|Sheenjek - aka "Mega-mutt"|
Sheenjek was 7 years old when I adopted him, which makes him 11 years old now. At 27 inches tall and running at about 80 lb., he was one of the largest working dogs I'd ever met, and he was indeed a HARD working dog. He almost always ran in the wheel position, and I can't recall ever seeing him with a slack tug line. In fact, most of the time his tug was a tight as the high-E string on a guitar.
When I first brought him home he was scrappy with other dogs. Apparently he'd lived with his brother most of his life, and he and Blackie had "issues". Over time he became less of a brawler with other dogs, but if one were rude he was quick to correct them - but always appropriately.
Sheenjek loved human attention and he especially loved a good butt-skritching. He would lean up against you and sigh contentedly just as long as you were willing to scratch the base of his tail.
I used to joke that Sheenjek the Megamutt had a personality similar to a stereotypical Irishman. All he wanted to do was work hard all day, eat a hot plate of food, drink a beer or two, and indulge in the occasional brawl. As I mentioned, the brawls became more and more infrequent as he became comfortable with life in the Stardancer kennel.
That life was ended this afternoon. I am at work, but our handler (Ted) was walking Sheenjek over to the hook-up line for a run when the big guy suddenly dropped to ground, screaming and flailing. When Ted tried to help him Sheenjek bit him - twice. This is the only time to my knowledge that Sheenjek EVER bit a human.
Once things settled down a bit, Sheenjek's rear leg seemed to be merely dangling, and he was obviously in severe pain. Ted took him to the Fairbanks After Hours Veterinary Clinic where he was x-rayed.
Having heard that part of the story, I steeled myself for Dr. Ruben's phone call. It was worse than I could have imagined. Unbeknown to any of us, Sheenjek had a tumor deep in his femur that weakened the bone to point it could no longer bear his weight. The femur had snapped just above the knee. Most likely the tumor is malignant and probably metastasized by now. In the best possible outcome, he would lose the leg and be confined as a housedog and in the worse case would die in severe pain within weeks.
I decided to have Sheenjek euthanized while still under the anesthesia that was necessary to take the x-rays. Ted agreed to stay with him through the procedure so he could pass in the presence of someone who knows and loves him.
I'd like to extend a special thank-you to Ted, for taking immediate action to get veterinary care for Sheenjek, and for staying with him through the end.
One of the toughest things about working at a remote site is being unable to leave the station when something goes wrong with the dogs. For someone in my work situation, having trustworthy, competent assistance is a true Godsend.