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 über-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.