All about Due North's Loki the Trickster

Loki was born at Due North Kennels on April 12, 1996 and died of cancer on March 13, 2007.

He was in a litter of five puppies, three girls and two boys. You can see his pedigree by clicking here.

I hadn't intended on owning two dogs, I always thought that one would be plenty and one Siberian Husky would be more than enough to keep up with especially after injuring my back.

It became apparent pretty quickly that Thor was too sociable of a guy to be left alone for long stretchs during the work day so the answer had to be another dog. After months of physiotherapy, chiropractic work on my back and the need to take Thor for long walks, the pain in my back had subsided quite a lot over the course of that first winter. The thought of the physical demands that might be placed on me by having two Siberians did not seem to be that big a deal anymore.

Through the first year of having Thor I became acutely aware of the problem of abandoned Siberians and I did not want to have that happen to me as a result of not being able to care for two dogs.

What the heck, Thor's happiness was more important so off I went contacting breeders. Idealy I had though I would try to get another Black and White to try to match Thor, or that was the plan. At the time I was contacting breeders, it became apparent that there were not a lot of litters around and I may not be able to have the choice I had hoped for.

One of the few litters around at the time was from Due North. I had already been told that they were all tawney-grey and white as well that all the boys were spoken for an only females were available. I knew I wanted another male so that was disappointing. I was having a serious bout of puppy envy at the time so decided to go up for a visit anyway. I am still a serious sucker for Siberian puppies and try to avoid them for fear of having hundreds of them.

When I got to the kennel there was one male of the litter in the house while I spoke with the breeder. This little pup was only 4 or 5 weeks old but he was proudly prancing around all over the house, tail high in the air and talking away to beat the band as if he were quoting "Homer's Iliad" and it was important enough for everyone to listen. Not barking, but talking in that Siberian Woo-woo murmer they have.

Quite the character this one. I had been used to Thor who was pretty shy, didn't talk or bark much but did on occasion. A very reserved personality (easy to say that now 12 years later), and it ocurred to me that this new pup with all of his exhuberance might be great for Thor to help bring him out a little. I discussed the male pup with the breeder who had originally indicated that no males were available. This pup was destined to be part of their Sled Dog excursion business to be on a team. The breeder decided that she would sell me the pup and the deal was done.

First day home at 9 weeks. He wasn't a happy camper pacing around yelping on the left and everyone knew it. Soon turned in to long naps on the right. The colour is off, more tan than red in reality.

My biggest regret with Loki is that I did not take nearly as many pictures of him growing up as I should have. After the experience I had with him over the following years I regretted that more and more. Of course technology changed during this time and pictures changed from film and prints that needed to be scanned to digital. I may have more prints and negatives around and I will hunt for those so that I can scan them, keep a permenant copy of them and post them up here on the website.

This picture looks to be at about 12 weeks of age and one of the few I can find. He always knew how to make himself comfortable and eventually even taught Thor how to sleep on his back with his belly up.

Thor and Loki hit it off immediately. Thor was so excited to have a buddy around his personality changed completely. If you look closely you can see Thor's paw not far away.

They were always this close.

The two of them together were instant fast friends. When Loki came home Thor was already about 14 months old and quite a lot bigger. Loki all his life had a puppy self image. If the two of them started playing rough and Thor objected, Loki would back down like a puppy would. A bit of an odd combination of personality traits, on one hand he was very self-confident talking away and eager to meet people yet on the other hand he had no interest in being Alpha or even challenging alpha. He seemed very content with his place in the world as long as Thor was near.

Loki grew up to be a really handsome guy. Good thing he had looks because he certainly earned his namesake getting in to mischief pretty regularly and he was smart enough to know it.

These pictures are at about 14 months of age.

Loki was pretty good at getting in to mischief. Never anything really serious, he was actually come when called most of the time unlike what is known as a Siberian trait of taking off once they know they're free. He absolutely did bring out Thor's personality, the two of them together was magic. They were completely inseperable and became quite upset if they were not together.

Loki always remained chatty and expressive with his voice the same as he was when I first saw him at 5 weeks of age.

Loki taught Thor how to do this. Thor has not slept like this again after Loki died.

This picture was taken in 1999.

Loki was a gorgeous dog on top of that sparkling personality of his. He attracted a great deal of attention.

It took Loki a while to figure out that whole camera thing. I remember after the flash went of he took off into the kitchen.

As you can imagine, the majority of the pictures I have over the years are of Thor and Loki together. Click here to go to the multimedia section to find more of the two of them together.

Of course there is an end to Loki's story and that was and still is heartbreaking for me. Loki turned out to be more personality than I've ever known. Below is the story of how things turned so bad.

Loki's Cancer Story (Hemangiosarcoma)

I suspect it's normal behavior for all Siberians to cough from time to time with fur stuck in their throats and all. Thor and Loki both constantly groom themselves like cats to and have always coughed off and on. I noticed around Christmas time 2006 that Loki seemed to be coughing more often than I thought would have been normal for him but it didn't sound bad or extreme in any way. The coughing became more gradual over the next month or so but still it was one or two short coughs and then not again for another day.

Then the first week of February he had an extended coughing fit for about a half a minute. This was now not normal and something to be concerned about so a call to the vet for an appointment. Around the same time were reports of Kennel Cough going around but Thor wasn't coughing. I couldn't get an appointment for a week and that first appointment was not with my regular vet who was on vacation. The vet we did see listened for a long time to Loki and wanted to see a set of X-Rays. A couple of days later off we go for X-Rays.

