When this wonderful boy walked into my life, at 7 years old, he was already almost a senior. No one ever told him, though! I enjoyed his company for another 7 years and 7 months...and until just recently, in his mind he was always just a big goofy pup.
His advanced age finally becoming apparent even to him, Shasta decided to leave this earth walk yesterday, September 8th. I wanted to create one last page for him, to share what a truly great dog he was.
Shasta came into rescue in early 2004, part of a group of animals--three adults and 4 pups--crammed into a 10x15 kennel, who had escaped and were confiscated for chasing livestock. This sweet face
and his great resemblance to my other highly cherished wolf/shepherd cross Lutro, prompted me to drive up to Indiana and bring him home.
The two "wolfier" adults and three of the pups also got homes before the deadline, and I brought the big yellow male--even then, lean as he was, 120 pounds--and the remaining male pup back with me. The drive is one I'll never forget...it took my poor long-suffering roommate Mike and I about 11 hours to get to the Indiana/Michigan border...and TWENTY-TWO hours to get back home, due to a terrific ice storm that day. (We spent a small part of that holed up at a travel plaza, because the interstates were shut down. The small back roads closer to home were driven largely at 15 to 20mph!) The whole way, poor Shasta drooled like a fiend and tried to push into the passenger seat on top of Mike--resulting in a very sore arm for Mike, who had to keep holding him back. *vbg* Yet, by the time we got home, Shasta and I had already started to bond...and he became my one and only "foster failure".
The puppy, meanwhile, had crawled up into Mike's pants leg and fallen sound asleep. ;)
Shasta in his early days with us...
This is the pup, Lucien, a few weeks after we got home:
Lucien turned out to be as huge and sweet tempered as his daddy Shasta, and is just as big a hit with everyone he meets. I guess in a way, Shaz lives on through him.
Lucien lives the good life, with dear friends of mine only 15 minutes away. :-)
Newcomer Shasta quickly made friends with the other animals here. An incredibly good-natured dog, he took well to all new fosters, visiting dogs, and pups of friends and families.
With TRex the Singing Dog
With Leroy the coydog
He was quick to greet guests, and would lean his full weight into them for petting. He was even great with kids...which was nice, since he always made quite an impression on folks and they invariably wanted to love on him.
Shasta LOVED to play, and was remarkably graceful for such a big animal. I used to comment that he moved like a lion. In his younger days--perhaps until he was 13 or so--he really enjoyed going to the park, or going swimming, or even just wandering around in our woods. Later, he became more of a couch-potato kind of guy *g* but still had plenty of zip when there were folks to greet or things to do!
I've never seen a dog be so ecstatic and thankful, for so little. Something as simple as a new 99c toy, a bale of fresh straw to roll in, or a special snack would just make his day. At 150 pounds winter weight, the boy really did love to eat. I am glad that, towards the end, we'd taken to feeding him specially cooked people food twice a day. He really enjoyed that.
Squeaky toys were an obsession. Once Shaz got hold of a squeaky, he would lie there for the longest time and just squeak-squeak-squeak-squeak. (Many of the folks I call regularly have listened to his squeaking over the phone.) Then he'd toss it, catch it, and squeak it some more.
The only "bad" (meaning, normal for many dogs, but very unpleasant for their humans) thing that Shasta ever did was related to this catching and squeaking. He had the inherent prey drive from hell...
When I first got him, he almost took my shoulder out of its socket trying to chase a car. Not long afterwards, he was out of my sight for (literally) less than two minutes, and got hold of a stray cat. He squeezed it...causing the poor thing to die almost immediately. After that, we embarked on an extensive, careful re-training mission. It took quite some time, and it was always a bit of a struggle for him
but eventually, he learned not to chase or even LOOK at the kitties. If he accidentally made eye contact with one, he would snap his face away from it, as if to say "I wasn't looking at it, Mom, I swear!"
As he got older, he grew much more relaxed around the cats...though like all of our dogs except Lutro and Denali, he wasn't left inside unsupervised with them.
"It's behind me again, isn't it."
Shasta loved his house time; he wanted to be with his people, and with his best girl Denali.
He was always waiting at the fence when we came home, with a welcoming "Wooo-WOO!" Of course I always egged this on, and would sometimes beat him to the punch--saying "Wooo-WOO, Shasta, Woo-WOOOO!" to get him excited. I will sure miss this sound...
Shasta Howl, AVI file
This dog was the most adorable goober. I think I have more pictures of him with a goofy look on his face, than I do "nice" ones...
...but above all else, he was a great and treasured friend.
Shazzy boy, I am really going to miss your presence, and your smile.
Thanks for all the great years. Love always...Mom.