Howling Wolf-Dog

Howling Wolf-Dog

This print was inspired by endless adventures with my 120 pound furry companion named Chook.

Chook was a malamute that I picked up from a breeder in Jackson when I was 20 years old. I had decided life wasn’t as good without a dog, so I went for it... and went big. I brought home a painfully cute, small-only-for-a-moment fur ball, that would grow up to be the biggest stinkiest, pain-in-the-ass, best friend I will ever have.

I had so many adventures with Chook I could write a novel and anyone who knew him could add their own chapter. I would often run into people and they would say:

“Oh you are the girl with that huge malamute, Chook right?” He was remembered on a first name basis, and I, just by association. For better or for worse, Chook was by my side through my 20’s. He saw boyfriends, addresses, trials and tribulations come and go. He was the only thing constant in my life for the 10 years I had with him.

I thought about writing about the time we hiked back in to the Wind River Range for a week long climbing trip. He howled so loudly from the base of Pingora Peak that 6 hours and 5 pitches up I had to bail on my climbing partner and wrap off the wall. Chook’s incessant howling echoed through the entire Cirque of the Towers, making everyone think a wolf lurked in their campsites. Or the time I came home to find that he had unwrapped and ate over 100 mini Cliff Bars and could not move from an extended belly that expelled a gas that burned nose hairs. Or the time he ate an entire hash oil brownie made for 4 grown adults and spent the night hallucinating, eventually passing out and peeing the couch like a college kid. Or the summer saga of midnight marauding in Durango, pillaging dumpsters and running from animal control, eventually becoming Durango’s most wanted dog. (He never got caught) The stories go on and on...

But perhaps my favorite memory of Chook, one that I hold so dear, is not one of him misbehaving. He did that regularly, providing endless laughs and unthinkable predicaments. However he also was also a steadfast companion, always up for accompanying me on my wild hair ideas, when no one else would.

It was late winter in the San Juan Mountains and I had my eye a ski line called 'The Idaho' that dropped from the summit of 13,450' Kendall Mountain straight down to the edge of the tiny town of Silverton Colorado. I was a new transplant in town and was enamored by the iconic face of this mountain. Every local had skied or was waiting to ski it. The right day for weather and avalanche conditions presented itself, however ski partners did not. In a quandary and with a burning desire to ski the peak, I eyed Chook who was happily resting on his dog bed, staring at me panting, as he so often did when he sensed an adventure in the works. I looked at him and said “You will do. Get up buddy, we're going skiing.”

I skinned up as Chook followed in my skin track. We climbed up the backside of the mountain as a team, route-finding and tree-marking. Finally we crested the summit and the view of the majestic San Juan Mountains spread out before us. We jumped around with glee, maybe high from the altitude, but also the sheer joy that no one was watching and we could go wild with happiness if we wanted! Chook tucked his tail and ripped a few circles around the summit with exhilaration. I snapped a quick selfie of us, just as ski partners might do at the summit, and felt so grateful to have a partner that thought this was the best adventure I could have ever come up with!

We dropped in and committed to the 4000' steep pitch of soft snow. My tracks were smooth and arcing, Chook’s trench-like and fall-line, connecting each of my arcs with bounding dots. Charging downhill in the snow was what Chook was made for and the smile on his snow encrusted dog-face proved it. We skied into town, not as girl and dog but as partners - satisfied and perfectly happy that the experience was all our own and that the only thing anyone else might see is our tracks. 

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