Most known for her love of peanut butter sundaes, chasing squirrels, hogging the bed, leftover pizza crust, and Sunday morning hikes, Akira made each and every day better.
After a heart-breaking series of new homes within her first 18 months as a pup, she found her forever home and rescued Aubrie and Charlie on May 30, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was love at first run: on their first evening together, Akira went for a sunset run with Aubrie along the University of Utah campus, and they became inseparable. From running neighborhood routes to trekking through rainy trails, Akira joined on countless miles. She was the co-pilot in many milestones over the past six years including: Charlie’s graduate degree, Aubrie and Charlie’s wedding, moving to Oregon for new jobs, and welcoming new family and friends to the Pacific Northwest.
As a husky-akita, Akira was equally joyful and curious as she was bright and stubborn. She loved playing hide and seek and snoozing in the back seat during long road trips. She could recognize the sound of a peanut butter jar opening or the shake of a whipped cream can from miles away. She never really liked water, fireworks, or being away from her humans for long, and only kindly tolerated her raincoat and brushing her teeth at her family’s request. She was known to unabashedly wedge herself into any hugs between her humans, and always wanted to be close to them, food or no food. While she had many nicknames, she was often known as Stinky Pete, Muffin, Muff, Protective Factor, Mow Mow, Angel, and ‘kira.
On April 26, 2019, Akira was diagnosed with Multicentric Lymphoma. While the news was devastating, their family made a promise to make the most of any time they had together. New traditions (Sunrise Hike Sundays, Trail Tuesdays) and a newfound appreciation for the littlest things were discovered. Akira was promoted to a Work From Home specialist in March 2020 and helped her family through the toughest months of their lives. Coincidentally, Akira celebrated her 700th day of fighting on the same day as their household’s final dose of the vaccine.
Akira’s story was often described as an anomaly, and her battle with lymphoma was no different. Akira enjoyed 752 more days of tail wags and belly rubs. She passed away on May 17, 2021 doing what she loves most: hogging the bed. Everything about her will be missed and her humans are thankful to experience a bond like hers. Each special day wouldn’t have been possible without the care and compassion that was found from the OSU Oncology department. Their encouragement, insight, and support will never be forgotten. A special thank you to her vet tech, Chelsey, and Dr. Mark Jeon. Thank you for your kindness, optimism, and continuing to show up for Akira and each patient during the pandemic.
Highlights of Akira’s favorite adventures and memorable moments can be found at Akira Highlights – YouTube
See you soon, sweet girl.
A donation was made in Akira's memory and the memorial was created on May 26, 2021.
Messages From Friends and Family
Dear Aubrie and Charlie, There are only a few things more heartbreaking than losing your furbaby. They love unconditionally, they adore you, their whole world revolves around you. I've lost a few, and it never gets any easier. One of my babies had lymphoma. It was devastating and followed by many tears. But we recognize exactly what you did as Akira's parents by living each and every day to the fullest. We did the same. Each sweet moment meant that much more. Knowing how much you loved Akira, I know you must be in such sadness. It's surprising how empty the house is. How much space they commanded. All the silly, goofy and frustrating things they do mostly to get our attention are unforgettable. You gave her a beautiful second chance at a great life. She had six amazing years with you. It's okay to grieve, to cry, to laugh at memories. She will forever reside in your hearts and memories. Share them often, it will ease the sorrow a bit. I'm hear if you need me and my prayers and thoughts go out to you. I'm sure she's found my babies over the rainbow bridge and all the things she wants are hers.
~Memory shared by Carolynn.
