Top Dog

Top Dog

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Who’s bad to the bone? Round two of the annual Top Dog contest brought in photos by the dozen of Bozeman’s most beloved beast—Canis lupus familiaris, that happy-go-lucky, four-legged friend who shares and enriches our outdoor experience. Backcountry buddy, climbing companion, paddling pal—we saw them all. Here are a few of the best.

Top Dog (WINNER)
Dog: Juniper
Humans: Tom and Liz McGoff-Hayes
I had the pleasure this past summer to house-sit for Tom & Liz McGoff-Hayes, which included taking care of their dog Juniper. This meant spending hours each day running in the mountains, as I tried my darndest to tire this puppy out. (Tom and Liz are badass ultra-trail endurance runners and Juniper is their trusty sidekick on training runs. Whew!) As I trained for the Old Gabe 25k/50k, Juniper took the job of my personal trainer. She would run ahead and whine for me to catch up or beg for more exercise as I lay dead-tired on the couch, as if mocking my fitness level compared to that of her owners. But my stint of doggy-sitting doesn't do enough justice to what Juniper is capable of. She'll lap Baldy in the middle of winter and run the Devil's Backbone 50-miler each summer. Juniper is pretty much the coolest dog I've met, so of course I think she's worthy of being called Bozeman's Top Dog. –Jelica Summerfield

Powder Hound
Dog: Jasper
Human: Maggi Kraft
This is Jasper getting his first face shots of the 2010-11 season in Bridger Gully. Skiing is his favorite activity. As we hike up the top he periodically barks out of pure excitement and to let me know we are not out on a stroll. Jasper loves the deepest snow and the first tracks thus he must be the first dog to the top. Even at the peak there is no time to rest, others are on the way and he needs first tracks. I scramble to prepare myself as he begins to whine in excitement. As we ski down together, Jasper's hoots and hollers can be heard from afar, letting everyone know of his first-tracks status. He barks the whole way down never pausing to breathe.

Daytime Dog (w/ pack on)
Dog: Lucy
Human: Amy Mountain
Everything about Lucy on trail makes me smile. Whether it's her extreme enthusiasm in exploring the next bend of trail, her excitement as we paddle down a stretch of river, her assumption that all downhill cross-country skiers are there solely to race her back to the trailhead, or her incredible rock-climbing skills, sweet Lou consistently demonstrates a passion for the outdoors that none but my most hard-core friends can emulate. But what makes her passion so unique is that poor sweet Lucy is… afraid of the dark. My little trail warrior happens to be terrified of the great outdoors once the light has faded. And yet, this loyal dog will never give an inch! Whether we're car-camping at Storm Castle or backpacking deep in the heart of the Taylor-Hilgards, as soon as it gets dark you'll find Lucy at the edge of the campfire light, facing out into the cold dark night and making sure everyone else stays safe.

Big Dog in Little-Dog Body
Dog: Jonesy
Master: Traute Parrie
Meet Jonesy, our "Beartooth Mountain Dog." She's a beast. Jonesy accompanies us everywhere, including summiting many high peaks throughout Montana, and her absolute favorite thing is a ten-mile mountain bike ride. However, if our route brings us downhill on a doubletrack rather than singletrack, she can't keep up, and then she goes in the pack. In this case, we'd done some fishing, too, so she had to share the pack with the fly rod.

Riding Shotgun (face shot with green coat)
Dog: Juno
Humans: Krystle & Keith Conover
Juno is always up for an outdoor adventure. Whether it be riding on the ATV or going for a walk up a mountainside, she always has to investigate her surroundings. Everyone likes her. When she’s on the ATV and someone sees her, it always brings a smile to that person’s face. One time, she jumped off the ATV and chased a group of three moose. She was so excited, she just went right after them. Luckily my hubby had a hold on the leash. She went around smelling and following their trail till Keith made her stop. That was her first moose hunt and she was on the lookout for more the rest of the ride. We think Juno deserves the Top Dog title because she always seems to try to live her life to the fullest and enjoys everything. She's a wonderful part of our family.

Trail Champ
Dog: Rimi
Human: Chuck Munson
Rimi has been the scrappiest trail dog since barely after she was weaned. There is truly nothing more she would rather do than be on the trail. When she dies, her doggy heaven will be the trail first, with treats a beloved, but distant second. She likes to do summits, but not for the glory—she does it for the late-season snow. Even though she doesn't have the legs of a moose, her ability to handle deep snow is uncanny. As a lab that saw snow before she saw a body of water, I think she basically uses her swimming instincts to "paddle" her way through deep powder. She is a gangster on the mountain and a sweet soul everywhere else!

On the Juice
Dog: Roscoe
Human: Larissa Lemon
Roscoe is an English bulldog who has quite the life in his short year of being here on Earth. When he was just over three months old, our black lab (who has a strong dislike for poor Roscoe) bit his left eye and left him blind. Then he got mites so bad that he had to have a skin graft! Roscoe's trips to the vet became more and more frequent. Eventually he started having a hard time moving around and began dragging his behind. It was determined that he had bad joints; apparently this was bred into him and the only way to fix it is extensive surgery. Surgery just wasn’t in the funds, so the alternative was to put him on steroids. Oh, a Bulldog on steroids! But man does he now move like the puppy he never got to be.

Beartooth Beast
Dog: Chug
Human: Devan Backstrom
My 14-year-old yellow lab, Chug, has been trekking it to the Beartooths every Memorial Day weekend for the last 5 years. In the last few years she has discovered that riding Rock Creek in the spring runoff is much more pleasurable than skiing/running down Rock Creek Headwall. Though it shocks me every year when she goes wading into the raging water, I am in such awe I forget to grab the camera. And every time she gets herself out and comes running back up stream to me and is embraced by the other dogs who also watch in awe. She now has a new companion and I am afraid we may have another whitewater rafter on our hands or extreme sports enthusiast!

Gimped & Still Grinnin’
Dog: Cassidy
Human: Erika Matsuda
Cassidy is around 12 years old and is named after Hop-Along Cassidy, due to her left leg being fused, so that she does "hop" along. Despite this disability, which happened when she was very young, probably by a predator trap (she was found in a small Montana town running with a wild dog pack), she is one of the happiest, most excited, and most adventurous dogs and I love her so! Her fused leg looks super awkward when she walks or runs but she pushes through everything with a huge grin and is always happy to be with us outside. She especially loves the winter season. Her enthusiasm for snow helps me get out and enjoy even the super tough cold days!

Top Twosome
Dogs: Alpine and Sequoia
Master: Joe Irons
Alpine is a rock star. He has snow-kited hundreds of miles with me and escaped many small avalanches (we would call them slabs or sloughs, but he calls them avalanches). He has swum or run more stretches of the Madison than most fishermen have floated. He also enjoys long walks on the beach and a stiff Margarita from time to time. All this and he is still not a year old. I can't wait to see what his future holds. Sequoia is a 13-year old "one-eyed wolf". She is half wolf and half Malamute. She enjoys being outdoors, hanging out with the humans, and killing deer.

Runners-Up
Dog: Athena
Master: Ryan Kramer

Dog: Bruno
Human: Magda Kintzing

Dog: Maddie
Master: Julie Kipfer

Dog: Zora
Master: Elizabeth Henderson

Dog: Boo
Masters: Reeves Petroff and Mary Boscamp

Dog: May Bell Collins
Master: Zac Collins

Dog: Sasha
Master: Carol Diffendaffer

Dog: Numa
Masters: Josh and Bina Olsen

Dog: ? (Doodle w/ wind in face)
Master: Ty Mack

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