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Aikman our dog


With us from February 11th, 2007 to March 5th, 2009

We'll Miss you Buddy

Part 1: Getting Him Home


Original Aikman Picture It is the beginning of February, 2007. By this point, we had Twix about a year and a half and we were getting ready to celebrate our first year anniversary with a trip around the Seneca Lake wineries. My wife was looking on her newlywed website ( and came across a posting to help this poor dog. I had previously found the original listing for Aikman on the web, however that website no longer exists. The posted picture was of this brown pathetic looking dog (pictured to the left) with a rope tied around his neck. He was extremely dirty and standing in the middle of a fenced in area with a dog house in the background. Here was the plea associated with the picture:

"We have an 11 year old Shepard/Husky mix who is in desperate need of care. He is being kept chained outside and the owner's health is failing. We will go the shelter route if we don't get any interest, he is very sweet and deserves the last few years of his life to be in a home with love and heat.



"Here is the situation on this dog. I took in one of the other ones from this owner bringing my total dogs to 5. I can not take this one in as I am way over capacity now. The one I took in is very similar to this one and that breaks my heart even more because he is very calm and sweet. I will call you later today to fill you in more but here is a quick snapshot. The dog is not neutered nor had vet care but I can take care of both those things if someone can foster or adopt him. The problem is getting someone to open their heart and home to a dog of this age. My first dog was 12 so I know how wonderful taking in an older dog can be but not too many people understand that. He is good with other dogs, people but not sure about children and definitely not good with cats. Does not have any aggression issues that we know of, again is calm and loving. The GD chain is embedded in his neck and that needs to be taken care of asap. I asked someone to look at it yesterday as I have a good friend who goes to visit him everyday. The owner is not able to get to him as frequently as his health is failing. He is not even giving him water b/c of the temp but is giving him liquid in his food, i don't think its the same thing. I can get him vetted, neutered and even foster him for a few days if I knew I had someone that could then take him for either foster or adoption. But I cant take him for a long term foster simply b/c of the houseful I have now. Thank you again for any help you may have."

Well Veronica showed this to me and my heart just went for him. I told her, whatever, we can get him if she wants. Well after some back and forth with her and the writer of the article we decided that we would pick him up on the way home from our anniversary winery tour. We dropped Twix off at Veronica’s parents’ house and headed off on our vacation. On the way home we stopped by his foster house in Rochester (about an hour from our house in Buffalo) and went to pick up the dog. The dog was in the backyard in a house littered (and I mean littered) with dogs. We get all his paperwork and it turns out his name was Aikman (like the football player) and he was born into a litter of dogs, all of which were named after football quarterbacks (Montana, etc.). He even had a family tree. He was half German shepherd, half husky. The reason why we were chosen was that we had experience with huskies before (being Twix). Upon getting Aikman, we found out that there were quite a few lies in the original article. There was no rope embedded in his neck, and essentially he was fine, just a little dirty and hungry. He was obviously neglected, but probably not really abused. But he did just really look pathetic. His owner had bred sled dogs and that was how Aikman was raised, but now he was 11, and a bit past his prime.


Aikman Home When we got to the house, we coaxed him inside from the backyard, because as it turned out, he was never an indoor dog. He had spent his entire life outside. Great. Now we had to house-train an eleven year old dog. We gathered up all his paperwork, took him into the car and drove home. He eventually ended up curling up with Veronica on the backseat floor of my car, because since I drive a convertible, there is not much room for a dog to sit comfortably back there. When we got home, Veronica left to go pick up Twix while I got Aikman settled into his new house. Veronica would likely not be back for at least a half an hour so I had some time.