It is hard to know where to begin when putting all these feelings down on paper, but I will start with just the smallest bit of information about myself and how I came to know Aubrie, Charlie and their amazing dog Akira (aka Princess Akira, aka Princess Twinkle Toes- more to come on that nickname). I am an Oncology technician for the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital and that is where the journey begins. Akira originally presented to the Small Animal Internal Medicine service on 4/26/2019 for some non-specific signs of weight loss, not eating well and general malaise. These symptoms, in combination with an elevated blood calcium level and diagnostics performed by the Internal Medicine department, led to a diagnosis of Lymphoma with a presumption for the T-cell form. Unfortunately T-cell Lymphoma is the most aggressive form with the worst prognosis of only about a six month survival time even with chemotherapy. A lot of owners make the difficult decision not to treat their pets with a T-cell diagnosis because of this poor prognosis and the huge financial and time commitment of chemotherapy. Despite this, Aubrie and Charlie wanted to do everything they could for their girl, and so she was transferred to the Oncology service and I gave her very first chemo dose that same day. Now, everyone who knew and loved Akira knew that she had, hmmm shall we say, “opinions?”, “feelings?” on who should be touching her and why. She also wasn’t overly fond of being at the vet or being in a cage. She would sing the song of her people very loudly indeed. Despite these feelings, over time I am honored to say that I became one of the “accepted” individuals to gain exclusive permission to touch Princess Akira. As time went on (and on and on) we developed a very special bond and I became her favorite OSU person. She continued to do wonderfully and responded to chemo for over two amazing years. She became so practiced at her treatments she would jump up on my chemo table, lay down and close her eyes while I put in her IV catheter and delivered her medications. She was such an exemplary patient, but there are a few funny oops moments along with all the great ones. This is where the Princess Twinkle Toes nickname comes in! I think Akira had ticklish feet, because any time I would brush or bump against her toes she would give the most exaggerated donkey kick with her back feet I have ever seen from a dog. Once I remember I leaned in very closely to pet her head and kiss her after I had started her IV, and my protective gown that I wear when administering chemo brushed against her toes. There went the donkey kick, which then pulled out her IV! We had to start all over again. She accepted it with good grace. Another funny memory I have of her is when one of the “unaccepted” individuals, who will remain anonymous so as to protect their dignity, decided to “help” me give Akira her chemo. Akira gave her famous side eye glare, referenced in more than one of these stories, when this person reached out to touch her, proceeded to scream like a banshee and shot backwards through the air, off the chemo table and right out of the room. I had to chase her all the way down the hall. Needless to say, this person was subsequently politely disinvited from helping me with Princess Akira. Although it wasn’t her idea of what her time should be spent doing, she really tolerated all her visits wonderfully. She even made huge progress on her dislike of being kenneled with the bribe of some very special treats. It didn’t take more than a few appointments for her to learn where the cookie cupboard was and develop her own “opinions” (a seemingly recurring theme here) about when she was entitled to receive said treats. She even learned the hospital so well that I could let her leash go and she would trot through the hospital right by my side all the way to the dog kennels, push open the swinging door and put herself in her dog run. She was paid in treats of course. Another funny “opinion” she had was in regards to who was truly qualified to draw her blood and how easy or difficult that task was going be. Don’t let these accounts fool though, she really was the perfect patient. For me ? Obviously her parents were dedicated to giving her as much extra quality time as they possibly could, and even someone who was not as close to them as I am could see how much they loved and cared for her. Towards the end of her life, Akira wasn’t eating as much and Aubrie was cooking, baking, you name it, just for her. This wasn’t just dedication, it was devotion, and on a whole new level! I don’t think Akira ever knew she was sick. She had such a great life, and even though it was cut short, she was able to live life to the fullest for the time that she did have. She bravely fought her disease from the first day I gave her chemo on 4/26/2019 to the day she took her last breath on 5/17/2021 at home on her parents’ bed. I will never forget Akira or her amazing, silly, quirky, unique, loyal, loving spark for life and for the people she deemed as hers. I have had the privilege to not only get to know Akira over these last two years, but to create and deepen a bond that has grown into friendship with her wonderful mom and dad. I will always remember and cherish the memories we made and I will never stop missing Akira. She truly is an inspirational story, and her memory and all the extra time she got to spend enjoying life and being spoiled is why I do what I do.
~Memory shared by Chelsey.
I often saw Akira on runs with Aubrie and late-night walks with Charlie. Seeing her around our campus housing helped create a feeling of community…one with families. Akira always impressed upon me being very protective of her family and with good reason—talk about a great family! Given who Aubrie and Charlie are, I imagine Akira was silly and adventurous yet serious and cautious. As a member of her small and vibrant family, I knew that Akira ate well and was well travelled! #Goals. I’m glad to have gotten glimpses into what I am sure was a life well lived!
