Korak, named after the son of Tarzan, was my first (of many many more) dog. And everyone’s favorite, except for Bert. Because his dog Sasha, a big and mean Alaskan Husky, would sometimes fight furiously. It was 1969, Fort Collins, Colorado, and I was a sophomore at CSU.
After Teddy and I came back from Aspen I rented an apartment on Mrytle Street that allowed dogs. Not many apartments did back then, in The Seventies. My friend Rocky, who lived at home with his parents (professors at the college), had a big beautiful Irish Setter. I thought, I’ll get me a dog. Then Clancy, Rocky’s pooch, will have a friend and we can all hang out.
I meandered down to the pet store on College Avenue and paid ten dollars for my pup. Being a wild ape man myself, I named the dog Korak, after Tarzan’s son. In the language of the Great Apes, Korak means killer. However, my Korak was a cutie. He was part Irish Setter, part Golden Retriever, and part Chow.
The Early Days
were a lot of fun. Rocky and I would take our dogs, a few people-friends, and go water skiing on Horsetooth Reservoir.
One day me and Rocky decided to go up into the mountains and do Peyote buttons. We took Korak, who was still just a pup. I think the rocky jeep trail made him a little car sick and he was plumb tuckered-out when we finally stopped to enjoy our trip. Anyway, the whole experience turned into a paper I wrote for an Anthropology class. The professor was impressed and graded my work A+. My writing career was off and running (though I didn’t know it at the time.)
Later, as Korak grew, we’d take him camping up in the hills.
In the spring of 1970 I met a girl named Bobbie and she had a dog she called Mommy. I liked the girl and Korak liked Mommy. The dogs mated but not me and Bobbie. (No McGee was she.) Bobbie went back east, where she was from, and left Mommy with me. We became a family: Korak, Mommy, and their one pup, who I named Frog.
Mommy was run over on Taft Hill Road shortly after Frog was born. That was my first encounter with how cruel the world can be at times. I nearly killed the driver of the car so angry was I. Not long after that – Korak was shot. The round was a small caliber and he recovered.
Dogs will be dogs
which is why, maybe, we call men dogs. Korak mated with his daughter-dog Frog and they had nine puppies – “eight black and one tan.” My brother wrote a song about them. I was able to find homes for them all. (The tan one first.) Except for the one who drowned in the Poudre River.
My best friend Cap, married to my cousin June, took the last one, the runt, and named her Little. When Cap and June moved to Denver (from Evergreen) they left Little with me and Korak in Conifer. Little didn’t much like living with her daddy and me and journeyed her way back to Evergreen, nine miles north. Dogs (and cats) can be uncanny and crazy when it comes to family and territory. So I found out.
The Last Days
of Korak’s life he lived doing what he loved – running wild. He was shot and killed by a cattle rancher in Conifer. It was 1976, maybe ’77. I suspect Korak was just having fun running cattle. He loved to chase large, dumb animals. Elk, cows, whatever.
Me and Ted would off-road jeep, back-in-the-day, with Korak. Sometimes we’d come up on a herd of elk and off we’d go. Those were wild times. Korak could run 25, maybe 30 miles per hour. For long stretches, all day long. Ted and I would be high, and so was the dog. We were living wild and free.
Sometimes I think all the damn rules and regulations “they” now have in the mountains and plains of Colorado … are because of me, my friend Ted, and my dog, Korak.
Damn, I loved him. And so did everyone else, ‘cept for Bert and one or two others.
5 thoughts on “Korak’s Story: My first Dog”
I love this, bro. Wild and free. I used to run up No Name Canyon each morning with my setter mix Sammy, and my goal was to be able to roam those hills the way the dogs did, going here and there, checking things out that interested me, and never seeming to run out of breath or energy. I didn’t ever reach that goal, but my heart warms and my eyes mist thinking of those days and those dogs. Thanks for the transport.
PS: I have a picture of Sammy & her grown pup, Mickey, bounding through the snow that I titled, “Long May You Run,” after the Stills-Young song. They, too, went on a chase and never returned.
I seem to recall that hike. Sammy would just tear up the side of the canyon, come back down and check on us, then go right back up again. Mile after mile.
No debate, great story! Nothing like a good dog. I love all dogs more than I like most humans.