Yukon Cornelius Sled Dog Team

This week we’ve had the entire crazy pack here, because my sisters have been on vacation or away on business. And since I have such a boring life that I’m eternally stuck at home love the cozy satisfaction of home, and because there’s always room for another crate or two, their dogs come to stay with us.

So right now, everywhere I look, there’s an incredible roving tangle of feet and ears and tails and hair, occasionally infolding so deeply that I literally can’t tell who is who.

Here are the stunning other members of the Yukon team:

This is Sparky, often called (with heavy irony) Tiny Princess Sparkle Puff. Sparky is, as far as we know, a close to purebred Catahoula who somehow ended up at the Hartford, CT, pound. Sparky was sprung from the pound on his last day, when he was about five months old. It quickly became apparent that he had never been on leash, never been in a house, never been around other dogs.

He started off with an almost total inability to communicate with dogs. He was the most inappropriate dog I’ve ever seen, especially since he was a puppy and should have been a little more cautious. The first time he saw my corgis, he just ran around wildly, snapping his jaw open and shut frantically.

Sparky is just a year old now, and the difference between then and now is amazing. My sister has done an astounding job with him and the dog pack has done the rest. He’s still a little awkward, needs to work on not scaring the littlest dogs, but he can play for hours without causing conflict. He is especially good friends with Bronte. At home, he’s adored. My sister’s husband carries him around and sings to him.

Not bad for a dog on his last day.

This is Wilson. Wilson is not ironically called anything–he’s a dog who takes himself very seriously. He’s also gay, and Milanese. He told me so.

When we went to see Sparky at the shelter, there was a horribly matted ugly dog, old and horrid and terribly insulted, in the next kennel. It was one day past his death date. My sister’s husband said “Don’t you dare bring that mop of a dog home.” And she ignored him, and took him for a walk. And within his heart, and within hers, bloomed a fiery and all-consuming love, and even when he bit her (hard; she still has the scar) he did it while looking into her eyes.

I kept him for about a month, washing the black out of his coat and hacking the mats off, while she moped around at home with Sparky. Every time Sparky knocked over and drank out of her coffee cup, she pined, because she knew that Wilson would rather die than waste a lovely Ethiopian Korate.

And so finally, after weeks of her metaphorically wearing a t-shirt that said “My depression, let me show you it,” her husband gave in. And all the angels in heaven sang. He turned out to be no older than four, by the way.

And, finally, of course, there is Bastoche Elvis Farnsworth Montague III.

We brought him from Tennessee as part of an absolutely stunningly wonderful effort to find homes for an entire litter of Jack Russell-cross puppies. He and my sister Eden get along like bananas and peanut butter. Eden calls him Bastoche, which is French for “biscuit”; my kids call him Elvis; Doug and I call him Farnsworth or “That cursed dog.”

You will see a lot of that cursed dog on this site, because he’s here three days a week so his energy level can be drained and he doesn’t rise up and destroy the earth. Also because I have never taken a bad picture of this dog. He is like a little supernova racing around the yard; even still pictures look like he’s only stopped leaping for a bare second (which is usually true).

The Yukon team (which is actually what we call them) is a heck of a lot more fun than a vice presidential debate. Which is why I’m going to go out there and watch them for a little while longer, until we all drag ourselves inside and fall asleep in a big heap on the couch.

For about five seconds, whereupon Bastoche will jump on Sparky’s face and it all begins again.


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