Just over a year ago we adopted two wonderful Malamute sisters, Smokey & Bandit. They were about 9 at the time. At first they didn’t know what to make of their new home… but we went out of our way to let them know they could count on us to take good care of them, and that we would never abandon them. Soon they became very attached to us, and we to them.
As a way of making them feel relaxed and loved I sometimes give them tummy rubs. Who doesn’t love a tummy rub??? It took Bandit a bit longer to trust this process (she does now), but very quickly Smokey learned to roll over flat on her back, front paws drooping on her chest, back legs spread eagle. I gently stroke her nearly bare belly… her head falls back… eyes slowly close… and she drifts into a state of totally relaxed bliss. We do this several times a week.
Last September I was giving Smokey a tummy rub, and noticed a lump. This was new, and didn’t feel to me like it belonged there. We took her to our Vet to have it checked out. After several tests we discovered, much to our dismay… it was lymphoma. Malamutes have an average life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. Since Smokey was already nearing 10, it didn’t make sense to us to subject her to surgery and chemotherapy. Our objective was to help her live comfortably and happily right to the end.
Around the same time that we discovered the lump, we also notice her appetite and energy seriously decline. By the time we had the test results she was practically on her death bed. Knowing comfort and happiness was our objective for Smokey, our Vet prescribed prednisone (a steroid). He told us this would likely mitigate the symptoms for a while, but there was no way to predict how long it would be effective… perhaps a few weeks, maybe more, maybe less. We decided to go forward with the prednisone… within a few days Smokey was active, energetic, ravenous, full of life… and miraculously, the lumps were gone… or at least not nearly as obvious as they had been.
She made it to Christmas… then the anniversary of her adoption… and just this past week we took the girls to eastern Washington… to snow country… They loved it! Every time we went for a walk Bandit would find a fresh pile of fluffy snow… lay down on her back in it… and thrash about making Malamute snow angels… it was hysterical… Smokey moved gleefully down the trails with a kind of prance in her step… It brought us so much joy to see these girls having this kind of fun.
Yesterday (Jan 24) this changed very suddenly. Early in the day Smokey had been prancing energetically down a snow trail… then shortly after her evening meal she was coughing, choking, drooling, having difficulty breathing, and clearly in great distress. We did our best to comfort her through the night… the prednisone miracle had worn out. The lymph inflammation had come back with a vengeance… pretty much throughout her entire body… she was in terrible pain… So this morning (Jan 25), with great sorrow, we said good bye to our dear Smokey girl. Now, Smokey is moving on to another place… with a prance in her step…
You are quite a talker, girl. I so appreciate all the things you had to say... your friendly greetings to any and all… your subtle words reminding me that it was past time to fix your dinner… your gentle yet firm warnings to Bandy… “Don’t even think about touching that toy!” Your seemingly nonsensical and playful woooooos… all filled with lots of Malamute wisdom.
You gave us so much… trust, loyalty, affection… Oh, your sweet kisses… at first so rare, but when given… so precious, so genuinely loving… We have been so blessed have you in our lives! We only wish there could have been more time with you. We were very sad to say goodbye to you today… but we had to free you from your pain…
Bandy is kinda confused and sad because you are not around to guide her and comfort her. She knew you were in trouble, because she stayed with you through the night when you were in so much pain… but know this, sweet Smokey… We will take good care of your sister… We will love her just the way we love you and we will always remember you.
Rest in Peace Dear Smokey Girl Your Whidbey People, Mal & Mallerina