Table of Contents
The Alaskan Malamute, a breed steeped in history and tradition, is one of the oldest and most distinguished Arctic sled dogs. These majestic creatures, native to the frosty wilds of Alaska, were initially bred by the Mahlemut tribe, hence their name. Known for their incredible strength, endurance, and resilience, they were pivotal in the tribe’s survival, assisting with heavy loads and transportation across the harsh Alaskan landscape.
Physically, Alaskan Malamutes are large, muscular dogs, with males typically reaching up to 63.5 cm at the shoulder and females slightly smaller. They possess a dense double coat, perfect for withstanding extreme cold, and their well-furred tails, often carried over the back, further contribute to their recognisable silhouette.
The breed is renowned not only for its striking appearance but also for its warm and friendly temperament. Alaskan Malamutes are sociable creatures, known to be affectionate with both their families and strangers. However, they also have a strong independent streak, a trait likely inherited from their sled dog ancestry.
Alaskan Malamutes are highly intelligent, but their independent nature can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. They require consistent, firm, and patient training from an early age. Despite their Arctic heritage, these dogs are incredibly adaptable and can thrive in various settings, including the UK’s milder climate, provided they receive proper care and attention.
One important thing to remember when considering an Alaskan Malamute is their high energy levels and need for regular exercise. Without proper outlets for their energy, they can become bored and potentially destructive. Overall, these magnificent dogs make loyal and loving companions for the right families. They are a testament to the resilience, strength, and beauty of the natural world.
Average Sizes and Life Expectancy Of The Breed
In the table below, you’ll find the average height, weight, and life expectancy of the Alaskan Malamute breed. These figures give a general idea, but remember, individual dogs may vary based on factors such as genetics, diet, and overall health care.
|61 – 66 cm
|56 – 61 cm
|36 – 43 kg
|32 – 38 kg
|10 – 14 years
|10 – 14 years
As you can see, Alaskan Malamutes are quite a large breed, with males being slightly taller and heavier than their female counterparts. Despite their size, with proper care, they can live well into their teens, providing many years of companionship and joy.
Breed Traits and Characteristics
Alaskan Malamutes generally fit well into family life, displaying a strong bond with their human companions. Here’s a breakdown of their typical traits:
|Level of Affection
|High: They are known for their affectionate and loyal nature.
|Good with Children
|Yes: They are patient and enjoy the company of children, but supervision is recommended due to their size.
|Good with Other Dogs
|Moderate: Early socialisation is important to ensure they get along with other dogs.
|Suitable for Novice Owners
|Low: They can be a challenge for first-time dog owners due to their high energy and independent nature.
Malamutes possess specific physical traits that potential owners should be aware of, particularly regarding their grooming and exercise needs:
|Double coat: An outer coat that’s coarse and an undercoat that’s dense and wooly.
|High: They are heavy shedders, especially during the shedding season.
|Low: They are not typically heavy droolers.
|Coat Grooming Requirements
|High: Regular brushing is required to manage shedding and keep the coat healthy.
|Medium to long: The double coat provides excellent insulation.
|Good: They are generally healthy but can be prone to certain genetic conditions like hip dysplasia.
|Potential to Gain Weight
|High: They love to eat and can easily become overweight without proper portion control and exercise.
|High: They require plenty of physical activity due to their high energy levels.
In terms of social characteristics, Malamutes are generally sociable and friendly, but certain traits can affect their adaptability:
|High: They are energetic and enjoy playtime.
|Attitude Towards Strangers
|Friendly: They are generally welcoming towards strangers.
|Moderate: While loyal to their family, they are not typically aggressive.
|Moderate: They can adapt to different living situations but prefer cooler climates.
|Ability to Leave Alone
|Low: They are social animals and don’t like being left alone for long periods.
Malamutes have distinctive personality traits, which can influence their trainability and overall behaviour:
|Moderate: They are intelligent but can be independent and stubborn.
|Low: They are not known to bark excessively but may howl.
|High: They are active and energetic dogs.
|Mental Stimulation Needs
|High: They require mental stimulation to prevent boredom.
|High: They are intelligent and capable of learning complex commands.
