Sunday, March 15, 2009


We all have hard about “Gateway Drugs” that drug which is seen as ‘harmless’ but leads to a life of addiction – well, I would like you to meet MY ‘gateway drug”


We brought Patsy our first Alaskan Malamute home from her BYB as a 9 week old ball of fluff. That afternoon, we took her to our vet for a check up; he heard a heart murmur and she was anemic – and loaded with fleas. We decided that we would take her back to her breeder and look for another, healthier puppy. She slept in the bathroom that night. The next morning, she was in the living room when I heard her screaming like the world would end. It seems that she did something that Tess, our old Momma Sibe did not like, Patsy ignored Tess' suggestion to straighten up – so Tess bit her. Face bleeding we rushed her to the vet who had to shave her face to treat puncture wounds to her face and head.

Kind of hard to have a BYB take back a chewed up puppy, so we were stuck with a bald headed back yard bred dog, with a murmur.

The next year was the normal adventures of raising a puppy. Normal IF that puppy is a Malamute. I discovered a couple of Malamute internet lists and began my education of the breed in general and with Patsy's help, the MRM (Malamute Resistance Movement) in particular. We found we had a dog that would fight a gate post at the drop of a hairy eyeball and at the same was the most loving dog we have ever owned.

At seventeen months – Patsy's cute little puppy hop had developed into a full blown bilateral bad hip bunny hop at anything faster than a walk – she hopped when she trotted. So off to the orthopedic vet – the verdict? Severe bilateral hip dysplasia and moderate arthritic changes to the right hip. The solution –Total Hip Replacement to the left rear. Three months of rehab – and Patsy was doing quite well. Then about a year later she developed an abscess on her left leg just above the hock. The implant had gotten infected. For a year she was on antibiotics – the abscess would clear up then return as soon as she was off the meds. It was obvious she was in pain, the right leg had atrophied and she was not using it. We were getting conflicting opinions on what, if anything could be done.

That year, 2002, the National was in Sacramento and a friend there offered to drive us to UC Davis if I could get an appointment to evaluate her leg.

Tom and I had driven there in the RV, and had decided that if there was not a VERY positive potential outcome if we operated on Patsy to remove the implant, we would have her put out of her pain when we returned. We were not going to put Patsy through another major surgery if it would not cure her pain. We loved her too much to put her through that for OUR benefit – only if it would really help HER.

The report from the wonderful Vets at UC Davis was very hopeful – if we removed the hip implants and all the cement where the infection had settled, there was an almost 100% chance that she would recover to become pain free and have normal function.

We left the National with the real winner of the year at that National in our RV – Patsy would get the surgery, and would live.

Patsy had the surgery and it was a success- she continued to travel across the country with us in the RV and has brought many special moments such as this.

Going to the National in Utah, Tom and I took the RV and did the touristy route. We spent one night at a WalMart (the cheap RV park) in Gallop. In the morning when I was walking her, 3 middle aged men walked by. Stopped dead in their tracks, and began talking to each other in their language (most likely Navajo, but could have been Zuni or any of the local languages) the one who had spotted Patsy put his hand to his neck and pointed Patsy out to the others. A bit later a VERY old gentleman came over to me and asked about my dog. l told him we were on our way to Ogden to National, and that she was a Malamute, and that they were the valued companions of the Malamute Inuits. He then looked at me and said, "Around her neck?"

I thought I was in for a major chewing out about those 'yuppie Indian wanna-be's' abusing traditional beliefs. I told him it was sent to her when she was very ill by a friend in CA, who is a Native healer. He asked me what was in the bag and I told him, I had been told to add turquoise and silver, but there were other herbs and I don't know what all else--you see it is HER medicine bag that Lori made for her. He smiled, and then asked if he could talk to her--of course I said yes.

He got down on his knees, reached out and put his hands on her head and spoke to her in his native language. Patsy, who will bark and bitch at strangers, just stood there relaxed, looking him in the eyes, as an equal. He told me "she is a special spirit", I told him I knew and thank you for seeing that. He smiled and walked back into WalMart. For the next few minutes, while I finished walking her 15 to 20 people, all Native, came out of WalMart, walk over to where we were, looked at Patsy and me and then went back in the store. Very special.

During this time, Tom's health had deteriorated and he was having a lot of trouble with his diabetes – many instances of going into insulin shock – with Pasty alerting me when ever he was unconscious. We also figured out that Patsy would alert Tom when his blood sugar would start to get low. She and Tom were bonded at the hip and she became his self taught Medical Assistance Dog. When Tom was having a bad day – he would take Patsy to work. She would spend the day sleeping under his desk, telling him when his blood sugar would drop. There were 6 times that she saved his life by alerting me that Tom was unconscious – and untold times, she alerted Tom to eat when he was going hypoglycemic.

Today, Feb 17, 2009 is Patsy's 10th birthday and she has led me on quite an adventure – somewhere along the line I lost my shyness and learned to embrace life with the joy and curiosity of a Malamute. For those who have seen her – you know she is not a Best in Show example of her breed – but that is only the outside. In her head and heart Patsy is 100% Malamute – a Best of Breed Malamute where it counts. She has taught me to look into the heart of those I meet and not to judge by what I see on the outside.

She has lead me to being involved in Malamute rescue and from there to work with RPOA helping Pets and Owners of all species. She had been the 'gateway drug' to a whole new world of interests (some would say obsessions) having to do with the world of working dogs – and sled dogs. Because of Patsy's influence in my life I have met my dearest friends, made many internet friends across the world – have traveled the US, gone to Alaska to the Iditarod and most importantly have had the love and respect – hard earned – of a fantastic if quirky Alaskan Malamute named CW Singin' PatsyCline.
Now I sit here caring for 9 dogs, most of them Malamutes, all of them but Patsy rescues. My life is centered on Dog issues - Rescue; a facination with Northern Breed dogs, especially Malamutes; promoting giving Working Dogs jobs; a fanatic about the Iditarod and all the other activities with dogs; and working for animal welfare issues (NOT animal rights).
Hello, my name is Dust Musher, and I am an addict - all because of a gateway drug named PatsyCline.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a fascinating story about Patsy Cline. Thank you to God for the miracles that have kept her here with you, and the medicine bag that was created just for her. She is indeed a special spirit. Happy 12th Birthday Patsy Cline! Woooooo!!!!!!!