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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

stickeen, who won john muir's respect

"Such a little helpless creature will only be in the way," I said; "you had better pass him up to the Indian boys on the wharf, to be taken home to play with the children. This trip is not likely to be good for toy-dogs. The poor silly thing will be in rain and snow for weeks or months, and will require care like a baby." But his master assured me that he would be no trouble at all; that he was a perfect wonder of a dog, could endure cold and hunger like a bear, swim like a seal, and was wondrous wise and cunning, etc., making out a list of virtues to show he might be the most interesting member of the party.

John Muir wasn't sold. It was the summer of 1880, and he and his friend the Rev. S. H. Young were piling into a canoe, about to start Muir's second exploration of southeastern Alaska. Muir was already well established in his role as America's premier naturalist; 12 years later he would be a founder of the Sierra Club and its first president, an honor and responsibility he woud discharge for the rest of his life.

But that day in Fort Wrangell he just wanted to get going, and he wasn't at all sure he wanted Young's weird-looking little black dog. The dog - Stickeen - stayed. And thereby hangs a tale of adventure and peril in which a strange creature turns out to be a brave and heartfelt friend. For the rest of his life Muir would tell the story of how Stickeen's courage opened his sympathy for what he called "our horizontal brothers."

Muir published a few versions of Stickeen's story. Would you like to read one? The Sierra Club has it here.

1 comment:

parlance said...

I'll have a look around and see if I can come across a copy of one of the books about Stickeen. They look interesting.