white ball of fluff, but he needs to be let out every couple of hours throughout the night. He has difficulty getting up. He spends most of his days sleeping. He can't get up and down stairs anymore. Walks are limited to short, slow strolls to the mailbox. It's a far cry from the adventures we used to have together.

Nanuq was my adventure buddy. We went places together and saw things. We explored. Just him and me, out in the wilderness, sleeping in the alpine or huddled under the trees at night. I had his back and he had mine. I kept him from being swept off by a falcon, and he stood his ground around bears, warned me that I was hot on the trail of a pack of wolves, and kept me from being trampled by bison twice (ignoring that I was only out to give him his evening walk and wouldn't have been in that situation otherwise).


My kids have known him their entire lives. Little do they know that some of my parenting techniques were practiced and refined during Nanuq's puppy-hood. Seeing them suffer with their first big loss is perhaps what makes this as hard as it is.

 Today is Nanuq's last day.

This afternoon, a vet will come and, with Nanuq's family gathered, we'll watch the aches and pains of an aging dog drift away. I'll miss him terribly and while I don't know what happens when a good dog dies, I hope that his spirit gets to go on many more adventures.

 He deserves it.  Good boy.

5 comments:

Opq said...

So sad. Even though I knew Nanuq only from occasional visits, he was a great buddy to fight with for a stick and to accompany us for wintertime walks over snowy trails. Not to mention passers-by at Starbucks being delighted by his friendly presence tied to the street lamp in front of the store. Farewell, Nanuq. We'll miss you.

Mme. Rogers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mme. Rogers said...

Yes, farewell, Nanuq. 😢

Heather, aka: Mum said...

This is so familiar to me Michael - when dogs like Nanuq go, a hole is left... a big hole, for a very long time... a new fluffy puppy is always wonderful but they are too new and small to fill such important tracks...

The good thing is our children learn amazing lessons like unconditional love, the cycle of life,
Compassion towards others & so many more important things...

You've done well by each other and your last kindness to your old friend is letting go...

Sending love and gentleness to you, the family and, of course, to Nanuq...!!

Colleen McKee said...

My heart is breaking for you and your girls.