The Chook

& The Wook

(born 2006)






by Meredith and Mike Selby  © 2014

S a m a n t i c shttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Samantics.html


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The Chook





because he was so wonderful, so unique, we knew there was no other dog for us.


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The Wook



When he was one or two, the neighborhood kids would knock on the door and ask if the “big white puppy” could come out and play. After a while I sometimes pretended not to hear the knock and they would pry open the mail slot to try and look for him.


    The story of our first Samoyed really begins with the story of Mike’s parent’s dog, Chanook:  “Arctic Dog of the Tundra.”  And yes, the correct spelling is with an “a” not an ”i”, having  named him after a small town in the arctic circle. They found Chanook at a local pet store, he was the biggest of a litter and was on the verge of being euthanized because no one wanted to buy such a huge puppy and he barely fit in his cage anymore.


    Mike’s parents loved him at first sight, and went on to become somewhat legendary with family and friends. He topped out at 118 pounds, and while some of that was surely extra, he was indeed a giant of a Sammy. He always caught me off guard when he entered the room; I never seemed to fully remember HOW BIG he was until I saw him again.


    Aside from his size, he was also extremely gentle, with all creatures. In their somewhat rural setting south of Denver, Chanook happily, literally, shared the yard with numerous deer, rabbits, foxes, and even played games with the magpies. Magpies swooped and jumped around him, he never fought them but just lay out there sharing the space. Mike started calling him Dr. Dolittle. (In contrast, Mike’s brother’s dog, a lab mix, was visiting one day, and when the magpies attempted their game with her she snapped one right out of the air and killed it. The rest of the flock was angry for weeks, dive bombing Chanook and pecking at him.) There are many great stories of Chanook, and he was a lucky dog living out in Colorado, splitting his time between Denver and Steamboat Springs, in the snowy mountains.


    Sadly Chanook passed away -- wow it’s been over 10 years ago already. But because he was so wonderful, so unique, we knew there was no other dog for us. We started investigating breeders, and finally found a litter up in New Jersey. We filled out pages  and pages of application, describing our excitement at the prospect of having our own Sammy, our perfect living conditions with a fully fenced yard, etc etc. We were on pins and needles to find out if we were to be awarded one of the fluff balls we had been watching grow though photos. Finally I couldn’t stand the suspense and asked outright and the breeder replied “of course, of course, I thought you realized you were one of the lucky ones! You get to have the green boy.” We told her the name we had selected -- Marshmallow’s Sabarkin Wooker....


  1. Marshmallow’s (for the breeder)


  1. Sabarkin (after Sabarka, the 1st Samoyed in the western world, with ‘kin’ after it to honor his sire - Eisbear's Kindred Spirit)


  1. Wooker (after Chanook aka Chooker aka Chooker Wooker).


    We drove up to get him in March of 2006, when he was 12 weeks old. He immediately flopped on Mike’s feet and the breeder said:  “that’s Wooker.” We bundled him into his huge metal crate, whereupon he whimpered and cried as we drove along the New Jersey Turnpike. We stopped to see if he had to “go” while semi trucks rushed past us in the darkness -- no, just wanted to do a little exploring. That’s pretty much been the scenario ever since -- lots of fussing just to find out he would rather be outside snuffling than penned up in the back of the car.


    The first few nights back home we agreed...no dog in the bed. We got a smaller soft sided crate that fit him a little better, and put it next to the bed. “pant pant pant pant pant...whimper whimper” then whoosh -- puppy in the bed, no turning back.


    I am very lucky to work as a freelance graphic designer and artist, so as Wooker grew I spent a lot of time with him, he was house trained in no time. I took him to obedience classes where, in our humble opinion, he only graduated because we paid them an exorbitant amount of money. His trainer called him “cheeky” and said I had to break him of it (really?) - - -  and Wooker never was able to achieve the “down stay” -- we even  repeated that lesson and still, nope, he doesn’t like to just lay there while you go off and do something else. He doesn’t heel either, I’m sure no one is shocked to hear, but if I say “go slowly with me,” down a hill for example, he will do exactly that. We have been able to teach him all kinds of other stuff, and he is pretty wily and has taught me plenty, too.


    When he was one or two, the neighborhood kids would knock on the door and ask if the “big white puppy” could come out and play. After a while I sometimes pretended not to hear the knock and they would pry open the mail slot to try and look for him.


    We have taught him how to “go to his place’, and other silly tricks like “high 5, high 10, lie down, roll over.”  He is NOT Dr. Dolittle and will chase any cat, squirrel, rabbit, duck, small dog, and especially a deer if he ever gets to see one.  But if the cable guy comes to the house he gets a toy and brings it over.  He has a scooter, booties and a custom-made harness, and we used to scooter around, especially when we were living in San Diego.  My favorite reaction was “hey, that dog’s got SHOES on” -- no reaction to the whole dog-pulling-a-person-around-on-a-scooter concept. Sadly his hips have degenerated and he can’t really do it anymore. At bedtime, he prefers my spot in the bed and once there, he is able to exert a little extra gravitational force so as not to be moved, and will finally just flop to one side in a vague willingness to share.


    Wooker always looks you straight in the eye, and when he catches other people’s eye on the street I love to watch their face as they start smiling. Perfect strangers ask to hug him and launch into their own Sammy stories.


I now can’t imagine anything but a Samoyed sharing our lives. And thanks to the PVSC we are getting to do all kinds of other activities with him, and finding out his personality is not so unique after all!!


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