I met Graydon and Bandit together, as everyone does, I suspect, because they are rarely apart.
We met outside the What’s Up Yukon office because my boss wanted me to orient Graydon on his first delivery route, show him the ropes so to speak. Tammy told me he was a young college student who could work a few hours between classes. She didn’t tell me he came with a side kick…but there was Bandit proudly riding shotgun in Graydon’s little Toyota truck. You could tell right away they were besties. Chums, compadres, mates, or even confidants (dogs are such good listeners). Having grown up in ranching country in Southern Alberta, the pair reminded me of a cowboy and his working dog heading to work; remarkably comfortable and confident with each other. Graydon sporting a funky truckers cap in lieu of a cowboy hat. Bandit as excited as a Border Collie at roundup, as if we were going to herd some cattle, not deliver papers.
I would later learn that excitement was because Graydon plays a tonne with him! There might just be some herding around the corner, who knows? In Bandit’s dog mind, and with his enthusiastic owner, adventure, or at least a good wrestle, could always be around the corner! On that Monday morning, Bandit was rooted to the seat like a kid who doesn’t share the swing at the park. He was happy as could be next to his idol and looked unimpressed at our commands to move back or over. Not one to own much that isn’t already covered in dog hair, I tried letting him sit on my lap, but that made getting in and out of the vehicle kind of tricky.
After we picked up about 30 bundles of papers, things got a bit tight, so Bandit tried out the view from atop the stack. Luckily, Graydon figured the job out very quickly, and I left early. I’m sure Bandit was oh-so-happy to see me go and to reclaim his rightful spot up front. I left thinking the two were a cute pair; so connected; perfect examples of a Pawsitive Tail.
Born and raised in the Yukon, Graydon had lots of different animals as a kid. A couple of years ago, he was thrilled to get a puppy with his girlfriend, but when they split it was decided that she was in a better position to keep the dog. Though it was a mutual decision, Graydon was understandably heartbroken. Three months later, he decided he wanted a dog on his own. A litter of Karelian & Tahltan bear dog cross puppies came up on Whitehorse Buy & Sell. At the time he was renting a room at a friends; not the best scenario for puppy training and pet ownership. Still, he made an appointment to ‘meet and greet’ both the puppies and the breeders. If all went well, they would then hold the puppy for him until it could be weaned from mom.
“I was on my way to Rotary to meet Bandit for the first time and I was thinking: ‘Ok, what are you really doing this for?’ Graydon explained. “I started thinking of all the reasons I shouldn’t have a dog. Why I couldn’t have a dog, and why I didn’t need a dog. And I couldn’t really think of any except that I’d have to find a new place to live.
“Then (at the breeders) I picked up Bandit and he just looked up at me and he licked my chin.”
That was it. Graydon decided: “Yeah, ok, this was the sign that this was a good idea.”
Bandit’s colouring quickly changed, but he got his name on account of an all-black face with two almost-white circles around his eyes. He socializes once a month with 2 of his brothers, Arthur and Geoffrey. “They’re all quite different…but Bandit’s the best,” boasted Graydon. “He’s just such a good boy…and he’s the perfect size. He’s calm like me, he’s passive, he’s chill.”
It’s hard being a renter in this town; it’s impossible with a dog in tow. Even so, Graydon’s managed to always convince friends to sublet to him. He says that it helped that Bandit was so small and adorable. As such, Bandit attracts quite a bit of female attention or, as Graydon puts it, “He’s got way more game than I do”. He even caught the eye of Graydon’s current girlfriend, influencing their meeting. Graydon says Bandit really motivates him and engages him to be more active on a daily basis. I asked what he’s learned about caring for an animal.
“It’s much more than just having food on the table. For sure. You gotta have play time, and you gotta have bonding. Play time is bonding and that is pretty paramount,” Graydon answered. “You can give them commands and they know they have to do it, but it doesn’t mean they want to, or that they are motivated.
“I have a friend who is good at training dogs and she taught me a few things that are pretty important. Touch for example, a really good recall…You gotta play with them and make it fun. He’s your friend.”
That much is crystal clear.