I got a call later that day where the vet told me there were large masses primarily in the lower abdomen. I went up to pick up Loki and have a look at the X-Rays. The masses were huge. The vet said there was nothing that could be done and didn't know how long he would have.

The following week my vet was back from holidays and after several days of absorbing the news I decided that I wanted to put up what ever fight I could to save Loki. Apart from the occasional cough, he otherwise looked completely normal, had lots of energy and still enjoyed going for long walks. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and I recall now that his abdomen was probably a little bigger but Loki put weight on and off quite a lot so it may have only looked like winter fat to me.

My regular vet is Dr. Jody Mokler DVM (click here for more information) who is an incredible person with a lot of energy and a hugely positive attitude. I went up to visit with her to discuss what we could do next to try to save Loki. Dr. Mokler and her team called all over looking for specialists to take him to for an evaluation jumping the line and getting an appointment in a few days.

I took Loki to a Veterinary Oncologist in downtown Toronto for a CAT Scan, Ultrasound and evaluation. I'm sure many reading this would think this was all very expensive and it was however I started planning for health costs for them from the beginning by having money deducted from my pay into a savings account dedicated to them so I was fully prepared for these costs. The results of the evaluation were not good. There were too many organs involved, too much of the mass had intertwined itself around the organs which would make any kind of surgical removal far too likely to put Loki in a state of affairs that would not be a good quality of life. The masses were too large to be effectively treated with radiation or chemotherapy, he was beyond the point of being able to be helped.

The two questions of importance obviously become, how long does he have, and how long ago would I have needed to know there was a problem in order to be able to have prevented all this in the first place. Nagging on my mind of course was if I had reacted to the coughing back in December, could I have stopped all this. The Oncologist said that the mass had probably been there for at least 18 months and to catch it at the latest point to have a good outcome may have been as late as 9 months prior to us discovering it. At either of those points in time there was no reason in the world to believe there was anything wrong. Even at 10 years of age, Loki had all of the energy, personality and playfulness of a year old puppy. That's not just me noticing it, everyone mistook him for a pup with all that energy.

The other question of course how long do we have. Unfortunately at the time all of this was coming to a head I had a week long business trip coming that I could not get out of. In fact, the day of the final prognosis was about 3 days before I had to fly out of town. The Oncologist said he thought that there was probably 4 to 8 weeks and that pretty much depended on Loki. So I had every reason to believe that I would have several weeks with him after I got back that I could prepare myself and do what ever I could to keep him comfortable.

Unfortunately that was not to be the case. While I was away Loki stopped eating. The will was there but he was refusing to eat and when he did he would throw up. As soon as I got back and saw him I could see that his abdomen had blown up fairly dramatically. His face was gaunt and his personality had defiantly changed. The time that I did not see him was exactly one week. I brought him home on the Sunday and every second I could tell that we did not have weeks and I was going to be lucky to have days. All the while for those few days I pulled out all stops to find a way to get him to eat. Loki was always a mooch-hound and I think he would have eaten non-stop until he exploded if given the chance. I bought everything I could find that I know he would never turn his nose up at, and sure enough he did try to eat several of the different things. But after a few bites he would wind up throwing up again and then not have the will to try that thing again. While he still did have energy, it was not the springy guy I was used to seeing and I could see his features getting thinner and thinner yet his belly and chest was getting bigger and bigger. By Monday morning it was clear he was having problems breathing. Instead of his belly or chest heaving I could see him struggling to lift his shoulders with every breath. It was uncomfortable for him to lay down, he could no longer curl up to sleep or lay on his back.

At no time through any of this did he exhibit any pain. He must have been either in overall discomfort or in a dull pain that he did not complain about. I called the Vet to make an appointment for Tuesday for a look, but it seemed pretty clear to me that this was the end. Monday night Loki walked over to me, struggled to hoist himself up on the couch and put a paw out on my arm and I knew. People say that the dog will tell you when it's time and this was Loki telling me that he'd had enough.

Next day at the vet we agreed it was time.

While we were going through all this I did contact Loki's breeder. I did discover that cancer had taken his brother, a sister and his Mom and apparently all were the same. They did not show any signs of any trouble until virtually the very end.

Loki was one of the most amazing personalities I've ever know, human or otherwise. He was a spark who not only livened up my life, but brought the best out in Thor. Having Thor and Loki were never a chore and we would always make plans to do things together and I always enjoyed every minute he was in our lives.

Once he was gone the house was a very different place. I was very worried about how Thor would do since bringing Loki into the house was for Thor's benefit in the first place. Thor is doing remarkably well. He is not pining, pacing, searching or howling. His personality is noticeably subdued compared to what it had been. There are things he used to do that he learned off of Loki that he no longer does like sleeping on his back. Loki died one month before his 11th birthday and 3 months before Thor's 12th birthday. Perhaps Thor's maturity is helping him, but I do notice that Thor is clinging to me far more than he used to. I think he relied on Loki's company for a large part of his independence from me.

 

This picture was taken a few days before he died on March 13th, 2007

10 years, 11 months 31 days....close enough for me to give him the benefit and say 11 Years Old.

 

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