With me since 11.2007
‘If you know any of your hiking friends looking for a dog, there’s this one,’ and as he pointed to the black and white dog standing on her house, she wagged her tail.
She was beautiful, this wild wolfy coyote looking dog with a perfect face and soft brown eyes. For so many reasons, I was seeking companionship. I was 25, I was amidst so much tumult with my mother’s illness and declining health, and I was facing a long winter at Gray Knob as a winter caretaker, where I would be alone in the alpine zone for five months. There was something in the wag of that tail that I found comfort in. Quid.
The wildness of her was what I chose to cultivate, as I sought to cultivate wildness in myself. I knew nothing about training dogs, and I really had no interest in training her. I did want her to travel with me through life, to join me as I faced the unknown, and as I headed into the woods alone for a long winter.
The first five months we spent together formed the basis of our relationship. A bond forged in love of mountains, winter, and wildness. In the alpine zone, I would have hoarfrost forming inside my jacket, and Quid would be rolling on her back in the sedge grass. We would sit on summits and while I meditated on mountain ridelines, she would curl in a dog ball on rocks, snow and krummhotlz. She was curious, adventurous, and suspicious of most things human-related. She was always most comfortable in the out-of-doors, and loved the open tundra of the alpine zone.
We lived our lives in the woods and the snow, in the open space of the wild lands around us. Skiing on skid roads, climbing snowy peaks, thrashing through green woods, and living in a small tent or an almost-as-small cabin together. The space for her to run wild, and the space for me to breath deep and be quiet. That was the fabric of the life we wove together, for so many years. She was the speck of movement ahead in the distance, or off to the side, a blur of energy that would zoom past me on the trail. She was the electric brown eyes, full of so many adventures, and the wild grin of running her own path. She was the rustle in the bushes nearby, a form invisible.
My field of vision grew to always look for her fluffy white tail at the edge of the horizon. She was always further down the trail, further up the mountain, and further across the field than I was. Whenever I would get just within sight, she would turn around and go further ahead. She always wanted to go first and lead the way, through deep snow drifts, through thick bushwhacks, and across steep ledges.
Quid, like myself, was always wary of things designed to confine freedom, such as leashes. She remained forever suspicious of my attempts to trick her to come to me, so I could leash her to walk across a main road. Also, like me, she was suspicious even when the apparent confinement was actually a good thing.
As she grew older and less steady on her feet, our time together was about celebrating the relationship we had developed over the years. The deep love and the bond, forged through all that time when all we had was each other, the path beneath our feet, and the horizon ahead. We each bore the unique memory of our wild younger selves, a precious and clear presence of energy felt only between us. Even as the hikes she could go on got shorter, I still took her with me, even to her last woods adventure at 14 years old. Instead of her jumping up to put her paws on my shoulders and her head on my chest, I began lowering myself to her, so she could bring her head to my heart in the same way.
The morning she died, she still got her cat food treat from my sister, went on multiple short walks, and nuzzled her head against my hand in the morning. It was a fast event that brought her to the hospital that night, where I kneeled down to bring her head to my chest one last time.
I learned so much from her. I learned patience, I learned individuality, I learned bravery and boundless joy and love of winter and love of those around you. I will always keep my eye on the horizon, for her.