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Heroic dog sacrifices himself to save his family; his human's moving eulogy touched our hearts

Dogsarefamily_thumb By Dogs Are Family | March 09, 2014 | Comments (13)

Hannah has lived in Alaska for 25 years and has hundreds of miles of wilderness behind her back door. She lives with her dogs along the US/Canadian border in southeast Alaska and a few days ago she lost her beloved dog, Steve Mason. She shares her remarkable story of how Steve Mason saved her life and the lives of his three younger canine brothers in an act of heroism before leaving this world.

A Eulogy for Steve Mason

Steven Mason, March ??, 1998 - March 5, 2014

Dog guardian remembers her devoted dog who protected his family in his final moments

"This is Steve Mason, the most incredible dog I have ever met and my best friend of the past 16 years. And this is the story of how he died saving my life one last time."

Dog guardian remembers her devoted dog who protected his family in his final moments
"Here we are as pups, circa 2006."

"Steve Mason, "Mason" to his friends was a Husky, Lab, Rottweiler mutt with insanely fluffy ears and markings on his face that made it look like he was always wearing Harry Potter specs. I picked him out of a litter of puppies because while all the others yipped and squealed and played, he was the only one to stop and snuffle the flowers."

Steve Mason was loved by his family

"He and I went on enough adventures to shame the Fellowship, and hit the top of more mountains than I can honestly remember. He always had this way of perking up his ears that could spur me to keep going, either to the top of a ridge line or out of what ever ridiculous angst I found myself muddled in."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"He was obsessed with shortening sticks and tearing up any cardboard he could find. He was extremely meticulous and many a vacuum clear died trying to tidy up his messes."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"He was a rock for my brother during his rough years. Mason could always be there for him, even when I couldn't. And every time he saw my brother, even if five years had gone by, he'd still try and jump in his arms like a puppy."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"Everyone who met him came away saying that he was a remarkable dog, and many could honestly say he was the nicest person they'd ever met."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"Over the past two years he began to show his age. His hearing and much of his eyesight abandoned him, along with his sense of balance."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"I kept expecting him to die in his sleep or collapse on a hike."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"My worst fear was that he would grow so old and infirm that we'd have to put him down. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to go through what I've had to do for so many other dogs with him. He was far too special. He just seemed so old."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"But he just kept on going, refusing to take it easy. He moved slower, and couldn't go as far, but he never seemed to mind."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"This winter I'd been sure to get as many adventures in with him as possible, knowing our days together might be numbered. On March 5th, he and I, along with my family's three younger dogs took off for what was meant to be a quick hike around our property before I had to go to work."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"We were about a mile from home on our snowshoe trail when I noticed a figure following us about a quarter mile back. I recognized it as a wolf right away. I hadn't seen a wolf in my valley for about fifteen years, but wolves are shy and usually hide from humans, especially one with four dogs. Trying to be respectful, I turned us towards home, thinking we'd give the wolf room to escape and think no more about it."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

A few minutes later the littlest dog gave a bark and I turned to see the wolf standing five feet behind us. She was huge, her shoulder nearly coming up to my hip. She looked scared but determined, and most of all she looked hungry. We were in trouble. She attacked and we spent the next twenty minutes trying to fight her off. I was hitting her with my ski poles while the dogs nipped and tried to avoid her teeth. She was weak but a good fighter."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family
"Mason and I, two years back."

"Mason and I ended up fighting side-by-side. The wolf kept staring me in the eyes, but it was clear she was after the dogs. She finally pinned the smallest dog and Mason lunged at her. Suddenly my frail old man looked huge, bigger than I'd ever seen him before. He knocked her off the puppy, but she got Mason by the throat. It was over in a split second. I have never screamed so loud. Every fiber in my being was telling me to kill her, stab her in the eye, tear her throat out if I could. But that would have only gotten me killed too, and there were three other dogs I had to get out of there. It was too late anyway. He was dead and she was eating him."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"This is the wolf. This picture was taken the morning after by some guards and the nearby border station when she wandered past. Though all I wanted to do in the moment was kill her, she really is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. And now that it's done, I hold no hate for her. She was starving to death and did what she had to to survive. I think she went into the fight knowing she might be the one to get killed, and it was simply the luck of the draw that she got him first. I only hope she leaves this valley safely."

Steve Mason was deeply loved by his family

"Goodbye, Partner."

