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March 8, 2013: What’s in a Name?

Mat-Sar – the local search and rescue group – was offering an afternoon avalanche workshop, so I decided to attend. I’d previously had Avalanche 1 training, but this was a few years back. Like many Mat-Sar training sessions, it was free, so I thought why not? I hopped on the bandwagon and rode it until the end.

I was to ride up to Hatcher’s Pass with Vicky Parks, her boyfriend Keith, her search and rescue German Shepherd Bettles, and their dog other Odd Job. Odd Job was named after a James Bond movie character. The name reminded me of a Jersey Shore character, Mike “the Situation.” Had I gotten a rooster to

Iditarod Dogs

keep Snooky (who was named after Mike “the Situation’s” girlfriend, I would have named it “The Situation.” This was tempting, because I am intrigued with the whole concept of names and naming things. Recall that we have goats rightly named Rover and Ranger, which are said to be going far in life, and we have a filly named Hrimfara, or Frosty Traveler (was conceived at the onset of a long horse trek). However, the prospect of bringing a mean, nasty chicken raping rooster into our peaceable kingdom was off-putting. So there are no appropriately named roosters around here, and there never will be any appropriately named roosters around here.

I had heard about Odd Job, and today I got to meet him. Indeed, Odd, this dog was aptly named. Our first meeting was with him behind glass. He was in the backseat of Vicky’s car, along with Bettles and a whole lot of search and rescue gear. We assessed one another. I’m not sure what he thought of me, but he did take me in. I saw a large, well-muscled, brown pit bull mix with perhaps some mastiff overtones. I stepped back when I saw the leather muzzle on his nose. Vicky then let him out to pee. He repeatedly shook his large head – he quite clearly wanted for it to be removed. His eyes are brown-amber, and they dart around constantly. He seemed to me to be the antithesis of a relaxed dog.

I got in the car, into the front seat. Vicky got in the back. Most of the times I argue with people because I like being in the back seat. But I wasn’t too keen on being back there with Odd Job. On the twenty mile drive to Hatcher Pass, both Keith and Vicky filled me in on Odd Job’s past. He was a shelter dog who as it turned out has vicious tendencies. According to Keith, Odd Job has a predilection for tearing apart huskies. No one knows why. (I think it might be the eye dots.)

At one point, Odd Job rested his head between the car seats. I wanted to pet him because I want to pet all dogs, but I did not. The muzzle – this rightly indicated that this was one bad ass dog. This is too bad because dogs with this sort of nature would do well by being petted by kindly strangers.

Vicky and Keith do not seem at all like the sort who’d own a dog like this. Rather, I picture him as being owned by a junkyard owner. This is a dog that would willingly patrol the perimeter of such a place at night. No, Vicky and Keith are quiet, soft-spoken, reflective people who err on the side of interacting peacefully with others.

While they don’t seem like the sort that would own a dog like this, they seem like the sort that would not give up on a dog like this. They obviously love Odd Job, and take very good care of him. They’re also aware that they’re dealing with a potentially dangerous dog, and are making sure to watch his every move.

Vicky told me that Bettles was a handful as a pup. By this time, Odd Job was already a house mainstay. I can only imagine what having both these dogs around was like. My goodness.

I like dogs. But I don’t know if I’d ever be able to live with an aggressive dog. This is because I tend to take things too personally. If a dog of mine bit the hand that fed it, the dog would be out the door. The hand’s too valuable and the feed is too expensive. So I commend those like Keith and Vicky, who with Odd Job have adopted a take charge attitude. I think that they should get another dog and name it Mr. Clean.