For the love of a dog and vampires!
This memoir of a much loved pet was sent by a friend, Mark McClean. The hugely strong links formed with family pets never ceases to amaze me, as does the trust that these beautiful animals place in the strange two legged companions that they choose to live with. Dogs can melt the hearts of even the strongest of us. Rest in peace Gracie.
It all started in 1987. The setting was a small fictional town in northern California called ‘Santa Carla’. The protagonist was a young teenage boy called Sam and his husky-type dog: Nanook. The inciting incident of the film plot unfolds to reveal Sam, along with Nanook and his family have just moved into a small sleepy seaside town stalked by vampires! Have you guessed the film? The Lost Boys. It was a cult-classic of the late ‘80s starring the late Corey Haim, Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland.
In the middle of all the punchy one-liners, guts and gore special effects a typical 80s horror film had and a catchy soundtrack to boot, I happened to develop an interest for the husky breed of dogs. That was all thanks to Nanook. Who is actually an Alaskan malamute by the way! I loved Nanooks wolfish appearance and the protective, loyal bond he had with Cory Haim’s character, Sam. After watching The Lost Boys, I decided I just had to have a husky-type dog one day!
Fast forward 18 years from the original film screening to December 2005 and Grace is born. She was my very first Siberian husky. She was born in the village of Hilltown, County Down. Not quite as dramatic as ‘Santa Carla’ that was fraught with prowling danger but rather a more quiet, rural setting with farms and tractors and cattle.
Grace first caught my attention with a friendly howling “helloooo” when I showed up to have my pick of the litter. She had crystal blue eyes, which I simply could not resist. I just had to bring her home with me.
She displayed all the quintessential traits of the husky breed over the years. Out-going and mischievous. Headstrong and independent. Loved the outdoors, running wild and free but had zero road sense no matter how much training I invested in her adolescence years. Grace had a high predatory drive too for small prey. I came home from work one day to find a huge rat lying dead in my backyard. I would have come home and found the odd little house sparrow in the garden too that suffered the same fate as the rat.
Wee Gracie, affectionately known to her family, lived a full and adventurous life. There were a few hair-raising moments along the way. This included the time she suddenly decided to dash into a muddy field to goad some horses into playing “chases”. The horses were not amused and would have relished the chance to kick her into shape had they been quick enough! My attempts at beckoning Grace out of the field failed because she was having too much fun. That is the husky life! Over an hour later, Grace caught a glimpse of her fellow husky friends from the Glen that showed up. She scarpered out of the horse’s domain to greet them.
On another occasion in the life and shenanigans of wee Gracie, she thought she had morphed into a “bull” for a moment and took a charge towards a “red flag”. That “red flag” was a moving car! The car suffered damage from Grace smashing headfirst into the front passenger door, which failed to open properly. Meanwhile I was left trying to diffuse the situation with the driver and Grace made a beeline into the horizon. I soon went frantically searching for Grace thinking I was going to find her dead from the massive blow she took squarely. Instead, I find her frolicking in the long grass of the local park! Perfectly fine and happy. To say I was relieved and thankful everything worked out ok in the end would be an understatement. I learned that day that a dog “playing chicken” with a tonne of moving steel is certainly not for the faint of heart! Grace learned she could not run through a car to get to the other side of the road!
Grace survived to tell that tale. In fact, she has left behind many more tales of adventure and mishaps but I will stop there. I was heartbroken when Grace passed away on the 19th November 2018 due to a rapid illness and old age. She just missed her 13th birthday by a couple of weeks. I am pleased to say however, that Grace does live on in her pups. She has six boys and they would be 10 years old now. I had the pleasure of seeing one of them very recently. What name did his owner happen to give him? Nanook, of course! He is a sturdy, beautiful big fella who looks just like his mum with his piercing blue eyes.
I once thought we enriched a dog’s life. My thinking has changed. For Grace has shown me how much she enriched our lives!