So I picked up his ashes yesterday. It was so very sad. He was my spirit dog. My protector. He always had my back. Let me tell you his story.
Years ago I was looking for a dog that would be my training partner. I wanted a german shepherd. Prices for well bred ones were way beyond my budget. Animal House had wolfdogs for sale so I thought I'd take a look.
He was the runt of his litter, the last of his litter to be adopted. Legend has it that his mom was timberwolf/german shepherd and his dad timberwolf. He looked like a black shepherd and was so cute and so little. Right when I looked at him I knew his name was Sage. And that he would be my training partner.
I knew nothing, zero, zip about wolf dogs. If I had I might not have adopted him. I learned a lot over the years and they often do not make good family pets. I now know why and I know why many folks get them and end up surrendering them. And here's the catch-rescues don't want them. They don't want the liability if they bite someone. The SPCA will euthanize them. You can't just let them go in the wild. They are now humanized and can't fend for themselves. Ugh. But I was keeping him for life so that wasn't a problem.
In as much as he was my protector, I was his. I was very protective of him because as a wolfdog, he isn't given second chances in a bite situation even if he wasn't his fault. I never wanted to set him up for failure. It is said that the rabies vaccine is questionable in wolves and wolfdogs so if they bite they are euthanized and their head sent to Ohio State for testing. So there's that over his head.
His favorite dogs of mine were Oreo, Mary and Smokey (aka Mo). I think he grieved their passing a lot. He was different after that.
Sage came at the time when I was well into my dog training business. He went many places with me. He did lots of training with me and my classes. His brother Lakota and half sister Maya joined my classes and they really had fun. His other brother, Wolfgang, looked just like him. I wonder what ever became of them.
His howl was beautiful, eerie and lonesome. Sometimes he would howl alone and sometimes he would get the other dogs howling. I miss it so. My house is so very quiet now. No howling. None.
His favorite game was Get It. I would tell him to sit and wait. I would hold up a toy or stick and say Get It. He would run and jump up grab it just as I was letting go.
He knew most all the cues I teach in class including the long distance down and emergency stop. He would Wait for his food till I released him and would give me a kiss and touch my hand. He was smart and loved to forage. A box with a treat in it was his favorite. He would shred the box to get the treat then push all the box pieces out. It was always fun to design tougher and tougher ones for him. He even like to shred pumpkins.
He helped me with private clients and would do awesome walks with them. In his later years though he would pick out one dog in my group classes that he didn't like and it would be hard to teach with him so distracted. In his later years he didn't get along with my other dogs so well so we had more one on one time together.
He left in hurry at 11 and a half years. He stopped eating one day and gone the next. It's like he waited for me to wake up that day. When I saw him that morning, I knew he was going. It would have been stressful to transport a 100lb dog to a vet and have him die there or on the way. He passed away peacefully after I told him I loved him and to go find Mary, Mo and Oreo. Those were his buds and they have passed over the Rainbow Bridge before him.
I will always miss and love you, Sage. I can't believe you're gone.