Remembering Anana

This past Friday (May 4, 2018) I said ‘Goodbye’ to my ‘little’ angel Anana who quietly passed sometime in the wee hours of May 4th.  Anana, my 125 pound female Alaskan malamute, gave me eight and a half years of joy, love, humor and amazement.  I was privileged to raise her from an awkward, ten week old puppy to a beautiful, regal but always mischievous adult Mal.  She was my first canine after decades of no pets due to employment based travel requirements and also the first Mal I’d ever known.  The breeder warned me Mals were far different from other breeds with respect to training and developing a relationship; as such we each had a lot to learn and to teach the other.  Anana did so in classic Mal style and while I suspect I was often a source of frustration to her because I was so slow to understand her ways she was always patient and loving.  As the breeder had warned me I quickly learned to pick my battles with my growing girl as I just was not going to win every one.  As such I came to realize I developed a series of ‘understandings’ with my baby; some favored her needs while others satisfied my own.  In the end our relationship was based on trust, mutual respect and a whole lotta love.

Anana Chewing Bed 2

Anana at eleven weeks of age lounging in her new bed

I'm TOO Cute

Anana in her ‘aren’t I just too cute’ mode at three and a half months of age

Anana came to me at a dark time in my life yet she brought with her a spirit which exuded a love of life, a need for much exercise, a deep mischievous streak and unconditional love.  Just caring for her puppy needs and attempting to reach some of those ‘understandings’ really helped me to come to grips with my situation as caretaker of the family home after my father passed and Mom was living in an assisted living facility.  Anana quickly showed a love of anything on two legs and she never met a person she didn’t love.  So many folks who were initially concerned about her size quickly fell under her spell and found themselves drawn to this gentle Teddy Bear.  While living at the family home Anana became a real rock star within the neighborhood as people out walking would stop by our yard to see her and young children would come to the door asking if “Anana can play”.  When I decided to begin volunteering at the Northville (MI) Sunrise facility where Mom was staying I started bringing Anana with me.  At first I was worried because she was such an energetic and exuberant puppy but my concerns were ill-founded; Anana was instinctively slow and gentle when interacting with the residents.  She delighted everyone with her repertoire of howls and other vocalizations.  She quickly achieved the informal title of ‘Visiting Therapy Dog’ and spent the next three plus years as a fixture at the facility.  On the odd days when I couldn’t bring her with me when volunteering the first thing I’d hear as I entered the facility was; “Where’s Anana?”

Anana with Nina & Luba

Anana with Luba – a Nazi death camp survivor – and Luba’s daughter Nina in the Sunrise of Northville (MI) assisted living facility

I’m not sure Anana ever completely forgave me from removing her from her extended ‘Sunrise home’ to relocate to semi-rural south central Alaska in July of 2013.  She did love living up here and irritating the local moose population but I also could tell she missed seeing scores of people on a regular basis.  People naturally gravitated to her and whenever she accompanied me and Qanuk into the village during tourist season my Escape would be quickly surrounded by doting tourists lining up to pet her and take her picture.  Often I spent tens of minutes answering queries about my girl and waiting until everyone had finished petting Anana and taking her picture so we could pull out.  My neighbors knew her well and enjoyed her larger than life presence in this immediate area.  Anana accompanied me almost everywhere I went and she was an amazing passenger this past September when she and Qanuk made the 5,200+ mile round trip to Three Forks (MT) to pick up an R-pod travel trailer and haul it back here.  She made new friends at every motel where we’d overnight and sometimes the staff would stop by the room with treats for her and Qanuk.  She was truly a ‘people dog’!

Maybe Anana Hasn't Learned Her Lesson

My Alaskan malamute companion (Anana) was a bit too close to this moose just outside my driveway; it let her know it was time to ‘back off!’

She was Qanuk’s adult canine figure and mentor; as such she really smoothed out some of the traditional German Shepherd Dog traits like suspicion of any unknown human and excessive barking.  But, being true to her breed, she did teach Qanuk to be very vocal and even howl from time to time.  To this day Qanuk remains one of the most vocal GSDs I’ve ever known and regularly expresses his feelings through grunts, groans, whines and other indescribable sounds.  He remains a very effective watchdog but he doesn’t exhibit excessive barking which is fine by me.  He seems to be handling Anana’s absence in stride although I do see him sometimes sniffing some of Anana’s favorite lounging areas and while outside walking I can sense he sometimes looks for his friend.  Anana was the only steady canine influence in Qanuk’s life from the time I brought him home at seven weeks of age (he is now about six and a half years old).

Buddies

Anana sheltering Qanuk on the back porch of the dump we lived in just outside Northville (MI)

I wish Qanuk could’ve learned more patience and acceptance of young children and adult males from Anana; he remains very skittish around both types of people but never aggressive or threatening.  Anana was a natural with children which is all the more exceptional as she had almost no experience with kids growing up.  While volunteering at Sunrise I would assist in taking a number of the ‘Reminiscence’ residents – those struggling with dementias – to a summer music concert in a local town; I drove the bus and served as one of the ‘wranglers’.  We brought the residents so they could enjoy some time outside observing the kids and we provided a picnic lunch.  The first time I brought Anana along I was a bit concerned about what her reaction would be to so many youngsters just being kids.  In hindsight I should’ve known better; early on a young girl walked up to us and asked if she could pet Anana who was off her lead but lying a few feet from me.  I said; “Sure” and the youngster cautiously approached Anana and petted her head.  Anana, of course, loved the attention and moved a bit closer to the girl.  I looked away just briefly to count the residents; something one learns to do on a regular basis when on such outings.  After assuring myself everyone was accounted for I looked back to where Anana had been and saw no less than fourteen children surrounding her!  Anana was lying on her side and just loving all the attention.  Many of the kids had close by parents; it was heartwarming to see their initial concern melt away to smiles as their kids petted the big black and white Teddy Bear.

