About a year ago my precious baby, a husky named Sitka, injured her back and was beyond recovery. Her pain was my pain and her death felt like losing a little piece of my soul. I didn’t think I would ever recover, and I was sure I could never love another dog as much as I had loved her. Six month’s later, I was at PetSmart buying supplies for the cat, when I walked through an adoption fair the local animal shelters were having inside the store. Sitting in a cage off by himself was a large, light red husky with light brown eyes. Other than his coat, he appeared nothing like my Sitka. Where she was dainty and had a narrow waist, he was full through hips and chest and very muscular. Where she was a pushy alpha dog, he seemed calm and unexcitable by the other animals in the room.
Before I realized what I was doing, I had abandoned my pursuit of cat supplies and found myself standing in front of this large, light red husky’s cage. I placed my hand to the door and he licked my palm 3 or 4 times. A volunteer came over and asked if I was interested in the dog; his name, I learned, was Thor and he was good with cats and other animals. I told the volunteer about Sitka and said I wasn’t sure if I was ready. She told me that I was welcome to take her card and call her if I changed my mind or to come back. I thanked her and tickled Thor on the head through the bars before returning to my shopping.
The next weekend, I returned to the PetSmart just, certain that Thor would have been snatched up by an eager adopter. To my surprise, Thor was still there. I went to his cage and he sat up when he saw me. His tongue lolled out of his mouth in a wolfish grin that is at once both endearing and a little goofy. Another female volunteer came to my side and asked if I was interested in adopting Thor, and I told her that I was. I filled out the paper work and went to buy a harness and leash for Thor. When I came back, it took four of us to put the harness on Thor. He was so excited, he would not keep still. He jumped up on me multiple times and licked my face and neck. I quickly realized that Thor was a lot stronger thank Sitka.
I loaded Thor in my pickup truck, the passenger side, not the truck bed. I could never let my dog ride in the back of a truck bed. It seems so unsafe, even with a harness or tied down crate! Once home, I gave Thor water and food and took him for his first introduction to the neighborhood. As we were walking, a neighbor’s little, teacup Yorkshire Terrier came running up to us on the sidewalk. I immediately grabbed hold of the leash and braced myself, expecting Thor to go on the defense and teach the little pup a lesson. Thor just stood by my side and didn’t move. It was almost as if he couldn’t be bothered to respond to such an insignificant nuisance. I pushed my heart back into my chest and we continued our walk.
Once we came home, I sat on my recliner and gave Thor a new toy. It was a green elephant with floppy ears. Thor took the elephant by the tip of one ear and began to toss it into the air. On his third toss, he caught it in his mouth and elicited a high pitched noise from the squeaker in its middle. This delighted Thor so much that he jumped up and down with the toy in his mouth several times, then threw it up into the air as high as he could, resulting in it landing in the kitchen sink. No problem for Thor. He looked at me and then at the sink and barked as if to say: “Mommy, get my toy out of the sink, please.” Of course, I did.
Thor tired of his game and decided it was time for him to sit down. He did not sit on the couch or lay at my feet. He walked up to the chair where I was sitting, took a leap, and landed all 70 pounds in my lap. He turned a circle and then attempted to sit down. No matter how hard I tried (and I tried very hard) I could not get Thor off my lap. His thick canine nails were well equipped to grip ice and snow while pulling a sled in the wilds of Alaska. They left claw shaped bruises on my thighs. As painful as this was, I couldn’t yell at Thor. It was clear that someone had carried him around as a puppy and, given his circumstances, had abandoned him as soon as he outgrew his puppy cuteness. This was something I was going to have to work in with Thor through positive reinforcement. The first thing I did was give him a cookie when he got off my lap.
It didn’t take long for Thor to learn not to jump on laps. Much like most Huskies, he’s very smart. Unlike my previous dog, he’s not a stubborn alpha dog. It was easy to establish dominance and train him through rewards of desired behaviors. He still gets a little carried away when playing because he is a 70 pound snow dog. I wouldn’t want that to change. It would mean I had broken him. What would be the point of having a Husky that acts like a meek spirited terrier?