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Is this pup cute, or what?! Seriously, have you ever seen a more adorable face? I don’t think so. This is my guy, Fairbanks. Actually, this is his “before” picture. See below for his “after” picture (after adding over 100 pounds). First cute, then handsome — what a guy.

Fairbanks is an Alaskan Malamute, a breed evolved as freighting dogs among the native Alaskan Eskimos, the Mahlemut tribe (hence the name). Because of the harsh winter conditions, these people depended on the dogs for their very survival. As hunting partners, they were able to help take down large game, often located far from home, and then haul it back over the frozen tundra. They had to be strong, powerful and able to withstand long days of hard work in frigid temperatures with little fuel. These dogs aren’t built for speed, they’re built for stamina and endurance. Their efficient metabolisms require far less food than you’d expect from an animal this big.

Descendant from the northern wolf, Malamutes are rugged dogs who thrive on hard work. In 1984 at the Winter Ski and Sports Show in Portland, Oregon, a big Malamute named Mack pulled record weights of 3570 pounds on snow and 6900 pounds on wheels. You can understand how the native Eskimos needed these dogs to survive. Hauling a caribou back home over harsh terrain for days on end couldn’t be done without them. Having said that, Fairbanks prefers hanging out, doing his dog thing, going for his daily walk, and enjoying a rather cushy life compared to his ancestors. He does sleep outside though and had no problem with our recent record cold nights (19 below zero). It’s where he wants to be, but he does have a well-built dog house with a nice fleecy bed inside. Aaah, and he deserves it.

One more thing and I’ll get on with the food part to this post (yes, there is a food connection). My dad was an Arctic Survival Specialist for the Air Force and spent time during WWII in Alaska and Canada teaching potentially “downed” pilots survival skills. He traveled by dog team and his favorite buddy and lead dog was named Fairbanks. I named my guy after my dad’s dog. See Fairbanks #1 and Fairbanks #2. (This brings tears to my eyes. I’m such a sap.)

Okay on to the food part. My last post with the companion dog doing his job (sleeping while officially off-duty) inspired me to do this one. I’m always ranting about people food (what to eat, what not to eat, what to eat in moderation — blah, blah, blah). I decided I needed to do a “what NOT to feed your dog” post. Some of these foods might surprise you. I tried to get Fairbanks to eat a grape one time and he gummed it up and spit it out, hilariously so. I had no idea grapes were toxic to dogs. Yikes! Thank goodness he did. He’s not only handsome, he’s smart.

The following information came directly from my vet. Some of these foods are so toxic to dogs, they not only endanger their health, they may cause death.

Harmful foods (don’t feed these to your dog and store them where the dog can’t get to them)
• avocados
• chocolate (all forms)
• coffee (all forms), tea, energy drinks
• onions and onion powder
• garlic and garlic powder
• grapes
• raisins
• macadamia nuts
• all alcoholic beverages
• moldy/spoiled foods
• salt
• gum, candies, and other foods sweetened with xylitol
• tea leaves
• raw yeast dough

Good treats for dogs are baked potatoes and green beans (see, I told you Fairbanks had a cushy life). He also has a taste for wild-caught salmon.

Go forth and scratch some tummies!
P.S. Check out Liz and Henry for another food and dog blogger.

25 Responses to “I’m ready for my close-up”

  1. Miles says:

    A taste for wild-caught salmon? I bet he does!! It’s a dogs life and wish I were one 🙂
    A lovely looking dog and a great way to remember your Dad’s sidekick too.


  2. Melissa says:


    Yes, he’s not fond of the farmed stuff. He likes a nice fresh wild-caught steelhead. Or maybe a Copper River salmon. Hmmm, I might have to do a salmon post. The health benefits are amazing. I’ll call on you for some exotic sauce recipe. I usually stick to a basic roasted style.

