My late father, Victor, had terms of endearments for all his friends. If you were an old friend, you were "An Old dog." As in, "Tell that old dog to call me." The term originates in the dog sledding days, when sled dogs were the main mode of transportation. If you had a good lead dog, or a good wheel dog, you bragged about them to your friends, often referring to them as "good dogs." My father, never one to let a good term go to waste, started referring to his friends as "Good dogs," as in, good people. And as he got older, his friends became, "Old dogs." As a matter of fact, the local old-timers hockey team adopted the name for themselves. The "Old dogs" are a crowd favourite at local hockey tournaments.
Here is a collection of "Old dogs" at the Midway Lake Music Festival sometimes in the late 80's. Affectionately referred to as "Midway,"the festival attracts people from hundreds of miles away who come together to "old time dance," share food from the land, and visit one another. From left to right, Mr. Tobac, Fort Good Hope, Old Chief Hyacinthe Andre, Tsiigehtchic (formerly Arctic Red River,) Abe Okpik CM (the original Old Dog,) Iqaluit/Inuvik, Willie McDonald, Fort McPherson, and Herbert "Dink" Blake, Fort McPherson. These were the renaissance men of their time. They rubbed shoulders with the royals, marshalled in a new era, and wrassled a living off an unforgiving land. As a collective, they have logged half a million miles on dog sled. They've long since retired their sled dogs, but the stories live on. Attaa! Listen...can you hear the laughter?