Pros & Cons
As with any breed, the Alaskan Malamute comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Here, we’ve compiled a concise table to help prospective owners weigh up the pros and cons before bringing one of these magnificent dogs into their lives:
|Affectionate and Friendly
|Requires lots of exercise and mental stimulation
|Can be stubborn, making training a challenge
|Good with Children
|Requires consistent grooming due to heavy shedding
|Prone to certain genetic conditions like hip dysplasia
|Adaptable to Various Climates
|Better suited to cooler environments
|Low Barking Tendency
|May display a tendency to howl
It’s important to remember that individual dogs may vary, and a dog’s upbringing and environment can have a significant impact on their behaviour and health. It’s always recommended to meet a dog and spend time understanding their individual personality before making a commitment to bring them into your home.
The Alaskan Malamute, owing to its distinctive appearance, historical significance, and endearing personality traits, has acquired several affectionate nicknames over the years. Here are a few of the most commonly used ones:
- Mal: This is the most frequently used abbreviation for the breed, simple and endearing.
- Mally: Another shortened version of the name, this nickname carries a playful and casual tone.
- Malamute: Although it’s technically their full breed name, it’s often used as a term of endearment by those familiar with the breed.
- Alaskan Sled Dog: This name pays tribute to their historical role and the important work they carried out in the Arctic.
These nicknames embody the affection and respect that owners and enthusiasts have for this remarkable breed, and using them helps to foster a closer bond with these splendid dogs.
The Alaskan Malamute’s temperament is typically one of affection, intelligence, and independence. These dogs are known for their friendly and approachable demeanour, often greeting both familiar faces and strangers with enthusiasm. Their sociable nature extends to other dogs as well, particularly when they have been properly socialised from a young age.
Malamutes are highly intelligent, a trait that can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Their smarts can make them quick learners, but they also have a strong independent streak, which can sometimes be interpreted as stubbornness. This combination means they require consistent, patient, and positive reinforcement training methods.
Despite their size and strength, Malamutes are not typically aggressive. They may, however, exhibit a protective nature over their family. They are also known for their high energy levels and playfulness, often retaining a puppy-like enthusiasm well into their adult years.
At home, Malamutes are known to be affectionate and loyal, often forming strong bonds with their human families. However, they are not well-suited to being left alone for extended periods and can become bored and destructive if not provided with enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.
In summary, the Alaskan Malamute’s temperament can be best described as a blend of affection, sociability, intelligence, and independence, making them an excellent companion for the right individual or family.
The Alaskan Malamute is not typically known for being an excessive barker. This breed tends to be relatively quiet when compared to other dog breeds. However, they do have a unique vocalisation – a melodious howl, reminiscent of their wolf ancestors. This howl can be quite loud and is often used to express a variety of emotions or responses to different stimuli, such as excitement, boredom, or even loneliness.
While they’re not known for unnecessary barking, Malamutes may bark or howl to alert their owners to something out of the ordinary, like an unfamiliar person or animal in their territory. However, they’re not generally considered to be good guard dogs due to their friendly nature towards strangers.
It’s also worth noting that individual temperaments and behaviours can vary. Some Malamutes might be more vocal than others, and this can often be managed through proper training and ensuring that they are adequately exercised and mentally stimulated. Like any breed, a bored Malamute is more likely to engage in undesired behaviours, including excessive barking or howling.
Colours & Markings
Alaskan Malamutes come in a variety of colours and markings, adding to the individuality and charm of each dog. Here are the main colours and patterns you might see:
- White: Although it’s rare, some Malamutes can be completely white.
- Black & White: This is a common colour combination, often with the body being predominantly black, and the underbelly, parts of the legs, feet, and parts of the face markings being white.
- Wolf Grey & White: This colour combination can range from light to dark. The underbody, parts of legs, feet, and part of the markings on the face are generally white.
