Malamutes as Service and Therapy Dogs
I am not an expert and do not claim to be.
All I can do it share my experiences and thoughts
Alaskan Malamutes are proving to be wonderful dogs for service and therapy.
It is however, important to start them young.
History of the Malamute
The malamute is an ancient arctic sled dog breed.
To be this, man and dog had to work together. They had to rely on each other to survive !
They were not just a dog that pulled a sled but they were also used for backpacking as well as watching over young children and keeping them warm.
Man relied on the malamute for his strength and endurance and also for protection. This does not mean he is aggressive or a fighting dog. This means he was used to watch over man and warn of danger. This meant dangers of other man and animal but also dangers of thin ice as an example.
They had to form a bond of trust.
They had to work together.
They had to read each other.
I believe this is why they make good service / therapy dogs.
But I also believe that it is really important to start with a puppy to form the bond early.
I also believe that it is equally important to start with a good malamute with generations of proven good temperament.
Generations of being raised in kennels just won't do it !
Here is my quick story.
In 1999 I suffered a work related horrible electrical injury.
It took place in a bowling alley. When the machine blew and let go of me, it threw me backwards into a rack of bowling balls. So in addition to the electrical current, I also suffered injury from hitting the back of my head on the bowling balls as well as impact to my back in a couple places from hitting the shelves.
This has also led to several concussions due to my talent of falling :)
My injury is complicated. It is not life threatening but a life time of being changed.
In time, this page is going to be fulled with success stories.
My wish is to help suffering people find new hope or at least some comfort.
Regardless of what you suffer from, whether it be PTSD, Fibromyalgia, Cancer, Arthritis, Bipolar, Heart Disease or if you suffered injury from a car accident. Maybe you have been through a personal attack, abuse during childhood, abuse from spouse or tornado or hurricane. Maybe even the loss of loved one. This also includes ALL the men and women who have served in the armed forces.
I think there is one thing in common that all share - the loneliness that comes with a personal struggle.
IF you can related to any of this, then this page is for you !
MORE TO COME SOON !
Aspen is my baby. She is 9 years old and she has been with me since she was 8 weeks old. I had no idea, the day I picked her up from her breeder, how she would be such an important part of my life. Her loyalty and devotion is amazing. She is at my side no matter what. When I am down at my lowest, she is always ready to pick me back up. When I am hurting, she is with me. When I am sad, she is right there to nudge me with her cold wet nose. She is a distraction from the things I suffer from. No she can not heal me or fix any of them but she is simply distraction. For a moment, I forget the pain, the heart ache, the loneliness I suffer. For a moment, she makes me smile.
Nador is my trail mate. He watches over me like a hawk keeping me safe from everything including myself !
Nador's ability to tune into me is incredible. He senses my every need even before I do. He will set the pace for a long hike. He is independent and will take time to enjoy his hike but always keeping an eye on me. If he senses I need a break he will sit down on the trail and refuse to move until he feels I am ok. He will alert me to anything he feels is not right or safe. When meeting strangers on trials, he will literally put his body between me and the other people. He does not show aggression in any way but he lets them know, he is there to prevent anything from happening.
Before Nador, I had problems going places alone. With Nador, I feel safe and confident. Over the past few years, I have come far enough that now I can go more places alone and I can hike with the other malamutes.
Not all malamutes are the same. I benefit from both Aspen and Nador but in completely different ways. Both are no doubt a real blessing !
Our First Malamutes
The first malamutes in our family is Chloe, She belongs to my daughter who suffered from anxiety attacks when she was a teenager. Chloe would alert us at the first hint of an oncoming attack. She would start to whine and pace to get our attention. She would not leave my daughter's side.
This was the first time I saw the malamute in action.
Though this page is dedicated to the malamute, any breed or mixed breed can be tuned into humans.
I know this from watching Taylor, a black lab.
We rescued 3 month old Taylor from the humane society for my son who was struggling to adjust.
When he was young, he had speech problems as well as learning disabilities and asthma. To complicate things even more, he had to deal with being highly ADHD and Bipolar.
Though he is an adult now, he still struggles with his ADHD and Bipolar, he has grown out of the speech problems and asthma. Taylor was with us for almost 10 years. Towards the end, he suffered from arthritis in his spine, he still gave his heart to my son right up to the end.
Kurtis is now an adult and has come a long ways. I know in my heart a lot of this
success has a lot to do with the attention and dedicated Taylor gave to my son.
Taylor has passed and now Sakari is taking his place. She has been a wonderful support for our son. She is with him day and night. She helps to keep him focused. She also helps in a different way. She is his responsibility. He has to feed her, bathe her and take care of all her needs. This is a big step for our son, to take responsibility for something other than himself. Sakari also helps to balance out the mood swings and calms when he is agitated.
Ruger is very gentle and kind. He behaves well around other people. He is good in public and people he does not know. He has done some therapy work with Wounded Warriors. He is very gentle around disabled / challenged people. I hope to expand his work to other areas soon.
Ruger is my registered service dog. He offers a lot of emotional support, security, as well as physical support. He knows to stand firm when I need to use him to stand up. As my condition progresses, Ruger will be trained in other areas to help me.