Josie - She Died With Her Boots On

A Eulogy — by TJ Hanson

Her name was Josie. She was a Jack Russell Terrier who had river water running in her veins. This 14-year-old feisty river dog was a veteran of many adventures. Wild Sheep and Granite on the Snake, Red Rock and The Narrows on the Grande Ronde, Clarno on the John Day, Snow Hole and Slide on the lower Salmon, Montgomery on the lower Owyhee — she had done them all. When first arriving at a river, she would jump out of the truck and rub her ears and forehead in the dirt; getting rid of that city stink — she wanted to smell like a river dog. She rode fearlessly in Dwight's 14-foot self bailer; walking about the boat as if she were on dry land. Swift currents did not bother her. Once on the John Day I watched her swimming upstream against the current; probably just to prove that she could do it. She was our camp guard dog, aware of everything going on. She always knew she could get the rest of my beef stew at the end of dinner. I was also an easy mark for beef jerky. Once on the Grande Ronde she zeroed in on the smell of jerky from 20 feet away. We were good friends.

Last year on the Snake she chased a skunk out of camp; fearlessly charging the skunk as we all called for her to back off. The skunk had its tail raised, but decided to retreat rather than face the ire of Josie. Size did not matter, she would take on all threats. Dwight told me she came back to camp once with a face full of porcupine quills. Pain was part of the job of being a river dog.

Last week while hiking on the lower Deschutes near Washout Rapids, we came upon a 3-foot western rattlesnake. Without hesitation Josie charged the threat, sinking her teeth into the snake as we called her back. It was too late; the snake bit her on the face. Back in camp we made her comfortable while trying to reach a vet on the satellite phone. It was a Sunday night and we had no way to get her off the river and to a vet. Josie died about 10 hours later at 1AM, Monday morning.

She was a true river dog, and will be missed by everyone who knew her. She died as she had lived life, protecting her master against the great unknown.

Dwight, Josie and me, in camp on the Grande Ronde River.

Me and Josie on the Snake River.

Josie and Dwight punching through “The Narrows” on the Grande Ronde River.