- Sable & White: Sable Malamutes have a red undercoat with dark grey or black guard hairs. The underbody, breeches, and part of the face markings are white.
- Red & White: Red Malamutes have a light cinnamon to a dark liver colour with white underbodies and accents.
In terms of markings, Alaskan Malamutes usually have a cap over the head, a bar/mask on the face, or an all-white face. They may also have a ‘snow nose’ or ‘winter nose,’ where the pigmentation on the nose fades during the winter months, becoming darker again in the summer.
Each Alaskan Malamute’s colour and markings are unique, adding to their individual character and charm. Regardless of the colour of their coat, these dogs are known for their beauty, strength, and friendly nature.
Feeding your Alaskan Malamute a well-balanced diet is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Here are some diet recommendations:
- Protein-Rich Food: As highly active working dogs, Alaskan Malamutes require a diet rich in protein. High-quality commercial dog food with meat as the first ingredient is a good choice.
- Controlled Portions: Even though Malamutes have a big appetite, it’s important to control their food portions to prevent obesity. Divide their daily food intake into two meals a day.
- Healthy Treats: Treats can be a good way to reward your Malamute during training, but ensure they are healthy and used sparingly.
- Hydration: Always have fresh water available for your Malamute, especially during hot weather and after exercise.
Alaskan Malamutes are energetic and need plenty of exercise. Here are some recommendations:
- Daily Walks: Malamutes need at least one hour of exercise a day, which can be split into two walks.
- Mental Stimulation: Challenge your Malamute’s mind with puzzle toys, obedience training, and agility courses.
- Playtime: Allow your Malamute time off the lead in a secure area to run and play.
- Working Activities: Malamutes excel in activities like weight pulling, backpacking, and sled racing.
Alaskan Malamutes are generally healthy but are prone to certain health conditions. Here are some common illnesses:
|A condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit correctly, leading to arthritis and lameness.
|A hereditary condition that affects bone growth, leading to dwarfism.
|A condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to weight gain, skin problems, and other issues.
|An eye condition that can cause cloudiness and affect vision.
|Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
|A group of genetic diseases that cause the retina to deteriorate over time, leading to blindness.
|Von Willebrand’s Disease
|A blood disorder that affects clotting and can cause excessive bleeding.
Regular vet check-ups and keeping an eye on your dog’s health can help catch these conditions early and provide the best care possible for your Malamute.
What To Expect When Caring For An Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamutes are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be susceptible to certain health conditions. As discussed earlier, these include hip dysplasia, cataracts, hypothyroidism, chondrodysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Despite these potential health issues, with regular check-ups and a healthy lifestyle, Malamutes can lead a happy and active life.
It is recommended to take your Malamute for veterinary check-ups at least once a year, or more often for older dogs. Regular vaccinations and deworming are crucial to protect them from common canine diseases. Additionally, periodic screening for the common health issues in the breed can help in early detection and management.
Alaskan Malamutes have a thick, double-layered coat that needs regular grooming to keep it clean and healthy. They are heavy shedders, especially during the spring and autumn, and will require more frequent brushing during these periods. A thorough brushing at least once a week can help to remove loose hair and prevent matting.
Their nails should be trimmed regularly, and their ears checked weekly for signs of infection. Dental care is also essential, so regular teeth brushing is advised to prevent dental diseases.
Alaskan Malamutes are an active breed that requires a substantial amount of exercise. A minimum of an hour’s exercise per day is recommended, but more active Malamutes may require more. This can include walks, playtime, and other activities like hiking, weight pulling, or sled pulling, which also offer mental stimulation.
Despite their energy levels, it’s important not to over-exercise them as puppies, as their joints are still developing. Always ensure your Malamute has access to plenty of fresh water during and after exercise.
Malamutes are intelligent and eager to please, but they also have a strong independent streak. They respond best to positive reinforcement training methods, including rewards like treats and praise. Consistency is key, and training should start from a young age.
They can sometimes be stubborn, so patience is required. Socialisation is also important for Malamutes; exposure to different people, pets, and environments can help them to grow into well-rounded dogs.
