People stop me on the street all the time in my hometown these days to ask me if I’m going to get another dog.
Although it has been almost 11 months since I had to put Yodie to sleep, I still have trouble telling people that he’s gone. I have trouble with a lot of things since I lost my closest companion. When I would come home from a business trip and walk into my home, Yodie was always there at the door to greet me. I would walk him in rain and blowing snow and not be bothered by it, because I was with my buddy. Every day with that dog was unique, and I miss him terribly. People who love dogs know what I mean, and those who don’t, can’t possibly understand.
Yodie was my third Alaskan malamute. He was born in Wisconsin, and the first time I saw him at the breeder I knew I wanted him. He was just a pup, and he was beautiful. The breeder also introduced me to Yodie’s mom. While I stood there admiring both of them, she let them out for a run, and they both glided over the field as though they had wings on their feet. It was something to see. However, even though I told the breeder I wanted Yodie, I asked if she would please keep him for a few weeks until I got over the death of my previous malamute, Yukon Red, who died of cancer at only 4 years old.
A few weeks later my wife and I came to take Yodie home. For the next 12 years I was treated to all the wonderful things that can come to an owner lucky enough to have a dog like him. Malamutes are not barkers, and he didn't whine when we introduced him to his crate. As a matter of fact, looking back, Yodie never gave me any trouble whatsoever.
That isn't to say he was a wallflower. He was full of puppy mischief and did all the things that puppies do: chewing on rugs, jumping up on chairs and sometimes even relieving himself where he shouldn’t have. When he got a little bigger, he would wait for my wife to fall asleep at night and then he would sneak up to and lay next to me, knowing she would disapprove if she caught him.
When we would go up to our cabin in Minnesota during the summer, Yodie would sleep on the screened-in porch. I would sometimes slip out to sleep on a cot next to him so he wouldn’t be alone.
As I said, only dog lovers would understand.
Yodie loved to play with other dogs, and when we were in Minnesota I would go around the lake we lived on and find playmates for him. What joy it was to see them running and leaping around together!
On long summer drives up to Minnesota or North Dakota, Yodie would have his head out the back window, taking in all the smells his nostrils could take in. I bought a big SUV so he would have room to move around. I would talk to him from time to time, and like all dogs, he was a good listener. They may not know all the words, but they sure get the meaning in what you are saying, often to an uncanny degree.
During the last couple of years of his life, Yodie had epilepsy and was on medication. He also developed a hip problem that made walking uncomfortable, and he had other health problems as well. One day he simply couldn’t get up and was suffering tremendous pain. I had no choice in the matter and had him put down that afternoon.
When I meet people who have their first new puppy I always tell them that the love they will receive will be totally unconditional. It's really something special to have the honor of having a dog as your friend and companion. When you lose such a friend, it’s a big deal.
I've thought about getting another dog, but I still need more time. Yodie made my life richer and more fulfilling. He never but never asked me for a thing, yet he gave me so much in return. I thank the good Lord for sending him my way.