An avid outdoorsdog, unrepentant womanizer and gourmet cheese aficionado, Reese died Thursday, Aug. 24, with his longtime human management at his side. He was 13, or 91 in dog years.
Born in northern Montana near Kalispell, the Siberian husky-German shepherd mix was picked up at just a few weeks of age by Flathead County Animal Control as a stray in December 2003. He spent the next three months in the animal control shelter and was days shy of being euthanized when in February 2004 he found—and exploited with his rakish charm—a human sucker. Known by a number in the shelter, Reese was named for his color resemblance to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and personality likeness with the eponymous, anarchistic older brother of the title character on the TV show Malcolm in the Middle.
Soon after his adoption, Reese and his handler relocated from Bigfork to Big Sky, Montana, where they forged a deep friendship exploring the southwest Montana wilderness. In May 2005, the human relented to pressure from Reese—expressed in the form of eating things like books and DVDs—that he was bored during the day while the management was at work and thus adopted Miles, who is one year Reese’s junior. The dogs quickly bonded through a shared affection for eating things like books and DVDs.
In autumn 2005, the trio relocated to the Denver area. Over the next couple years, they hiked throughout Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, including an ascent of Vasquez Peak and backpacking trips to Eccles Pass and the Wheeler Geologic Area. In 2007, Reese escorted his human on a week-long canoe voyage down 100-plus miles of the Missouri River in Montana and proved every bit as sagacious as Meriwether Lewis’s dog, Seaman, who accompanied the Corps of Discovery along the same route; Lewis acquired Seaman for $20 in August 1803, just $5 less than Reese’s adoption fee two centuries later. Reese validated himself as invaluable on multiple occasions, when he led his crew back to a trail or transportation after the management led them, with typical human arrogance, astray on outdoor excursions.
In the early winter of 2007, the human moved the dogs to Grand Junction, Colorado, from where they made frequent excursions to the Grand Mesa, the Little Bookcliffs (where Reese loved watching wild horses and bighorn sheep) and the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area. In May 2008, while volunteering at a local animal shelter where he accompanied homeless dogs on walks, Reese befriended a fellow husky-mix pup a half-decade younger and forced his owner’s hand in adopting Wyatt. Reese was diagnosed with hip dysplasia soon after.
Thanks to early detection and medication, Reese hiked regularly until his last year of life. He and his crew climbed Wetterhorn Peak, one of Colorado’s 14ers, in October 2010 and traversed the rugged Beaver Creek, Skaguay Powerline and Trail Gulch trails near Cañon City, Colorado, in summer 2011.
Reese remained a benevolent older brother and pack leader throughout his life, and he was a steadfast companion to his human even as he worked extra hard to enchant female acquaintances. In early 2012, he gave his overwhelming approval to a second human master, whom he embraced with otherwise unmatched affection.
That acceptance demonstrated Reese’s refined tastes. He was discerning when it came to friends and, especially, food. Reese frequently turned his nose at commercial dog kibble, and he begged only for fresh vegetables and fruit, and the finest cheeses.
Over the past year, arthritis impaired his mobility if not his zest for life. In the weeks before his passing, despite being confined to a wheelchair, he delighted in ambles around the park and soliciting attention from strangers, and he remained clever enough to orchestrate the theft of his human’s breakfast and lunch (a banana and cheese sandwich respectively).
Reese is survived by his brothers, Miles and Wyatt, and adopted humans, Anthony and Steve. He was a very good boy.