A high-quality, balanced diet is essential for your Malamute’s overall health. Their diet should be rich in protein to support their muscular physique and active lifestyle. They also require a balanced intake of carbohydrates, fats, and fibre.
Portion control is crucial, as Malamutes are prone to obesity. Treats should be used sparingly and ideally should be healthy. Always ensure fresh water is available, and remember to adjust your dog’s diet and portion sizes as they age, or if their activity levels change. Regular vet check-ups can help maintain your Malamute’s dietary health and manage their weight effectively.
How To Buy / Adopt
If you’re considering adding an Alaskan Malamute to your family, there are several ways to go about it. Whether you choose to buy from a responsible breeder or adopt from a rescue, it’s important to do your research to ensure you’re getting a healthy and well-cared-for dog.
Adoption is a wonderful way to provide a home for a dog in need. If you’re interested in adopting an Alaskan Malamute, there are several organisations in the UK that can help.
Dogs Trust is a nationwide charity that rehomes dogs of all breeds, including Alaskan Malamutes. They provide a thorough assessment of each dog’s needs and match them with suitable families.
Saints Sled Dog Rescue is a charity dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming sled dogs, including Alaskan Malamutes. They work to ensure that each dog is placed in a loving home where their needs will be met.
If you prefer to purchase a puppy, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Here are a couple of places to start your search:
Pets4Homes is an online classified site where you can find Alaskan Malamute puppies for sale from breeders across the UK.
Forever Puppy is another online platform that connects potential owners with breeders.
Remember, when buying a puppy, make sure to ask for health clearances from both the puppy’s parents. This can help ensure that your puppy will be healthy. Also, consider visiting the breeder’s premises to ensure they maintain high standards of animal welfare.
Breeding Alaskan Malamutes, or any dog breed, is a significant commitment that should not be taken lightly. If you’re considering breeding your Malamute, here’s some advice to guide you:
Health Checks: Before breeding, ensure both parents have been screened for common genetic health issues in the breed, such as hip dysplasia and eye conditions. This can help prevent these issues being passed onto the puppies.
Age and Number of Litters: A female Malamute should be at least two years old before breeding, and it’s generally recommended to limit her to no more than one litter per year. Breeding a female too young or too often can risk her health.
Knowledge of the Breed: Understanding the breed’s characteristics, traits, and potential health issues is crucial. Be prepared to offer advice to potential puppy owners and provide support if needed.
Responsible Breeding Practices: Always prioritise the health and welfare of your dogs over producing puppies for sale. This includes ensuring puppies are weaned, socialised, and have their first vaccinations before going to their new homes.
Finding Good Homes: Be prepared to find suitable homes for the puppies. This may include vetting potential owners to ensure they’re prepared for the responsibility of a Malamute.
Support: Seek advice from experienced breeders and consider joining breed clubs or forums for support.
Remember, breeding should be undertaken with the aim of preserving and improving the breed, rather than for financial gain. It’s always recommended to seek advice from veterinary professionals before embarking on a breeding journey.
Origin and History
The Alaskan Malamute is one of the oldest and most revered sled dog breeds with a rich history that traces back over thousands of years. These sturdy dogs originated among the native Inuit people known as the Mahlemuts, who lived in the northeastern area of the Seward Peninsula of Alaska. The name ‘Malamute’ is derived from this native tribe’s name.
The Mahlemuts used these dogs for heavy sled pulling, hunting, and protection. They played a crucial role in the survival of the Inuit tribe, helping them to navigate across vast frozen landscapes, carry large loads, and hunt seals and polar bears.
Unlike other breeds used for speed in sledding, Malamutes were bred for their strength and endurance. They could pull heavy loads over long distances. Over generations, the harsh Arctic environment shaped the Malamutes into the robust and hardy breed we know today.
When gold was discovered in Alaska in the late 19th century, the gold rush brought a flood of outsiders who employed various breeds for sled-dog racing. The pure Malamute breed was almost lost due to crossbreeding during this time.
