We received this beautiful photo and tribute along with a generous charitable contribution in honor of Hanko’s Fenikkusu (Phoenix) — March 13th, 2005- March 1st, 2016.
Tripawds helped Kusu and me so much and I want to remember her leaping and swirling on 3 legs.
When Kusu arrived from California at 12 weeks, she was a funny looking dog—pointy nose, high in the rear, and tiny nubs for ears. It was amazing that she developed into such a lovely, balanced Akita. Kalitan, her Chinook brother, took to her immediately and, being bigger, had the advantage during their long hours of play.
Eventually, Kusu developed a cunning humor, which was shown as nipping and outrunning her brother. Try as we might, she was too fast for us, escaping our grasp acrobatically, spinning in the air, pouncing on us and running away. Her fondness for making me chase her when I was late for an appointment was seen in her gleeful smile. She could not be tempted—roast chicken, cookies—nothing could persuade her to come. Toys and fetching were beneath her, though she loved to bury her brother’s toys when she was a puppy. She learned quickly and used it to her advantage. She was the most tender and delicate dog I have known.
At 8 years old, she started to have grand mal seizures and, after a year, they were successfully controlled with medications. She was back to her inimitable self, but it was unclear if she would be cured during a long difficult time in her life.
Kusu was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the August of 2014, and her right front leg was amputated. A Goddess of Frolic, Kusu was an example of humor, strength, and agility on three legs, and an ambassador for her breed.
She conquered the osteosarcoma for 18 months but just over a month ago, the cancer had spread to her kidneys and other places. She died with grace at home in the presence of her small family.
Her favorite pastimes were balancing precipitously on the bow of her boat on Pleasant Pond; on four legs or three, she never fell from her Queenly post. She also loved to pull a sled, sulky or scooter. A far better sled dog than her freighting breed brother, Kalitan, Kusu always looked to the horizon while pulling and never looked back. Her structure was ideal for a working dog and she was an asset in harness and out. But her passion was to be chased, never to be captured, and she teased her family mercilessly when she escaped her restraints. She never ran away; seeing us run around for her amusement was too much fun.
During her short life, Kusu was in a multitude of research studies at universities here and abroad. Her DNA is part of the Akita Genetic Diversity Test, headed by Dr Niels Pedersen at UC Davis, in the hopes of a better and healthier future for all Akitas and an example of improving the health for all canine genomes.
Kusu also took part in the My Dog DNA/ Optimal Selection test, another tool for breeding for diversity. Her relatives were in the initial Canine Genome Project, which was a model for the Human Genome Project. For more information about contributing to canine health research, see the research projects at www.akcchf.org and www.morrisanimalfoundation.org.
To help research into better health in Akitas, you can make a tax-deductible contribution in Kusu’s memory by check made out to UC Regents, with a memo that it be spent on the Akita Genetic Diversity Research, sent to: Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, PO Box 1102, Davis, CA 95617-1102.
See you at the Bridge, Sweet Ballerina.