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Xena, who was an approximately 10 year-old Malamute/Husky mix, came to us in September of 2020 after she was abandoned, rescued, and spent two months in a loving foster care home. Xena’s health was poor: her teeth were in bad condition, making it painful for her to eat kibble (she was the first dog to whom I fed canned dog food); her hips were painful, often making it difficult for her to walk; she was deaf; eye infections made it difficult for her to see; and despite a great diet in foster care, she remained quite emaciated. It was also clear from her behavior – she often kept her distance to avoid human contact and initially tried to sleep outside, even though she had clearly once been an indoor dog -- that she had lived a lifetime of abuse and neglect.
Neglect and abuse, however, do not define who Xena was. In Laudato Si, his encyclical on care for our common home, Pope Francis writes that God has given all creatures a unique voice, one which we have no right to silence and one which we ignore only at great cost to ourselves. Xena’s voice was a particularly loud one. This was not because she howled or made other noises; she was almost entirely silent. Instead, Xena spoke through her behavior. Despite her abuse, she was meek, quiet, unassuming, and undemanding. But hers was not a meekness borne out of weakness or avoidance. Xena had an enormous inner strength and an ability to carve out for herself the space she needed to preserve her identity. That was expressed by her appropriating the family room as her spot for morning and afternoon naps, and her obvious annoyance when her private space was violated.
It was also clear that, despite all the hardship and suffering she had experienced throughout her life, Xena continued to hope for a better future; she longed for a home where she would be accepted and loved. After her arrival, she worked extremely hard to adapt to the rules and the rhythm of our household so that she could be a reliable and trustworthy pack member. In fact, the ease of her adaptation is almost shocking in view of her deafness. Her hope was also expressed in her radiant smile, a smile that would literally fill a room. We always saw it as she watched me prepare her breakfast and dinner, as she watched me get out of the car when I returned home from an outing (our male Mal mix, Yuma, alerted her to my arrivals), and above all during twice-daily pill time, which was Xena’s favorite time of the day.
Xena passed away on the evening of Thursday, March 4, after a five-week battle against liver cancer. Unlike many animals and people, her hope was realized, and she found the love, the safety, and the acceptance that she sought. She passed away very peacefully, and now her suffering is at an end. But Xena lives on through her loud voice: her meekness in the face of hardship and her determination to preserve her dignity despite her circumstances serve as a model that can instruct and inform us. My own hope is that I can grow in a meekness that will come close to matching Xena’s own.
We are sad to announce the passing of Tucker, one of our long-fostered Mals. Tucker had a very sad early life and came into rescue in mid-2015 presenting quite the challenge. He reportedly had been abused by 2 previous owners and tied up outside. Kids had thrown rocks at him and he bit one. Tucker was a big dog, one of the ‘giant’ Mals. Long time volunteers Stephanie and Jeremy had experience with giants and difficult behavior, “so I guess that's how we got assigned to him”, shared Stephanie.
“He was with us 3 weeks and we took our time as you could see he wasn't very trusting. We had a couple potential adopters early on but the intros didn't go well. He was a very sweet dog that just needed love and a stable home. We only had him a year before our first son came along and we weren't sure how that would go. But Tucker grew to understand the baby and they had a sweet relationship. He had his play time every night at 7:30 of soccer...he loved when we'd kick the ball and he'd try to catch it and roll it back to us. He loved walks and hikes. No interest in squirrels but he loved bunnies-not to eat, he wanted to be friends…..haha!
He'd go to the bedroom at his bedtime nightly and sleep in the same room as us as he always wanted to be near his humans. We went on many adventures to Orcas Island, Maple Pass, multiple camping trips, Oregon, Long Beach and more with him. He was in his element then and especially loved to splash in the water.
As he got older the hips started to give out on him and walks became harder to do. And he couldn't control his bladder anymore. He became an outdoor doggie as he couldn't make it up the stairs to get inside. But he still got walks and love and attention. We miss him lots!”
Tucker was also blessed with a having ‘godmother’, Tamra, active in his life. “Tucker was always very alert, calm, intuitive and empathetic. I knew not to stare at dogs, but he seemed to seek out your gaze like he was trying to see what was going on with you. And genuinely cared.
