If you ask the staff and students at North Tahoe School about Ellery, they can’t wait to praise him. “Ellery really brought out the best in all of us,” said Teresa Rensch, North Tahoe School principal. “He loved us and we all loved him,” said seventh grader Eva Baffone. Her classmate Kate Gaffney said it always made her happy when Ellery greeted her every morning when she got off the bus. Who was this amazing Ellery? Was he Tahoe’s Dalai Lama bringing spiritual happiness to all? No, he was a 14-year-old Siberian husky and the unofficial mascot of North Tahoe School. Ellery passed away a few weeks ago, but before he moved on he left a trail of joy among the students and staff at the school.

Ellery found his life’s calling when Rachel and John Crus moved up the street from the school about five years ago.  With three young kids, two active businesses, and Rachel training for triathlons, they lucked out that Ellery was a dog that could take care of himself.

“He was an older dog who always roamed and came home,” Rachel said.


As the whole school was soon to discover, Ellery was also a gentle dog who loved children. Ellery made the school’s front steps his home away from home.

“Initially we got calls, ‘Your dog is up here, it’s not safe for the children,” Rachel said. “But at some point they started embracing him. He created this world for himself.”

One of the biggest embracers of Ellery was Principal Rensch.

“Ellery adopted us about five years ago. We were worried about him at first, but we grew to love him. He would greet us at the start of the day and be there at the end to say goodbye,” she said. “The kids and staff would stop for a moment and give a cheer or shout out to Ellery. He brought a little sunshine to our school every day.”

The kids were not only impressed by Ellery’s love, but also by his stamina.

“He came every day, no matter what, even if it was snowing,” Eva said. “He was so sweet, and never got angry.”

For John and Rachel, Ellery was like their first child. When they brought him home they were told that huskies usually only live nine or 10 years. Rachel believes he lived longer because he received love in his older years as the school dog.

“He got a ton of attention when his family was gone every day,” she said. “The dog found his calling. Teresa [Rensch] was undeniably amazing to him. She offered him so much love and care.”

When Ellery passed away, the North Tahoe students put together two huge banners in his honor. Measuring 3 feet by 15 feet, the banners were painted by the school art class, and included enormous hearts and a picture of Ellery. Almost all the kids in the school signed their names on the banners and wrote love notes to the amazing furball that touched their hearts.

“What an epic community!” John wrote on Facebook when he found the banners on his front step. “We would have never thought our dog would have had an effect on so many people. Thank you to the administration and students who allowed him to be there.”

Principal Rensch says plans are underway to remember Ellery by planting a dogwood tree in his honor in the school’s memorial garden.


  • Tim Hauserman

    Tim Hauserman latest book is “Going it Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the trail” published in 2022. He also wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, the 4th edition of which was published in 2020. His other books include “Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children” and "Gertrude's Tahoe Adventures in Time." Tim has lived in Tahoe City since he was a little tyke and continues to be amazed with the beauty of Lake Tahoe. His former English teachers, on the other hand, are probably amazed that he became a writer. Contact Tim at writeonrex@yahoo.com

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