Natasha - senior Siberian Husky, one month prior to her passing

Just like that, another half year has passed. And so has our beloved “Queen Mum,” Natasha. We had two close calls with her in May that inspired us to dedicate ourselves to in-home hospice care as she first lost her ability to stand up on her own, and eventually also became incontinent. It was a full-time undertaking. Exhausting, but with the bittersweet knowledge that even as she passed in our arms early on July 10, she was still smiling, and bathed in the love of her ever-present family. She was just two months shy of her 13th birthday.

It’s taken us some time to recover – not just physically from having to dead-lift her 60-pound frame to get her to the water bowl to drink, or on the half-mile walks she insisted on daily, with us supporting her hips in a sling, but also emotionally. Our three remaining huskies have had their own trials in coming to terms with losing their pack-mate and second mom. Natasha was our last direct link with our first husky, and our fourth to pass. The house is a lot quieter these days.

In an ironic twist, several of our blogs also died over the summer. What you see now is a mostly reconstructed version of the blog I’ve maintained at this domain since 2010… since shortly before we welcomed Natasha into our family.

Yet I look forward to next summer, and bringing our next pup home. It is inconceivable to me not to embrace the cycle of a healthy canine pack, with animals of all life stages keeping the whole, vital. While Wolfgang has been doing his best to provide puppy therapy for the other four of us, he will be better served by having a youngster with whom he can play and work off the willies of too much energy in a still-growing body. Other interesting tips for dog owners, and research on the pros and cons on spaying an neutering, are background reading in the meantime.

We are still challenged with finding our way back to health. I know that sleep deficit damage is something for us to fix. Tips to help us fall asleep are plentiful, and we’re still catching up on tasks deferred in favor of our care-taking duties, keeping us behind the curve of being rested. Ideas about how movement can help with finding our way toward well-being, as well as mindfulness tips outside of traditional meditation practice, are also good. We slacked off on our gardening during the depth of our mourning, and are now being reminded of the value of those daily minutes tending to our plants.

Ultimately, we’re in that philosophical space of mind that traces the currents of time. An article about all the ways humans have tracked time, on the one hand, and how rhythm impacts us, on the other, prove that measured beats and pauses are intrinsic to our experience. We’ve both had birthdays since Tashie’s passing, emphasizing that sense of cycles of transit. We can’t know the span that remains to us, which means embracing the moments we have now is all the more critical. At the same time I aspire to the grace Tashie embodied in her final months – the joy in each sunrise and sunset, regardless of weather, and the peace of her death, were profound lessons.

So I’m at once less worried about how many milestones (words) I can achieve in the next year, and also more inspired to return to the stories that have lain fallow as I’ve embraced those sadder duties. I know the stories are there waiting for me to transcribe them. I’ll continue to report on my progress here, and hope that time treats us all a little gentler in the meantime.

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