Nanook, The Alaskan Malamute Who Knew Stuff (and Healed People) | By Karletta Marie | Inspiring Story #147 -

Nanook, The Alaskan Malamute Who Knew Stuff (and Healed People) | By Karletta Marie | Inspiring Story #147

A fun story in honour of Nanook, the Alaskan Malamute therapy dog who healed people and changed lives.

Nanook knew stuff I didn’t expect him to know.  Every morning he’d sneak into the bedroom and snoop around – clothes cupboard, a basket, a drawer, or on the floor.  He had one mission to fulfil. To steal the first pair of knickers he saw and then sit still, staring, waiting.  He’d sit at the end of our bed, knickers hanging from his mouth.  With a cheeky grin, he’d patiently wait for our morning chase to begin.  

During the four weeks we were privileged to care for Nanook, not once did he ever go for John’s underwear.  Why should he? By six a.m.  John was already up, percolating coffee.  No need to wake a man already awake.  But he somehow knew, by stealing my knickers, he’d accomplish two things:  Firstly, he was guaranteed his favourite treat, as I bartered a Smacko’s in return for my knickers. Secondly, he knew his daily walk only happened after I got out of bed. 

“The sooner she gets out of bed, the sooner I get to walk.” He must have said to himself. 

Our twice-daily walks were a highlight for Nanook, John, and I. 

We noticed how Nanook knew stuff.  Like the day he took us for a walk to his favourite park.  We’d usually head straight for the off-leash area where he’d run free, fur blowing in the wind.  But on this particular day, there was no room for a 60kg fluff ball on the loose.  So we took a seat beside the children’s play area and waited for his turn. 

Suddenly, a tiny blonde-headed toddler, standing at the base of the slippery slide, started to scream.  Her father rushed over, trying to settle her.  He kneeled, “Come on, darling.  It’s okay.”  He patted her head.  Her face turned red, and she screamed some more - enough to send the other children scurrying.  

Nanook’s head turned alert in her direction.  He tugged firmly on his lead and pulled me forward off the seat.  He moved steadily toward the screaming child.  At first, I worried if the sight of this ginormous teddy bear would scare her.  To my surprise, the little girl stopped crying.  She reached out and grabbed a fist full of fur, and smiled. 

“Doggy daddy. Doggy.” She settled down.

I wasn’t the only one surprised.  Her father’s eyes boggled, and his mouth dropped open like a catch door. “Sometimes, she has fits. It’s been a difficult year.  I’m amazed she’s settled right down.”

It wasn’t just children Nanook helped.  At the time we were entrusted with Nanook’s care, John and I were going through a major life transition. 

Transitions, though exciting, can be stressful, and when you’re letting go of old stories that no longer work for your life, they can be unsettling and painful.

Nanook added the right dose of love and play that we needed at the time.  The way he insisted on dining with us, jumping on the bed, how he’d play hide and seek with me – all his cheeky games were a source of joy.  Nanook made it quite clear that while he liked morning knicker games with me, John was his playmate of choice every other time.  He quickly tired of my hide and seek antics and repeatedly plopped his slobber-covered toys right in John’s lap.  TV viewing was never the same after that.  

As our four weeks with Nanook ended, we were left with another special memory.  That is, on the morning, of the afternoon that Gavin and Sandy were due to arrive back home.  Right from early morning, Nanook sat by the closed front door.  He had never done that before.  I turned to John,

“Nanook knows stuff.  He knows Gavin and Sandy are coming home.  I wonder if they are coming home early?”  

Sure enough, ninety minutes later, and hours earlier than expected,  a car pulled up.  Upon opening the door, Nanook bolted out the front to greet Gavin and Sandy.  To witness the reunion of Nanook with Gavin and Sandy brought us much joy and happiness.  It was an honour to take care of him on their behalf.

It was with great sadness we had to say goodbye to Nanook.  We draw comfort in the memories he gifted us.  We pray his spirit of healing lives on, that his work continues with Sam and Mya Grace, and that through their work, Nanook continues to touch lives as he did ours. 

Be Inspired By Nanook

Nanook with his Dad, Gavin. 

Dealing with the challenges of today requires problem-solvers who bring different perspectives and are willing to take risks.

Nanook Samuel emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Nanook's love was driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support.

Connect with Nanook's legacy and the therapy work his Dad, Gavin, continues to do here:


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