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Front Line...Malamute Tales

 

Visual story...Malamutes are devious...they know they aren't supposed to dig...so they do this:

 

I was working on the webpage, the Malamute sounds page. Homer was lying by my feet just hanging out when I happened to play Penny's uniquely squeeky "talking" voice. He looked up - jumped up instantly (really fast for the old guy) - as if to say "I hear Penny! Where is she? Let's go see her right now!!! I'm ready to go". It was so cute and sweet but also so sad. He obviously misses her very much! Which of course got ME crying and missing her too - but the look on his face - so HAPPY to hear her voice again - and so ready to do ANYTHING to see her again - was so precious. Don't ever tell me dogs aren't creatures of emotion and don't feel love like we do - they love very deeply.  That was love in his eyes - and pain when he realized it was just a recording - he misses her more than we ever imagined.

"E" is too smart for her own good....On Tuesday I was doing the vacuuming and for some reason I kept running out of cord and the vacuuming would stop. I would change plugs and continue.... at least that is what I thought was happening. The dogs were minding their own business trying to stay away from the loud thing...Well as I was on the last area to be vacuumed, in full view of the cord... the vacuum stopped again...I looked just in time to see little miss innocent pulling the cord out of the wall! She gave me this look as if to say "Enough cleaning, the dog needs quiet for her mid morning nap!" Apparently, every time the cord was pulled out she would lay back down in the kitchen and pretend to be fast asleep. I should have known. The vacuum cord is long enough that you can do the whole house with out unplugging...by Heather Schroeder (owner of "E", Henry and Jake - all Alaskan Malamutes)

I don't know how many times I've run through the house calling for one of the dogs, looking everywhere, only to find they're curled up sound asleep somewhere and ignoring me. Only once was it ever legitimate. We'd searched the house through and through several times for Penny - calling, looking in every possible spot. In the yard, then finally the neighborhood. Desperate, I ask Homer to "find Penny" and he looks at me like I'm crazy. After 2 hours of scouring the countryside I return home frustrated and very upset and wondering what to do next. Mostly, however, wondering HOW she got out and why we couldn't even find footprints in the snow. Colleen casually remarks that she occasionally hears a funny noise coming from the basement - a kind of "thumping". We go down there. There's Penny - STUCK - between the furnace and the wall - it was her tail thumping the furnace. She'd walked in looking for a "cave" and got stuck! It was too tight to turn around and because there was something behind she couldn't back up. So, being Penny, she just stood there and waited - she wasn't upset - she knew we'd eventually find her so she just waited patiently. The thumping was her wagging tail when someone got nearby. Otherwise she was just standing there waiting quietly.

Shadow is a world-class rummager. He can find and shred old fast food food wrappers in the van even after it's been meticulously cleaned. One evening after dark, we returned from shopping to find that he'd removed a flashlight from the storage bin, turned it on and left it shining under the seat. Do you think he was looking for those hard to find wrappers?

 And, today's score is-----------Koani = 1 and possum = 0
by Diana Goodrich...
I was sitting in the den last night working on the computer and the (doggy) kids were going in and out of the doggy door. Then they finally came in and both were settled down with a rawhide braid. Then I heard Hunter (the Golden Retriever) jump up and smash through the door and went running outside barking - and the baby (Koani) was close behind. I heard something on the fence and neither one of them ever jump up on the fence. Then I heard Koani with a deep, rumbling growl and bark. I knew it was a serious one so I went tearing off and outside. I could see the shine of the eyes and thought she had a cat cornered or something. But her throaty bark/growl was telling me different - besides, she kinda likes cats - or tries to. Grabbed the flashlight and went back out and she had a possum that she was having a stand off with. Hunter was on the other side of the tree barking his head off at it and I yelled at her to "come" and she started to. Just as she turned to come toward me, it started to move towards Hunter and that was it's last move. She saw it out of the corner of her eye and turned back as it headed for the fence and started to come up it and she ripped it off the fence and shook it to death. Man, was it fast! I told her to "drop it" and she sort of hurled it to the ground from her mouth as if to say "don't mess with me sucker". And, that was that. She is sooooooo protective of Hunter. We were both freaking out because we were worried about the possibility that the possum might have bitten or scratched her in the stand off. They can be really nasty and have ferocious teeth and claws. But, we checked her out real well and no sign of the possum even having nicked her. She is so damn agile and fast it is amazing. I called her vet this morning to ask if there was any danger and he said no as long as there were no signs of it having drawn blood on her. So I checked her again REAL thoroughly and no sign of anything - thank heavens.

