Last night we said goodbye to our furry first “daughter,” our Siberian husky Pinge (ping-gah). Her name means “falling snow” in the native language of the Siberian Chukchi people, so it seems especially appropriate that snow was falling on her last day with us, creating a peaceful, powdery soft white blanket for her to slowly step through, leaving her goodbye mark all over our backyard.

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It was a very difficult, tearful night for all of us. We are going to miss her deeply, for sure. However, our hearts are comforted by the knowledge that we were truly blessed to have spent almost 13 years becoming a family and sharing our lives with our furry girl.

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Pinge was our first “baby” — joining our family in 2000 when I was newly pregnant with our eldest daughter Audrey. She prepared us to get through a night sanely with a crying baby and clean up messy “accidents” before we had babies of our own.

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She was “the” dog in our girls lives since they were old enough to reach out and touch her soft fur. She patiently let our babies “ride” her and pull on her tail and ears when they were learning to crawl and walk.

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She pulled us uphill on long hikes and our little girls downhill through the snow on their sleds. Huskies are helpful that way!

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Pinge loved the snow, naturally, and was the perfect dog for our snow-loving family. We took her with us on every mountain escape, and when we moved to Durango, she brought a new level of fun to the work of keeping our driveway and backyard clear from feet and feet of constant snow.

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She was our traveling companion on every family hike and camping trip, and long cross-country road trips to places like California, Oklahoma, and Jackson Hole, WY. Although she didn’t love riding in the back of our Tacoma, Subaru or Pilot very much, she never wanted to be left behind. She endured many hours on the road to be with us no matter where we were going.

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She let Kenny be the “alpha” in the family and followed his lead, and came to me for sympathy & left-over food because I was her “softy” mama. She even posed for photos just like my girls, flashing her husky “smile” almost on cue.

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pingeatsilvertonShe didn’t bark much and wanted to be friends with almost every dog or person she met. Instead, she “talked” to us all the time, using her distinctly unique husky sounds to convey her feelings and wants. She even started “knocking” on the back door with her right paw to be let in or out.

She was always up for adventure and fun, so much so that she took many solo trips outside of our fences — creating frantic family searches (mostly at night, sometimes through rain or snow), only to discover her at the back kitchen door of a local seafood restaurant making friends with the cooks, playing in someone’s open garage, making friends with runners on a nearby trail — we almost never found her alone. I have to admit I didn’t love her sense of adventure very much on those nights, but it always made me aware of how much she meant to us.

She made us feel safe all those days Kenny was traveling away from home for work, sleeping right by the front door. She kept our yards free of pesky mice & squirrels – and even a bear when we lived in Durango! Although she was definitely not a typical guard dog, I always felt secure knowing that she was with us.

She was part of so many important moments in our lives: the homecoming of every daughter that joined our family after her, waiting for Kenny at the finish line of many bike races, sleeping outside our tents on many campsites, entertaining the crowd on birthdays and holidays… she was family.

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Pinge ringing in the 2013 New Year with us in her party garb

There are still many tears today, but we thank The Lord with grateful hearts that He chose her to be our family dog and bring such joy and companionship to our family for so many memorable years!

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“Are not two  sparrows sold for a  copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” -Matthew 10:29

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