Monday, June 4, 2012

A Tribute to Loki

In troubled times, I have always found solace in writing for it helps me descramble my thoughts into coherency. It seems to me that one cannot truly understand a complex sentiment, such as grief, without writing about it. Perhaps this explains the sociological necessity of writing obituaries.

Our beloved Loki, the Man-dog, collided and was killed last Monday (by a motorist) as he flew across Superior Street in hot pursuit of his buddy.  Essentially, in an effort to follow Tim Ek and me, as we embarked on a training road ride, Loki made the impulsive and fatal decision to take a whopping electrical shock from the invisible fence that surrounds our yard as payment for the right to run with us.  We thought that we had trained him to stay put as he had consistently resisted the urge to bolt across the fence for the last few months. He was very smart and had repeatedly demonstrated that he had made his peace with that damned invisible fence, but at that moment he just could not contain his desire to run.  Of course, I had no idea that Loki had jumped through the electrical fence and was chasing us full speed ahead until I heard that horrible albeit unmistakable sound of a car desperately skidding to avoid a collision. It was a terrible scene that I shall never forget. 
Loki was a magnificent companion that even in his youthfulness possessed the kind of endurance that is hard to fathom unless one is knowledgeable about the ├╝ber-abilities of Alaskan Sled Dogs.  His father, Hobo, was a famous multiple Iditarod winner and member of the Dog Sled Hall of Fame and his mother is a multiple participate in the John Beargrease race held here in Duluth.  Even as a puppy of barely sixteen months, for hours Loki could tirelessly lope at fifteen to eighteen miles-an-hour along the Lester Ski Trails while I would frantically try to keep up on my mountain bike. Then in an instant he could ramp it up accelerating to a speed that was a marvel to watch as he left me in the dust.  It was simply amazing to watch him run; it was like watching an Olympic athlete. His efficient gait and fluid motion reminded me of the running motion of a greyhound, but he also possessed a great leaping ability as well. He seemed to love bounding and leaping through techy single-track. I often caught myself in silent awe as I spied him flying through the dense woods.  He ran with an unbridled joy that was so natural and so thrilling to observe that if was an undeniable conclusion that he loved to run as fast and wild as he could go. Sometimes he was forget he was a pet and he would bound off in search of his wild brethren, but he always quickly returned, if not a bit sheepishly.  Perhaps with age his zealotry for speed may have been tempered, but I doubt it. In short, in the eighteen months that we were together I never ceased to be astonished and wholly impressed by his sheer physical abilities. Yet, he was much more than a highly gifted athlete. Loki was not just a dumb jock.

Loki was the full package. He was very bright and a quick learner, graduating number one in his class at the Arrowhead Dog Training Academy (while maybe not number one, but clearly in the top echelon).  Loki was also a very affectionate dog that was always pumped to see his friends.  He was easy to spoil and we did so with gusto. My wife fed him a doggy dream diet including raw meats, lots of big raw bone treats,  and even occasionally a sip of good ale (to keep his blood thin, he loved Kalamazoo Stout). My daughter loved Loki and Loki returned the favor unconditionally. She would come home each afternoon from school and release him from his spacious outdoor kennel and take him for a nice walk around the neighborhood.  Then on most weekdays, after work, I would load him up in my car and we would go run/ride/ski on the many local mountain bike, hiking, or ski trails. It is certainly true that the quality of my training decreased when we adopted Loki, but I was content to make the change.  At my age and stage in life having a great training partner like Loki is more important to me than seeking to pursue personal bests in cycling.  The fact of the manner is that I simply had begun to really enjoy my time in the woods with my dog, more so than grinding out miles alone on the road. 
My wife, Crystal, also relished her trail running forays with Loki.  It was often the case that she would leave the house grumbling about having to run the dog only to return all pumped up about some adventure she had experienced while chasing Loki. It was more than once that she would enjoy double sessions running with Loki.  At night she would affix a light to Loki’s collar and they would head out for a long walk along the shores of Lake Superior. Loki was ALWAYS up for a dose of exercise.  Loki knew that Crystal was the one to go to when on that rare late night or early morning that he had to go outside to relieve himself. He would, without fail, saunter into our bedroom around 5:00 a.m. and wake us up by licking our faces. Once done with us he would move to Sophie’s room.  It was a morning ritual that we grew to cherish.  He was a great dog.

At indicated above, Loki had made peace with the invisible fence.  This truce was made easier to comply with because throughout the afternoon and the weekends Loki would entertain a wide assortment of canine visitors.  It was not uncommon for Loki to receive visits for five or six different dogs during an average evening and many more on the weekends.  He was not the Alpha male and instead simply loved to chase and be chased by other dogs or by Sophie and her friends.  The outpouring of condolences has been truly remarkable and represents further evidence of his impact. 
Loki was a great dog.


  1. As a follower of your blog, and that of your fellow DBD members, your affection for Loki, and his impact on your life, has been evident.

    Beautiful eulogy, Mr. Farrow. I am very sorry for your loss.

  2. Farrow,

    My condolences to you and your family. I will give my dogs an extra treat today to honor Loki.


  3. Ah my friend, I am truly sorry for your family's loss...

  4. I am sorry to hear your loss. He will not be forgotten. Rest in Peace Loki.
    Slender Fungus

  5. I am saddened to read of the loss of your fine hound. I never got to meet him, but I know how they can work their way into your heart.

    Leah G.

  6. “In Mongolia, when a dog dies, he is buried high in the hills so people cannot walk on his grave. The dog’s master whispers in the dog’s ear his wishes that the dog will return as a man in his next life. Then his tail is cut off and put beneath his head, and a piece of meat of fat is cut off and placed in his mouth to sustain his soul for its journey; before he is reincarnated, the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like.

    I learned that from a program on the National Geographic Channel, so I believe it is true. Not all dogs return as men, they say; only those who are ready.

    I am ready.”
    ― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

  7. "the dog’s soul is freed to travel the land, to run across the high desert plains for as long as it would like." Such a wonderful notion...thank you.

  8. So sorry, Charlie. Losing a dog and good pal hurts to the core. Laurie and Dick W.

  9. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your family member, I enjoyed reading about his shenanigans, he will be missed. I wish the best for you and your family.

  10. Very sorry for your loss.

    "When dogs go to Heaven, they don't need wings because God knows that dogs love running best. He gives them fields. Fields and fields and fields. There are geese to bark at, plenty of children, biscuits, and, for those that need them, homes. Dogs in Dog Heaven may stay as long as they like. They will be there when old friends show up. They will be there at the door." - Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant

  11. I met Loki out on the trails a few times. Man he loved to run!!!
    RIP Loki

  12. Sorry for your loss Charlie. Take care.