When I was 6 years old, my dad got a job with the State of Montana. So we left Tacoma and headed for Big Sky Country. By the time I was 11, we lived in a tiny community just south of Helena called Clancy. My days were filled with fishing Prickly Pear Creek and wandering the pine-filled hills and mountains that surrounded our home. My kid brother Kevin was 6 years younger than I and was too young to at that time to follow me on every adventure, but my faithful companion, Tippy, was always by my side.

Tippy was a black and white shepard mix with a white tip on her tail. She kept up with me on my bike and and followed closely as I walked up and down the creek that followed the highway, hitting every hole that was rich with brown and brook trout. I had friends at school, but we all lived several miles apart, so when the bus dropped me off, my afternoons were usually just me and my dog.

That Christmas Eve, I was antsy with anticipation of Christmas morning, so Dad said I could go fishing for a little while. Tippy followed like always and rarely left my sight. After a few minutes of trying to catch a fish I saw dart under a bank overhang, I suddenly realized that Tippy was not at my side.

I called her name and walked up the bank to get a view and was horrified to see Tippy laying in the middle of the highway. I ran to her, screaming her name. There was blood coming out of her neck area, but her tail was wagging, so I thought she might be okay.

I grabbed her and hugged her, crying. I was too in shock to realize that I too was in the middle of the highway. Three or four cars slowed and changed lanes to avoid me and my best friend. The next one stopped.

It was a young couple who helped me move Tippy to the side of the road. I asked the man if she was dead. He said, I'm afraid so, son. I said, but her tail is wagging. He told me it was just nerves. I didn't undertand what he meant. My tears blurred my vision and it all seemed to horrible to be real.

Just at that moment, my mom was coming home from the beauty salon in Helena because there was a Christmas party with friends that night. She saw me and raced to my side. She picked up Tippy and got blood all over her nice dress.

Dad buried her in the back yard.

The next morning, I got the archery set and all the gifts I wanted. Non of it mattered.

The next day, December 26th, just two days after losing Tippy, we traveled to Missoula to visit my Aunt, uncle and cousins. We had a nice visit and spent the night. The next morning, we packed up and headed home. But we didn't go directly home. I thought we were stopping for gas or something, but it was the humane society!

Mom and dad said I could pick out any dog I wanted. It didn't take long before I saw her...a shepard mix just like Tippy...black and white with a tip on the tail! Mom suggested the name "Tippy-Two" and so it was.

Tippy-Two roamed the mountians of Montana with me her whole life.

Over the years, many canine best friends have come and gone, and it seems the older I get the smaller the dogs get! After losing our second of two dachshunds to old age earlier this year, we were down to just Libby, our 8 year old chihuahua. Here she is, making sure that the mean Bumble never bothers us again!


This Christmas, we are excited to welcome little Lucy (chihuahua) to our family though Libby is not quite as thrilled as we are just yet!

Steve Woods
Steve Woods

Yes, it was a great Christmas with a new puppy, and while mostly happy thoughts of that terrible Christmas remain, I still think of Tippy every Christmas eve.

Sleep well, little girl, and I hope your Christmas this year was as wonderful as ours.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods


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