Sheryl's Alaskan Malamutes - Wolf - circa 1989 - 2000
Wolf - circa 1989 - August 2000
Silver Alaskan Malamute - with bar
26" shoulder - 100 lbs trim weight
Wolf came into my life at about 2 years old in 1991.
She was a rescue through the Philadelphia chapter of the Alaskan Malamute Rescue Society. She'd been found running freely on the Atlantic City Expressway. They advertised for weeks to find her owner and never did. They told me that people often let their dogs off on the way to a vacation when they didn't want them anymore. They figured someone was headed to the shore, and dumped her off. A kennel in South Jersey donated her boarding while they tried to find her an adoptive home. The couple running the Philly chapter rescue, met me at the kennel, followed me back to my house with Wolf with them.
They stayed for about an hour to make sure that Wolf and I got along, and to see how she did with Jason. Seemingly satisfied, they left, after letting me know that Malamutes are known to be food possessive, sweet, stubborn, and not always good with other dogs. They told me that discipline could involve cuffing her in the chest, that she wouldn't like it, but it wouldn't hurt her. They took the completed adoption form.
I called them a week or so later to let them know how things were going, and to ask them when I was supposed to pay them the $50 adoption fee, that in the excitement I hadn't offered it and they hadn't asked. They told me they hadn't asked intentionally, as they weren't sure it would last because of her dislike of other dogs. They felt better with my report and I sent them the money. Although, for $50 I felt like I was "stealing" a dog. :)
Turns out we did have some issues with Wolf and Jason. The old guy was toddering past a dog biscuit and Wolf attacked him. He was down on his back with her on top of him. I got on top of her and twisted her collar trying to get her to release her grip. In an attempt to fight back, Jason ended up getting each of my knees (fortunately only pressure bites, no punctures). She released and I threw her in her crate and screamed at her for about 10 minutes. I left her in there for several hours and wouldn't even look at her. She whined pathetically every time I entered the room and wouldn't look at her or acknowledge her. After that incident, whenever I saw her even thinking about disliking Jason, I held up my finger and said "no lip curl". That ended up as a working command for the rest of her life. Jason went over the Rainbow Bridge two months later.
Wolf always loved the cats, that was never an issue, as you can see from the top photo, where's she's letting Morgan attempt to nurse. But, she never liked other dogs. Only "no lip curl" kept her from beginning an attack on dogs ignorant people insisted on bringing over to her over my protests. Even at the vet's office, other customers wouldn't believe me until she made them a believer.
Wolf always loved people. The first time my best friend came into the house without me there, I asked him how Wolf handled it. "She picked her head up off the bed to look at me, and went back to sleep", was his report.
I have no photos, not one, that do justice to how beautiful she was. Often, people would just sit and stare at her, shake their heads to snap themselves out of their trance, look at me and say "she is so beautiful, I just can't believe it".
I'll never forget the first time I heard the woo-woo. I'd never heard it before, of course, and didn't quite know what to make of it. She was talking up a storm with a very insistent look in her eyes. I realized finally she was trying to let me know she needed to go out. She'd just been sniff/snorting at me before that, and from then on I learned that her sniff/snort was her communication to "open up the door already". A single bark was all she used to let me know she was ready to come in. She never barked at any other time.
Woo-wooing was her main method of talking to me. Sometimes she had lots to say, usually when we were playing.
It took her a year to fully trust me, as the first year she slept outside during the night. Even though she liked the bed for naps during the day, or obviously the couch.
Phoenix, above with her on the bed, came into the house after Wolf did and she accepted her wihtout issue.
Morgan was a little kitten diagnosed with feline leukemia and had to be separated from the other cats, but not from Wolf. They loved each other. I've never seen a dog so gentle with cats, let alone a kitten. But she definitely decided to be his surrogate mom.
Wolf let him attack, play and romp with her, and loved every minute of it.
She did have a prey drive, though, but only with mice, rabbits, frogs and birds. She was quick and I often had to clean up the bodies outside. To my knowledge she never ate them, but just caught them and played with them (throwing them in the air) until they were not breathing. She'd be terribly disappointed that they were no longer moving.
But, her relationships with the cats was special. She'd be asleep at the bottom of the stairs, and they'd be racing around the rooms chasing each other. Sometimes if it was convenient, they'd springboard off of her, which was really something to see. On one of these romps, Deanna springboarded right into Wolf's mouth. Wolf set her down very gently, and they kept the springboarding to a minimum after that.