What a DAY! or How the Butthead got his name...I took Homer grocery shopping with me since he loves to go. Recently, because of his age, he's become stool incontinent, and unfortunately had an accident in the van. But that was nothing! As we returned Dan pulled up behind me in the driveway (he works outdoors and had gotten rained out so was home early). GOOD THING. As we walk in we notice Holly has managed to eat an ENTIRE unopened box of vanilla wafers that fell off the top of the refrigerator. Again, nothing too unusual for a Malamute. As I pick up the box, we notice a funny sound (everyone is howling their hello's so it was hard to hear) coming from the vicinity of Shadow's crate. It was a "help" cry. He had somehow managed to wedge his canines in the bars of the crate sideways with his mouth spread wide open and he couldn't get them out! He was so tightly wedged in there I am amazed he didn't break a tooth or jaw! Dan ran to get some heavy duty pliars and had to CUT a bar of the crate to get him out ( his crate is a very HEAVY gauge). However, being "THE Butthead", he's no worse for wear and is chewing up a rawhide right now to relieve his stress. I'm so glad we got home at the same time as I know there is no way I would have had the strength to cut the bar and release him. Meanwhile, Hoover was downstairs moving his pan and crate across the room because he is "in love" with Holly. (see picture) ..What a day and it's only 11:00! There's never a dull moment when you have Malamutes!

Homer is getting up in years (11) and showing his age by having a hard time getting up once he's down, so I was surprised to look out the window and see him sprinting fast through the back yard. Shooting ahead of him is a wild rabbit. Thinking nothing of it since the rabbit had outdistanced him by quite a bit, I went back to what I was doing. Old guys need to have a little excitement too. A little later I looked outside and saw Homer sitting by the back door, looking tired but very satisfied - he got the rabbit. Note to the squeemish reader: Yes he did eat part of it. That's what Malamutes do (though I usually prefer they didn't).

Koani does Rally Obedience, by Diana (her Mom): Sitting around in her crate is not one of Koani's favorite things to do. ... As the judge was giving out scores and ribbons, she said that she wished she had one for "most entertaining comic" - "because it certainly would have gone to the Malamute". Picture this - In the Rally ring there are between 15 and 20 "tasks" (commands) that the dog has to do and about 45 different "tasks" that the judge can select from to make that 15 - 20. They never have the same commands or same patterns for the different classes, so you never know which of the commands you are going to get until right before your class/category goes into the ring. In the ring they lay out the pattern right before each class enters and you get 10 minutes to do a "walk through" to familiarize yourself with the pattern (without your dog).

Positioned throughout the ring are signs that are approximately 8 X10 that are sitting on the floor propped up on a wire frame and numbered. The handler begins at the start line and goes through the pattern in a numeric order and has to give the verbal and/or hand commands for the dog to do whatever that particular sign says -- and then moves on to the next numbered sign with the dog from one sign to the next.

You are allowed to talk, encourage, coax, pat your leg, whistle or whatever to get your dog to heel with you. EXCEPT, you cannot have any food or toys or any kind of "reward" (like a squeaky) in the ring with you. And, you CANNOT touch the dog AT ALL - that is an automatic disqualification. You with me so far??? The signs can be any number of things such as - sit; a combination of sit, then down, then sit again; a 360 degree circle to the right or to the left; a call to the front; backup 3 steps; going over a jump; 90 or 180 degree pivots; slow or fast pace; an about turn; stand for exam; leave your dog, run 10 feet forward and then call to heel; etc. etc. etc. After you perform whatever that particular "station" sign says, you move on to the next with your dog in heel position along the way.

We are on our way from #6 which was a 270 degree turn (a 3/4 turn to the right) and on our way to #7 which says halt, sit, then about turn to the right. Koani starts woooooing as we are exiting #6 and on our way to #7, nibbles at my pant leg, walks right up to the sign for #7, stops, leans down and STARES at the sign for about 5 seconds, with her nose almost touching it, looks up at me, looks down at the sign again and sits (which is what she was supposed to do).

I do an about turn, she does it with me and the whole place cracks up laughing - including the judge. While we were on our way to #8, the judge asked me if Koani was "reading" the sign at station #7. Everybody is laughing, Koani is woooooing her head off and prancing right along and I am sweating to death and about to die.

For the past few weeks at our house we've had a bread shortage. Whenever we'd make a sandwich, it would be gone or just a space or two left. Sometimes the bag would be out and sitting open as if someone was too lazy to put it away. Dad blamed the kids, the kids said we don't eat bread. One evening I went in the kitchen and discovered the culprit. On the floor was a half-puppy-chewed space of bread. Now that didn't make any sense because Riggs was only about a foot tall and couldn't possibly reach the kitchen counter. I looked over at the bread box sitting on the countertop, bag out and open, with half of the loaf gone. The remaining pieces in the bag were undisturbed, the bag wasn't touched, and the puppy wasn't hungary. Then it made sense - Holly had been stealing the bread for her puppy Riggs! That explained why he never seemed too hungary in the evening, and explained the mysterious disappearing bread for the past two months. But the amazing part is how she managed to open the bag, take a few pieces and leave the rest of the loaf intact every evening without anyone suspecting!

