“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”
― Nelson Mandela
By any measure, Conaway (ACH GreatMountain Passaconaway CGC HIC, puppy name Kokadjo), The Most INteresting DOG in the WORLD, lived a life of significance indeed.
It’s hard to remember what my life was like before him, and before Chinooks. It feels like a hazy, distant, concerning dream of a woman that lived a classic city-life, walking to restaurants for dinner and stores for shopping, meeting friends after work, soothed by the light traffic background mood music of a busy, full life. A woman that lived less than 4 miles away from Jockey Hollow National Park, yet never hiked there. A woman that never got up a 4am to drive hours to an event, so she could spend the day with the Most INTeresting Dog in the World and their friends (human and canine). It seems so long ago, that woman that hadn’t moved to the country to get away from dog limits and postage-stamp yards, that still went to malls instead of ordering almost everything possible online, that drove a sporty convertible instead of an SUV that fits all the things dog.
I can’t imagine what Life Before Conaway would look like extended out almost 15 years into the future – because Life After Conaway looks so dramatically different for me. From where I live to the vacations I take, to the people I know, to the lessons I have learned, to my outlook on life and nurturing and nature – every aspect of my life is different, and better, because Conaway arrived and changed me. And through my trajectory changing, I’ve been able to touch and change other lives (hopefully in a positive way). It’s VERY safe to say there would be no Bashaba Chinooks and the puppies that have enriched so many ’ lives, without Conaway.
Somehow, one Chinook puppy with the presence of a Giant blasted into my nice, standard, busy urban life, and changed me in ways I would never have expected.
Altered Champion GreatMountain Passaconaway CGC HIC (Conaway to his friends) was born on October 1, 2005, a mere few months after the Chinook Specialty was held in New Hampshire. His parents were the handsome GRCH Cloudburst Kennebec River and the lovely GRCH Hurricane Chocorua Moon. Conaway and his two siblings had a rough entry into the world, and as the smallest puppy, Conaway demonstrated his fighting spirit from the beginning. His Guardian Angel, Kim Kramer, supported him through his challenging first few nights, a part of the team, along with Penthea Burns and Jess Maurer at GreatMountain. They set Conaway on the road to his true purpose in life – being my mentor and guardian.
Conaway sized me up quickly and realized I had so very much to learn – about the quiet beauty of the local parks, the value in hard-won if slow progress, the priceless reality of an open an honest heart, the many (many) theories of canine behavior, and how best to motivate a Chinook (pro tip- food and love). Most importantly, Conaway taught me about really understanding and valuing the wonder of what you have, instead of trying to turn it into what you think you wanted.
Conaway was the first Chinook Altered Best of Breed after the competition was licensed by the UKC, and the first Chinook to earn a Championship exclusively from the Altered classes. He participated in many dog training seminars with internationally famous trainers, and was once a Demo Dog for Suzanne Clothier! Suzanne’s remark that Conaway and I had a strong bond and he really, really loved me (he walked away from steak she was waving at him to follow me) is something I look back on with a bit of awe and pride.
Conaway put in (literal) years of work around other dogs (he found some of them both exciting and scary). Eventually he earned his Canine Good Citizen title after learning to in dog-public – and I learned not to expect him to accept strange dogs up in his face. His CGC title is an achievement orders of magnitude greater than that of dogs with no fears to conquer in the first place.
Some dogs can flash numerous titles documenting their achievements – Conaway’s most significant accomplishments are subtler, more personal, and arguably deeper and more impactful, at least in their impact on me. He turned my priorities around in his almost 15 years on earth, and made me a better person. This is perhaps the greatest calling any dog ever has.
He loved to pull a sled….but only as long as he was chasing something.
He loved cats…even when he accidentally started to cook them.
He once ate an entire unopened box of Fig Newtons…by himself.
He considered a career in quantum physics, but decided to stay with me instead.
He once stole an entire turkey carcass…and hid it in the couch to eat later.
He learned how to open 4 different trash cans in a week.
He once climbed Mt Washington. In a car.
He can look so deeply into you that he weighs the value of your soul. Hope he doesn’t find you wanting.
He’s the reason there is a Bashaba Chinooks….and he doesn’t really like puppies.
He is ….the most interesting dog in the world.
Hobbies: Nosework, Tracking, Training Owner
Favorite Cartoon Character: Brain, from Pinky and the Brain
Favorite Quote: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to take over the world"
Career Ambition: Roman Emperor
Awards: Novice Sled Dog Certified, UKC Altered Conformation Champion (A.CH), Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Herding Instinct Certified (HIC), 2010 Altered Best of Breed, 2013 Altered Best of Winners at the COA National Specialty
'PR' Alt.CH GreatMountain Passaconaway CGC HIC DNA-VIP
GR CH Cloudburst Kennebec River
GR CH Hurricane Chocorua Moon
Neutered Male, King of the World
He was my ride-or-die, ready to go anywhere and do anything (well- almost anything- swimming and water sports were probably out) as long as it was with me. He put up with SO.Many.Puppies because I asked him to and told him it was important. He always, always tried his best for me, even when I was too stupid to know I was asking him too much. He always forgave me when I did.
He was whip-smart, a good puzzle-solver, sturdy in times of crisis. He loved me. No, he LOVED me. He made many excellent friends in his life, and he would unhesitating abandon every last one to stay by my side. He taught me so many things I can't begin to list them - in just the last year he taught me grace in your time of need. Humility. How to simply accept support when you need it, offered freely, with love.
As he aged, he graciously transitioned from running and jumping to ambling and resting. He distanced himself in time of excitement from the boisterous girls in the pack as he became less steady on his feet. But he still followed where I led, a bit more slowly, keen eyes still watching me.
The precipitous onset of a vestibular incident left him immobile. Time and patience, a strong back on my part, and gracious acceptance of help on his got us through and ostensibly on the road to recovery. But his body failed to fully recover and he began to exhibit signs of anxiety, distress, and discomfort. On a warm summer evening, surrounded by the people that loved him best, in the house that he Built (or at least convinced me to move to), our wonderful vet eased Conaway's final pains. His great heart beat strongly to the very end, the last vestige of a the legend. His pack paid their respects, and we begin to grapple with the hole at the center of our family.
Sometimes, some people are found by those special souls that they didn't know they needed. I don't know how I was lucky enough for Conaway to find me, but I will be forever grateful for the time we walked together. There are no words that express my depth of gratitude that his breeders Penthea Burns and Jessica Maurer at GreatMountain Chinooks entrusted me with Conaway's care.
I wish I had any magic to make our journey a bit longer, but one of the things he taught me was how to accept enough. My Conaway - I will see you in the leaves of every hiking trail, in the hidden rocks that allow popping across the wandering streams without getting paws wet, in the quiet, deep places of the forest where I can finally breathe. I will feel you in the blanket that warms me when I am cold. I will think of you when I am struggling to accept what is vs what I wish it was. You were the very Best of the Best, my most interesting Dog in the World. Godspeed, Conaway.