We were sitting on the couch one day watching a show called "Pets on
Parade"; which was a show where the local humane society in Boise, Idaho (we were living there then), showed the animals up for adoption; when we saw an Alaskan Malamute dog. 

Dean had always liked the look of the Malamutes, and we decided after about 4 hours of deliberation to go down and look at him.  Kris was 6 months pregnant with Derek at the time.  We went to the animal shelter, and took the dog into a visitation room to see how his personality was.  The dog sniffed at us, then showed more interest in the walls of the room than he did us.  Dean was smitten, and we brought the dog home and named him Oso, Spanish for "bear".

Oso settled in quickly, after a disturbing week of him taking the shoes out of our closet and leaving them on the lawn for some unknown reason.  It was clear he had been beaten in the past, so we were extra gentle with him.  After Derek was born, we started dog obedience classes, as it was clear that we needed them.   Alaskan Malamutes are very smart dogs, and very pack driven, and although we were now part of Oso's pack, he clearly thought he should be pack leader.

Part of Oso's dominance issues showed up in him peeing on people.  People below him in pack status or other people were nothing, and peeing on them was not an issue for him.  Kris was peed on twice, Dean once, an employee of Deans once, and a stranger at the dog park once.  Then Oso did the worst.  Two fluffly white Bishon dogs fresh from the groomers - they stood perfectly still while Oso peed all over them, and the owner stood with mouth gaping open staring at the poor peed covered dogs.
After obedience class the family was never peed on again - but we always had to watch him around others.

Oso was great with Derek, never hurt him, was always very gentle and tolerant of him.  Derek climbed on and pulled on every part of Oso, and he just bore it.  We trained Oso to pull a sled in the winter, and a cart when there was no snow.  Oso loved the snow up until his last few years, and would pull Derek on the sled all day, as long as Kris or Dean were running alongside him.

Oso always let us know if he was displeased, and after replacing the seatbelts in the jeep 4 times, we figured out not to leave him in the jeep without him seeing the door of the building we went into.  If we turned a corner before going into a door, we were sure to come out to chewed through seat belts.

When we moved to Connecticut, Oso was quite happy because we had a large public forest behind the house.  He had always had daily walks of 1 to 4 miles per day, and now the walks were mostly in the forest.  He was always off leash in the forest, and could sniff most interesting things along the way.  Unfortunately the forest was home to several deer, and when Oso saw them - he was in heaven - chasing deer was a delight to him.  Kris would try to run after him and stop him - to no avail, and calling him was pointless.  Kris would just go home and wait, and usually within 6 hours Oso would wander home on his own.  One time the pound picked him up, and one time a fellow 4 miles away called us at 6:00 in the morning to come get the dog off his lawn.   

When we got Sam, Oso was not thrilled, but quickly adapted as long as Sam knew his place in the pack was beneath Oso.  Oso and Sam both enjoyed a good skunk chase, Oso, more than Sam, and if anyone needs to know how to get skunk smell out of a dog, we can help you there.  At least 6 times Oso was covered, and received special baths.

Oso was a great dog, he enjoyed being with us, and when we moved onto the boat, he only had one accident and then the bathroom training was done, and he did his thing on the net of the boat during calm and stormy weather with no complaints.  He never got seasick, and loved running on the beach and going with us and smelling all the new smells everywhere we went.  The entire eastern seaboard has been well marked by Oso.
He always attracted a lot of attention, because he was a truly handsome dog, and people would always ask us if he was a wolf.

We had Oso 2 months shy of 13 years.  He was two to three years old when we got him.   He had been on arthritis pain medicine for the last two years.  He had a small lump in his front armpit, and recently got a large hernia in his groin area.  He was usually 85 pounds, and had dropped to 65 pounds.  He lost some interest in food, and could only walk about 1/4 of a mile before he would drop.  He did not want more than one walk a day.  He started to pace at night for 2 to 3 hours and get confused.   The vet was quite amazed at long he had lived and how healthy he had been.
Oso was put out of his pain at 6:00 p.m. on October 3, 2012.

He will be greatly missed, he was part of our family, and we loved him.

You can see Derek in Dean's arms

Always patient
     
     
     
     
 
He snuck on the  couch at night, and thought we didn't know

Oso loved to lay under bushes 
Summer haircut

Hanging at the beach

Snoozing on the boat 
 

Old dogs sleep soundly
  Oso's day on stage

Tired pups

Boat life is good

Just chillin'
 
Who me?
 
10/3/2012 - Ode to Oso