When my son, David, was thirteen he wanted his own dog, a Siberian Husky. We went to a dog show in New Jersey and met a breeder who invited us to see the new puppies from his champion dogs. Dave sat down in the pen among about seven puppies and waited. When one came over to be petted, he said, “This is the one I want.” I countered with, “Are you sure?” He looked at me with total delight and nodded. That’s how Yukon Jackie Queen of Oaks chose my son and joined our family.
Yukon had soft brown eyes, not the blue associated with the breed. Her sister Tonya, who David’s friend Scott adopted, had one blue and one brown. Tonya also had a softer coat, and they both had distinctive black masks. Over the next few years the boys took the dogs for obedience training where Yukon finished in first place. Scott’s parents and I took turns taking the boys to different dog shows where the dogs took turns winning first and second place. During the winter when the Boy Scouts had sled races, both dogs were hooked up to the sleds and had a fantastic time of pulling the boys around.
Yukon’s leash was attached to a 100 foot cable between the patio and the garage where she could patrol the back yard. She sat on her dog house roof surveying the area. When the fire whistle blew, she’d sit up and howl. She never barked, and Dave spent many hours teaching her how to speak, which she’d only do when offered a treat.
|Dave with a broken arm and Yukon.|
Woe to any animal that passed through her territory. As a descendent of the wolf, Yukon had a killer instinct and defended her property. Several paid her back, including a skunk and a porcupine. The first encounter required a bath in tomato juice (which never worked to get rid of the odor) and the second required a trip to the vet.
After my daughter’s miniature poodle died, we bought her an apricot toy poodle named Bo, the size of a small cat. The two dogs were inseparable. Bo would grab a sock, drag it over to Yukon and swat her in the face until she took one end. Then Yukon held it in her teeth while Bo growled, hopped around and tried to pull it free. Once Bo tired, she’d curl up against Yukon, and the two would sleep together.
|Yukon at about five-years-old.|
We decided to breed Yukon once. She had two puppies, a male and a female. The female took after her mother, an alpha, and made it clear who was the ruler. She also had a quirk of sticking her paw in the water bowl and emptying it. Most of the time they stayed in their pen in the garage, but one time when we had heavy rains, I brought the two pups to the house. The female promptly found the toilet, and figuring it was another water bowl, attempted to empty it.
|Yukon's female puppy.|
Over the years, we moved numerous times. Yukon, an excellent traveler, usually preferred the front passenger seat while I sat behind her. When we moved to Prescott, Arizona, my son visited us from college and wanted to meet girls. I told him the perfect way – take Yukon for a walk because people were always stopping me to ask about her. He did, and sure enough it worked – until Yukon grabbed the girl’s hamburger and ate it. That pretty much destroyed any relationship he had with the dog, and she became totally mine.
|When Yukon aged, she lost most of her distinctive mask|
She lived ten years and never adjusted to Arizona. She loved the snow, traveling and meeting people. To this day, I miss her.