Hug Your Dog Today
By Michele Forto
I know Robert has shared stories about our beloved dog, Ineka, but the other day he did something that filled my heart with joy and I wanted to take a moment and share it with you.
Ineka is approximately twelve years old. I remember picking him up from DIA ten years ago this very month. I was excited, oh we had several Siberians that we had rescued and were planning to race, but this was different, this would be the first dog we’d be rescuing sight unseen. We rescued Ineka from Washington and he was flown to us with a description of being white with blue eyes. Well he was black and white as it turned out and slightly older than we had been told. No worries though he quickly proved his worth as a working dog and as a companion.
Ineka quickly earned his place in our home. You see racing kennels rarely allow their dogs to come inside, mostly because they are not house trained. Ineka however, was very respectful of the house.
He has a ritual in the morning, come to my side of the bed and rub his nose and face on my shoulder. Some mornings that nose is way too cold! This was how he would wake me up to start the day. The two of us would then go get the kids up and get them ready for the day. Once Kyle and Tyler were off to school, Nicole, Ineka and I would head out to the kennel to start our day of cleaning, grooming, and training. Ineka would prance around full plume tail talking to the other dogs as I opened their kennels one by one letting all thirty dogs out to play. Ineka would stick to Nicole’s side and ward off the younger dogs who liked to jump on her. Ineka quickly earned a nickname; Sergeant! I truly had the best co-worker, nanny, and best friend in the world.
Ineka was retired from racing in 2002. He has had an active retirement teaching puppies boundaries and bouncing around our training school. About a year ago he stopped waking me up and no longer showed interest in “going to work”. He is in his autumn. He can barely get around the house now although there are days when he will try to chase down our dog Qyain and then gallop up the stairs and then gallop down just to jump from the sixth step! He’s a spunky old guy. The other morning he woke me up the way he used to giving me a hug and not letting go. I was lucky that morning because I was able to sit still and enjoy this moment that my old friend was sharing with me.
Yesterday I came home to gather up some supplies for work, Ineka was at the top of the stairs where he always is greeting us when we come home. I said hello to him and left the front door open so he could go out to our courtyard. I went about my business and then headed into the kitchen to grab a drink, I heard Ineka jump off the stairs and head out the front door. I got sidetracked and didn’t immediately follow him out. About three minutes later I walked into our office and noticed the gate was open! My heart sunk. I immediately ran outside thinking “he’s next door marking the bush” nope! Oh God! Robert is leaving and after 10 years I’ve lost the dog! I ran down the street a neighbor was outside I asked if he saw my black dog he said no. I ran back to the house to jump in my van and realized my keys were inside. I run inside into the kitchen but as I’m running past I catch a glimpse of Ineka at the top of the stairs looking down at me like I’ve lost my mind. I scolded him like I did my kids when they ran out into the street. Gave him a hug and a piece of cheese and said don’t ever scare me like that again; we aren’t ready for you to go yet. I still need my best friend.
I have had many dogs in my lifetime and I’m sure I will have many more. Each has held a special place in my heart. But as I’m sure you can relate, there’s always one that came into your life and helped you through triumphs and tribulations. Who came over and let you hold them until all the tears were cried out. Who encouraged you to get your butt off the couch. Who helped you remember how to be a kid. It’s that dog that makes you a better person. Hug your dog today, whisper in their ear and thank them for taking care of you.