"I miss Mason like there is a hole in my chest. Though I know there was nothing else I could have done, I can't escape the thought that I failed to save him. But most dogs at sixteen die bye the fireside, slowly and painfully of old age. Mason went out of this world like a thunderbolt, saving my life and the lives of the three younger dogs. He was my puppy, my "grizzly", my brother, my friend, and he died as he lived: My hero. I love you, buddy. Goodbye."

 

Hannah has commented since and said she's hiked in the mountains for 25 years and never come close to an encounter until the fateful day she was out with her dogs on her property.

She emphasizes how incredibly rare it is for people to see a wolf. "Large predator encounters hardly ever happen here, and should they occur, the predator runs the other way. What happened is so incredibly rare that people will live here for seventy years and never even see a wolf."

Photos and text reprinted with permission from Hannah.


Copyright 2015 DogHeirs. All Rights Reserved.


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Comments on this Article

R.I.P. Mason. With U I found my hero of the day! U R amazing even now.
It has nothing to do with protecting yourself or carrying a gun. The point is, someone is in grieving and took the time to dedicate a post in memory of their dog. That is not the time and place to criticise them and make them feel even worse for not carrying a gun for protection.
@ cris i dont go out to intentionally shoot at anything, it will be to protect myself in case of attack. so no defending my life and others is no fail. just because an animal comes around im not going to shoot it, but that wolf was stalking them and attacked. u can just lay there if you want to be dinner
@Sherry: There's a time and a place. You failed at both.
@ three norms ok can lay there let the wolf eat you
sherry: way show typical human arrogance.
My 1st dog was nearly 16 when my dad had to make the decision to put him down. He lived like yours did though, he never stopped romping through the woods, running like he was much younger and dragging home all sorts of dead things. On his last day he mixed it up with a raccoon, which most of you know can be vicious little critters. He fought hard, but limped home with a scratched up face, a few broken ribs and punctured lung. It was an awful day, but as you so eloquently said, he went out like a thunder bolt - he went out like he liked to live. So as sad as it was, it was better than many alternatives. I understand your grief, but love the way you have chosen to look at it. Peace to you!
umm gun ! yeah wouldn't lve home without it
We lost a dog under tragic circumstances but I hold onto the fact that she died in her favourite place, doing her favourite thing and she just ran from earth straight into heaven. I bet Mason feels the same. His favourite place, his favourite person, an activity he loved and I bet he ran at the wolf knowing he would run straight to heaven too. Tears for your loss and your grief, wishes for peace and good memories to help you smile.
you know what? i think mason was proud to leave you this way. no feeble, lingering passage for him - no, he had to leave saving two lives: yours and the wolf's. for her to be that thin and desperate, maybe she had puppies, so he saved them, too. truly a spectacular dog and a hero's ending.
Hannah, what a story! Wow! Are they the best creatures God had ever created or what? Steve Mason was absolutely gorgeous and he loved you and the pups dearly. He did what he needed to do to protect his loved ones, with you helping to protect your loved ones, beside him. Your pain of that awful memory will be with you always, but you couldn't bear to put him down and he couldn't bear to leave you in his sleep, so looking at it as this was the way it had to be for both of you may help. I just had to put down my 16 year old Golden on the 24th of February and every day, I just kinda thought that she would magically live forever. It doesn't happen that way. Sadly. We will meet again though, I truly believe that with all my heart. My condolences go out to you from my soul, remember the good moments (every minute really was a good moment). And remember how much he loved you and knew that you loved him, enough to protect you even if it caused his demise. By the way, where did the name Steve Mason come from? Look up to the sky at any point to see your beloved boy, he is giving you all his love still from above.
Although there are no words that will ease the pain of losing such a special family member, you have many memories of a special dog. Your forgiveness and understanding of the Wolfs desperate situation and the role Steve Mason played in his sacrifice for you and your little ones is remarkable. You and Steve Mason are lucky to have had such a special and unforgettable relationship.
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. It sounds to me like you gave Mason a very beautiful life full of walks and hikes some dogs and people can only dream of. We never know how our end will come in this life, all we can do is live each day to the fullest. That's what you were doing when Mason gave you the greatest gift of love anyone can ever give to someone, he laid down his life so his family could live. That's a pretty special gift to be bestowed with. I know that you are grieving pretty badly, 16 years is a lot of time to spend with someone. It will take some time to adjust. All we can do is celebrate the memory of their life by being more loving people and then in time learn to share the love we had for them with others. You have my heartfelt condolences for your loss of Mason, Hannah.
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