Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Saga of Yukon Jacki, Queen of Oaks by Marion Ekholm


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.

 

28 comments:

  1. I loved reading about Yukon. Although we don't have dogs, I've always been fascinated by Huskies--no less so now!

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    1. I liked how she was so calm and quiet. So many of the smaller dogs had hyper personalities.

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  2. Marion, Yukon was a beautiful dog! It's amazing how pets wedge their way right into our heart and become such a part of our family. Your son looks just like you!

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    1. Pets certainly do become part of us. However, after living with cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, fish and rabbits for so many years, I'm limiting myself to stuffed animals from now on.

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  3. Marion, you made me want a Yukon. We had our Maine Coon Cat, Kitty for twenty years, and I kind of thought he'd live forever. I miss him pretty much every day. After a while we got George, a Maine Coon mix, and I love him like crazy, but I don't miss Kitty any less. Such a sweet post!

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    1. The cat that stole my heart was a male Siamese named Emil. He'd be on my lap the moment I sat down.

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    2. Awwww! How I long for a kitty that cuddles. Georgie wants to be near, but only as near as he wants to be. He naps next to me while I work--flat on his back, like a little orange cat rug. (Adorable!)

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  4. Such a sweet story. I can especially relate to how when the kids go to college their animals become ours.

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    1. Up to that time, Dave and Yukon were inseparable. Both my children had their own dogs which fostered a personal bond with animals.

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  5. Marion, what a gorgeous dog. We had a Samoyed for many years. It was so hard when we lost him. My dad bought him for my oldest daughter. He also didn't bark.

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    1. I love that in a dog - no barking. Did you ever get the dog to speak? Yukon could howl on her own but Dave spent hours teaching him how to speak and Yukon had a deep threatening voice when she did.

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  6. What a beautiful dog! And it sounds as though she did her best to do her job for you. I love the image of Bo slapping her in the face with the sock. When animals connect with each other, it's such a lesson for us. I once lost half of a maple bar to a German Shepherd sitting on the back of a flat bed truck. I came out of the bakery with the bar in my hand and stood just off the curb where the truck was parked, and looked to my left to cross the street. I heard a mysterious gulp and when I turned around, the part of the maple bar sticking out of my hand was gone and the dog was licking his chops. I figured I was lucky he was willing to give of the part of it IN my hand. Great story, Marion.

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    1. So often I wish I'd had a camera to take pictures of Bo with Yukon. The dog was such a clown and I'm sure any video of the two dogs would have gone viral on Youtube.

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  7. My heart is twisting, Marion! I've never had a dog (that I remember--apparently we had a golden retriever when I was around 6 months old), always cats, but I've always wanted one. Now I REALLY want one. What beautiful memories for your entire family. Thank you for sharing them with us. :)

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    1. We've had an Irish Setter (don't recommend), poodles (wonderful), the Siberian (best), and a Bichon Frise (drove us crazy with the constant barking). My son has had yellow and black labs (again wonderful) and now a Queensland heeler (another great dog). If you decide to get a dog, find one you’re compatible with because it’s a life-long commitment.

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  8. Beautiful dog. I've had several dogs, all Heinz 57 that people graciously dropped off in our driveway, and they truly have a way of working their way into our hearts. Now I have a rescue kitty that is wanting in my lap while I'm trying to type.

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    1. Several times people dropped off cats at our house. I guess people figured we loved animals so we wouldn't mind a pregnant cat that gave birth within minutes of my finding her. I will never understand how people can do that. No one ever left a dog.

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  9. What a gorgeous dog Yukon was, Marion! Beautiful face and markings. I too like big dogs. They are not only quiet but eat much less than one might expect. Our Great Pyrenees was beautiful with the beige markings that are called Blaireau, though she was never quite as house-trained as we wanted her to be (due to recurrent bladder infections). How interesting that Yukon's mask faded as she aged. Animals do get gray too! Your post made me teary-eyed. It is way too hard to lose the animals we love.

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    1. As she lost her markings, she looked more and more like a wolf. Even though she had the sweetest disposition, her looks made her look dangerous, so people always asked if they could pet her. She loved the attention.

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  10. She was adorable...and appears to have had a sweet personality. Thanks for sharing this lovely story!

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    1. I could have written a novella. We travelled all over with her including a trip to Catalina Island off the California coast. Because she never barked, we could take her anywhere.

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  11. Such a sweet dog and a lovely story. Thank for sharing :)

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  12. Of all the dogs we had, Yukon had the most personality.

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  13. Marion, your post brought to mind the two Huskies I had the privilege of sharing my life with for just over fifteen years from university onward.

    Thank you for sharing Yukon's story and the beautiful pics!

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  14. Dogs are so wonderful aren't they? Yours was beautiful! I had a German Shepherd as a child. She died about 29 Years ago and to this day I still talk about her and miss her. We used to put eyeshadow on her and lip gloss....poor dog. She loved every minute of it. Her bark was so viscous, but she was a sweetheart through and through. My eyes are tearing up just remembering my sweet April. Thanks for the memory.

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  15. Loved this article Marion. My sister-in-law used to raise Huskies. They are beautiful dogs.

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