  3. Cid says:


    My household has fallen for Fairbanks all over again, how could you not? Another great post Melissa and I look forward to more photographs from your snowy side of the globe. Earlier in the evening I was watching a tv programme by the wonderful Ray Mears on survival in extreme blizzard conditions in the mountains. Your father’s work must have been vital for so many people.


  4. Melissa says:

    Cid — Thank-you for your comments. I appreciate it. Yes, Fairbanks was the cutest puppy, but his puppy-hood didn’t last long as every morning he was noticeably bigger. He’s such a big sweetheart.
    The wonderful Ray Mears? I don’t know who that is, but you’ve sparked my interest!


  5. Cid says:


    Ray Mears is famous in the UK for his survival techniques in all kinds of environments…. one moment desert the next mountain rescue. I remember watching him spit roast a wild boar and then whittle a basting brush out of a piece of wood with his penknife! There are times, like now when it’s cold, that I wish Ray was here to light my fire the old fashioned way…. but being a woman of the 21st century I’ve learnt to light my own… with a fire lighter of course and a match 🙂


  6. Elsie Nean says:

    What a fabulous dog and a great post! Has his stamina and endurance been suitably adapted to your lifestyle :)? Instead of dragging in meat, does he fetch the newspaper? My parents used to have a german shepheard dog who used to wake me every morning at 7am for school, a great dog.
    You must be very proud of your Dad and have learned a lot from him. It is amazing what we retain when told/shown in childhood how to be in the outdoors. I was brought up in Germany and my Dad used to show me where things grew in the wild, how to make a walking stick etc. It all comes back later on.
    At least you are all geared up for the cold weather, Melissa. In England people have no idea how to cope with ice and snow. I even get strange looks when suggesting that they lag outdoor pipes. Still, they will learn when they burst!
    Hope you will share some more photos of your lovely countryside.

  7. Cheryl says:

    oh my goodness, what a cutie pie. thanks for the list, too!

  8. Melissa says:


    I just checked with my friend Mr. Google and wow, what an interesting guy (Ray Mears). We have our version in “Survivor Man” although I must admit, I’ve never seen that show. I do, however, have a “SPOT” locator that Survivor Man endorses in TV commercials (can’t remember his real name).

    You crack me up, Cid! Has Ray eclipsed George Clooney (or was that Elsie who had a flame on for George?). I suppose Ray is the rugged outdoorsman and George is the romantic leading man anyway. No reason you can’t have a crush on both.



    Great comments. No, Fairbanks pretty much does what Fairbanks wants to do. No tricks, no fetching the paper, nothing like that. Malamutes actually aren’t into doing “favors” — they will work unbelievably hard if trained to do so, but in general, they are very independent and not interested in doing tricks to please an audience (unless you’re holding a baked potato or a piece of salmon skin).


    Sounds like you had an amazing childhood with a special dad as well. How interesting and what a gift!

    I’m not sure what the word “lag” means, but I imagine it means, “protect them so they don’t freeze.”

    Love all you Brits!

    Hi Cheryl,

    You’re welcome! We focus (people like you and me) so much on what people should and shouldn’t eat, I thought I’d throw in a food post for our furry friends. Keeps things interesting (I hope, anyway!).

  9. Cid says:

    Melissa, Melissa…

    I’m watching Ray Mears now in a BBC 2 tv show in the Rockies featuring a man called Eric Langshaw…. wonder if you could get these shows online on the BBC site, well worth it.


    p.s. Yes it is a dilemma, George and a pot of fabulous coffee or Ray the ultimate manly survivor 🙂

  10. Melissa says:

    Cid — you can have George. I much prefer those manly, but nerdy outdoor types. Does that make sense?

    I just tried to find the show and all I found on the internet was the following. Was this it?


    The intrepid survival expert visits North America’s spectacular Rocky Mountains, ignoring tales of wild bear attacks and hypothermia to venture into the unspoilt wilderness. Despite the natural beauty of the area, few hikers dare attempt to cross the perilous paths. Ray also follows the progress of 20 RAF recruits on a gruelling training course which prepares them for any eventuality, as they could potentially be shot down behind enemy lines and need to survive in inhospitable conditions ranging…

    Wonder where they were. I’m very curious. Let me know if they ever say.

