framed portrait of shadow

In Memory of Shadow

Nickname: The BUTTHEAD, Sha-bo, Froggie, Fergis, anything!
AKC Registered Name: O'Mal's Moon Shadow
" 85 lbs.

5-2-1994 - 5-31-2007

Shadow was our "butthead" (meant affectionately). Shadow would have been an awesome showdog had we not placed him with the wrong people. He was such a confident and loving puppy. Unfortunately the people that took him home didn't socialize him properly and he was encouraged to be protective and allowed to be pushy and demanding. He was taken back by us but had severe aggression problems with adult strangers. He protected us from uniformed delivery men and was pushy, demanding and protective. On the day he died - though he couldn't see the cable guy - he could smell him and mustered his last ounce of courage to get his front feet under him so he could give him "what for". We've had him 13 years and he was finally beginning to trust. We rarely saw that "look" in his eyes anymore, but probably will never again trust him with strangers. Though as he got older and couldn't see and hear all that well, he used smell to judge whether someone was ok or not. He gave us a few scares when he decided the UPS guy delivered a package and petted him was OK. He's the reason we are very particular about homes and use a detailed contract. We don't want another puppy ruined!

In spite of his problems, he was a charmer and ADORED kids and puppies - just don't put the puppies on the floor so they can nip his feet! He loves puppies when you hold them for him to check out and he is very gentle about it. He is less patient when they are running around. He tolerated Stephanies hamster and rabbits. In the end, when he was in our front hallway "nursing home" he made friends with Riggs, Mula and Jazzy - so had a pack. Something every Malamute should have! Riggs would sit and talk with him for hours, just like he used to do with Homer - though I doubt he was getting wisdom from the Butthead! No doubt he was learning the fine art of thievery and getting your way!

He is so affectionate and enthusiastic with our family - a side no one but us ever sees. He can be unreliable and sometimes dangerous around many adults, but with little kids he's mush. He would leap tall buildings for Stephanie. An opportunistic rummager, he's always looking for something to do or steal. One day it was a roll of toilet paper - so we had to trade a cookie to get it back, the next it was something else. He doesn't like to sit near you, he'd rather sit ON you to be close. He has such heart and enthusiasm for EVERYTHING. All that energy is hard to live with too. Even when he could no longer stand on his own, if you propped up his rear he would motor around the yard at light speed - albeit stiffly. As a young guy, he would steal food, get in the garbage, pilfer toys and provoke fights with the other dogs. I always said when he got old, he'll be a great dog - and he was, though he always let you know when he wanted something - barking and screaming loud and nonstop - and wouldn't let up until he got it or I threatened him with a spray of Windex. Windex was the ONLY thing that ever worked - and I tried everything except a pinch or shock collar - I tried vinegar, water, ammonia, you name it!

He'd fetch a tennis ball for hours with Stephanie, then guard and eat the ball afterwards. He also screams and barks loud, and even honks like a goose, but rarely howls unless we are leaving. He used to have intense separation anxiety and those howls would break your heart - they were so mournful and sad.

He LOVED car rides and would drag you hanging on for dear life to get to the vehicle, then will rummage every crumb from every corner, after which he will sit quietly and look out the window intensely trying to absorb every sight and sound as we drive. The intensity with which he would try and absorb every sight and sound was amazing. When we parked he became "Super Guard Dog" scaring the life out of anyone that walks by without a child in tow (if they have children he will just watch quietly!). Of all our dogs, he had the most "heart". He would pull a sled to the ends of the earth, with enthusiasm, or die trying. If I were in the arctic, dependent on sled dogs for my survival, I'd want Shadow there! Shadow is an alpha-dog wanna-be and will test your patience to the limit when he is bored (which is often!). He is a thinker and you can see the gears turning as he tries to figure out a new angle to get what he wants. He outsmarted 3 homes and sometimes it's a challenge because you must ALWAYS be one step ahead of him!

At home he was calm, sweet and loving (except when he wanted to do something, then he protested loudly and you would get NO peace until you appeased him!). He stole stuffed animals from Stephanie's bed to snuggle with, but handed them over when discovered because he knew they weren't his. He also likes to steal toilet paper, paper towels and just about anything that isn't nailed down (in the hopes you'll trade it for something good like a rawhide or malt ball - he LOVES malt balls - and though normally I wouldn't recommend chocolate for a dog, Shadow has eaten a whole pan of triple chocolate brownies with no ill effects so our thoughts are a couple of malt balls is no big deal if it gains us cooperation when we need it!). He tolerated bear hugs, silly dress-up clothes, being called my dog "froggy" and "fergus" when she was little and all the other indignities little girls foster on their favorite pets with patience and enthusiasm - loving every minute of it! When she went to college, he missed her badly, and I suddenly got a bigger piece of his heart, though nothing could replace Stephanie.

pupShadow update 5-31-07: Shadow went to the rainbow bridge today. Steph had a real hard time with it because he hid his pain so well. He fought to hold on to the last second trying to nail the vet while Dan held him and Steph and I were there for him.

