Best Dog Photos

We knew it would happen. Put out a call for dog photos in this town, expect a cavalcade of images celebrating Bozeman’s most beloved beast. And that’s exactly what we got: dozens of photos and stories honoring those canine companions that share and enrich our outdoor-oriented lives. Here are a few of the best.

Best Photo – WINNER
Dog: Denali
Master: Dylan Cembalski
The stories are never ending for Denali, my four-year-old husky. I rescued her three years ago and she has endured climbing road trips from southern California to British Columbia and everywhere in between. She relentlessly follows me on all my backcountry adventures, whether it be waiting patiently at the base of climbs, bounding through knee-deep backcountry powder, or keeping ahead of me on 16-hour day hikes. Recently, she reached a new high point of over 12,000 feet as she faithfully waited at the snow bridge on Granite Peak. She has a very warm and friendly personality, always trying to get in one more lick on the face, and she's not afraid to jump on the bed at 6:00 in the morning. At the end of the day, I sleep well knowing I have one of the most amazing dogs in the world.

Little Dog in Big-Dog Body
Dog: Jax
Master: Laura Sampson
Jax is an awesome crag dog. She can leap up boulders several times her height, has the balance of a mountain goat, and on several occasions has been the only reason we've found our way back to the car before dark. A recent trip involved a three- or four-mile hike down a slot canyon, most of which was no problem for Jax. There were, however, some pitches that were a bit too much for her, so we stuck her in a backpack and continued on. She didn't even twitch. I've also taken her rappelling, when we felt the descent from a belay area was sketchier than the ascent. So while I know that you specifically forbade the entry of purse dogs, I thought that this very Montana version might be an exception.

Most Attitude
Dog: Rosie CW
Master: Anne Liebscher
My name’s Rosie CW, and I’m one badass bitch. Not only am I smarter than you, I’m hotter than the girlfriend you wish you had. Don’t be fooled by my 12-inch gams—I can out-hike you, out-run you, and out-swim you, too. Oh yeah, did I mention I eat Labs for breakfast?  Chew on that, suckas!

The Thinker
Dog: Maddie
Master: Laura Peck
I think if I ruled the world this is what life would be like every day. What dog wouldn’t be in heaven living in Bozeman, conquering a different mountain every weekend and pondering life beside Heather Lake. The cold mountain streams, each its own oasis after charging through the woods on a hot summer day. The feces and rotten body parts of wildlife are a never-ending culinary delight. Feeling the winter air rush through my coat while chasing dad down the white powder of Mount Blackmore. And the squirrels, oh the squirrels. Put on earth just for me. If only I could catch one of those little bastards. Maybe tomorrow.

Proudest Owner
Dog: Triga
Master: Britta Caldwell
There are many things to love about Triga. I could write about how she’s the two-time dock-diving champ of Gallatin County, this year jumping a winning 12 feet, one inch to beat a field of approximately 80 dogs. I could talk about her superior smarts, like the way she knows to stop dead in her tracks rather than run into the street, even if the all-time favorite toy, the tennis ball, bounces out into the road. Of course, there’s also her looks. She’s darn cute. So cute, that every menopausal woman in Bozeman squeaks when they see her, earning her the nickname “Hot Flash.” I could even discuss her gentler side, the side that snuggles up with the cat, sharing her dog bed with her favorite feline companion. But what’s really worth mentioning is her incredible acrobatics. You see, for a white dog, Triga can jump. She came into life unsure of her talents, vertically challenged for her first two years. Then, one autumn, she discovered a love of leaves. She was like a little kid, jumping into the neighbors’ piles of leaves. To give her play more of an urban-assault feel, my husband and I started attacking her with handfuls of leaves, and it was then that she discovered her jump. It borders on a back flip, and at times can reach almost six feet of vertical. Her jump quickly spread: soon she was jumping for snowballs, tennis balls, sticks, Frisbees, and beer cans. Sure, there’s no practical application for the jump. But everyone who watches her jump gets it: this dog has joy, and she’s created her own art form to express it. Good dog.

Toughest Dog
Dog: Cody
Master: Mark DeWald
A short day hike at Fairy Lake almost became Cody's last. While running up the trail, he cut a bend too close. On the inside of the bend was a fallen tree that had split to form a spear-tip. All I heard was a yelp; it wasn't until Cody had limped back to me that I saw he had a fist-sized hole in his side. I thought it was the end for him. We had a 20-minute hike to the car and a 45-minute drive back to town, and to top it off it was Saturday and no vets were open. Luckily, Dr. Raines of Faithful Friends agreed to see him and Cody immediately went into surgery. About three hours later, Dr. Raines called and told me that he was a very lucky unlucky dog. The tree had penetrated his right side behind his rib cage, between the right hind leg and peritoneum—if it had hit the peritoneum, the doctor said he probably would have died. After pulling out a handful of wood splinters from him, Cody was sewn up. Two more surgeries and three months later, Cody was back in action. Despite his injury, he hasn’t slowed down: he still leads the pack no matter what we’re doing, he still gets excited when he sees me grab my pack, and he never gives up. To me, Cody represents the essence of the Montana spirit.  

Luckiest Dog
Dog: Chocolate Dog
Master: Rick O’Rourke
Our two-year-old Chocolate Dog may not be the best lookin’ or listenin’ dog in the world, but she might be the luckiest. At six months she was shot in the head with a .22 (we’re still not sure who by). This past January she was walking on the Gallatin River near our house and fell through the ice. I ventured out onto the ice and pulled her out. And through it all she's still the same dog as always. And the best part, she don't fit into a purse, or the front of my truck either.

The Survivor
Dog: Chopper
Master: Tom Knodel
Chopper is a German shorthair / Karelian bear dog mix. A friend got one of his sisters and when I saw her, I wanted Chopper. I tried for a month to get him with no success. Chopper’s owner had turned his property over to a caretaker, and the crackhead let everything go. Chopper was abandoned and left for dead after being put in a pen with a porcupine for the enjoyment of a sick and twisted individual, who I was never able to find (I sure wish I would have). Chopper was half-dead, an eight-inch gash on the inside of his leg, starving, and full of porcupine quills. She rushed him to the vet and called me. The vet was not confident he would make it, but I took him anyway. When I got him I didn’t expect him to make it to morning. Two days later he drank some water, two more days and he finally started to eat. Now five years later he is strong as an ox, and a solid 80 pounds.