We live in a territory seemingly dominated by huskies, both in numbers and in our image of the quintessential Yukon dog (the strong malamute even takes center stage on our Coat of Arms and flag!)
It’s no surprise, then, that larger breeds have also led this monthly “Pawsitive Tails” column. March featured a 75-pound husky-cross named Kodi; April, a speedy sled dog named Charlie Brown; May, yet another burly husky-cross, aptly named Bear. Except for a brief cameo by Raven, the llama, last month, we’ve had zero representation of small-breed dogs. Enter twins Cathy and Chrissy and their “larger-than-life” and truly Yukonesque pets: Nicky, a pomeranian; and Harley, a maltese mini-poodle-cross. Though very small in stature, both dogs have robust personalities, brave dispositions and active lifestyles … not unlike their lean and charismatic owners.
Nicky, who was born on Christmas Day and whose registered name is Jolly Saint Nick, appears more fluffy mane than dog. He sits smartly atop Cathy’s lap and draws the attention of any passersby (during this interview a woman spotted him and enthusiastically yelled out, “Cute!”). Harley, short for Harley Davidson, looks a little rough around the edges, slightly more mischievous, just as his name suggests.
The sisters got their pups within a few months of one another. Cathy had recently moved into town and knew she wanted a pomeranian.
Chrissy, who had moved to Faro in 1989 and to Whitehorse in 2002, had previous dogs all her adult life. The last one passed away at Christmastime, and her husband said, “No more scooping poop … no more dogs.” Famous last words.
However, that June they took some visiting friends to Skagway for the day and, while stopping at Emerald lake, she met the most adorable puppy—a maltese poodle-cross from Skagway. As they proceeded to town, her husband asked, “What kind of souvenirs do you want to pick up in Skagway?” Chrissy replied definitively, “A puppy!”
In a town roughly four blocks by 23 blocks, it didn’t take long to track down the family with the litter. They coined his name prior to leaving town that day, while enjoying a beer at the Red Onion Saloon. Chrissy’s friend had bought her husband a Harley Davidson motorcycle for having quit smoking; and Chrissy, who had also quit, decided she deserved a “Harley” too.
Fortunately, the two pups got along right away. Chrissy said, “Harley is a little bit more, ugh, energetic–”
“Actually, he’s a bit of a brat,” Cathy interrupted. “Nicky is the older-brother type, and Harley is the bratty brother … teasing him and trying to get him in trouble.”
Cathy and Chrissy have taken the idea of a “lap dog” to a whole new level.
The girls own doggy backpacks, somewhat similar to a front-fitting baby carrier, that allow their lightweight companions to come on all of their adventures, of which there are many!
These K9s not only sit on their laps around the campfire, they go boating, biking—even quading! “That’s the best thing about having a small dog;” Cathy said, “you can still do all your favourite activities.”
Both dogs were also in attendance at a more sentimental occasion: Cathy’s wedding. “It was a very small wedding; we got married in my living room … and Nicky spent the whole ceremony on the couch until picture time. He actually stole the show because the photographer was more focused on him and actually took more photos of him than [of] the rest of us!”
Though small, both dogs have proven brave. Nicky has treed a bear on an evening walk, and warned Cathy about another—right in her carport! When camping, he always sits on guard, facing the bush, and at home or in hotels he sleeps on the corner of the bed, facing the door.
Obviously, these dogs love their owners and, fortunately, they get along famously. “Harley’s always got Nicky’s back or vice-versa,” said Chrissy.
“Would you say it’s the same for you two?” I asked the twins.
“Oh, Yes!” they replied in perfect unison. Chrissy adds, “We spend so much time together… we come as a pair.” Or, since the arrival of Harley and Nicky, a foursome!