Meet Lisa! Lisa is one of my favorite people. She and her husband, Mike are the most caring, loving couples I know, and I can tell you from experience, she will do anything to help her pet family. Lisa and Mike are hobby breeders of Alaskan Malamutes (where I adopted Nuka and Beckham!). They run Summit Alaskan Malamutes in Pinetop, AZ (https://www.summitmalamutes.com/) Their business is not run like a true business; to make money…Their mission is to help others and breed Malamutes responsibly. Their pups are given the utmost care and love and are only adopted out to families that share the same love for the breed.
Here is Lisa’s story.
My first dog was a stray Basset Hound who God sent to us. When I was nine years old, my parents called my sister and I into the bedroom to announce we were going to have a little sister or brother. I burst into tears and
ran from the room. My dad came to me and asked me what was wrong. My reply was, “You said I could get a puppy. I don’t want a sister or brother!” 18 months later I got a Golden Retriever puppy for Christmas. I had Goldens all through high school, joined the Golden Retriever Club, etc, went to dog shows, training classes, and loved my dogs.
By the time I was in my early twenties, I did not have a dog and saw that malamute puppy in the pet store and fell in love. That was 1986, and I have had Malamutes ever since. I fell in love with this breed. They are NOT dogs, just really amazing people in fur coats. Each one is different, but each one truly thinks they are a member of the family; not a dog. I had them for years as pets. Once again in 2011 I had three malamutes who were 12, 11 and 9 I knew I would be looking at losing them in the near future. I started looking for a puppy and found one in Alaska. My husband then said we should get two, as the older dogs were not going to want to put up with a crazy puppy. So 6 months later we brought in a male to go with our girl. We had NO intentions of breeding.
During that time my mom got very ill suddenly. We lost her in May 2012. A month to the day that my mom
passed, I took the day of work to take my dad fishing, as I knew he was going to have a tough day. Our girl was in heat and we had the dogs in separate yards on opposite side of the house. I told my husband we should feed them extra in case we didn’t get back by dinnertime. Well, I guess I should have reminded him to lock the gate. We came home and the kids were together and I knew we were going to have puppies. So, our first litter was an accident, our stupid mistake. We decided to make the best of it. It was a blessing.
I had spent the entire previous year helping my dad take care of my mom, and now that she was gone, I was lost. The pups gave me smiles and purpose. Since then the main reason we have continued to breed on a small scale is to help people heal their hearts.
A majority of our puppy families are people who have had malamutes before. Most have recently lost their baby of 13-15 years. Some grew up with a malamute and now are married, raising their own family, and want their kids to have the same experience. It is a love of the breed. Many of them told me they have tried to adopt rescues, and because they had small children or many other reasons, they don’t meet the requirements. Many of our families have two of our babies in them. To see the joy these pups bring these families, to see how they complete these families is why we do it.
Every penny from puppies goes back into the dogs. It is not a money making adventure. It can be heartbreaking. It is exhausting. We both work full time jobs. When we have a litter of puppies, it is like having 3 full time jobs. You are never off. You are lucky to get to sleep 5 hours straight. You give up your life, miss birthday parties,
events at school, you are a prisoner to your babies. Your vet loves you as you just paid for the new wing on their hospital. He also hates you because you call at all hours, even on Sundays. Then comes puppy pick up day. You cry with every one that leaves. You miss them terribly. You pay off all your vet bills and food bills and realize
you only went in the hole a few hundred during the last 8 weeks, and ask yourself again why you do this.
And then………the reward. The pictures from the new families start coming. The videos. The sincere thank you for raising such an amazing baby. The love that pours out with each new message from the new families. It is emotionally rewarding, that’s it. It makes my heart smile to bring joy into others lives.
That’s why we breed.
Favorite Pet Memory as a Kid
I was dog crazy by the time I was 3. Our family had a set of encyclopedias (something we all had before the internet!) and I still remember volume 4 was the book with the dogs. I looked at that book every day, had circled all the dogs I wanted, which were all big, before I ever started school.
One night our parents took us to a local buffet for dinner. When we went to leave there was a basset hound sitting by the front door and I stopped to talk to her. She followed me to the car and jumped in. When my dad came out and saw what had happened he went back inside to find out who the dog belonged to. They told him they didn’t know she had been there several days and they had been feeding her. We took her home, named her Samantha and I had my first BFF, and as it turns out my only small dog.
She was the perfect dog, happy to do whatever I wanted. At that time, “Lost in Space” was a very popular show on TV. We lived next door to a pear orchard in northern California. One day the neighborhood buzz was there were “aliens” in the orchard. The police helicopters were circling above our house. Of course the only “aliens” I had ever heard of were from outer space as I was 4. The whole neighborhood went to a neighbors house to get up on a deck to watch. I stayed home with Sam scared to death. I hid under the bed with Sam by my side until my mom came home.
She was truly my protector, my BFF and the only one who understood me. I will never forget that day, 52 years later I still remember our conversations under that bed while hiding. With that my true love of dogs was born.
