For Taiga

Fear the Taiga!
Fear the Taiga!

It hasn’t been a good year for canines in my family. Brother Dane lost Beeker last June, and, quite sadly a few days ago, Brother Brandon had to put down our Siberian Husky, Taiga.

There was nothing about this that was unexpected. Taiga had so many health problems that he probably didn’t mind slipping into the great beyond, hopefully to a universe without arthritis, tumors, and pain pills.

I hate to do a rerun, but I need to.

The Power Of The Dog
by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie —
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find — it’s your own affair —
But … you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long —
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Fortunately, the insane animal that lives with me will, God willing, be kicking for quite some time.



In honor of Taiga’s deep love of snow, here is “North to Alaska,” by the great Johnny Horton. It’s the only song I know that mentions huskies.

If I was a husky, I’d be pretty happy that my breed was name-checked in a Johnny Horton song. I hope Taiga feels the same way, as he stares at us mere mortals with his intense look from whatever perch he’s gazing upon us from.

12.January 09

Rest in peace, old friend.

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