Joe - Over the Rainbow Bridge
Love is supposed to be just a concept, something that you can't reach out and touch. Before I met Joe, I believed that - now I know that the pure spirit of love can have a physical presence. Joe was that presence in my life until an angel came to take him across the Rainbow Bridge on May 16, 1999.
I met Joe when he was 8 years old - he had been part of a sled team in the Yukon, and when the man whose home he shared ran short of money, his answer to having too many dogs was to shoot them. Joe was one of the 6 lucky dogs saved by Pauline Steele, a Whitehorse woman who is involved in both mushing and Husky rescue.
I don't even remember exactly how we met, but as soon as I saw Joe I knew that I needed him to be part of my family.
Siberians are not known for their devotion, or as companion dogs in the sense that they are "people dogs" by choice. Joe and I, though, were inseparable, by my choice and his. My son, Steve, also developed a very special bond with Joe, and they spent a lot of time alone together when I was at work.
He tolerated city life and chains as I tolerated city life and a job - at our cabin, he came alive in a way that deeply moved me. He loved life, he loved everything around him, and he loved me.
Although completely free while we were at the cabin (which was a lot), he preferred company when he wandered, and would bang on the window several times a day - the words "Time for a walk?" turned him into a whirling dervish, tearing around like he had gone crazy, then calmly walking down the beach with me. Like me, Joe was constantly exploring, but he was always within a hundred feet or so of me. A whistle would always bring him right back, particulary if he heard "Need a hug?" when he got close.
All the other dogs I've known have had a limit to how much close contact they want - not Joe. When I lay down on the floor, he would lay down beside me and then dig his toes into the carpet to press tightly up against me.
He was a huge hit with everybody who met him, particularly the many tourists who visit Carcross. We would often time our walks so that we'd be going by the Visitor Information Centre as the daily tour bus barrage arrived. He was much too proud to actually pose, but a lick of your ice-cream cone would get you a hug and a couple of feet of "genuine Yukon Husky" in your video memories!
Many of you who read this will know Joe as the guide of, and the inspiration behind, "Everything Husky!" Somehow Joe's spirit even came across on the Internet - my family received well over 100 letters, cards and poems of sympathy when he died, from people around the world.
In November 2000, Joe was adopted as the "virtual mascot" of the Student Occupational Therapy Association at the University of Washington. This wonderful tribute is a good match, as Joe was an occupational therapist himself - he could fix pretty well any "bad-day-at-work" with a hug and a soft "woo".
If only we could all live up to the example our Huskies show us. I promise you I'll try, Joe, until we meet again, North of the Rainbow Bridge...
Joe is buried above the cabin, in a spot
that overlooks the beach he loved.