This story originally ran in the Fall 2014 (V8I3) edition of Yukon, North of Ordinary.
There’s one place in Whitehorse I avoided the first few years after moving to the territory: Mae Bachur Animal Shelter. It wasn’t due to an overwhelming distaste for cats and dogs. To the contrary, it was due to an overwhelming adoration for them—particularly the latter.
I’d experienced dog ownership once in my life. When I was a child, my family took in a stray miniature schnauzer. And while I didn’t exactly learn the ins and outs of caring for a four-legged friend then, it wasn’t something I ruled out in my future.
In October 2010, I mustered the courage to visit the shelter with intentions of just walking a pooch—although I prefaced the visit with a disclaimer that this would likely lead to owning one.
As I walked in the building, a blonde haired, brown-eyed, medium-sized pup in a solitary-confinement room gazed from behind the glass with a toy football in her mouth. Her floppy ears and little brown nose just about did me in. Her name: Savannah. She’d been brought in by city bylaw, had little to no history, and was sitting solo, awaiting vaccinations and to be spayed. Bearing no resemblance to one specific breed, she’d been affectionately dubbed a “mutt,” widely known as a “Heinz 57” or “Yukon Special” around these parts.
A week later, I took her for a walk. Words can’t describe the energy this pup gave off. She bounced around while I gripped the leash, holding on for the ride. As the weeks grew colder, she carried one of my mittens like a proud possession during our jaunts. I pegged these traits as adorable and wasn’t deterred by the overly enthusiastic personality she presented. It was only a matter of time before the papers were signed and Savannah went from shelter dog to my beloved new companion.
I’ve grown accustomed to referring to myself as her mother. Every outfit I own is besieged with dog hair. And, yes, I’m one of those people who routinely complain about being unable to take her everywhere I go. After all, she’s my right-hand bud.
This fall marks four years since Savannah entered my life, and there isn’t a day that goes by when she doesn’t make me laugh. Her ridiculous personality is infectious,and friends have contributed countless nicknames to her growing list of monikers. Call me crazy, but she truly senses when I’m sick, sad, or stressed by another deadline. I might have saved her, but every day she saves (and tests) my sanity.