Special Malamute Encounters

 

The musher Libby Riddles came to our city's Natural History Museum to give a talk on dog sledding. This was all part of  the grand opening of the IMAX movie "Alaska". As part of her presentation, our mal club was asked to supply a few dogs to use in demonstrations and for people (mostly school kids) to meet.

When Neko's turn came to meet with the kids, I was a little nervous because he'd never had much close contact with small children. We talked to the kids about malamutes (there were 3-4 dogs in Neko's group) and showed them how to pet & "cookie" the dogs. Well, Neko is NOT a snappy eater and loves attention so things were going well, and I was pleased.

There was a shy little girl hanging back from the rest of the kids around Neko. She seemed totally entranced by him, possibly because he was a rich colored sable in a room full of grays & seals? It took a couple tries, but we finally got her to give him a biscuit after the other kids moved on. That broke the ice and she gave him a few more treats and timidly patted his head.

As she continued to stand and look at him, Neko leaned forward and gently snuffled her cheek. (His version of a "kiss", asking for another treat) Her whole face lit up as she giggled & smiled. She was no longer afraid of this big dog and started petting him. Then she wandered off as more children came over to see Neko.

The big surprise came when the kids were about to leave. This same little girl scrounged some more treats and came over to give them to Neko. Then she petted him and gave him a big gentle hug. Neko stood there, tail going a mile a minute and snuffling her ears (ears are "just" a kiss). She had the biggest smile on her face, a bounce to her steps and was waving good-bye as she left us.

I was very proud of Neko that day. And that shy little girl is one I will not forget. I'm sure somewhere there is that same little girl who remembers a big sable malamute... one who sat tall enough to look her straight in the eye, snuffle dog secrets in her ear and then gently kiss her!


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