Friday, September 29, 2006
Miki's recent post on the subject got me thinking about dogs. Mind you, I am definitely more of a cat person both in terms of my pet preferences and in my own personality. However, having a father who was a veterinarian meant that we had lots of pets: cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, horses. We even had a couple of adopted pigeons named Fred and Wilma once that, for reasons I can no longer recall, my dad had hatch a chicken egg. I had lots of cats over the years, but only one dog, an unclipped pincher (she had long tail and floppy ears) who I remember having some sort of brain problem. My sister had a number of dogs. She was always attracted to those high-strung, yelping, car-chasing cattle breads. Personally, I've always had a thing for the northern dogs such as Siberian Huskys, Alaskan Malamutes or Norwegian Elkhounds. I like the more mellow, obedient temperament that these breeds tend to have. I've always thought that when I eventually have a house with land again, I want one of these dogs to raise as a running companion.
I think my love of northern dogs goes back to the first family dog we ever had. Kippy was a big fluffy white Samoyed and the most gentle dog on earth. My parents had him before they had us kids. My dad eventually had to put him to sleep when he got old. I still remember him telling me that it was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. It may be the first time I ever saw my dad cry. The one story about Kippy that is always told by my family is when I was still a toddler and we lived in Davis. We lived on a small cul-de-sac and a neighbor's pet rabbit got loose. My dad heard a scratching at the front door and when he answered it, there was Kippy with the rabbit in his mouth. He put the rabbit down on the doorstep and my father immediately picked it up to see if it was OK. Not only was the rabbit still alive, but there was not a single scratch on it. There are other Kippy stories including how protective he was of us kids and even one where, I think, he lied down in front of my sister stopping her from tumbling down a hill. But, the story of the rabbit has always seemed to capture his kind gentle nature the best. There will never be another dog like Kippy.
I was thinking about the Elkhound recently. A neighbor of ours had one when we lived up on Mt. Diablo. He also had a very gentle nature. I looked up the breed on the American Kennel Club website. It had the following to say about them. "As a hunter, the Norwegian Elkhound has the courage, agility and stamina to hold moose and other big game at bay by barking and dodging attack, and the endurance to track for long hours in all weather over rough and varied terrain." While I don't plan to do any moose hunting anytime soon. That last bit certainly seems to describe the perfect trail running companion.