Aikman's BedWell, I go to unlock the door and as I am carrying in a bunch of stuff I drop Aikman’s leash ... and he’s off like a rocket down the street. I go running after him only to realize that an 11 year old former sled dog can run very much faster than I can. Damn. That doesn’t stop me. I keep running after him until I come across my neighbor from across the street. We’re not really social with each other but we say hi and he sees my plight and decides to lend a hand. He drives me back to my house (I had gone a good deal of a ways at this point) and I get in my car and we realize we can herd Aikman where we want him to go with the cars. So we drive him in one direction, blocking him in a random backyard, and jump out of the car. This is when I find out that apparently this neighborhood of Buffalo does not feel the need to put fences up in their backyard. And on top of that, the houses in this area were adjacent to a power line alley. Also, it is February in Buffalo so there is a good 3+ feet of snow on the ground. So even though Aikman gets slowed down by the deep snow, I am far more inconvenienced. I chase him back and forth across this thing until he gets back on the road. I run back to my car, which coincidently is still running, and we play this game, oh two or three more times, until we finally managed to steer him into a yard with an actual fence. Keep in mind my neighbor and I are chasing him with our cars, his pick-up and my convertible. In all the hubbub of the chase, I do think I bumped Aikman with my car once. But did that slow him at all? Noooo. Well my neighbor got out of his car when we had Aikman blocked behind a garage. Behind the garage we had one opening blocked with his car and we were at the other end, but somehow Aikman manages to get free. The chase is back on. Luckily it did not last much longer. A few minutes later we trapped him again in a garden after he managed to somehow hop the garden fence, but he was unable to get back out. I carried him into the car, thanked my neighbor profusely, and proceeded to drive home and catch up with my wife.


It turns out she was just driving home to check on me and the frantic call I made to her as I was initially running down the block. She had already been home and back out into the neighborhood trying to help me but since Aikman managed to get more than 10 minutes away from home she was nowhere near where we ended up. So after an hour of hunting him down, we finally got our second dog, Aikman, home.

Part 2: Life in Buffalo


Despite losing him immediately on the day that we got him, he managed to get away from me again about a week later. Again, I have to chase him with the car, trying steer him in a direction where I can essentially get him trapped in a yard or somewhere. In the process, Aikman starts to head towards one of the very major streets in the neighborhood. In an effort to try and get ahead of him I speed up my car significantly. However, it is February in Buffalo and the road had a nice sheet of snow/ice on it. My car ends up sliding into a car parked on the side of the road. I had no time to deal with that since Aikman just turned onto said busy street. So off I go again. He manages to turn back onto the smaller neighborhood blocks and eventually the same thing happens as before. He gets trapped in a yard with a fence and I am able to get him into the car. As I take him home, I stop at the house where I hit the car. The owner of the car wasn't there so I left my information with the person at the house. Later, after I am home for a little while, a police officer shows up at the door. We talked about the accident and how it happened. He had said the person whose car I hit was irate, stating I must have been drunk. I assured him I wasn't and the cop agreed. Why else would I go back to the house to leave my information? Anyway, things all got settled and life moved on.


We learned quickly after these two events that Aikman needed to be contained until he could get used to us. To do this while we were away we locked him in the basement during the day, the same way that we had done with Twix when we first got her. In the basement we had a bar set up that ran the entire length of one wall with the basement window above where we kept all the alcohol bottles. Well, when we came home that day we found several of the bottles knocked off the bar, broken glass on the ground, and bloody paw prints everywhere. Turns out Aikman used the chair next to the bar to climb up onto the bar and try to escape out of the window. Needless to say this didn't turn out well for anyone involved.



After getting him patched up we decided we needed a crate. We purchased a large enough crate and locked him up in the basement as we were headed out one day. When we came home later that day Aikman was gone, crate and all. How can a dog and a crate completely vanish? I didn't realize this at the time but apparently the tray on the bottom of the crate can slide out. Aikman managed to slide the tray out, then walked the crate until it was completely hidden behind the bar where we couldn't see him. He ended up trapping himself back there. I don't think he thought it was as funny as we did.


On another day, we locked him up again in the same crate. Well, he apparently wanted to get out again, so he managed to pry back some of the wires and squeeze himself out of the crate. I didn't even know a dog could do that. A dog of his size managed to get out of a hole smaller than a mailbox.


Eventually, Aikman calmed down and we were able to live with him without fear of him trying to escape. One thing we noticed, was that it was February when we got him and he was an outside dog 100% of the time. This resulted in him being very hot inside the house during the day. We would often find him laying down by the very drafty front door just to cool himself off. He would also frequently dig holes in the back yard to lay down in on hot summer days. As he was getting more comfortable around the house, we had brought the crate upstairs to the living room, because even though we had let him lay wherever he wanted, he always went back into his crate for comfort. That was until he discovered the loveseat, which eventually became "Aikman's couch". While he was becoming acclimated to the house, he actually became house-trained very quickly, however the wife and I would be gone for 8 or 9 hours a day for work and school. Even though he was house-trained, he was an 11 year old dog and couldn't hold it well that long. By the time I got home to let the dogs out, he would be dripping the entire way out of the house. The couch was eventually thrown out when we moved due to the pleasant scent left behind on it, despite the sheets we used to cover it with.