~Memory shared by Vivian.
AHH! I just had this memory pop into my mind and wanted---needed--to share. I think the first time Akira slept over at my apartment was when we were all in Salt Lake City. I don't remember where her mom and dad were going, but they weren't able to take Akira so she got to spend a few days with her boyfriend and me. I had some human friends visiting at the time, and Akira can be a little shy when she first meets people. While we were hanging out in the living room, I noticed Akira wasn't in eyesight anymore, and as I mentioned previously, she can be a little mischievous (especially out of sight). I called for her and received no answer. So I started to check my room and guest room--no Akira. Earlier in the day, she had gone into the bathroom and curled up in the shower so I checked there--no Akira. The kitchen across from the bathroom also had no Akira. I opened the door to my laundry room--the last room option available in my apartment....NO AKIRA. Panic started to set in. How had I lost this large dog in my small apartment? I searched all the rooms again: under beds, opening closets even though the doors had been closed, back to the bathroom all resulting in the same conclusion from earlier--no Akira. I cannot explain how confusing and terrifying this was as I didn't know how to explain to Aubrie and Charlie that I somehow lost their child. I even got to the point where I was questioning if Akira could have somehow unlocked and opened my door and gone outside without 5 grown adults seeing it. I decided to check every room again one last time before giving Aubrie and Charlie the bad news. As I made my way into the final room (the laundry room), I decided to check the storage cabinets along the wall. I knew it was unlikely that Akira would be in there because the doors had been shut and the spaces were small, but it was the only area I hadn't checked at that point. I open the final storage cabinet and what do I see? Akira curled up on the bottom on the cabinet. I still have no idea how she got into the cabinet, but I learned a great lesson that day: don't ever underestimate Akira.
~Memory shared by Brittany.
I met Akira for the first time in Boise, ID at a vacation house. She hadn't been with Mom and Dad for very long, but she was already loved immensely. Akira was very stressed that weekend to the new space and new people, and it certainly was an interesting type 3 fun weekend. I admit that I wasn't certain Akira liked anyone other than Mom and Dad. She has the most intense side-eye glare of anyone that I know. However, Akira slowly won me over to show me the truly wonderful, loving companion that she is! My favorite "lol" memory with Akira is the time that she snuck out the door and came running right to me greeting me with that classic intense booty wiggle. Instead of catching her like most responsible adults in her life would have, I gave her a friendly pet and let her go be free. Mom was perplexed (more annoyed) that I chose to not try and get her, but I knew that she wouldn't go far and that she would come back because of how much she loved her pack. My second favorite "lol" moment was the time that Akira was staying with Aunt Brittany and boyfriend, and the four of us went for a walk. I had the privilege of walking along side Akira as we gallivanted about the campus. It was always good to be near Akira when going for a walk because everyone would completely ignore you to stare at her. "You have such a beautiful dog!" they would scream from their passing cars or as they walked by the other end of the sidewalk without ever really taking their eyes or attention off Akira. Who were they yelling at? They didn't care, Akira was the main event. And, for the privilege of getting to be in her presence that day with all of those compliments, I got to scoop and hold the deposits of that walk, not once, not twice, but three times. Three giant bags of "gifts" for Uncle Nick for the opportunity to be alongside her. But you know, it was worth it to see her being admired by so many onlookers. Everybody loves Akira!
~Memory shared by Nick.
Today I was thinking about when Aubrie and Charlie first moved to Oregon and were living on a farm in a spare room they found through Airbnb. Aubrie had just started her new job at OSU, and I video called them to check in. I don't remember the context specifically for how the next sequence of events occurred, but Akira wandered into the frame (stealing the show, naturally). At some point--fully knowing that she associates the term with jumping up onto things *and* that she was not allowed on the bed--I said, "hop up" to Akira. In her true mischievous manner, she heard it and proceeded to jump up on the bed. There are so many moments like this with Akira being super playful and hilarious (mostly because the humans around her were putting on voices and imagining how she would respond to something) and this is one of my favourite memories.
~Memory shared by Brittany.