My man’s best friend

My husband, Ginger is not an early riser. In fact, when he gets up, Nutmeg (me) has usually finished working out, washed his clothes, and gone to the grocery store. To be very clear, there are two things you will get up early for; alpine skiing (never cross country) and flying. Yesterday, I started with an early morning phone call to say that Skoki, our 14.5-year-old black lab, was not doing well. Ginger jumped out of bed and tried to set a land speed record by driving to Canmore to see her dog. He wasn’t feeling well, although a visit to the vet seemed to lift his energy a bit, it wasn’t for long.

Our black Labrador Retriever, Skoki, was born in Leduc, outside Edmonton. Ginger convinced Nutmeg to go for a ride on a snowy Saturday 14 years ago. Nutmeg was pretty sure of two things; you don’t drive to Edmonton “just for fun” and no sane dog lover is going to “just watch” puppies. The long and the short, naturally, was that Skoki made the trip back south on Highway Two to Calgary. It started in the back seat of our car, which lasted about 5 minutes, before starting to cry. Nutmeg quickly succumbed to maternal pressure and Skoki sat in the front seat on Nutmeg’s lap for the remainder of the trip to her new home, and was quite proud of herself for scoring the first point in our long relationship.

From the beginning, Skoki was what one might describe as a bit stubborn. In the early days, walks were determined by the will of an energetic little creature, which was quite clear that it did not want to walk on an icy sidewalk. This was a selective hearing dog from day one. However, if food was involved and then she had excellent ears. Over the years, Skoki was a faithful companion for dog walking, running, and mountain hiking. Above all, he loved people, although he was very careful in conveying his affection.

Ginger has been absent from school for the past 10 months and came home only two weeks ago. Skoki was on guard the entire time, making sure her lover (Nutmeg), her dog companion (Jade), and the house were safe and sound. He knew that his time was short and that his teacher was now home forever, he knew because the piles of his things had started to accumulate. In her own special way, Skoki said goodbye to her best friends yesterday. Earlier this morning, it was clear that he was not going to regain his strength or his lovely sperm. Nutmeg took her for a ride to see the views of the mountains in Canmore and then said goodbye for good. We will miss our good friend, but we know that she is somewhere nearby, pretending to ignore us.

Animals are wonderful beings. They are cunning, sensitive, carefree, and individual. It is amazing and wonderful how pets can truly become trusted family members and companions. For more than 14 years, our relationship with Skoki went from one of wonder and joy at the antics of the puppies, to deep respect and love for each other. Every morning it was clear to him that he had missed us and had kept an eye on us the night before. My husband was not lucky enough to grow up with dogs. His family had cats, which are undoubtedly unique personalities, although they are often individuals first and foremost. Skoki was a Labrador with personality, an independent streak and a reserved love for her master, she was truly my husband’s best friend. She will be missed.

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