It was a cool October in 2008. I had recently lost my very first dog, Lupis whom I had for almost half my life. The day I went to pick up the cremated remains of my beloved Lupis, I had this sudden urge to go and visit the local Humane Society. The same Humane Society where I got Mr. Lupis when I was just a teenager. It felt too soon. It had only been a week or two.
I bravely wandered in through the doors of the Humane Society, and fought back the tears as the last time I had gone through these doors I had gotten my previous companion in much the same way.
“Do you have any Huskies?” I asked. I was hoping to get a black female husky with blue eyes. Completely opposite to what my Lupis was.
The lady led me into the back room where a dozen dogs were angry, scared, and feeling trapped. I have always hated these places. They are like a canine version of a Nazi concentration camp. Filled with hate, despair, and death.
I briefly looked at a beautiful Siberian Husky and asked to take her out into the parking lot for a walk.
I sat in the parking lot with this new dog, and the first thing she did was climb on my lap and lick my face. “I’ll take her” I said to the uniformed lady.
Several days later, after all kinds of hoops including a background check, property check, and other such nonsense I was able to pick up my beautiful new life companion. I decided I would call her Luka.
The first night Luka arrived, she went to the foot of my bed, and turned around three times, then laid down and went to sleep. She spent every night of her life sleeping at my feet from then on.
Having a dog with blue eyes was a unique experience. It was difficult at first to be able to tell her emotions, or if she was going to love you or bite you. Over time, I started to learn her ways and understand there was no anger or resentment, only love and caring behind her stunning blue eyes.
Siberian Huskies dont’ bark. They yip and howl. Although the original plan was for her to keep her distance as we ate around the table, she slowly over the first few months inched her way closer and closer to the table. She had my mother well trained. A quick yelp and my mother would jump up and get her food from the fridge. Luka learned that the shiny silver box contained all of lifes goodies.
Unlike most Siberian Huskies, Luka was pretty dopey. She was calm, very well mannered, and quiet. She had a very tattered past, and each time you raised your voice, even in excitement she would cower on the floor. I would often have to lay with her to calm her down.
Just few short months after Luka and I were united, we embarked on an amazing journey which would solidify our companionship, and bond us together for life. We both hiked the entire Bruce Trail from end-to-end from June to October, 2009. We spend each day and night together, braved some severe storms, constant rain, and cold. It was the best experience we ever had.
During one section of the trail in Jordan, Ontario I thought I had lost her. I called and called, and she did not come to me. I ran back along the trail to see that Luka had slipped into a crevasse, and was being held there by her backpack. Suspended. I pulled her out and we continued on my way.
Luka had the opportunity to travel quite a bit in Ontario, Canada and loved to go for canoe paddles, and long hikes. She even had her own backpack which she carried water in. During hot days, I would refrigerate her water bladders, and add ice to them before our hikes. This kept her nice and cool during the hot summer days in Canada.
When Luka and I went to our first Headwaters Primitive Skills Gathering, she would sit in front of random people who were eating, and do her best to mooch off them. People were always caught up in her stunning colours and beauty, and would always surrender their food to her. She then spent the rest of the weekend travelling around with the other dogs in a pack. Once I saw her disappear into the distance for a couple of hours. I was quite worried about her. When she returned she was muddy, smelly, and covered in burrs. I’m sure she had the time of her life.
Upon our return to civilisation from hiking the Bruce Trail, Luka became part of a very prestigious organisation known as St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs Division. She had her very own identification card, and bandana which identified her as a working dog. Luka made over 150 visits and received several commendations for her service work. She was invited to barbecues, attended parades, and touched the lives of many people. I was so proud of her.
There was one lady who was pronounced catatonic. She would not move, talk, eat, or do anything in her room. When Luka visited her, she would come alive like a teenager. She would tell Luka stories, hug and kiss her, and act like nothing was wrong. When Luka left the room, the lady would return to her catatonic state.
One summer I had a job working as the co-ordinator for a camp. Part of my contract stipulated that Luka would be coming with me to the camp. She was not well, and I needed to spend as much time as I could with her. The cooking staff loved Luka and I would often find Luka sitting beside an empty plate with a wagging tail when I went to visit her.
It didn’t take long before Luka found out where the “silver box” was (which was brown in my cabin) and would stand pointing towards it each evening after I had finished work until I gave her a treat from it. Usually some of the vast amounts of wasted food leftover from the kitchen.
Over time, her tattered past caught up with her, and she began to develop severe hip, bone, and joint problems. This ended her career as a Therapy Dog, and she was housebound for over a year, not being able to properly walk. She developed a severe fat pocket on her chest, and tumours in her nose which caused her to start bleeding uncontrollably. We tried various therapies including hydrotherapy to help her hips. Nothing seemed to work.
On the evening of July 25th, 2014 I held Luka in my arms as she took her last breath. She was a beautiful, gentle dog who touched many peoples lives. Luka will be dearly missed by many people.