Thankfully, enthusiasts in the 1920s sought to preserve the breed’s purity. Robert Zoller, a noted breeder, worked to combine the best traits of the available Malamutes, resulting in the Husky-Pak line, which has significantly influenced the breed.
The Alaskan Malamute was officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1935. Today, these magnificent dogs are popular as both working dogs and family pets, celebrated for their strength, endurance, friendly nature, and striking appearance.
Alaskan Malamute Groups / Clubs / Breed Organisations
Whether you’re a current owner of an Alaskan Malamute, looking to adopt or buy, or simply an admirer of the breed, joining a breed-specific club or organisation can provide a wealth of resources and a supportive community. Here are a few UK-based groups dedicated to the Alaskan Malamute breed:
Saints Sled Dog Rescue: This charity is devoted to rescuing and rehoming sled dogs, including Alaskan Malamutes. They also offer support and advice to owners and work to promote responsible pet ownership.
The Alaskan Malamute Club: This UK club is a great source of information on the breed, including health advice, training tips, and upcoming events. They also work to promote the welfare of Alaskan Malamutes and offer guidance to prospective owners.
Malamute Matters: This is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of Alaskan Malamutes through rescue, rehabilitation, rehoming, and education. They offer a wealth of resources for owners and run a range of fundraising events.
Sibes and Sled Dogs Husky Rescue: While not solely focused on Alaskan Malamutes, this rescue organisation does often have Malamutes in need of homes. They also provide plenty of advice and resources for potential adopters and owners.
Joining one of these groups can provide you with invaluable advice, support, and camaraderie from fellow Alaskan Malamute enthusiasts.
Is An Alaskan Malamute A Good Family Dog?
Yes, an Alaskan Malamute can make a wonderful family dog. They are known for their friendly and affectionate nature and tend to get along well with children. However, due to their size and energy, supervision is recommended when they are around very young children. It’s also important to note that Malamutes are a high-energy breed and require plenty of exercise, so they are best suited to active families.
What Is The Difference Between A Husky And A Malamute?
While Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies may look similar, there are several key differences between the two breeds. Malamutes are generally larger and heavier than Huskies, and they were bred for strength and endurance, making them excellent at pulling heavy loads over long distances. On the other hand, Huskies are smaller and lighter, bred for speed and agility. In terms of temperament, both breeds are friendly and outgoing, but Malamutes are often more independent and can be more challenging to train.
Can Malamutes Be Left Alone?
Alaskan Malamutes are a social breed and thrive on companionship. They can tolerate being left alone for short periods, but prolonged isolation can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviour. If you have a lifestyle that requires you to be away from home for extended periods regularly, a Malamute might not be the best fit for you. Regular social interaction and mental stimulation are essential for this breed’s wellbeing.
How Big Is An Alaskan Malamute?
Alaskan Malamutes are a large breed. Adult males typically stand at 64-71 cm tall at the shoulder and weigh between 36-43 kg. Adult females are slightly smaller, usually standing at 58-66 cm tall at the shoulder and weighing between 32-38 kg.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Smart?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent dogs. They are known for their problem-solving abilities and can learn commands and tasks quickly. However, their intelligence combined with their independent nature can sometimes make them appear stubborn.
How Much Are Giant Alaskan Malamute Puppies?
The price for a Giant Alaskan Malamute puppy can vary widely depending on the breeder, location, lineage, and demand. As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, you could expect to pay anywhere from £1,000 to £2,500 in the UK. It’s always recommended to buy from reputable breeders who prioritise the health and welfare of their dogs.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Aggressive?
No, Alaskan Malamutes are not typically aggressive. They are known to be friendly, affectionate, and good-natured. However, like any breed, individual temperament can vary, and a dog’s upbringing and socialisation play a significant role in their behaviour.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Dangerous?
