Saturday, September 24, 2011


It was a year of many changes in my life. I transferred back to CONUS after 4 years of sea duty homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. I was assigned to Shore Duty (a mistake on the Navy's part, I was the best Sonar Tech in the entire Pacific Fleet) after 6.5 years of sea duty.

I was ending a messy divorce and finding my place in California lifestyle. And I ended up buying a companion from a pet shop in El Cajon, California. 


She was the first dog I ever owned as mine. All the others were pets of my family. This one was solely mine. She was an AKC registered Alaskan Malamute and I paid $795.00 for her. Her registered name was Princess Of The Aurora.

From day one, she was an outside dog. Cute and cuddly and intelligent, she was going to be a huge dog, just judging by the relative size of her paws. Better to keep her outside from the start than to try and move her out after she got big and accustomed to indoor life.

and grow she did. in her first 4 months she became a  large dog, although still very much a puppy.

Beautifully marked and without any of the hereditary deficiencies common to the breed, Gip was a great WATCH DOG. She would WATCH people all day long and never barked at anyone. She would stand on her hind legs and lookout over the top of a 4 foot high dog-eared redwood fence and GLARE at vendors and strangers and when they noticed her, they would invariably continue on their way to the next house.

On occasions when I was outside they would always ask 3 questions
1. Is that your dog?
2. What breed is he?
3. does he bite?       

I would answer the same way every time.

1. Yes SHE is.                         
2. SHE is an Alaskan Malamute
3. SHE has never bitten me...    

Truth be told, a person who strayed into my backyard would have been in serious jeopardy of being licked to death.
two years later in 1981 I got married again, I brought three things to my marriage. A 1979 Honda 750 F1 Super-Sport. A Dodge tradesman B200. And my Alaskan malamute.

Two memorable occasions come to mind. One was a party for housewarming in our new home in Santee California. All of my in-laws showed up along with six or seven nieces and nephews. Never having any problem with the dog, I said it was okay if they went on the backyard and played with the dog. A short time later the air was pierced by the screaming of a young child, a chill ran up my spine as we raced to the door to find one of my nieces laying flat on the ground with the dog holding her down with one paw and licking her face. I was relieved as were the parents, and to my knowledge everyone laughed. But I laugh the hardest.

One unusual thing about Alaska malamutes is that they do not bark. But they howl like wolves and when Gipper would let loose at night, the coyotes in the hills surrounding Santee would echo back at her. That only happened rarely and I don't remember any of the neighbors ever complaining. When it did happen she would only do it for a couple of minutes.

But one night about 2 AM the silence of the night was broken by the dog barking loudly and continuously (remember I said Alaskan malamutes don't bark, I didn't say they can't bark). I got out of bed and went to the back door to find out what had gotten this dog so upset. When I opened the door I was punched in the face by the pungent aroma of skunk essence. Flipping on the back porch light I saw my dog standing about 10 feet away from a skunk, and barking her head off. Going back to my bedroom and return with my Smith & Wesson 357 to dispatch the skunk. The first shot missed its mark in the bullet dug a big hole in the ground next to the skunk. The dog jumped a ran over and stood next skunk. The Skunk thought better of the situation and jumped the fence and was gone. Looking at my dog I could see the whole front end of her was dripping in skunk dew.

How do you get skunk stink off a dog? I had no idea. So I made some calls to several places in all of the recommended the same thing, so the animal in tomato juice let it dry and comb it out. I try to tell these people that I was doing with the malamute, not a Chihuahua just trading one problem for another. Finally a lady at the SPCA recommended a product, with a glowing endorsement, "I've never tried it but I hear it works."

The instructions were pretty simple an easy-to-follow. Sponge the solution onto the dog, let it dry and you're done. Another oddity about malamutes is the fact that they do not stink (have no odor in their fur) no matter how much they run and roll in the dirt, there is no typical dog smell about them. And after one application of ODORMUTE
my malamute was back to having no scent.

In January of 1986, my son was born. If I got old enough to move around and Walker stroller he would go to the back screen door and put his face against the screen and the dog would lick his face through the screen. He seemed to enjoy it , and laugh out loud. But it turned out he was allergic to the dog. And the doctors told us that we had to keep him and the dog separated. It was my idea to give the boy away, after all the dog was there first. But I was out voted and gave my dog while the sailors who worked with me at the base. 

Later in 1986 that Sailor moved to the East Coast with this family and my dog.
Sometimes I miss her.


Ms. A said...

Oh, no... allergic. What a shame! We almost had a similar problem after buying a pom and a couple of my kids breaking out in hives, with welts all over. Since they wouldn't take the dog back, we waited and were careful and the problem stopped. I couldn't help wondering if they had put something ON the dog, that my kids reacted to, rather that the dog, itself. I'm thinking it very well may have been.


I absolutely enjoyed this story but was saddened at the end by the twist in the tail. That's awful you had to give the Gipper away. Goddamn kids! :)

What a beautiful dog the Gipper is too!

I love your stories, Kurt.

More, more, mo'

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

loved your story, Kurt thanks for sharing. great photos as well.

I've been thinking about you lately. How are you doing? hope everything's ok.

i can feel you sad that you had to give the gipper away.
he's so handsome.

betty always~

p..s. thanks so much, for the lovely comment.
tomorrow i'll be back in the groove with a new post, if you'd like to see my photos.

Karen said...

Loved this story too... she was beautiful!... so sorry you had to part, but sounds like you found her a good home. Perhaps another dog (smaller this time) would be a great companion around the hasienda?... If you have a fenced back yard, the letting in and letting out would be easy.

Brittany Sommer said...

Such a gorgeous dog! Yes, the song holds significance but not in the way it gives off. The quotes I took from it in my blog just indicate that I am getting a little bit stronger since the miscarriage took it's toll on me. That's all. It's just been a really hard time in my life and I am trying to find inspiration through music and words you know?

Red Shoes said...

Dogs are special, life-long companions... I didn't like the end of the story either, but I do understand...


Just telling it like it is said...

Awe he is beautiful...Arn't animals amazing at helping heal the soul...I know my little Cece did that for me...then I got another dog and they multiplied...Now I have 3 rug rats...and they are always happy to see me...