Who doesn’t like a good dog story?
You may not have known it, but there are many dogs on site during the building of Black Rock City.
[WE INTERRUPT THIS STORY WITH A VERY IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: DO NOT BRING YOUR DOG (OR CAT OR ANY OTHER ANIMAL) TO THE PLAYA. IT IS A TERRIBLE PLACE FOR THEM. YOU WOULD BE A TERRIBLE OWNER, AND YOU WILL BE SENT HOME. THANK YOU.]
Now that that’s out of the way, we can tell you that yes, many DPW workers have dogs with them during the build. But you should also know that very extensive preparations and paperwork have to take place before that can happen, and even after the dogs are here, there is much care and special attention paid to them. Honestly, you would NOT be able to pull it off, so please don’t try.
But we understand. You love your dog. And you will miss your dog. And we think the dogs who are here are very lucky dogs.
There are almost too many dogs to mention, and each of them seems to reflect their owners’ personalities in ways that only dogs can. (Blondie and Red are inseparable, and Jake, who pokes his out of the camper next to us, has a Mohawk that matches his owner’s.) We don’t want to play favorites, but we will, anyway. We are especially fond of Hero, the wolf/Malamute mix who rides around in the Fluffer truck with Katelyn.
Hero is four months old, a striking shade of tan, and he seems to be socializing with other humans and other dogs quite well. He also seems to be growing about an inch a week, and he does that sideways walk that dogs do who haven’t quite grown into their bodies yet.
Socialization is very important for Hero, because as we mentioned, he’s got a lot of wolf in him. He’s mostly wolf, in fact.
“He’s really good therapy,” Katelyn says from the door of the Fluffer truck as Hero licks and nips at her hands. It’s unclear if she means that the therapy is good for her, or good for everyone who comes up to the truck. But there’s no doubt that you get a lift after being around Hero for awhile.
Hero has his own special place in the truck that has both shade and water. The Fluffer truck is an especially good place for him because there is lots of ice inside to keep water cold for the crews, so the temperature inside the truck is always moderated.
It takes a lot to keep a four-month-old wolf in line, but we’ve watched Katelyn working with Hero, and we’re impressed. “It’s really about dominance training,” she says. Which means that when Hero gets too rambunctious, she puts him down on his side and reminds him that she in fact is the leader of this pack. She never does it in anger, but she’s always firm. “The Dog Whisperer” would be proud.
You won’t see Hero (or any other dog) during the event. They will be moved to another location, because even the DPW dog owners know that the event is just too much for a dog’s mental health.
But Hero’s probably one of the reasons that the crews haven’t eaten each other yet. So even he has played his role in the building of Black Rock City.