No, Alaskan Malamutes are not inherently dangerous. They are a large and powerful breed, so they need to be well-trained and socialised from a young age. With the right care, training, and handling, Malamutes can be excellent companions.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Friendly?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes are known for their friendly and sociable nature. They typically get along well with people and often enjoy the company of other dogs.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Family Dogs?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes can make excellent family pets. They are known for their affectionate and playful nature. However, due to their size and high energy levels, they are best suited to families who can provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good For First-Time Owners?
Alaskan Malamutes can be a challenge for first-time dog owners due to their high energy levels, need for mental stimulation, and independent nature. They can be stubborn and require consistent, positive training methods. They are best suited to owners who have experience with large, active breeds.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good Guard Dogs?
While Alaskan Malamutes are protective of their families, they are not typically used as guard dogs. They are usually friendly towards people, including strangers, which doesn’t make them the best choice for a guard dog.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good With Cats?
Alaskan Malamutes have a high prey drive, which can make cohabitation with cats and other small animals a challenge. However, if they are raised with cats from a young age and properly socialised, it’s possible for them to get along. Each dog is an individual, and success will depend on the particular animals involved.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Good With Other Dogs?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes generally get along well with other dogs, especially if they are socialised from a young age. However, like all breeds, individual dogs can have different temperaments and not all Malamutes will be friendly with other dogs.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Hard To Train?
Alaskan Malamutes are intelligent and eager to please, but their independent nature can make them somewhat stubborn at times, which can be a challenge during training. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best with this breed.
Are Alaskan Malamutes Hypoallergenic?
No, Alaskan Malamutes are not hypoallergenic. They have a thick double coat that sheds heavily, particularly during the change of seasons, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.
Can Alaskan Malamutes Survive In Hot Weather?
Alaskan Malamutes can tolerate hot weather to some degree, but they are more comfortable in cooler climates due to their thick double coat. If living in a hot climate, it’s crucial to provide plenty of shade and fresh water, and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day.
Can Alaskan Malamutes Have Blue Eyes?
While some Alaskan Malamutes may have blue eyes, it is not the standard for the breed. Malamutes typically have brown eyes. Blue eyes are more commonly associated with Siberian Huskies.
Can You Cut Alaskan Malamutes Hair?
It’s not recommended to cut or shave an Alaskan Malamute’s coat. Their double coat provides insulation from both cold and heat, and shaving it can interfere with their ability to regulate their body temperature. Regular brushing to remove loose hair and prevent matting is typically all that’s needed.
Do Alaskan Malamutes Shed?
Yes, Alaskan Malamutes shed heavily, particularly during the change of seasons when they “blow” their undercoat. Regular brushing can help manage the shedding and keep their coat healthy.
Do Alaskan Malamutes Smell?
Alaskan Malamutes do not have a strong odour compared to some other dog breeds. However, like all dogs, they can develop an unpleasant smell if not regularly groomed. Regular bathing, along with brushing to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils, will help keep your Malamute smelling fresh.
American Kennel Club. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Information. [online] Available at: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/alaskan-malamute/ [Accessed 14 May 2023].
Dog Breed Info Center. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute. [online] Available at: https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/alaskanmalamute.htm [Accessed 14 May 2023].
Dogtime. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts. [online] Available at: https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/alaskan-malamute [Accessed 14 May 2023].
PDSA. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute. [online] Available at: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/pet-help-and-advice/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/large-dogs/alaskan-malamute [Accessed 14 May 2023].
Purina. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute Dog Breed Information. [online] Available at: https://www.purina.co.uk/find-a-pet/dog-breeds/alaskan-malamute#no-back [Accessed 14 May 2023].
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Alaskan Malamute. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaskan_Malamute [Accessed 14 May 2023].
Sophia Green is a renowned animal expert and passionate writer based in the picturesque seaside town of Brighton, UK. With over a decade of experience in the field of animal care, she brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her work as an author for Animals World.
Sophia’s personal life is a testament to her love for animals, as she is the proud owner of two dogs, a Border Collie and a German Shepherd, as well as three cats. This deep connection with her pets not only fuels her passion for writing about animals, but also serves as a constant reminder of the unique and profound bond that exists between humans and animals.