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2009- 2022

From the moment we picked Loki up, as a 10-week-old puppy, he had an unquenchable enthusiasm for life. He spent his early weeks in joyful rough-and-tumble play with his siblings at Frelsi Farm Icelandics, a beautiful Maine farm dedicated to raising Icelandic sheep and dogs. The entire area around the house and pastures was fenced, so the pack of dogs could run freely, and they all ran to meet us when we drove up, barking to herald the visitors. Loki scrambled up onto my son’s lap without hesitation for the drive home, and entered exuberantly into our family life from day one. That proved to be a pattern with him, one of the good lessons he modeled for me: to live with joyful fearlessness based on the expectation that life is a fun adventure, with something exciting always around the corner. I soon learned that Icelandic sheepdogs are naturally very vocal, and over time I came to recognize Loki’s distinctive barks for different situations: his bark at squirrels at the bird feeder was different from his bark requesting to be let into the house, and his bark expressing shock and concern at people’s sneezes was different yet again. He had many ways of communicating, including his engaging grin and gentle prodding with his nose, herding his people and cat friends along. He was best friends with Leia, the cat I got to keep him company when I was out working; they often slept together in his dog bed. In the early days, he did some nipping at our heels, which we firmly discouraged; and he was so enthusiastic about walks that I had to get him a harness designed to resist his pulling. His breeder had warned me that Icies take a while to mature, and indeed it was not til he was about 2 years old that he began to understand who he was and who his people were—before that, he would have happily gone off with any fun-loving party that happened to cross his path! Over the years, especially after my sons left home and the house grew quieter, he and I became ever more attuned. We spent countless hours together on trails and beaches—he was extremely nimble with his special Icelandic extra toe on his hind legs, and loved to throw himself fearlessly up and down rock ledges and run mad cap, barking like crazy, after any deer we encountered. He had to be persuaded to try swimming for the first time as a little pup, but soon realized how much fun the water could be, especially on hot days. Snow was his favorite element, and we loved cross country skiing together—on skis I could actually sometimes outpace him, which he found very puzzling. He was especially attached to my parents, with whom he sometimes stayed when I had to travel and couldn’t bring him. Whenever he went to their house, he would go from me to my mom towards the end of the visit, pointedly asking, “Am I staying here tonight?” If the answer was yes, he’d lie down at my mom’s feet and roll over, showing with his belly his submission to the plan. Whatever the activity, he wanted to be in the thick of it, with his jaunty trot and upturned curly tail. Right up into his late years, people mistook him for a puppy, he had such a youthful air and puppy face. He got deaf in his last year, but otherwise did not show much signs of aging, so I was not prepared when he was diagnosed with oral cancer at just shy of 13.5 years old. He was stoic, but in the last few days, when he stopped eating and drinking, I knew I had to relieve his suffering, and I am so grateful to Dr. Balter for giving him such an easy, painless journey over the rainbow bridge. He left us in our living room, surrounded by his loved ones, all of us opening our hearts to him and thanking him for the immense blessings he brought to our family. He will be in my heart forever. --Jennifer Browdy


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