Today’s patient story features the beautiful Sugar! We met this sweet girl when she was 2; Dr. Margo Mehl had to perform a “ballectomy” after Sugar swallowed a little tennis ball (that someone else threw). More recently, Dr. Elyse Hammer treated Sugar for a foxtail and fleas in her ears and bilateral ear hematomas.
Below, Sugar’s human companion John shares a little more on this 90-lb. Alaskan Malamute. Many thanks to John for putting together such a wonderfully written story. We are proud to be a part of Sugar’s veterinary care team.
Going places with Sugar is like traveling with a movie star. When we take walks in San Francisco or Berkeley, we seldom go a block before someone stops to tell Sugar that she’s beautiful, and asks for her vital statistics (breed, weight, age, where we got her, about her personality and how much she sheds). Then they pet her, take photos and/or a video. One of Sugar’s admirers summed up Sugar’s personality this way: “She’s sweet, playful, beautiful and strong when she needs to be.”
Here are some answers to those frequently asked questions.
Sugar is a 90-lb., 7½-year-old Alaskan Malamute. Malamutes were named after the native Inuit tribe called Mahlemuts and worked in sled dog teams to pull heavy animal carcasses across the snow to feed tribe members. As such, the Malamutes had to help protect the carcasses from predators. In light of her breeding, Sugar’s personality traits are understandable: She is strong in body and spirit, and loves walking even in the most horrible weather. Sugar is very affectionate with people, protective of her “teams” of people, and a loyal member of her pack of dogs at Point Isabel, where I take her for one to two hours every morning.
Sugar had a hard start: She was underfed from birth to 5 months and then got severe kennel pneumonia after being confiscated from her owner. She was rescued by MUSH (Malamutes Unsettled Seeking Homes) and fortunately fostered by wonderful people.
My wife found Sugar online and thought she was the dog for us because she wanted a dog that was gentle, calm, furry and quiet and that didn’t drool. I wanted a large dog that liked to take lots of walks. Also, she knew that Sugar’s name would appeal to me as I love sugary foods, principally chocolate. We adopted Sugar from her foster parents. A few months later, Sugar’s foster parents adopted her sister, Luna. Sugar and Luna have been getting together at Point Isabel every other week for the last six and a half years.
When we got her at age 8 months, Sugar had severe separation anxiety. One time, my wife and I left Sugar in our fenced backyard while we went out to dinner. When we got home, Sugar happily greeted us when we opened the front door. Sugar had broken down the locked bottom part of the solid core backyard Dutch door, and entered our home. Now when we go out we leave Sugar inside our house.
We have another pet, Pontiac Jack, who began life as a feral tabby cat. Sugar and Pontiac Jack are close friends, and they take walks together for about half an hour every night. They periodically stop to rub noses, and Sugar barks protectively if another dog is in the vicinity.
Sugar is a certified Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Pet and participates in the Paws to Read program. She and I go to San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley libraries once a week so children can read to her. One first-grader summarized the purpose of the program perfectly: “When I read in front of the class, I’m all scared, but when I read to Sugar, I love her.”