Shandael Alaskan Malamutes

Tires and Testicles
Margaret Anne Cleek


I would like to spend some time addressing the old axiom, "If it has tires or testicles, it's going to be a problem." Now I want you to know that I actually looked up the word axiom in my very expensive and very heavy copy of Webster's Third New International Dictionary to see if it was the word I really wanted. It read, "1a: a proposition, principle, rule or maxim that has found general acceptance or is thought worthy thereof whether by virtue of a claim to intrinsic merit or on the basis of an appeal to self-evidence."  Yes sir, that's the word alright, the statement is self-evident.  The second definition read, "2: a self-consistent statement about the primitive terms or undefinable objects that form the basis for discourse." I figure if you change the last word from discourse to intercourse this definition works out fine too.

The thesis which I will present here, attempts to validate the stated axiom.  In support of the contention that tires present difficulties, I submit all the auto repair bills I have accumulated over the last twenty years.  In support of the contention that testicles present difficulties, I submit these true stories from my life with dogs.  Given that discretion is the better part of valor, I will refrain from any discussion of the two-legged (human or semi-human) bearers of such that I have "known" in either the Biblical or ordinary sense of the word.

My first dog was a toy poodle named Smokey.  I must admit he never gave me a moment of trouble or grief.  Then again, he only had one testicle.  I can only assume that the axiom only holds in the plural.

 My second dog was a shepherd mix, named Duffy, who would have made a lesser woman swear off males for the rest of her life. 

I was out with Duffy in a park near my home in San Francisco.  Duffy was off-lead, which in those days I think was even legal.  There was a soft-ball game in progress and several folk were wandering about the park with pooches.  Duffy met up with a bitch and the two cavorted about a bit.  Now the owner of the bitch said she was spayed, but she was nonetheless extraordinarily  attractive.  Unfortunately, Duffy chose the infield as the setting for the culmination of his amorous intent.  He was in no way successful and as I recall did not even address the correct end of the bitch for most of the endeavor.  Now, do you want to guess what I was doing during all of this?  In an effort to remain as inconspicuous as possible, I refrained from running onto the field.  This was possibly a prudent move.  My less than prudent move was to stand on the sidelines loudly yelling, "COME! COME!" Someone in the stands (a guy in possession of you-know-whats of course), yelled back, "Give him a chance lady, he's trying!"  I was so-o-o humiliated.  The owner of the bitch intervened just about the time Duffy and his new found friend began to engage in a certain inverted number sequence which evoked the cheers and adulation of ball-players and spectators alike.  Since then I have used "here" for the recall, but now that I think about it, that may have proved more embarrassing.

Having survived this I felt that I was ready for a male Alaskan Malamute. 

I feel compelled to inform my readers that getting a Malamute had been my intention from the very beginning.  I read a book as a child, titled, A Dog so Small, which hooked me on the idea.  For all you folks scratching your head about the title, as best I can recall, the family in the book wanted a Chihuahua, went out to a shelter to get one, somehow became confused on the concept, and came home from the shelter with a Malamute. The story focuses on the child's disappointment that he didn't get the Chihuahua until (surprise) the Malamute wins him over. My apologies to the author for not remembering more.

 I digress.  The point is, I always intended to get a Malamute, but in the same sense that your first set of tires should not be attached to a Ferrarri, your first set of testicles should not be attached to a Malamute. This is an especially poignant point for my male readers.  One needs to ease in to such a striking set of male circumstance, and that brings me to Kyle, (Shandael's Kyle, CDX) my first Alaskan Malamute.

 I really wanted to include with this article a photograph of Kyle sitting pretty for the camera, but I couldn't find one where the big red "thing" wasn't the focus of the picture.  True, I could crop the shot at the elbow, but the big, sly grin would still be a dead giveaway.  Without any other evidence, Kyle could prove my argument, QED.

My systematic desensitization to sexual umbrage was Kyle's major undertaking in life.  Kyle's mission was to make me the most unabashed woman in the world.  He has rendered me virtually embarrass proof, and if the Duffy event were to occur at this point in my life, I would probably send the video in to "America's funniest" rather than slink off in total humiliation as I once did.

This process was accomplished event by event.  Of course there were the usual incidents we all live with, such as when you crawl on your hands and knees into a large crate to straighten out bedding (or in Kyle's case remove the shreds of what used to be bedding) and you are mounted from behind.  You can't stand up of course or get out of the situation, so after a few minutes of balancing on one arm and flailing at the dog with the other, you are forced to actually call for someone to come and help you.  I have yet to know of a single "rescuer" who failed to spout forth a few one liners before extricating the victim.

Kyle's efforts exceeded the mundane.  One day he suddenly started screaming bloody murder in the far corner of my yard.  I ran out in a panic as did several of my neighbors.  When I got to Kyle I realized the problem was he had an erection and the prepuce of his penis (note the candor with which I can now toss out such terms) had rolled inward and the situation was causing him great pain.  With a few delft moves from a practiced hand, I was able to instantly rectify the situation.  (Honest, I grew up milking cows on a farm in San Francisco.)  Given that my neighbor had his back turned and his hand over his mouth and his shoulders were shaking from the suppressed giggles, I surmised that he had quickly assessed the enormity of the situation at hand.  Everyone else was clueless.  One woman wondered at the source of my healing powers for I could relieve such pain and suffering simply by "touching the dog's stomach".  Old shaky shoulders lost it when she asked if there was any "special spot" that one needed to touch.  She was so determined to learn the secret of this miracle of healing that I was forced to reveal the awful truth.

