Lessons From Harley
Harley was my first Siberian Huskey. I got her from a military family that had too many dogs for base housing and she was the one chosen to go. They were the ones that named her “Harley” even through the husband didn’t ride. Later, the couple split up and the wife, Kimber became a close friend of my wife and me.
Harley loved the “Bark Park”. Whenever we took her there she seemed to appoint herself as the official gate greeter. Whenever a new dog came to the gate, she had to go and meet them. No matter how many dogs were already there, she would rush to the gate and be the first to “greet” the newcomer.
Most of the time at the park, she would spend it running, God I loved to watch that animal run. Julie often said she looked like a big bunny rabbit hoping. But when she really turned on the speed, it was beauty in motion. She could cover ground at an incredible rate. There was sheer joy on her face. God I loved to watch her run.
Her kennel was in the front yard, right outside our bedroom window. There was a slanted tree where she could put her front paws and look into the bedroom window. Sometimes it looked like she was in a tree, so I called her my “Hawaiian tree wolf”.
She’d wake me up in the mornings and woof at the window until I’d get up and we went for our morning walk.
Taking Harley to Obedience School was an education for both of us. Mostly me, learning a great deal of patience. At the time I didn’t know if it was a Husky thing or not, but the only way to get her to follow commands was to convince her it was her idea. With Harley, there were good days and bad days.
I cannot express how full of pride my heart would get when I would say “heel” and there she was, right by my left leg, those huge brown eyes looking up at me. She would be in the perfect spot, and keeping perfect pace. I would look at that beautiful face and she would find something on the ground she just had to smell and so she would. So much for the perfect position. But those brief moments made it worth every day we spent together in those classes.
I would work with her every morning on our early walks’ she would just be perfect. We’d get to class and she’d be a handful.
She had “sit” and “heel” down perfect. The “down” was occasionally right, but the concept of “stay” was completely out of her mind set. She could sit for a few moments, not minutes, and as soon as she heard her name it was “jump on Daddy” time. So she would.
Some people will tell you that animals don’t make friends out of their species, and they continue believing this despite all the animal friend videos all over you-tube.
Harley’s other specie friend was a little gray field mouse that lived under the house. I watched her and that mouse just sitting and looking at each other, and I’d seen Harley give out a little soft woof now and then. I even swear I saw them playing peek-a-boo along the fence.
Huskies are known to be food thieves, they’ll eat until they throw up, and then eat some more. So it was a huge surprise when I saw the mouse eating kibble out of her bowl, and she just sat or laid there watching.
Harley had a pet mouse.
The night Harley died in my arms is so painful it still hurts today. I was holding her in my arms when I literally felt the last breath of life leave her body. I was a wreck for a long time.
Finally, after 3 or 4 days I sat down inside her kennel. Don’t know why, just felt like sitting there. I looked into her house, and there, sitting on the edge of the empty food bowl, was Harley’s mouse.
I stood slowly, walked over to the food bin, took out a handful of kibble, and walked back to the entry of her house.
The mouse had moved back a couple of feet but didn’t run away. I slowly poured the food from my hand into the bowl, and went back to where I had been sitting.
The mouse waited a little while, then slowly made its way over to the bowl. Sitting on the edge, the mouse looked at me, the empty dog house, and the food in the bowl.
As the mouse started to nibble at the dry dog food, seemingly looking up at me every other mouthful, all I could think of was to say; “I miss her too.” And I walked back into the house with tears in my eyes.
Harley’s mouse finished its meal and ran off.
We moved to another home.
I’m glad I put that food in the bowl. A last gift from Harley, the dog that gave me so much.