I can remember back to the first day I had seen her. My folks sat with the kennel owner, for what had seemed like an eternity, discussing the pros and cons of owning a Siberian Husky, while my brother and I played games with her on the floor behind the chairs. We named her Natasha or Tasha for short. She looked so out of proportion, with her little puppy body, and those big dog paws. I was told that her ancestors were working dogs, or sled dogs as they refer to them. She was black and white and gray. She had one blue eye, and one was brown. She resembled a raccoon, with the rings around her eyes. We would soon find that this was no working dog and, that she was definitely a bandit.
When Tasha first came home, we wanted her to adjust slowly to her new surroundings, and she had to be trained to let us know when she needed to go outside. So the first night that Tasha was with us, my Mother, Brother and myself slept on the kitchen floor in sleeping bags with Tasha. We also had an alarm clock that would tick loudly so Tasha wouldnít feel alone, when we finally let her sleep by herself. We slept on the kitchen floor two nights, and then she was on her own.
When Tasha first made herself at home, in her new home, her favorite place to sleep was my parents' bed. Once in a while she would even situate herself so her head was on the pillows. She was not a working dog at all. The lap of luxury is what she wanted. But then, after all, she was a pedigree. She was so well behaved that she never barked except when we were playing with her. And, the sound that came out of her was not a bark, but a uh, ruh ruh. She would drop down on her front legs, with her backside high in the air, and go uh, ruh ruh.
We had Tasha about a month when we had desided to try leaving her home alone for a few hours in the house. Well, after this experience it was clear that she did not want to be left alone. I can still picture my Motherís face, after we had arrived home to find the slip covers to our living room sofa had been torn apart. All over the floor were pieces of slip covers. The cushions were strewn about as if someone had been doing a police search of the place. And, in the middle of all this, was a puppy. A cute, adorable puppy, with a look like "did I do something wrong?". My father had been working late that night, and my Mom, my Brother and me all worried until my father came through that door, that our little girl was going back to the kennel. Well, I donít have to tell you what happened.
Another one of Tashaís little pranks was to pull the clean laundry, that was waiting in the laundry basket to be folded, out into the living room. She mostly did this when no one was home. When we did come back home, there would always be someoneís underwear in the middle of the living room floor. Of course, if you went to pick it up, she would always get to it first. And so went the game of "catch me if you can". Tasha would immediately run for the dining room, so that she could be on one side of the dining room table, while you were on the other side trying to catch her. She was having her fun, and of course we would play for a while, until we got tired, and then we would cut through underneath, in the middle of the chair legs and grab her. The only time that the whole laundry game was a problem was if you had a guest with you apon entering the house. It was a little embarrasing to have your friends or relatives greeted by a dog with underwear hanging out of itís mouth.
Tasha was a terrible guard dog. The only thing she did right when it came to guarding the house, was if I was home alone with her, she would run to the living room, jump into the chair and look out the window, if she heard something. So, in essence she was doing right by me. But, if someone actually came to the door, and anyone of us opened it, she would wag her tail so hard, just begging to be petted. She was always the center of attention. Even if we were outside walking her, people would stop us to pet her, because they would be intrigued by her different colored eyes.
Tashaís greatest love was the outdoors. Her first sight of snow was during a blizzard. My Brother was going camping with the boy scouts. My family had to drop Arthur off at the base of the hill where the boy scouts were going to have their first overnight in the woods. Tasha came along for the ride, which was not out of the ordinary because she just loved riding in the car. Well, it was snowing pretty hard, and here were all the boys and their Dads trying to help them with their gear. Arthur had brought along his sled to load his gear on, so he could just pull it up the hill. My Dad helped tie the gear on, and there was Tasha, on her leash of course, but she was prancing, and jumping in the snow by my Motherís side. She was loving this weather. Iím not sure who thought of it first, but the idea came to mind to see if Tasha would know what to do, if we attached her leash to the sled. Well, that dog went up that hill so fast, with the sled and my Brother trailing behind her, we were all amazed. But, she retired as a sled dog after that experience.
Camping would be Tashaís favorite thing to do I guess. Since I was a year old my folks took the family camping in Freedom, New Hampshire. Tasha just loved the cool crisp air. She would hold her nose high, as if to get any extra dose she could. The campground that we always went to had several streams running through it. If one of us was walking her, she would run to the stream at first sighting. Tasha was always on a leash, so if she decided she was running for the stream, well, we were too. She would put her big paws in the cold mountain water, and drink and splash, just like a small child.
Tasha was very popular at the campground. We were the only family there with a husky, so folks were always stopping us, when we were walking her. Tasha loved attention. She was very familiar with the shortcuts through the woods, and she would just drag my Father up the hill through the woods. A very strong happy dog. When the walks were over, she would stretch out by the brook that ran beside our campsite, and take a little nap.
For seven wonderful years Tasha brought our family great joy. It was August 11th of 1978. A beautiful sunny day in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This particular weekend, my parents allowed me to bring my friend Ellen up to the camp, so I would have some company. The air was crisp that day. After Ellen and I had finished our breakfast, we spotted Tasha waiting impatiently for someone to grab her leash and take her for her morning walk. My folks had always stressed to never let go of Tasha's leash, for she was a pedigree, and we didnít want to loose her.
So, I took Tasha by the leash and Ellen and I went for a long walk. The sun started to get high in the sky, and we decided to stop for a minute and take off our sweatshirts. It was now warm enough for short sleeves, and we would finish our journey for the morning. Well, all of a sudden Tasha decides she want to bolt, down this hill that we had stopped on. It wasnít out of the ordinary for her, she got these spurts of energy once in a while, and each one of us would always run with her. Well Ellen and I were having problems keeping up with her. Ellen lagged behind, but I kept holding that leash. Tasha and I got to the bottom of the hill, to the campground parking lot, and Tasha collapsed on the ground. I began yelling to Ellen to fetch my parents, while I stayed on the ground next to her. Her heart was racing, and her eyes looked hazy. I held her so tight, she let out a wimper, and she passed away. It was if she had spoken to me, before she knew she would die. As I held her tight, sobbing in the middle of the parking lot, a number of people had gathered around me. My folks ran over to me and Tasha, and I struggled to let go of my precious dog. My Mother kneeled down beside me, and held Tasha for one last time, and then pulled me away. My Father picked Tasha up, and the campground owner drove my parents up the road to bury her, in the woods in New Hampshire, which she loved the most.
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