I believe Cocoa knows that when she gives me a tracking look, it melts my heart. She understands that being “wolf-like” is one of my favorite things and that I stop dead in my tracks to watch for her. In this photo, she’s tracking me on the trail up Whiteside mountain—watching to see where I am and I was pretty far behind her with a long lens. I’m fascinated with the look of wolves. Xalina, Cocoa’s trainer at Dog School 101, and I have spent hours talking about them and dogs and their similar natures.

When I’m in Toccoa, one of the things I do in closing out a day is to read a small portion of one of Jack London’s stories to Chip and Cocoa. Chip especially loves White Fang so that was what we read this past weekend.

I read . . . and they curled up beside me and fell asleep dreaming about White Fang—at least that is what I told myself. There is something very deliberate and wild in every dog. There is a part of them that wants to run free with a pack laughing and chasing and striding with the wind. I love that idea of their total freedom!

From Jack London’s White Fang: “Weedon Scott . . . was squatting down on his heels, face to face with White Fang and petting him—rubbing him at the roots of the ears, making long, caressing strokes down the neck to the shoulders, tapping the spine gently with the balls of his fingers. And White Fang was growling responsively, the crooning note of the growl more pronounced than ever.

“But that was not all. What of his joy, the great love in him, ever surging and struggling to express itself, succeeded in finding a new mode of expression. He suddenly thrust his head forward and nudged his way in between the master’s arms and body. And here, confined, hidden from view all except his ears, no longer growling, he continued to nudge and snuggle. . . . Scott’s eyes were shining.

“‘Gosh!” said Matt [Scott’s companion] in an awe-stricken voice.

“A moment later when he had recovered himself, Scott said, ‘I always insisted that wolf was a dog. Look at’m!'”


This was taken a couple of years ago at Smithgall Woods when she was tracking me in snow with her “city looking” jacket on.