The Validity of the Dogs in Elk Story

Since publishing the pumpkin version of the Dogs in Elk story, I've received dozens of e-mails from people curious about the story's validity.  I've also received e-mail from Anne Verchick, owner of the "real" dogs in elk.

I've never seen the dogs myself, and I've as yet to see a picture of the actual event, but here are some snippets of what Annie had to say.  She sent me this 10/28/99:

Hi, Rob -
This is Anne Verchick, owner of the dogs in elk. The pumpkin carving is
lovely, and, on a smaller, more vegetative scale, really pretty faithful to
what was one of the messier experiences of my recent life.

Thanks, and take care.

After a couple of e-mail volleys, I finally mustered up the nerve to ask Annie to attest to the validity of the story.  She wrote back:


Sure, I can attest. I mean, I can tell you that it really did happen. I
can ask a couple of people who stopped by to admire the whole scene to get
in touch with you, or give you their email addresses and phone numbers.

Does that help at all? I think that it's easy for me to lose track of how
atypical my dog experiences are, in some ways, because like everyone else,
what I compare the world to is my experience.

The thing about the dogs in elk thing is this - with the dogs I have,
especially Gus Pong, who is a New Guinea Singing Dog, and a complete freak
of primitive dogdom, dogs in elk is in some ways a fairly minor event, in
that it involved fewer people than usual. Sharing a house with a very
primitive, deeply attached and wildly inspired animal has led me into all
sorts of situations I never anticipated as a pet owner.

How dogs in elk began is a little odd, without considerable history - ignore
now, if you're not interested. Gus Pong is a New Guinea Singing Dog -
currently, they are classified as a subspecies of Dingo, but what they look
like is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Shiba Inu. And he is an
incredibly fussy eater. In the highlands, they live as semi-pariah dogs in
the villages, and their primary use is for hunting. So, after being unable
to find a commercial dog food that he would eat at all, I contacted local
game processors and butchers. I lucked out. I found a really nice guy who
was willing to give me (since game can't be sold) trim and bones, which
turned out to be something Gus Pong (and my other two dogs, Jake and Stella)
thought was just fine. You can see, I am sure, where this is going. They
had a rich texan come in, and shoot his tags, and not want the meat. So
they did a really rough field dress, and called and asked if I wanted to
come pick up about 100 lbs of slabcut elk and so forth. I said sure, and
mistakenly put Jake and Gus in the car before driving up. Well, they got
out of the car (One of slider windows was cracked, which I didn't realize)
and you know the rest.

The original chain of posts begins here: which is in TableTalk, a
forum at Salon, an ezine that added a webcrossing forum to it. That's why I
am so astonished that it made it all over the web - and really all over. My
mother has gotten multiple copies from friends, asking if my dogs are
*really* that out of control.

Take care, and let me know if you'd like to speak to someone other than me
who was there.