It may not seem like it now, but I used to not know anything. Mention my name or call me and I would submissively lay on my back like a turtle worried that I had done something wrong. I really wanted to learn and be a good dog, but I had no clue. I chewed up shoes. I even ate a leather jacket, which tasted like a really dry steak. It’s tough being a kid, but eventually I grew up and became a productive member of society. This month’s friend Gwen is still a pup but she is learning fast. I don’t think she will eat your shoes but she may keep you on your toes.

Gwen is a young black lab/hound mix that looks just like my sister Olive. Like a young, unpolished Flip Speckleman, Gwen has no clue. It’s nothing personal. We actually love Gwen. We picked her up at the shelter for a hike just as winter was arriving in Truckee. I’m sure Gwen has ridden in a car before, but you wouldn’t know it from our drive. We should have strapped her in.


Every turn in the car resulted in her being smashed into the inside of the car; hit the brakes and you may get a dog in your lap. By the time we arrived at the Emigrant Trail for our hike, Gwen was a pro, sitting in the passenger seat and resting her head on the driver’s lap.

At the trailhead Gwen was fantastic. Olive was excited to have a playmate, but Gwen didn’t know what to do when Olive began chasing her. She kept looking back wondering why this crazy dog was barking at her. At this point in her life, Gwen is more interested in people than dogs. She was able to sit for treats, came when she was called, and handled a hike in the woods without ever leaving our sight.

Gwen is affectionate, smart, and willing to be taught. She still has some puppy in her, but it’s more the cute part and less the part that poops in your house or chews up your new pair of shoes. She’s ready to be molded into your loyal skiing, hiking, and swimming companion. She will make a great Tahoe dog but she will need some exercise.

Gwen has a strong sniffer and proved it by discovering where we hid the cookies. With her skinny pinhead she was able to stick her face in my person’s pocket and fish for treats. She has a snout like an anteater.

It’s a crowded house right now at the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe’s shelter. We have a wide variety of dogs and cats including Rose, an adorable rottweiler/schnauzer mix. Does that make her a schnottweiler?

Before I go I must also mention HSTT’s Pet Pantry program. The humane society has teamed up with Project MANA to help provide pet food for those in need. Project MANA distributes food to needy folks throughout Truckee, North Tahoe, and the West Shore. Now they will also have pet food donated from HSTT’s Pet Pantry. If you are interested in donating food there are barrels at Pet Station, Scraps Dog Bakery, and Glenshire Elementary. Help out some friends or make a new friend this month. Enjoy the snow.

~ For more information, visit the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe at hstt.org or Project MANA at projectmana.org. Comment on this column below.


  • Flip Speckleman

    RIP 1999 – 2011

    Flip Speckleman was one of Moonshine Ink's original columnists, writing his beloved column "Flip's Friends" for almost a decade. His wry sense of humor, eloquent style, love of shelter animals, and appreciation for Tahoe living touched readers over the years, with many citing Flip's Friends as their favorite part of Moonshine.

    A sample of his writing:

    “I’m getting cranky in my old age. Ok, I’m getting crankier in my old age. A few random neighborhood dogs have been wandering by my house lately. My immediate response is to bark, ‘Get off my lawn,’ and then mutter something unintelligible under my breath about kids today. Excitable young dogs jump up enthusiastically when we greet on a walk. My response is to not even make eye contact. If they persist I show my teeth and growl. I don’t know what it is with young pups today. I blame social media. The cats are texting. The dogs are tweeting. I look like a caveman showing up with my notebook, pencil, and press pass. I think it’s time Moonshine Ink bought me a laptop.”  

    ~ “Bruno: Short, Brown, and Handsome,” published in Moonshine Ink, Dec. 10, 2010

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