When my job made it really difficult to think about adopting another dog, I was thankful to have WAMAL and to be able to work with so many dogs, but Tucker was always special to me so when he was fortunate to go live with Stephanie and Jeremy, I had the opportunity to take him on trips to Methow Valley for hiking and Whidbey Island. We also went on a number of snow-shoeing day trips. And I dog sat for him during summer and winter holidays.
With his size, presence, and good looks, he was always getting attention on walks and he was always a good walker and hiker. When he traveled with me and met up with my friends, he always liked to be a part of the action, and he would play bow with my friends' dog who we think was intimidated by Tucker's size and good looks as he'd shy away whenever he saw Big Tuck coming. Lol.
For a malamute, Tucker was very responsive and listened well. I found him very easy going and cooperative. He liked attention but also liked his downtime too. He was a gentle giant and very soulful. He is missed in big ways!!”
Stephanie and Jeremy and family, THANK YOU so much for giving Tucker such an amazing home and so much love. And thank you to volunteers Danya, Tamra and Julie who took Tucker on adventures and were there to help when the going got tough. Tucker leaves a very ‘giant’ hole in our hearts.
***Thanks to Phill and Julie who put this video tribute together to honor Tucker’s memory.***
We are so grateful to have her for her last three years and grateful for WALMAL for bringing her into our life.
I've attached a few photos :) Marissa and I are so grateful to have spent Shasta's last three years together! Shasta loved long walks and wading in the ocean. We had some great outdoor adventures before she preferred to sleep on her fluffy bed in front of the fire. We are so grateful for WALMAL and Old Dog Haven for connecting us to Shasta. We'd encourage others to think about adopting older adult dogs!
Asher came to us as an emergency foster. We took him in and thought, what in the hell did we get ourselves into?? He had some strong and aggressive ways…not to mention his stubbornness. He spent 2 weeks on a 25-foot lead attached to my bed just so he would not bite anyone. Every day I would give him tons of attention and pets, then take him for walks around the yard. Oh, he would snap at me, but I would just stay calm and keep trying with him. Asher would try to bully you any chance he got up to the day he left us. After about two weeks I told Wamal I was going to just keep him. He was ornery and a handful but I could see beyond that to his possibilities. As time went on Asher became my best bud. Asher was on thyroid medication but due to some of his aggressive ways it was suggested we reduce the amount. It did make a difference once his levels were re-adjusted.
Asher loved to go for car rides and occasionally cussed out other drivers if we sat in traffic too long. At home Asher would always lay looking away from me in a doorway as if he were protecting me. He was fearless except for a running vacuum cleaner. But if you turned it off and walked away, he would head butt it. One of my favorite memories, and I do have a lot of them, was when I was raking up leaves. I had put them into six piles. Asher laid on the deck the whole time watching me. I finished and was taking a break and all the sudden he got up and ran through every single pile of them then looked at me with this smirk. I got them all raked back into piles again and Asher then went from pile to pile and peed on them. Hence his nickname “little pisser”.
Asher was always by my side. He would always greet me with a smile and woo. He had to give my wife kisses every night before bed and if she went to bed before he got them, he would wake her up. If you let him, he would bully until the day he passed. He loved his stuffed hedgehog and his treats that Aunt Rickie would send. For a pup that started out so aggressive he sure loved to give his kisses. He was not a cuddle dog but he always wanted to be by my side or “protecting” me. I would go outside with him at times and just sit with him. That was all he wanted.
One thing Asher taught me was that you can take a dog that people have given up on and if you show them they are wanted and loved they will show the same in return. And there is no better reward than watching a dog that was unwanted or even abused settle in and feel safe. That is a feeling I cannot describe. But I’m ready for the next pup that will need me…and that I will need in return.
I woke up this morning with a Malamute-sized hole in my heart….we had to have Chico put to sleep yesterday. He has had degenerative myelopathy (similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease in humans) which progressively worsened over the past few months. While he had a warrior spirit and a heart of gold, his poor rear legs got to the point where it became painful to walk and he spent most of his days sleeping. I was blessed to be this boy’s Mom for five years after falling in love and adopting him from WAMAL. He was the sweetest dog in the world and, while selective with friends, he loved his people pack to the moon and back, just like we loved him.
Earlier this month my mom and I noticed the rainbow image on his paw, and she suggested it might be a sign. I know he is no longer in pain and is enjoying adventures with a lot of great people and pets over the Rainbow Bridge but he left this Mom and also his grandparents broken hearted here on earth.
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