I don't say it often enough, but I love this dog more than words can say.
Last month, I lost the cracker and criminal on a forest run. Before you panic, I’ll just skip to the end and tell you both were found and everything is OK. And before readers claim “Never let a Sibe off-leash” note that I wrote that I lost both dogs, including my Velcro dog, Loki. And while that story is another post in itself, this one is purely about the gratitude I have for the cracker.
He and Juno didn't pick each other but he looks out for her and stresses over the choices she makes every day on our walks. It's as if he knows how important she is to me and Mr. Wild Dingo. I'll go as far to say that he looks at her as our property and his actions, though they seem gruff toward her (he'll chase her off other dogs), are pure sibling protection on his part. (Ok, sometimes it's jealousy.)
On our hikes, runs or rides, both dogs are well-behaved on the trails, recalling and waiting on command regularly. I’ll spare you the details, but to say, that day, my recall timing couldn't have been worse. And just like that, they were gone.
My biggest fear wasn't that the dogs would be lost forever---because I knew we'd find them---but that they would be separated while lost because it would be a huge risk for Juno. Made of pure muscle and teeth, Loki would survive any wildlife threat. I don't call him "the cracker" just because of his high working drive. His defense drive can be off the scale. With that loco-brain, his speed, muscular strength and teeth, he would not lose. Juno, on the other hand, though she believes otherwise, is made of sugar and is much too fragile. The thought of them separating scared the bejeezuss out of me.
When Mr. Wild Dingo found them 3.5 hours later (he left work to help search), they were side-by-side, 18 inches apart, in a perfect heel position headed toward our starting location. Loki could have chosen to desert her at any moment and found me. After all, he is stronger and faster than she is. At the end of our runs and rides he's always leading us out while Juno is slowing down and taking more breaks for her hip needs. Instead, he did the right thing and stayed right by her side.
When I finally caught up with the three of them from my search area, Loki went ballistic, hugging me with his arms, and herding me. He was clearly traumatized. Juno said her happy hellos in a much less dramatic way. She was unfazed but clearly so over the long adventure.
He puts up with a lot of mind games from her. To the rest of the world (and maybe to her), he seems like an obnoxious bully. But I've watched him with her long enough to know by now his real motivations are pure pack drive, loyalty and protection. And for that, I am eternally grateful to him. I loves me my cracker!
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"Your project is guaranteed to meet superior Siberian standards or I will fatally masticate it. You have my "woo" on that!"
"I keep your project safe from crows, coyotes, and flies. I prefer to be paid in salmon treats and tennis balls."
"I manage the treat jar & the staff's daily payroll of cookies and bones. The staff is excellent at math and let me know when I come up short."