by Ruth I. Kellogg

The Alaskan Malamute is a primitive and not a man-designed breed. Canine behaviorists now publicly acknowledge that the Malamute is probably the closest to its cousin, the wolf, than any other breed. Indeed, their strong pack orientation, verbal and nonverbal communication skills, family (canine and human) orientation, and high level of intelligence are character traits of wolves. They are complex yet can be the essence of simplicity and guile. They can appear regal and then, in the blink of an eye, dissolve into a clown. The Alaskan Malamute is a breed that cannot be assigned a particular character trait. The breed is a breed of individuals. This is directly related to their extremely strong pack orientation. For example: where one is a glutton, another is a finicky eater; where one is over-bearing in their opinions of themselves and are quite pushy in their actions, another has no self-confidence; where one loves to play "fetch", another looks at the thrown object and clearly says "You threw it – you get it."

There are, however, common characteristics in Malamutes. They are excellent communicators with easily understandable emotions and "language." Overall, the breed wants to know "Why?" They do appear stubborn to those who haven’t made the effort to understand or communicate with them. Overall, they are a gentle and loving family dog. Some Mals, like people, respond better than others to young children. All Mals seem to be the happiest when some part of their anatomy is pressed against their owner. Some Mals are excellent "alert" or watch dogs while others welcome strangers in and show them where the family silver is hidden! Most of all, Malamutes love to laugh. It has been said that there are probably more comedians per capita in this breed than in any other. The "Malamute Scoot" is performed when the Malamute is particularly joyful and playful. In a somewhat sitting position with tail tucked between the hind legs, front legs going out sideways, with a goofy grin and wide open eyes, the Mal tears around – often in circles – at 90 mph! O.K., maybe not 90 mph, but if you’re in the way of the Scoot, it seems like it! The Malamute Scoot is hilarious and usually elicits gales of laughter from the spectators – just what the Malamute wanted!

The Alaskan Malamute attracts people who have similar qualities to the dog. As there is no one particular stereotype of a Malamute, so there isn’t of Malamute fanciers. A love of nature and the outdoors is very common with Malamute owners. Many owners are very athletic enjoying hiking, running, biking, and all sorts of winter sports with their dogs. But there are still owners who have Mals – like themselves – who excel in the fire art of being couch potatoes. Malamutes are independent thinkers with strong wills, many Malamute owners are "strong" individuals with a well developed sense of "self." The majority of Inharmony clients are professionals – intelligent people who are attracted to intelligent dogs. A continuing interest in self-education is imperative when dealing with Malamutes. But two character traits of people that are common to all Malamute fanciers are a general friendliness and a well-developed sense of humor!

The Malamute is also an intellectual dog. Here is an example that I experienced.

Early in the morning, Diana lies at the foot of the bed with eyes closed seemingly oblivious to what was happening. I quietly tell Athena what we are going to be doing in the immediate future. I get as far as telling Athena about my plans of getting up, getting dressed, getting some Rollover (type of meat sausage for dogs) readied, and going downstairs when Diana is immediately beside me with open expressive eyes, grins, and her tongue washing her face. Does she understand my words? Was she listening? Is this an example of a conditioned reflex or is Diana showing a sign of intelligent thinking? Does she really know what I am saying? I try not to anthropomorphize my dogs and accept them as a different type of mammal than I am with their own strengths, limitations, and instinctive behaviors. To answer the questions I posed about Diana’s behavior, I honestly feel that she was listening carefully to my words and understood what was being said. This is substantiated by her behavior (eager face, tongue licking her face) even before the "magic words" of hungry or dinner were spoken. Conditioned behavior? I don’t’ think so. I have frequently had similar reactions from her at different times and/or places. The early morning talk session happened only once. Diana is an illustration of an intellectual dog.

An intellectual dog, to me, is an intelligent dog who has been taught and encouraged to reach different goals or accomplishments with or without their human teacher. This dog is very attuned to its environment, listens, thinks, reasons (to their ability), and becomes self-confident. Basic intelligence has a very strong genetic base both from breed to breed and individuals within a particular breed. The Alaskan Malamute is an innately intelligent breed of dog. I have been fortunate in seeing and living with a family of individuals who are truly gifted – Canine Einsteins. These individuals are a delight to teach and watch develop into intellectual dogs.

During my self-education and life’s journey with my dogs, I have become aware of a deeper and more spiritual quality of my Malamutes. They are more than intellectual; they are sentient, sensitive, communicative, spiritual, and highly intuitive beings.

Communicating with our dogs is generally done through verbal and body language. Mental communication has, for many years, been ignored or downgraded as impossible or parlor tricks by the scientific community and general public. We are influenced by what we are "taught." Only in very recent years has the idea of telepathy, intuition, and other related topics (such as energy work) become more acceptable in North America. Many people are "in tune,", "understand," or "know" their canine companions yet cannot accept the idea that they have any sort of mental communication with them. Yet…. Somehow, on a deep level, they are able to hear their dog’s whispers. When a person can acknowledge they can hear their dog’s whispers, then a large step toward a spiritual connection with their dogs – and all beings – is made.

While I have been able to enjoy the healing aspects of the Cariboo, I know that anyone who chooses to learn new knowledge, test new ways of thinking, and quiet their minds (through prayer, meditation or just sitting quietly and breathing) will also experience the coincidences, synchronicity, and bonding with their four-footed friends. The experiences, the communications and communions that I now share with my own dogs can happen to anyone who learns to listen to the dogs’ whispers.

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