Thoughts on the Rainbow Bridge
Pope John Paul said it and I believe it. He said “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” God has worked in my life through animals since I was a child. In fact, if it was not for dogs I may have never truly known God. I have so many stories I could share about God’s love for me and how he has proved that though my animals I could write a book. Man’s best friend. Truly the most amazing example of unconditional love and commitment comes in the form of a dog. Every dog who has been a part of my life has left its mark on my heart and every one has been different. No two are ever the same. They may look the same, but they are not. Each one has a distinct personality, likes and dislikes. To look into the eyes of a canine companion and to think “they are just a dog” is impossible. There is something in there. A soul? I do not know, but I believe there is.
To me dogs are purely perfection, no evil just good. To me they are God’s most perfect creation. There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners. Heaven is all things good, and since dogs are only good, they will be there. Many people I have met throughout my life will not make it no matter how much I loved them or how badly I want them there, but I believe every dog I have encountered will. I think God put dogs here to show people how to love unconditionally and I believe many of us fail. As Will Rogers once said ” If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went”.
Back in 2012 I lost my mom. I was sitting by her side, holding her hand, when she left her body. I FELT her soul leave. Her body became an empty house in the blink of an eye. The following year I lost my malamute Dylan. His
head was laying in my lap, I was petting him and sobbing begging God to take care of him. My hand was on his head when he left and I FELT him leave. Identical experience. So yes, I BELIEVE dogs go to Heaven and we will be reunited.
How Do you Deal with the Loss of a Loved Pet?
Often times I am upset at the short life span of our beloved pets, and other times I think God planned it that way for a reason. With every pet I have had I have learned something, God has taught me through them. Losing them is tough. Losing any member of your family is tough. My mom once told me that the “sooner I realized death was the end result of life”, the easier it would become. And though it is never EASY, I do understand all of our time here is limited and all things come to an end, at least in this world.
Over my 56 years on this earth I have lost many. Each one has left this earth with a piece of my heart that I will not get back until one day when we are reunited, and it hurts. It never stops hurting. But with each pet that comes into my life, a joy is placed in my heart, a new bond is formed and a new love is ignited. I will never forget my pets that have passed and no new pet will ever fill that hole that they left in my heart, but I will have pets in my life the day I leave this world I know. To me life without a dog is not a life. They complete me. I need them more than they need me. They keep me focused on the good in life, a daily reminder of love and happiness. I strive to be the person my dog thinks I am.
Parts of our home are a memorial to our past pets. Photos. Old collars, tags and toys hanging in displays. Urns. Each one is a reminder of the love and support they gave so freely. I often stand and look at these things with tears running down my face, remembering my friends. I also sometimes smile at the amazing memories they have given me. Loss is hard but inevitable if you are a pet owner. Hurts like hell, no way around it. I am just so thankful for the time I had with them and that God chose ME to have them spend their lives with and praying I made them as happy as they made me.
Advice for Those Who are Mourning the Loss of a Pet
In 1987, I fell in love with a malamute puppy at a pet store and bought him. I was living in Arizona, not a huge snow dog state for obvious reasons. A year later I found a female malamute at a pet store and bought her. Needless to say both dogs had health problems as I am sure they were from a puppy mill. No matter, I loved them dearly and dealt with the issues and gave them great lives.
In 1998, they were both getting older and I knew I would eventually lose them. By now the internet was starting up and I found a small breeder in Indiana who bred as a hobby and started communicating with her. I put a deposit down in May on a litter that was coming that August. Little did I know that by the time this litter was born I would have lost both of my dogs as their health issue finally got them.
I went four months without a dog and it was the worst four months of my life. I came home from work without a purpose. I stood in the backyard and tears came daily. I decided at that time that I was someone who needed that welcoming committee to come home to, and that I needed something to love and to see good in every day.
Some people who lose a pet do not get another for a while, and I don’t know if it is because they think their dog
would have wanted them to be without love, or if it is not right to get another with the wound so fresh. I believe that my dogs would have wanted me to have something to love, that they would not have wanted me to mourn for so long. I have had several people tell me they wanted to wait to get another pet, they didn’t want to go
through the pain of losing one again or thought there should be some appropriate time spent grieving to pay respect to the pet they lost.
Everyone is different, but I don’t think your dog would want you sad. Since that miserable four months I spent I have never been without at least one dog to soak up my tears and make me smile. I truly believe my dogs who have left would not want me alone. The pain of losing a family member is devastating, I know. But to have a friend to give you a hug and soak up your tears is healing. And though I still mourn, I can sometimes smile as healing comes through the pets I still have.
One word of advice is to be there when your babies leave. Let your face be the last one they see, your touch the last one they feel. They will be looking for you at the bridge.
I am so proud to have become friends/family with Lisa and Mike, and reading Lisa’s story was an amazing reminder of what our pets give to us. They are all different, and they bring different things to the relationship, but their love for us is the same….unconditional.
Thank you Lisa for sharing your story.
P.S…one of my favorite Mals!