Despite all this, Aikman became a really great dog. While the wife and I were sitting on the big couch, he would periodically climb down off his couch and come over and just stand there. This was his sign that he wanted to be petted. We would pet him for a little bit and when he was done he would march back off to his couch and lay down. We no longer were viewed as his captors and were now his family, allowing him to retire in luxury.


At one point my wife and I needed to go on a trip visiting schools. Her family was fine with taking Twix but Aikman was a bit much for them to handle. So he got to come on the trip with us. He got rather comfortable with us on that trip and I think it was that trip that cemented in his mind that we were here for him for good. He rather enjoyed being allowed up on the bed in the hotel as well, a treat that he wasn't allotted at home.

Part 3: Utah and Beyond


A little more than a year after we got Aikman, we made the cross country move from Buffalo to Utah. During the trip, the wife and I took two separate cars, each taking one dog, and we would switch dogs periodically along the way. By the time we finally arrived in Utah and closed on our new house, we discovered to the dog's extreme joy, that they had a dog door. This quickly became Aikman's saving grace. Where before he needed to go endless hours trying to hold it in, now he was able to go out whenever he wanted to. He finally was able to spend hours outside and still come inside whenever he wanted to. He had the best of both worlds.


AllThreeEventually we would get our third dog into this mix, Jackson, whom you can read about on his own page. But not much else changed with Aikman. He stayed the same for the most part of an older dog. A little grumpy but generally still acted like a puppy a lot of the time.


One day, in true Aikman fashion, he went exploring this new house while we were at work. I come home and I can't find him. I went looking everywhere outside and in the house and nowhere is he to be found. Eventually I did find him, in the laundry room. He apparently knocked the door shut while he was wandering around the house and clawed up the back of the door trying to get out. After the second time doing this we learned to block the door open so he couldn't lock himself in there again.


The fateful day that is in all puppies lives came when Aikman stopped eating. Aikman has always been a good eater. Twix wasn't much of an eater until Aikman came along because Aikman would eat anything he could find. I assume that was due to his upbringing. When you got food, you ate the food, or someone else would. Well, Aikman stopped eating one day, which worried us but not too much. But then shortly after, the wife found him at the base of the stairs. Turns out he had taken himself outside and when he came back in he slipped at the bottom of the stairs and couldn't get himself back up. I ended up taking him to the vet. He had cancer. The vet had prescribed steroids in order to help increase his appetite so that we could at least keep him going in good condition for a little while longer. The steroids worked great! Aikman started eating again and he was acting like his old self. I thought we were in the clear for the time being. As I got to the end of the dosage period I stopped, as per the vet's orders, and Aikman started to slow down on his eating again. Worried that he would regress I called the vet so I could get permission to place him back on the meds (I didn't want to make anything worse by putting him on the meds when he shouldn't have been). The vet didn't answer so I left a message that it was urgent and to call me back. He didn't. I called the next day and left another message. And the vet still didn't call me back. On the third day I called again, frantic by this point. They told me to bring him in when I could. I had a meeting at work that (I thought) I couldn't miss so I went to work in the morning and left Aikman on his bed near the door. The meeting ran long and by the time I got home I found Aikman lying on the floor with lockjaw. I still had my convertible at that point, so I put down the top, lifted Aikman, bed and all, and placed him in the back seat. I brought him right over to the vet and we all decided that it was time. The wife was pretty far away taking a test and wasn't going to make it there in time but there was no time to waste. Aikman passed away while I was waiting for the vet to get the required materials to do the job. We learned a valuable lesson right there that we would never wait too long again. I also have never gone back to that vet. When someone calls you and leaves an urgent message to call back, I want a vet that actually cares enough to call back. Luckily, I think our vet now is that type of person.


We ended up getting Aikman cremated in a nice box and we will take him with us wherever we go until we find our forever home. And there we will bury him, probably with a nice bone.


Aikman's last picture


Some More Aikman Pictures

Aikman Aikman