I first encountered Aiden on a bright sunny day at a local rescue meet and greet. We locked eyes, and then he put his paws on my shoulders and kissed my cheek. Tears welled up, and I knew he was going home with me.
Seeking a playmate for my daughter’s Husky, Maggie, I knew instantly that Aiden would be a perfect addition to the family. His foster dad, Tom, gave me endless details. He likes pancakes (say what?) and the hairdryer. Tom’s wife often sat on the floor to “dry” Aiden just because.
Aiden is a strong, brindle colored husky with big brown eyes. Barrel chested and strong, he is shorter than most huskies, but strength, courage, and character make up for his stature. Truly a bossy clown, every day is an adventure with my A-Bear. He loves walks, children (especially the ones who hug him), and never meets a stranger. My boy loves to cuddle, and until recently, he would leap onto the bed to share my pillow and watch TV. (He simply loves Billions!)
Of course, like any Husky, Aiden has his mischievous side. Even today, he likes to drag my socks and underwear, along with my coveted sweaters, out through the doggy door and into the yard. He especially does this when I’ve been too absent or not attentive enough to him. I find him guarding them in the garden while giving me the cold shoulder. In typical Husky fashion, Aiden howls and woos to express his frustration, love, and excitement, and of course his hangry levels. I often meet his bowl midflight (yes, he can toss it) if he’s displeased with the quantity of his kibble. Message received, A-Bear.
Aiden, an alpha male, welcomed his new brothers Jude and Lyncoln, within a year, and the pack was complete for several years, until we lost Maggie due to an undiagnosed congenital kidney illness that quickly took her life. My Aiden fell into depression. He loved his sister and followed her lead. Now, he would have to be the number one canine, a tough gig for a freewheeling, loving lapdog. Yes, it’s true, dogs can be depressed. His vet prescribed him medication, but if I’m honest, it took three years for him to completely come out of that, and in fact, he went a little haywire, mostly due to high anxiety which led him into creating more destructive havoc.
After eventually calming down, Aiden had an unfortunate encounter with a dangerous toxin, left behind by exterminators, and almost lost his life. I was out of town when I received the news from my son, “something’s wrong with Aiden.” I gave instructions to get him to the vet and after two weeks in ICU at two different specialty hospitals, he finally came home.
I’ll never forget seeing him in the emergency room kennel. I knelt next to him and lifted his head in my hands. His eyes grew wide and lit up as I spoke to him. “Buddy, this is your fight. You gotta let me know how far to take it. It’s OK either way. I want you to be happy and never to suffer.”
He rallied and came back stronger than ever. For the next five years, Aiden was my strength, my rock. He carried me through three, not one, horrible career experiences, two break-ups, and a friendship betrayal that rocked my world. Never wavering, Aiden stayed right by my side, loving me through it all.
During the pandemic, I contracted COVID, not once but twice, and it affected my sense of direction and caused brain fog and confusion. Simple tasks and navigating well-known, frequented places became a challenge for me.
On one occasion, Aiden and I were on our afternoon walk in early evening hours of a summer day. During the hot seasons, I walk the boys early in the morning or late in the evening, before sunset, to avoid overheating them. However, I became disoriented and forgot how to get us home after a long three-mile walk. We were out of water and my map app was not working. I began to panic, and Aiden sensed my distress.
He circled my legs and kissed my knee before turning us around and tugging at his leash. He turned his head back to me as if to say, “I’ve got you, let’s go home.” I had to trust him, and he led us back to our neighborhood and got us home.
I collapsed on the patio, out of anxious embarrassment, and Aiden sat down in front of me and nudged my arms around his neck. In that moment, I realized why God created dogs, and more specifically, why He gave Aiden to me.
As my boys aged, now all twelve, I accepted our walks would be shorter, naps would be longer, and time with them would be more precious. That timeline was recently accelerated when Aiden was diagnosed with an inoperable brainstem tumor, most likely because of the pest control toxin he encountered years ago.
Devastated, I sought answers from the very specialty hospitals that saved him all those years ago, and they gave us hope and time: with radiation, Aiden has the chance to live a full Husky life, an additional 18-24 months on average.
While I know his and his brothers’ time is limited, I am grateful for the days I still have. I am big on loyalty and Aiden is the most loyal soulmate of my life. I often call him my Spirit Animal, because I am convinced, he has changed me for the better and reminds me of the compassion and unconditional love I reserve for only the most special members of my circle. I’ve never had a more committed companion.
He’s still healing and recovering from his radiation treatments, but I’m already seeing improvements. His devilish personality is returning, albeit a bit subdued, and he’s back to his 4:00 AM routine (coffee and treats first thing in the morning—who needs an alarm clock? I’ve got a wooer…)
Modifications have been made to accommodate his changing needs. My bed, broken down and frame removed, sits directly on the floor so he doesn’t crawl under it, reducing the possibility of him getting stuck. His new bed, now positioned at the foot of mine, is conveniently positioned in front of his nighttime TV so he can watch Billions and The Chosen (we’re a diverse TV watching fam, don’t judge us) and provides him with a boost platform if he wants to hop up to cuddle with me.
As Aiden levels out, we will begin some new adventures. Pup cups, walks to Andy’s frozen custard and Starbucks, car rides with Mom to run errands (just because–who’s going to say no and not allow a dog with brain cancer to come with?), stargazing, and coffee time on the patio are all in order. Monthly spaw treatments from his favorite at home spa provider, Barkbus, along with sweet treats from his preferred barkery to celebrate the borrowed time we’ve been given.
You might be saying to yourself, this woman has lost it, over a dog. But I would say to you, when God gives you the opportunity to love and be loved by an angel, you totally embrace the chance to impress that blessing permanently into your heart.