Play Makers: The Yukon’s Gone to the Dogs

First off, let me express sincere apologies to any cats reading this article.

In no way am I meaning to disrespect to you.

Walk away from the hamster cage and just pretend you never read this.

I know Whitehorse has an abundance of cat lovers and with that, no doubt, a healthy dose of cat ladies. But this article is not about the kitties because, let’s face it, when it comes to animals in the Yukon it’s all about the dogs.

I know what some of you are thinking: “What about the bears, the moose, the foxes?”

Sure, there are plenty of those animals, but there’s no Yukon Quest where mushers are led more than 1,000 miles from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, or vice versa, via grizzly in mid-February, when temperatures can plunge to minus 55.

And when is the last time you walked past a truck in the Superstore parking lot, minding your own business, only to have a moose unleash a sneak-attack bark (insert moose equivalent here), causing you to squeal like a girl and narrowly miss spilling your groceries all over the parking lot?

(I saw this happen to someone once – not me, someone else, honest – it was hilarious.)

Growing up Down South, anyone without a funky micro-brew in hand while wearing the latest trendy designer gear would be the outcast of the party.

Not so in The North.

Show up at the potluck without at least one dog – be it pug or golden retriever – and suddenly you are the weirdo alone at the punch bowl.

How many of you have dog-sat for someone, or had someone dog-sit for you? How many of you have fostered a dog or adopted one?

Anyone questioning my “dogs rule The North” logic needs only to drive through any Yukon neighbourhood come spring and see the little nuggets of evidence scattered across lawn after lawn.

Yes, there is something in the Yukon air that makes one love the hound.

The dog has become an object that defines the Yukoner, that says you are one with The North.

You live in a cabin, learn to cross-country ski, eventually take a job with YG and get a dog, if not two or three.

It’s almost an initiation by the grizzled sourdough who says, “Welcome to The North. You are now one of us.”

The best example is the territory’s own “Winnie the Pooh.”

Not since Robert Service or Jack London has one northern figure garnered so much attention, locally and abroad, as Trevor the Dog.

For more than a year his story has gripped The North, gripped Canada, gripped the world.

The photo of that poor dog: part German Shepherd, part misunderstood canine, muzzle-on-face, sad brown eyes gazing out, plastered throughout the media.

Plays written about him, furious debates via newspaper and online chats, costly trial after trial.

And why not? Trevor is a dog: our dog.

Well … not my dog. I still have a trust issue with certain breeds, stemming from a paper-route incident at the age of 12.

Despite the owner’s assurance, turns out the little fella wasn’t tied up after all.

While the man from Tagish who claims to be The King, and the Bard of the North with everything named after him, will always be Yukon icons, it is the trials and tribulations of Trevor the Dog that really define us Yukoners to the rest of the world.

Dog fanatics!

P.S. I don’t have a dog, but have lived in a cabin, work for YG and like to cross-country ski.

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