She'd play "defend the bed" and not let them on for quite a while. Troi was her best buddy at play and at rest. After she left us, Troi went to her favorite spots, sniffed and rolled around in her scent.
I never got across to people how quick she was. As my best friend was coming in the door, I heard Wolf's nails on the floor, and called out to "close the door". The nails got quicker. "Close the door!". Then I heard, "gosh, she's fast". While we were out trying to track her down, he swore she was coming to greet him, she looked so sweet. Sweet AND deceptive! We went out to get her & kept getting reports of her and finally found her in the park in the middle of the pond giving the ducks "what for".
On another "get-away" she came home herself within an hour (all we ever saw was her tail going around a corner and then not even that). She knew I was ticked at her, and she just laid down a few feet from me while I was working. Everytime I looked at her, her eyes gleamed and her tail wagged, "gotcha!". It was hard to stay mad at her :) What a sense of humor. She'd wait until I was comfortable for bed and decide she needed something (the gleam in the eye was always there).
Wolf also taught me that it was best to walk with her in the street and not on sidewalks. During a rainy walk I stepped around a deep puddle on the sidewalk onto grass. Unfortunately at that same instant, Wolf spotted a squirrel and leapt for it. My sneakers slipped on the wet grass & I was on my butt being dragged through wet grass with an umbrella trailing in my other hand. I only hope some of the neighbors got good entertainment and saw it. No sense that going to waste without a good laugh being had by someone else.
Wolfer was very afraid at this photo session because of all the noises in the store, and wouldn't put her ears up. The woman taking the photos tried talking to her, but nothing worked. Not even when she asked me if Wolf liked Sesame Street. I deadpanned, "she watches it all the time", thinking it was a joke. But the woman brought out an Oscar the Grouch toy, started making baby sounds and gently bopped Wolf on the nose with it several times. When I said that Oscar wasn't a favorite of hers, the woman said "but I don't have any other Sesame Street toys".
I waited until we left the store to break out in laughter!
When someone came to the house she'd run to them, sit in front of them with tail wagging, looking up into their eyes as if to say, "where have you been all my life, I've been waiting for you!". She was a favorite at the vet's, because of her sweetness and ability to "suck up". When I'd board her she was given special treatment (the run of the facility after office hours to "help" the office staff).
Once I had to board "the kids" for several weeks. Wolf had them so wrapped around her paw, that office staff took their families in on the weekends to visit her, so she wouldn't be lonely, and to point out what kind of dog they wanted next. Never had the heart to tell them that I suspected she was one of a kind, but what a Malamute ambassador she was, wasn't she?
Something happened in her first 2 years that made her afraid of loud noises. In even mild thunder storms, she became velcro to me, because in her mind I could protect her from that awful noise. She did have the famous Malamute stubbornness, but did anything I asked of her (if reluctantly at times).
These photos of Wolf older are always shocking to me, because she never looked older to me until I saw the photos.
She left me too soon in 2000 at only 11 years old. She started to not eat and lose weight. The vet couldn't get a fix on it, and sent us to a specialist for an ultrasound. It appeared to be something possibly with the liver, but nothing conclusive. Meds helped some, but not much. I took her back in to get her hydrated and some nutrition through the IV for a couple days. When I went to pick her up, I heard some commotion while I was talking to the vet. They brought her out for me, she was so wobbly on her legs, and said did you hear her? What do you mean, hear Wolf, you never hear her. No, that commotion was Wolf, the instant she heard my voice. She started struggling to get to me. I took her home, helped her out of the car and with additional help got her in the house. She had waited for me, to be with me, as she died an hour later. I was heartbroken, not my Wolf. I asked for an autopsy as I had to know what did this to her. She had pancreatitis, a hole in her pancreas. That's why she wouldn't eat, every time she did, the pancreatic enzymes (used for digestion) released from the hole in her pancreas were eating her from the inside out. That's why it was so hard to nail down for the vets. It didn't show up on xrays, and showed up disguised on ultrasound.
Wolf was the perfect dog for me. She was a great companion and friend. I could trust her around any humans and cats. She was an empathetic girl. A friend stayed with me a bit while going through a divorce. To this day she says, "I'll never forget Wolf coming in and curling up with me on the bed whenever I needed it, she was the sweetest dog I've ever met".
Wolf will always be loved and missed. While the "hole" in the family has been filled, she has never been replaced.
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