With love and grief, I celebrate the life of Sakari, the first puppy born at Vanguard Chinooks, the one that set the tradition of red collar female puppies that arrive...and never leave. If there was ever a dog to start a tradition with, Sakari (named after the Inuit word for sweet) was the dog to do it with. An exceptional Chinook, Sakari was a versatile worker, devoted family companion, empathetic therapist, and exceptional mother. Goofy, happy, athletic, and thoughtful, Sakari was a multi-faceted prism that reflected her joy and love back at everyone around her.
She embodied everything I hoped for in her litter- a sweet, sometimes goofy, loving, outgoing personality paired with Chinook beauty. Sakari was extremely athletic, with a mixture of her mother’s beautiful, smooth movement and her sire’s plush coat, heavier bone, and historic size. Sakari was a party girl- happy to see you, happy to play. She invited you to share the simple joys of a hug or a bone with her. She could be high-energy yet she was also extremely intuitive and empathetic, knowing when to temper her joie de vivre with gentleness and calm.
Sakari’s innate, outgoing gentleness was a perfect match for a Therapy Dog. She proved this by skipping introductory lessons, and moving straight to certification by the Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dog organization, along with easily earning her Canine Good Citizen award. Sakari also proved that she had a keen brain behind that beautiful face -mastering pet training and working in both K9 Nosework and Rally Obedience. I’m proudest of Sakari’s working ability - she was a natural leader in harness. She prefered to run in lead, and added necessary focus to the team. She quickly earned her Weight Puller title in UKC Weight Pull, as well. I relied on her to get things started and keep the team going.
Sakari had three litters, and was a very serious and attentive mother. Her second litter in January 2014 was the first third generation crossbred Chinook litter in almost a decade- bringing needed health and diversity to the gene pool. Her third litter brought some West Coast genes back east for the breed.
While she was healthy for the vast majority of her life, she was diagnosed with both a heart murmur/mitral valve disease and mammary cancer in the last year. Despite exceptional care and a good tumor removal, her prognosis was poor because of the size and type of cancer.
Sakari ignored her diagnosis and lived life to the fullest, running and exploring the forest of New Hampshire in the shadow of Mount Chocorua in the days before she had to leave me. She began to ignore her food and seemed lethargic, and a trip to the vet showed some GI upset, possible from her chemo treatments. When medication failed to help her rebound, a return visit found that she had internal bleeding and there was nothing to be done that could make her comfortable. I said goodbye, holding her close and receiving her signature soft gentle face licks (so out of place in a dog that lived life so BIGly) as she left me.
Godspeed, Sakari - you were a good, good dog.