    Oh well, thanks for the “head’s up” anyway. Good try!

  11. Cid says:


    I stand no chance once Ray meets you…. I can see it all now, the both of you skiing off into the sunset, while I’m stuck with George 🙂

    You can catch RM on Youtube in small doses, but it might give you a clue why all the Brits have such a healthy respect for this man…. and presumably others like him.


  12. Adorable “baby” pic of Fairbanks II. How cool that the name lives on. Your dad was quite a fascinating guy. Love the picture of him with the original Fairbanks. It is amazing what things are harmful to dogs. (Some I knew, but many I did not.)

    I am surprised you didn’t mention the gluten issue for dogs. Dogs are not meant to eat grains and many, many people see issues like arthritis, hot spots, and much, much more go away when they start feeding their dogs (and even cats) gluten-free food. Of course, some people only feed their dogs raw meat, but that would be pretty labor intensive for the owners … well, except for the fresh, wild salmon now and again. 😉

  13. Melissa says:


    I laughed out loud at your comments. I’ll trade you our George Clooney for your Sean Connery.

    I’ll check out the YouTube videos. I love that kind of stuff!


    You’re SO right. I had mentioned the dog/grain/celiac thing on my “About” page when mentioning Fairbanks, but failed to add it to this post. I’m so glad you brought it up. Fairbanks doesn’t eat any grains, mainly just fish, potatoes and some other assorted foods. And I give him a dose of cod liver oil every day.

    Thanks for adding that — it’s perfect!

  14. Elsie Nean says:

    Having just read your account of the CT, I am just dumb struck. Talk about shock and awe! You are some Girl and faaar to good for Sean Connery.
    I really do envy you the wonderful countryside you inhabit.

    I don’t think RM is needed here either. Reading all this it looks like GC for you and I! We could always enlighten him about the merits of tea 🙂

  15. Tevis says:

    Oh, I miss Fairbanks so much! It’s only time before I convince Mike that we need a dog!!

  16. Marlow says:

    Oh my word!! So precious!!

  17. Melissa says:


    No reason to be dumbstruck, but thanks for the comments. Yes, this is a beautiful state. I’m lucky to live here and I take full advantage of it!

    Hey Tevis,

    Stop watching that puppy cam stuff!


    Yes, isn’t he the cutest little guy ever!

  18. Liz says:

    I can’t believe I’m just getting to this now! Pesky work has gotten in the way of my blog reading.

    Fairbanks is absolutely gorgeous! I loved reading about his breed — they are so cool! Reading about your Dad and his Fairbanks made me tear up a little too 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Fairbanks with us Melissa!

  19. Heather says:

    He is absolutely beautiful!

  20. Diana says:

    Melissa – Your dog is the cutest! OMG. I wish he could meet my Stella and make whoopie with her 🙂
    So, no moldy foods. Uh-oh. Stella does love moldy cream cheese but maybe I should not let her have this occasional delicacy. I would miss watching her lick the wrapper all around the kitchen floor, though. Do you think just once in a while might be ok?

  21. Melissa says:


    I know, I know — sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging! And thanks for your comments, Lizzie. I do appreciate your sentiments.


  22. Melissa says:


    Yes, isn’t he a doll?!


    Nice to “see” you. Are you trying to fix up Stella and Fairbanks (snicker, snicker)? As for the moldy food, I do the same thing on occasion with no ill effects, but my vet said to skip the moldy foods as they can sometimes cause problems. Dogs have pretty hardy systems as they eat all kinds of rotten stuff if given the chance. It’s just a list to go by. I was surprised by the grapes. I’ve actually tried to give Fairbanks grapes before. He spits them out. Whew!

  23. Melissa says:


    Just wanted to clarify, “I” don’t eat moldy food, I sometimes give it to my dog.


  24. Melissa says:


    Yes, he was the best!

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