Raising Isaac

Raising Isaac

Jamie raised Alice at first, but they're close enough together in age that after a year or two their relationship was more like siblings than a pack hierarchy. When Nancy came along, she was fiercely independent and looked up to Alice as the older female, so Jamie didn't really "raise" her. But with Isaac there were 18 months of Jamie being the alpha male and Isaac studying him and emulating him.

As a result of their time together, Isaac now does some things just like Jamie, like sleeping directly behind me in the truck with his snoot tucked in on the left side of the driver's seat. That way I can squeeze his nose with my left hand any time to know he's there, just like I did countless times with Jamie. Alice and Nancy have never slept in that position.

For me, Alice is a touchstone to Jamie's youth in Seattle, Nancy is a touchstone to Jamie's move to Montana, and Isaac is a touchstone to his old age in Butte.

In March of 2021, I rented Fleecer Station, a Forest Service cabin south of Butte. I had never been there and was going to just take Jamie with me to check it out, but after seeing him and Isaac interact during their first three weeks together we thought it would be fun for Jamie to have Isaac to himself for a night in the mountains. They had a blast, and Isaac followed Jamie everywhere.

Isaac and Jamie watching me load up the truck after a night in the mountains

Two months after the Fleecer outing, Megan and I took Jamie and Isaac to Fort Peck – the town where my father grew up while my grandfather was one of the 10,000 workers on the Fort Peck Dam project during the Great Depression – on Memorial Day Weekend. Alice and Nancy stayed with Noodles, Strummer, and Zevon that weekend.

Fort Peck was where Jamie first barked at cows, and where he first took a swim as a pup. We made plans for Isaac to take his first swim at the same place Jamie had, with Jamie on shore watching and encouraging him. Jamie also led Isaac on off-leash walks around Fort Peck and Glasgow, and because Jamie stayed close to us, so did Isaac.

Late one night while Megan and Isaac relaxed at our motel room in Glasgow, Jamie and drove 25 miles to the Fort Peck spillway to take this photo. There wasn't another person for miles in any direction, and only one car drove past during the half hour we spent taking photos. Jamie sat in the truck a few feet behind me and watched. I wish I'd thought to turn around and get a shot of him sitting there, but the stars were so stunning I couldn't take my eyes off them. This photo is one of many reasons the stars will always remind me of Jamie.
Jamie's final road trip with the entire pack was our Hells Canyon trip in July 2022. This photo shows how Jamie's calm and reliable off-leash behavior had influenced Isaac. The boys are off-leash, while Nancy and Alice the wild and crazy girls are on-leash.