Every rescue dog endears itself to you in a different way. O'Brian, my malamute, can be intimidating in his stature. Yet he is a gentle giant, blind in one eye and slow as Christmas. Tessa, my 3 year old husky, won me over with her sheepish, innocent look; a look I would later discover also contained a hint of mischief that has earned her the title "little minx." It was because of her that I started fostering for Alabama Siberian Husky Rescue. She is an alumnus herself.
Which brings me to Luka, my second foster dog. What immediately struck me about him were his intense blue eyes; not just because they are beautiful but because of the soulfulness behind them. On the way home from the vet that first day he stood at attention the entire way home, looking out the windows with a anticipation about where he was going next. For such a young dog he seemed to have already experienced much. After all, every dog has a tale in addition to the one he wags. We just don't know all the chapters. But I got the feeling if he could talk he would ask the question: "Am I going home?"
You have to give him credit. Here he was, walking into a house that already had an older male alpha and a female who was my right hand dog. So the pack was already set and Luka was quick to learn his place within it. Even from the first mealtime that night, he kept to his bowl. Fortunately for him, O'Brian and Tessa are pretty accommodating to other dogs as long as they don't get pushy. If Tessa decided his treat was her treat, he relinquished it without a fuss. But given the chance he would steal it back, as long as she had left the room.
Wrestling is often the order of the day, although they mainly keep it to outside hijinks. No leaf pile is safe when we're on a walk, Luka taking great delight in diving in and taunting Tessa until she jumps in after him. Occasionally they become enthusiastic and bring the chase inside, which usually involves circles around the chairs. Then both will collapse in a puddle of pants and wagging tails. Yes, Luka is often the instigator, but what has been interesting to watch is that he never instigates with O'Brian. He seems to understand and respect that O'Brian is older and not able to play in the same way. In fact, Luka is very gentle with him and has even come up and kissed him on the nose and groomed him. And O'Brian allows him to do it, which says a lot about Luka's acceptance by the pack.
Luka has an exuberance for life, much like a curious child. Walks are one big adventure to him, his nose to the ground the minute we go out the door. He most certainly could have been a sled dog, often showing his natural talent for pulling. But I've been amazed at his progress on leash since he's been with us and he has learned how to "ignore" the numerous outdoor cats that roam the neighborhood. He and Tessa both are great hunters, especially when it comes to chipmunks and moles, etc. Between they two of them, my varmint population around the house has gone down significantly. On any given afternoon, I can find them in the back yard, nose under a root. And if we see a squirrel on a walk and it goes up a tree, Luka has every faith in the world that he can climb that tree or utility pole and catch it. He is a very positive thinker.
His energy is matched only by his capacity for love. He will put his head on my knee or paw at my foot for attention, then sit on the couch with his head on my lap. Which quickly turns into a belly-up, rub my tummy flip, with paws in the air. He'll kiss on Tessa and she grooms him in return. And as I said before, he is very sweet with O'Brian. So he is definitely a dog's dog. And when it's time for bed, he retires with everyone else and sleeps through the night. And that's without a crate. I haven't had to use one with him at all.
When you choose to foster, you always run the risk of falling in love with the dog and becoming what is known as a "foster fail." It almost happened with my first foster, Branigan, who is now happily living in Nashville (with two cats, no less). And I admittedly have the same feelings for Luka. He has settled in to our family very nicely, which is both a reflection on him and my own dogs. But what I learned from Branigan is that as hard as it is to let them go, it means that someone else is getting to love them and receive their love. And if I hadn't let Branigan go, I wouldn't have had room for Luka.
I hope one day that a prospective adopter would see all the facets of him that I do and realize he is worth the time and energy. Sit with him for just a few minutes and look into those eyes and you'll be hooked, too. My wish for him is that the next time he asks, "Am I going home?" I can say, "yes, Luka. Yes you are."
If you are interested in adopting Luka, please fill out our adoption application.