McCarthy’s Mutts

Stories From Alaska

Welcoming Committee
How’s it goin?

Oh, to be a McCarthy dawg. The town’s mutts roam ‘free range’. Highly prized and rarely preened, they snipe for fries, hump, sniff and snooze without human meddling. The pace and population of this remote Alaskan town ensures freedom to wander and build bonds. Packs form and frolic, poised and playful. It’s a medley of mock snarls, curling snouts and ever-shifting dominance. A sign, half way down the main dirt road, urges motorists to heed the pack’s unfettered movements.

Opha-Mae, Snug as a Bug

I watch them from the steps of the old hardware store. Alliances shift and ebb with each scuffle, until the next stick or bone is claimed and challenged. They duck, dive and dodge their playmates, with barks most usually worse then bites. Vicious outbursts give way to gentle tumbles. Through this tussle of teeth and tails, scores are settled and forgotten. It’s a dance; a wild canine theatre where dramas flair with spittle, butt-sniffing and high jinx. The winner chews the bone; the loser smiles in the sun. It takes the place of any Netflix drama. 

Jim-Bob and Token

This pack cares not of pedigree – from mongrel to Mastiff – no fur is worth more than the next. Neither is size a definitive factor. Molly Maguire, a floppy Corgi/Husky cross with a swishy trot, barks well above her weight. One call from Grandma Patt has her skampering home from her scavenging in minutes. Opha-Mae, an impish, lady-faced pinscher/boston terrier, patrols main street like a matron, when she’s not curled inside her owners hoodie for warmth. Charles, a newbie, was introduced as a ‘licker’. He drinks beer. The human community bestows an equal collective care on these feisty four-legged friends. If one is missing, their whereabouts are quickly pieced together by eagerly shared, watchful sightings.

Dog Day Afternoon

The tourists that brave the uncertain journey keep their dogs leashed and close, eyeing suspiciously the behaviour of this wild sect. In the city we grip things tightly. Here, collars and control become less important. The grand old dawgs that have passed, live on through local lore. Their place in McCarthy’s history is treasured and often recalled – Jack, Pacha, Achilles, Cinda-Lou, Diesel, IO and many I never had the privilege to pet.

Kimmie and Token
Dear Old Jack

Losses make way for new arrivals. Silas, Echo, Jim-bob and ‘Uh-huh’, Kimmie, Tazlina, Ruger and Cato skip, slobber and slink about town with the exuberance and promise a puppy brings. These hapless newcomers must learn quickly. Fast moving streams, bears and the piercing pain of a porcupine quill are mistakes most can only afford to make once. These dogs are as close to wild as a pet can be. They define the community as much as the hardy humans that whistle from their porches when it’s time for bed. These are McCarthy’s mutts and they’re as free as their owners. 

Knik, Knackered
Bart and Ardea
One for the road

5 thoughts on “McCarthy’s Mutts

  1. Brilliant. Between the writing and the photos, it’s a beautiful little slice of life in this bush Alaskan town.

    Thanks Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Jonathan Erdman, indie writer and commented:
    My photographer friend Paul (that I’ve been doing some hiking trips with this summer) has a great post on McCarthy Mutts. The photos and the descriptive writing give you an idea of some of the reason why this little bush Alaskan town has such a strong center of gravity that keeps pulling us back, summer after summer.


  3. I know most of these dogs, as I was in McCarthy the same year as Paul, and I love them. When I went, I did not have a dog and I adopted Kinick as mine when I first met him. He hd a real orner, but I love Kinick with everything i’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s a good boy – was always finding mischief. It’s that sort of place 💚💚


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