Do you remember having that one-of-a-kind childhood dog? Other than my ponies, I remember one animal in particular that stood out in my childhood. One that I remember we called the "best dog ever."
My father brought him home from work one day. The woman whose house he'd been working at had a puppy she wanted to give away. He was young, fun-loving, and active. A mutt. Maybe a German shepherd, lab, or collie mix from what we could tell of his marking and features.
I had heard of the name "Chinook" from a book about a malamute. My dad, being a fan of salmon fishing, thought "Chinook" seemed fitting.
That dog was so tolerant. He let us dress him up and jump him over obstacle courses. He was smart and picked up tricks and training quickly. He learned all the basic dog commands, including rolling over.
When Paint Girl and I spent summers sleeping under the stars in the front yard, he'd lay by our lawn chairs or sleeping bags, guarding us.
This one time, as we lay tucked into our sleeping bags at dusk, we heard strange crashes and rattling sounds in the bushes that lined the driveway. Chinook never raised a hackle. Paint Girl and I waited it out until the sounds got closer....and closer. Then we panicked and ran to the house as fast as lightning, shutting the front door and calling upstairs for our parents. Our parents were not upstairs. You see, of course Chinook didn't get scared because he knew who those the scary monsters in the woods were. My parents had stealthily snuck behind us through the yard, then walked back up the driveway towards our little outdoor fort, making all the scary racket (probably concealing their snickers and giggles, I'm sure.) Seriously, I think we might still be traumatized.
Chinook always barked when strangers or visitors knocked on the door of the house. And he did growl at someone once. A neighbor boy was poking fun and trying to spit at us at the end of the driveway. I know, the neighbor boys were actually pretty good kids, but boys will be boys. I remember Chinook lunging and barking at this boy. Paint Girl had to hold Penny back, too. It was good to know our dogs would have protected us if we needed it!
Chinook was friendly with all of our other animals. The little black dog, Penny, was a gift for my sister one Christmas. The Collie, Cassie, only lived with our family for a short time as she started chasing cars and needed a different property to live on. She was our first purebred dog and quite frankly, we were just better with mutts, grades, and strays. They seemed to be more well-rounded for our family lifestyle. You know, the lifestyle where you sleep outside for weeks, use mom's sheets to make blankets for your ponies, and dress up your pets.
Here is Chinook curled up near the wood stove with the Bogart the cat and Penny the dog. One random memory I have of Chinook was his dew claw. I guess as a ten year old, I thought dew claws were interesting and bizarre. I still can't pick my horse's chestnuts off, Paint Girl has to do it for me.
Chinook was terrified of fireworks. One July when he was a few years old, the neighbors let off a variety of bottle rockets during the day and he got really scared. He ran off the property, which he never wandered from. Even though we lived nearly a mile from the main road (speed limit at least 50 mph, I believe) he somehow ended up down there, running along the shoulder and in and out of the road in a frenzy. We called his name and he would stop look at us, then run in blind terror the other way. He was completely disoriented. I think God must have been watching that day, because two young children in fearful tears did not have to witness their dog getting ran over. In fact, a passerby actually stopped and help my mom catch him. After that, we were careful to keep him inside and monitor him during the month of July.
Here is Chinook being a couch potato with my mom, Dusty Devoe. You can see he is starting to show his age here.
I remember coming home from college and always looking forward to seeing Chinook. As he aged, he became a lot less active and mostly slept. His muzzle grew gray, his eyes growing glassy, his hips weak. Until his last moment, at age 13, he loved to be outside in the yard with his family, including the cats. At the time, my parents lived near a beautiful mountain river. This is one of my favorite pictures of him, running along the riverbank. It's how I like to remember him.
Yes, Chinook was a once-in-a-lifetime childhood dog. He left his time on earth with our family having lived a long, healthy, and happy doggie life. I remember getting the phone call one early evening. My mom told me that his body had started failing him that morning, and she had to take him in to the vet to be put down. I remember crying sad tears for Chinook. He had seen me through my childhood and the beginning of my independence as I went to college and began living on my own.
Sometimes after losing a good dog, it's hard to imagine ever having another one like them. But after healing from the loss of Chinook, my parents were ready to welcome a new dog into the family. And so then, Riley the beagle came into their lives. You can see pictures and read more about him in this post.
Miss Lucie Grace
1 year ago