March 16, 2013
7 of 65
From late 1974 until 1990, our family dogs were Tasha and then Tasha and Suzy and then just Tasha again. After Suzy’s death and while Tasha was showing her age, we were privileged to take in a new puppy. My brother Lonny’s dog was a purebred Siberian Husky and she was pregnant. The father was also a purebred Siberian, so the puppies were beautiful Siberian Huskies. Suzanne was four years old and Michael was six, so this would be the first dog that was really their dog. I believe that Tasha thought we would all be well taken care of by the new kid, so she chose to move on to her next life just before the puppy was ready to leave its mother.
When we got the puppy, the task of giving it a name fell on Michael and Suzanne. The name they came up with was Emily. That name did not quite fit her, though, and within a few days the name became Emmy. Since she was a purebred, we registered her with the American Kennel Club. Emmy is the name shown in the AKC records.
We were living in Wheat Ridge at the time and Emmy’s early puppyhood was complicated by a neighborhood cat whose name was Kitty. Suzanne has always had a way with animals, even as a small child. She befriended Kitty to the extent that the cat decided to move into the back of our garage to have a litter of kittens. Being a small, curious puppy, Emmy wanted to investigate what was happening in the garage; but Kitty did not want any kind of dog near her babies. There were a few tense situations until Kitty as able to return to her home. Emmy did not like cats, or anything that reminded her of cats, for the rest of her life; though she did live with cats for several years.
She was both stubborn and playful and as soon as she was old enough we enrolled her in an obedience class. She passed with honors in everything except “heel.” She always wanted to be the lead dog. I failed the class, however – but that is a story for another time.
During her first years, Emmy had a large backyard in which to play and we took her on walks around the neighborhood each day. One particularly memorable walk occurred when she was perhaps five months old and was walking with Michael (who was still six) and me. As we walked down the sidewalk, a Doberman suddenly bolted from a yard across the street and ran directly at the puppy. As soon as it came within an arm’s length of me, I dropped Emmy’s leash, grabbed the Doberman’s spiked collar with my left hand and cocked my right fist ready to strike if the dog tried to move in any way. At the same time, the Doberman’s owner yelled its name and then yelled at me, “You’d better let go of that dog if you know what’s good for you!” I didn’t move and the Doberman didn’t move. Within a few seconds the dog owner had crossed the street so I let go. He kicked his dog in the side and said, “Get home!” I told him that if I ever saw his dog loose again, I would call the police. I never again saw it out of its yard. Michael and Emmy were frightened, but they both got over it. They grew very close to each other and you could see that she was very much Michael’s dog.
In 1993 we moved to the mountains. Our house was on five acres Northwest of Idaho Springs and was isolated. While there were a few other privately owned tracts, the area was mostly hundreds of acres of National Forest. Emmy loved it. She was no longer fenced in. Our most serious dog problem became that the local animals looking most like cats were skunks and porcupines. She would tangle with those much too frequently, and the results were predictable. We became proficient – though not happy that we had the skills – at shampooing out skunk odors and removing porcupine quills. A coyote also lived in the area and Emmy would chase it away whenever she saw it near our house. The coyote never resisted, so there was never a problem.
A brown bear lived nearby and would sometimes wander close to the house. Emmy was terrified of the bear, and rightly so. Whenever the bear was in the neighborhood she insisted on being in the house and literally shook with fear. We rarely saw the bear. It was most often seen near our neighbors’ house. Still, Emmy’s behavior always let us know of its presence. When it was near, we would stay inside and make sure the children did not go out. The bear once came onto our front deck to investigate a hummingbird feeder. As soon as it left, we permanently removed the feeder. We missed seeing the hummingbirds, but we were not going to invite the bear back.
In 2005 we moved from the mountains back to the Arvada area. Emmy was no longer a young dog. Though she adapted to the change, she sorely missed her mountains. The next year she turned 16, and I believe she wanted to get her driver’s license since she was living in a more “civilized” area. She couldn’t, of course. She wasn’t allowed to drive and was becoming too feeble to walk much. Our 1-2 mile walks were cut to ¾ of a mile and then to ½ mile. Finally, she could barely make it to the back yard. Michael and Suzanne had gone off to college by this time and were not really aware that Emmy’s days were numbered. Suzanne was around more frequently than Michael. One weekend when Michael had come home, Emmy made a tremendous effort to greet him to say hello – and goodbye. After that effort, she lay down and we could not get her to move. We lifted her into the car and took her to the vet. Nothing could be done for her. The only humane thing was to euthanize her. She was ready to go and passed peacefully.
I missed her terribly. We all did. I haven’t mentioned it here – because it’s another story – but we also had a beloved cat named Nancy who had passed on a few months earlier. Both of those losses in a short time were difficult for the whole family. I felt so bad that I did not know if I would ever get another dog.