Gene&Anana CU

Anana reveling in Gene’s attention; she was around ten months of age

Anana was an exceptional canine and I could go on and on about her amazing character and adventures; she was the epitome of unconditional love and probably one of the most wonderful ambassadors for the Alaskan malamute breed ever to walk this earth.  Learning to live without my ‘little’ angel is going to be a very difficult proposition but one I will embrace with time.  Mostly, I want to remember all the wonderful times we shared and celebrate the eight and a half wonderful years I was privileged to share with my ‘Anana Dog’.  It truly was mostly sweet and she was the sweetest of it all..!

Anana in Fall Leaves

My beautiful ‘little’ angel in Alaskan fall leaves…

 

Privacy and the New World Order

Last night (02/06/17) I attended my second Talkeetna Community Council (TCC) meeting as part of an effort to learn more about what is ongoing in the community and what is being planned.  I felt this effort was important for me as I terminated my volunteering with KTNA at the end of December, 2016 and I also resigned from my post as vice president of the Upper Susitna Food Pantry effective March 13, 2017 which is the next board meeting.  The former was driven by ideological differences while the latter was based upon growing tired of being taken for granted and handed far more work than any of the other board members.  As such I’m now without a volunteering opportunity for the first time since I relocated up here in August of 2013.  Even then I was only without volunteering activities for a bit more than three months until I began at KTNA.  Prior to that I’d have to look back to April of 2010 which was when I first started volunteering at the Northville (MI) Sunrise Assisted Living facility to find a time when I was not volunteering.  As such volunteering has become a huge part of my life and I know I will not go long without locating at least one new opportunity in this area.

But back to last night’s gathering; about 90 minutes into the meeting the Chairman put forth a proposal to prevent any video – and just video, not audio – recording of the TCC meetings.  His basis for this proposal was a very unfavorable interaction with a film crew from KTUU (NBC in Anchorage) at the previous meeting which I also attended.  His proposal was met with a wide variety of views and responses, many somewhat passionate, and as I listened and absorbed what I heard I really started to reflect upon a person’s right to privacy versus the public’s right to know.  To this point I’m still rather conflicted; I can see both the pros and cons of this proposal.  Ultimately, as the TCC is an elected board that can and does make local policy, I feel they surrendered their basic rights to privacy with regards to the community meetings when they accepted their posts and therefore they probably couldn’t withstand a legal challenge if they invoked such a proposal.

However, there were many valid points in favor of such a proposal and it was these that really fueled my cogitation regarding this matter.  One of the most powerful involved the act of videoing producing a ‘chilling’ effect on people’s right to be heard.  Having a camera and/or microphone shoved in one’s face can be very intimidating for a lot of folks.  Indeed, the potential of this happening could easily cause some people to forgo their feedback and this is definitely counterproductive to the entire purpose of the meeting.  Another possible issue involves existing technology, not to mention developing tech, being used to manipulate both audio and video such that what was actually being said is altered or taken out of context.  There once was a time when we might have trusted journalists not to undertake such outrageous practices but as NBC showed during the Trayvon Martin debacle they were more than willing to alter audio and then try to hide behind the concept that omission of facts does not constitute a lie.  Such despicable behavior is, sadly, expected of scum trial lawyers but until recently wasn’t something most Americans expected from their media.

I feel I must reveal that I am a fairly private person by nature so, as such, my leanings fall with one’s right to privacy.  Indeed, I am proud it requires extensive and knowledgeable digging via the ‘net to even find my name.  I have nothing to hide but I also feel I should be able to choose what is revealed regarding me and my life.  And this is where I truly diverge from those of the younger generations.  It seems as though they have no real problems with revealing so much about themselves on-line that I often cringe if I happen to see some of such ‘revelations’.  I understand a lot of this is based upon generational gaps and I also recognize that it is a person’s right to reveal as much as they feel comfortable sharing with others.  When I’ve shared what I recognized as potentially private details regarding myself and my life I’ve often spent days contemplating doing so and really struggling with possible negative aspects before making my decision.  And I’d guess more than half the time I decided against doing so.

I had to learn that once one puts something on the ‘net, be it via social media, email, blogging or similar one effectively loses ‘control’ of said information and it can be used in virtually any manner.  Because I grew up before the internet and all the associated technologies I didn’t have the now all-encompassing caution regarding using the ‘net and a couple of my lessons were rather harsh.  So I ‘learned the hard way’ but there was no great loss or negative impact upon my existence.  Sadly, as so many have learned, this is not the case today!  Ultimately, I feel it comes down to being responsible for one’s own actions; if I have any concerns about posting something online I will not do so.  But the choice is my own.  In situations like what I described occurring at the TCC meeting if someone were to video me providing feedback and then post it to social media I lose that ability to control what is and is not shared on the web.  And, for me, this is totally unacceptable!

How to control this from happening is a very difficult concept and reminds of that admonition to ‘not try tap dancing in a minefield’!  However, such situations are becoming more and more common as now everyone seems to have a cell phone capable of at least grainy, if not HD, video recording.  We’ve already seen instances where videos made of public events have failed to show the context or ancillary information and thus have provided a skewed view.  Whether this was deliberate or not is another question; the simple fact that it occurs is troubling.  One thing so many people need to really consider is this; as we give up more and more of our rights to privacy we offer governments, businesses and organizations more and more information about ourselves and our lives.  Are we really ‘okay’ with this concept in an age of increasing surveillance and data mining..?!?

big-brother