He moved back in the house last fall when it started getting cold. We made a "doggie nursing home" area in our vestibule for him surrounded by a baby gate. He begrudgingly agreed to come in once the weather changed to cold. He was losing control of his rear (neurological) so needed to be inside. Once he realized we weren't going to let him have his private apartment in the garage anymore, he was ok with it. Things stabilized...we helped him go outside, he hung out inside, it worked. He even had a new pack and once he realized they liked him and weren't going to hurt him, he enjoyed their company. He enjoyed a nice winter inside with me while I worked.

I was helping him up and outside many times a day. I would tell him "get your sea-legs" and he'd make the effort to plant his back legs so that he would have balance. Then would stiffly almost RUN around the yard - peeing as he walked. Not the most dignified thing, but he was OK with it - he could still check out Dan's car tires to see where he'd been, and water the trees to keep the neighbor dog out of our front yard (his job - all Malamutes need a job). He would spend long afternoons under his shade umbrella in the grass (see photo) just enjoying the springtime and the smells in the air (since his vision and hearing were failing). He no longer had hair on his tail, neck and sides - it was worn off from picking him up so much and the stress of a recurring bladder infections, he helped fix by drinking tons of cranberry juice. I was told dogs won't drink cranberry juice - they don't like it - but he did - or he knew it helped. He would even ask for it. So he would drink 2-3 gallons a day (and of course needed to go out afterwards) and you could tell it made him feel better. I work at home so I was able to help him in and out as much as necessary - and his life wasn't so bad. He even had a pack - Riggs, Mula, Jazzy loved to hang around with him and he would even give them kisses! He had a little baby-gate fenced off area in our vestibule so he could watch me work, watch them do their thing, and just be nearby. The vestibule feels so empty now. I put rubber-backed rugs on the tile so he could keep his balance and they were washable since he had pooping accidents when he slept. He wasn't ready - and neither were we. But when he started really going downhill, and began to bark all night long because he didn't want to be alone I knew he was starting to be in pain. His eyes squinted. He stopped helping me help him stand. It was time....Goodbye Shadow - I will miss your demanding bark, your give me attention "honk", your strong will and your cuddly head were one special guy. I never believed this day would ever come - you seemed so invincible - I felt you could go on forever - and that's what makes it so incredibly hard.

Shadow update 12-20-06: I always said when he got old he'd be a great guy - he is. Though it scares me when he does this, he likes to greet the UPS guy or the FedEx guy and get cookies. I'll come out of the house (forgetting he was on his cable) and will tell the UPS guy - don't pet the dog, he may get nasty - and the UPS guy tells me - "I already gave him a cookie and petted him- he was just fine". Shadow, you are losing your evil ways! He has mellowed so much this past year, he is almost EASY to live with. On his own he decided he wanted to live in the garage. I wasn't so crazy about it, but he barked for 3 days straight NON-STOP until I got the point. When I tried to bring him back in, he again barked for 3 more days nonstop. It's what HE wanted! He's been happy there since. He has his own outside door and likes when we open the big door and he can hang out on the 100 ft. cable out front (greeting the UPS guys he once liked to terrorize). He thinks he has his own apartment! We weren't happy about such an old guy being in such a cold place so I dug up the kids' playpen to keep him off the floor. With one side removed, it works great. He still can hop up into it easily and it gets him off the floor. We put the puppy warming pad in it to keep him toasty. I think he likes the freedom living in his "apartment" offers so he can go out when he needs to. He has the "walking poops" now, and his eyesight and hearing are starting to fade so I think he's a little scared of being around the other dogs - though he does like Riggs, Jazzy and Mula through a fence. Once we accidentally let them into his yard, and they just visited. Everyone got along just fine. But he gets very nervous if I make him come in the house for anything. He had a spa day today - bath, brush and nail clip and ear cleaning and you could see him smile! He really enjoyed that Steph was home from college and gave him her special attention. He no longer wants to go for car rides and rawhides sit in his playpen until he finally gets around to chewing on them a little - no rush and no guarding food anymore! He's the last of his litter now, we've lost Tova, Harley and Star so we savor the time we have left. We am SO glad we didn't listen to all the naysayers telling us "put him down" - we would have missed so much! Of all our dogs, he has had the most impact on our lives - and we have learned the most from him... and gee, he IS a sweet mellow old guy now that he's 11!

Read more about Shadow in the 1998 Alaskan Malamute Annual article "Nature or Nurture?"

Shadow's Album

Big hugIf I just chew open this cap...Penny and her young son shadowSteph gives Shadow a big hug6 months oldshred the toyAnd?...puppy faceI'd like my bath now please?Crash helmet shadowI love you Stephanie! big hug under the afganSleepy boywooooooooooopupGettin' oldWho ME?