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Finding and bringing home Whiskey

Posted on by Eric Burke

This is not a post about bourbon. It is a post about Whiskey, but not necessarily how you think.

In February, my last remaining dog, Akira (a purebred Siberian Husky) succumbed to a rapidly advancing cancer. This was particularly hard on our family since cancer is a tough subject for us after my wife was diagnosed last year. My wife is fine, she is cancer free, but she holds a grudge against cancer. It took a lot from her. And seeing it take the pup we had raised and then lived with for almost 15 years was hard. So hard that we couldn't bring ourselves to get another right away. 

Last week we both agreed that the time had come, the house was too empty. Monday night, we looked on PetFinder.com for a dog. We didn't want a puppy. We aren't able to come home to let it out during the day so we needed one that was able to hold urine all day. And besides, if I could rescue one that was unwanted, I knew that I'd be helping that dog a lot more that I would if I had gone to one of those puppy-mill stores. Win-win right?

So I found a local rescue that had a bunch of dogs. I filled out the application. Sent it in. Got an email back. Things were looking up. I'd made an appointment to see a Newfoundland mix for Friday. Thursday night, for many reasons I won't get into here, I was starting to get some strange vibes from the rescue. We decided to do a little google searching and found horrible reviews. Not just one, but repeated over and over. It was tough to overlook. Accusations of misrepresenting the health, training and age of the dogs in question. We emailed the lady who ran it and got no real good response. It was heart-breaking for us. We'd already gotten attached to the one we had made the appointment for. Based soley on the photo and the email conversation from the foster. But now, how could we even believe that the dog we wanted even existed? 

I knew that I would be unable to say no, even if it was on it's last leg. But I also knew I was still talking to Akira's ashes every day. I couldn't say good bye to another dog this quickly. I reluctantly backed out of the appointment. I felt terrible. That foster could have been totally truthful. The dog might have been young, healthy and perfectly trained just like they said. Or it could be a giant, old dog with mental and health issues that I would be unprepared for. I just couldn't take the risk. 

So after backing out, I was still extremely interested in getting a dog. Like, right now please. I still wanted a rescue for all the reasons I originally stated. Maybe a couple years old. Young enough to be with us a while, but old enough that it might have a shot at being at least partially trained. So I decided that while maybe a foster/rescue situation wasn't going to work for us, we had rescued our other dog Ollie from our local Humane Society (adopted in 1999, he was officially a Husky/Malamute mix though the vet and HS workers suspected there was a little wolf tossed into the mix as well). I googled Humane Societies in Minnesota and found one right near where I work. Lots of dogs. Available for adoption. Right away. 

I had originally planned to avoid more Huskies. I enjoyed the breed and knew their quirks, but was afraid that I would automatically expect them to act like Ollie and Akira did. That wouldn't be fair to the new dog. By using the filters on the site to find ones that had lived with kids and other dogs, I realized that there was an all-white husky there. After looking further, I realized there were three huskies or husky-mixes. One looked a lot like my Akira, nope. But the pure white could be an option, she didn't look that much like them and there was also one that was mixed with border collie. She had the sweetest liquid eyes in the photo. One of these two would be my dog. I was pretty sure. 

My wife: not so much. It wasn't that she was anti-those dogs, but she is more pragmatic and less impulsive. She had her doubts about those two and wanted to make sure that I looked at all the dogs. There were 48 or so to look at over the age of one. 

So we went. I looked at the liquid eyes one first as she was near the door. Amaretto was what they were calling her. She seemed ok, but kind of hung back in the kennel. I moved on as I really wanted to also see Freya, the all white one. Freya was a bit stand-offish. Sure, she smelled my hand. But then she circled a few times and laid down with her back to me. Clearly she had lost interest.

In the mean time, my wife was having a very different experience. She and another couple had stopped in front off Amaretto's kennel. When my wife was there, Amaretto had come running up to the door. When she stepped back to also let the other couple see, Amarretto ran back and looked past them to where my wife was standing. They got the hint and moved on and my wife came back up to her. Amaretto reached through the door with her paw and grabbed my wife's arm. Clearly this dog was not letting her go. By this point I had come back up and we decided to go with Amaretto into an isolation room where we could get to know one another. Once there she clumsily dove headfirst into my wife's coat. Then after she extricated herself from that she proceeded to kiss her on every exposed piece of skin she could find. Then noticed there was another person there (me) and proceeded to do the same. Sadly Amaretto, while about a year old, was clearly still a puppy. But after a very brief discussion (with all those lunging kisses it would have been hard to have a long one) we decided we needed to take her home anyway. 

We filled out the paperwork, they did a real quick background check (I assume so, at least since she asked for my ID), we paid her adoption fee and walked to the van with her. We tried using the name they had given her, but she didn't answer to it. She didn't want it. As my wife was driving home, she tried different names, none seemed to fit until she said: "if you're going to be named after a liquor, it really should be Whiskey." At that the dog, formerly known an Amaretto, got up and licked her face. She approved, it seemed. 

So now we have a dog again. She is the sweetest thing, those liquid eyes are still there. She isn't house trained, but after living with us all weekend she hasn't had a single accident. She can hold it forever it seems, but hasn't realized that if she wants to go out before forever, she should tell us. Luckily, she spends most of her time practically attached to us so we can sort of tell if she has to go. And more good news, I looked at the Humane society website this morning. Half of the dogs that I looked at on Thursday night are gone. It seems that this was meant to be.

I have spent a lot of time over the last few years trying to find various whiskies. This time, Whiskey chose us and I couldn't be happier.

Eric and Whiskey conversing over Saturday morning coffee.