Holly's a great Mom - every evening she will roll around on the floor and try and get the puppies to play with their toys in various ways - a game of "keepaway" or "tug" - but sometimes they just seem bored with what she is offering. I began to notice that every so often I would find an item on the kitchen floor or being played with by a puppy that shouldn't be there - a fork, a bottlecap, a plastic cup, a straw. Because the puppies are in our kitchen, we are all very careful about dropped items so it concerned me how they were getting these items. Thinking someone was being careless I would pick the items up and put them away, but the next day something else would be on the floor. Then one day I saw Holly rummaging in the sink to give her puppy what SHE thought was an "educational toy" - the sponge. She knew he was bored with his regular toys, so was offering him something new and different to play with!

Shadow the Psychic Dog...Once again Shadow proved dogs have some sort of psychic ability. Dan's job is such that he can come home at any time of the day - from say 10:00 am to 7:00 pm depending on his work schedule. I rarely know when that will be even within a few hours - but Shadow knows to the minute. If I'm home I see this psychic ability first hand. Almost to the minute - 10 minutes before Dan arrived Shadow sat in the front window with a particular expectant look. It can't be the vehicle - he drives everything from a truck, a van, a car to his Dad's car - it can't be hearing because he would be over 3 miles away, getting off the freeway. It's even happened at the vet. He had a tooth pulled and the vet staff said about 10 minutes before Dan arrived to pick him up, he stopped howling (he had been howling from the moment he awoke from anesthesia) and looked expectant. They were shocked when Dan walked in the door 10 minutes later. Today I was waiting for the mobile vet to arrive to give the dogs their heartworm tests. Shadow had been lounging around the living room, waiting with me, so he knew something was up. And at precisely 2:30 Shadow hopped up in the window to look out (he rarely does unless Dan is on his way), but not like he would look for the vet, but with that same particular expectant look he has when Dan is on his way home. I asked - is Dad coming home? He began to wiggle with excitement and glued himself to the window. Like clockwork, exactly 10 minutes later Dan pulled in the driveway in his truck. Coincidence? It's happened hundreds of times. Is Shadow in tune psychically? I think you could probably say something like that is going on... Do the other Malamutes do this? I've seen it happen with the others, but never as consistently or as accurately as Shadow. He is a VERY special dog!

For a few weeks as a puppy, Riggs was stealing sharp knives from the sink and was carrying them around the kitchen. This was a first, our other puppies had stolen plastic cups or dishes, but not sharp knives! I would find them on the floor or he'd be carrying them around, which made me very nervous he would cut his tongue. One day, he had one in his mouth (holding it by the handle) and I said "give me that" but instead he ran into the crate that sits in our kitchen with Holly inside. Fortunately, Holly was fine. When I talked to Krystn, I soon discovered Moya was doing this too. Then I was reminded by Cathy, someone I work with, who said "Well you DID put him on the page as a soldier you know..."...so THAT explains it!

by Andrea Hobson and Crystal (a good friend and her Malamute): Okay, I have a funny story to tell. Steve has been going into work really early, so Monday was no exception. Later that morning, my son Chris, comes downstairs complaining that Steve turned the television on too loud around 3:30 am. I told him, he must be mistaken, Steve didn't get up for another hour. Chris said perhaps he was mistaken about the time, but not the tv volume! When Steve came home, I asked him why he was watching tv so loudly. He said when he got up, he heard it going and thought someone didn't turn it off. When he went in the family room, there was Crystal, asleep on the couch, with the remote under her paw! Guess she got bored during the night and decided to watch the late show!

A few weeks ago Pod got a new toy I found at a garage sale.   Like a lot of her other toys, it talks.  But the odd thing is what it says and how Pod somehow manipulates it to say certain things based on the situation.  It has gone beyond random sayings.   This toy has a huge vocabulary of things to say:  songs and dances, phrases and words.  But it sure is unnerving when you are behind the partition and the toy says "Peek a boo, I see you" or you give her a treat and she says "I love you" or you start letting all the dogs out (it's not Pod's turn just yet) and it says "It's learning time".  It also says things like "I need a hug" and "Ruff ruff thanks" on queue.  I think she has figured out where to step on it to get it to say what she wants to say.  Dan calls it "Podspeak".  If it wasn't so cute, it'd be creepy! The only time you hear "head-shoulders-knees and toes, or einsy weinsy spider is when she is alone playing by herself. You NEVER hear, "hand" "foot" or "arm" though it says that. We have the Stephen Hawking of the dog world in our back room!

And just so you know Malamutes are the same the world over....visit Chikara's page (Netherlands)....for more great stories!