At an agility fun run Kyle paused before entering a tunnel to lift his leg on a nearby stump.  He lifted his right leg, then he turned and lifted his left leg, then he turned and lifted his right leg, then he turned and lifted his left leg, get the idea.  Six total rotations and then he takes a dump as his finale.  The crowd went wild.

Kyle was also in rare form at a Frisbee competition.  Now I was a Malamute owner and I had no expectation that Kyle would bring the Frisbee back, much less make any effort to get it in the first place.  But after all, it was for a good cause and no one was entering because they were afraid that their dog wouldn't perform.  I was like the valiant soldier that makes a hopeless charge to prove to the rest of the troops that they too should get their ass shot off. 

I am not the greatest Frisbee thrower. I believe it is because my chest gets in the way when I try to throw the Frisbee.  I think this is a logical explanation and it annoys me when people laugh openly when I propose it.  Anyway, I thought my only hope was to position Kyle in a sit and throw right to him.  On my first shot I had the best throw of my career; the Frisbee sailed directly at Kyle's waiting jaws, he ducked but never moved an inch, and the crowd cheered as the Frisbee sailed a mere one-half inch over his head.  I moved in closer, and to the extent possible, aimed lower; the Frisbee hit him full in the chest.  He never flinched, or even looked to acknowledge the presence of the Frisbee.  Again the crowd cheered to see such grace in the line of fire. 

At this point I decided that the sit-stay-in-the-middle-of-the-field approach was ill-advised and Kyle probably thought that this was just one of my asinine distraction ploys to reinforce his obedience stays.  I moved to plan B.  If Kyle thought this was obedience, then I would treat the exercise like a retrieve.  Kyle was at my side on a wait, I sent the Frisbee flying, I uttered the command, "take it" and Kyle flew from my side and went right off in the direction of the Frisbee!  Yes! Yes! My heart soared, "This is like a damn Disney movie!", I thought.  Kyle went right to the Frisbee.  He stopped! He peed! He ran on!  Our performance made the news folks, but they cut the pee part.  Obviously Kyle needs to work on them.

You may find this hard to believe but we did enter a second Frisbee competition for the same reasons.  Before I could even make a toss, Kyle noticed that his Vet was one of the referees and ran over to play his favorite game, "jump all over somebody you really love".  We were thrown out for unduly influencing a judge.  Just for the record, the boobie prizes at these events are just as good as the first prize, and in Kyle's case they sometimes even create on-the-spot award categories.

Kyle's tour de force was in an open obedience competition event.  The competitor in the ring before him was a Wolfhound bitch. Kyle became increasingly distracted as we worked the heeling pattern.  He was totally off his concentration; when we moved to the retrieve he totally lost it.  He picked up the dumbbell on the flat and returned to me only to run around me and go over the high jump, then back over the jump to me to spit the dumbbell out, then off again to do the broad jump---all on his own.  He then started wooing and spinning and chasing his tail.  Kyle was obviously excited when we returned to do the stays.  Of course we were already NQ.  The judge was very nice. I don't remember his name but he had quite a Scottish Brogue.  He came over to me and said, "Yeer boy seems a bit excited, peerhaps you best stay heere on the stays."  So as everyone else exited the ring, I was forced to stay and endure Kyle's antics.  He did not get up, but he did a rather good impression of Elvis the Pelvis.  He undulated during the entire sit. I was forced to listen to moms hushing their children as the little ones commented on the red "thing". He kept reaching his paw out sideways trying to hook the paw of the Russian Wolfhound next to him.  When we went to exit the ring after the downs were completed, Kyle dove for the spot where the hound had been sitting and it took all my strength to haul him out. I seriously considered giving up obedience on this day.

Some months later, when I was in a particularly bleak mood, I looked over some copies of "Front and Finish".  Just by chance I happened to look at a sighthound column.  The woman with the wolfhound was writing about that trial!  She said they were qualified up to the stays and she was very worried because they were next to a "huge Siberian Husky" (thank heaven for small favors) that was "very unstable".  Damn, she was talking about my Kyle!  Hell, you'd be unstable too if you were balancing on your own erection!  She went on to say (this still makes me mad) how proud she was of her girl because, "even though she came into heat right after I sent in the entries" she decided to bring her girl any way and "fortunately, no one noticed she was in heat".  No one noticed?  Just ask Kyle.  My boy was vindicated, or at least had a damn good excuse.

Now I feel compelled to tell you that Kyle was no slouch.  He was the winner of the Oonanick Memorial award.  He was the number one ranked obedience Malamute in the Shuman Ratings in 1989.  I think he may be the only Malamute ever to have made the Shuman ratings.  I say this only to provide some measure of balance and journalistic accuracy to this presentation, not to brag on myself and my boy--and harumph to any of you who think otherwise.

If you think I have endured enough you are wrong. A glutton for punishment, I went to the airport a few months ago to pick up another Malamute boy.  Vicky Jones assured me both testicles were in the hopper so I knew what I was in for there.  I no sooner got on the highway with my new boy than "KABLAM! fwapa fwapa" there went my rear tire.  As I sat on the road hoping for help and clutching my 10 week old black and white boy, subsequently named, "Vykon's Blacktop Blowout", (look if you can't figure it out...!) I thought, "oh damn, tires and testicles; what an inauspicious beginning".