From time-to-time the COA. sponsors fun contests for its members. Results of the contests and the winning entries can be found here.

Chinook National Specialty Winners

Follow this link to view past Chinook Specialty winners.

2009 Calendar Contest

Follow this link to view the winning photos of the 2009 calendar contest.

1999 Best Chinook Story Contest

Hosted by the COA-L

Our first contest was held on the COA-L, a list service for our membership. There were three categories: Funniest story; Most Unique story; and Best All Around story. The stories could be fact or fiction but had to be Chinook related. The contest started on April 25, 1999 and ended three weeks later. There were 10 entries and all were quite good. The independent judges were Jim and Cathy Gretch. Jim is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Great Falls (Montana) and Cathy is an editorial assistant at the Great Falls Tribune. The stories which follow will also be published in the Chinook Quarterly, our quarterly newsletter. The winning stories follow:

The winner for Most Unique Story: "The Ugly Chinook." by Eve A. Knowles

Eve Knowles with her dogs

Eve Knowles with her Black Lab
Indy and their friend Red.

There once was a kind-hearted and lovely- dispositioned puppy who was always ready for a good time. She lived with a person and several other animals and she loved her family immensely, but sometimes she was lonely being the only dog. One day her human took her to meet some new friends and joy of joys - they were dogs, too. Her new companions were a lively, rough-and-tumble crowd; they nipped her neck and bowled her over and barked at her and swept her along in the surge of their enthusiasm. What great fun it was!

But the little pup couldn't help but notice that she looked a lot different than her friends. They were a tawny color (except for one older red dog who took her under his paw) and most of them had black masks, but she was black all over. They had longer snouts while hers was blunt and boxy. They had ears that stood or folded somewhat and hers were flopped right over. Their tails curved upwards a bit while hers stuck straight out and wagged side-to-side. She thought her friends were beautiful and wanted to look just like them - but she didn't.

When they ran through the woods, she was almost as fast. When they all pulled the sled, she was almost as strong. When they all sang their song, hers was almost as sweet. The pup thought to herself, "I'm the ugliest Chinook that ever there was". Not that her friends treated her any differently, but she wished she were like them.

One day the black pup and her friends were galloping down the trails when they came to a pond. They were warm from running and that water looked fine. Everyone splashed in. The Chinooks swam well, but the black pup was in her element. She swam after sticks, she glided with ease and not even a toe broke the glassy surface. For a few minutes, she was happy. When they came out of the pond and shook off, she flopped down next to her protector, Red.

"I'm definitely a swimming dog," she said, "but I'm still a terrible Chinook." "That's because you're not a Chinook at all," replied the wise older dog, "you're a Labrador Retriever." The little pup sighed, then said, "If I tried really hard, could I grow up to be just like you?" Red slowly shook his head. "You'll never look like me, but if you keep your sweet temperament and your loyal nature, if you love and protect your family at all costs, if you sing your own song but make it harmonize with others, and if you throw yourself into life like it was the Iditarod, you'll have the Chinook spirit. Then you can be an honorary Chinook." With that, the little black pup was content.

The winner for Funniest Story: "The Gopher Meets a Chinook. With Apologies to Thornton W. Burgess" by Marne Lindhorst

Marne & Corine with Dogs

Marne &a Corine Lindhorst with their
dogs, Phoenix (left) and Bannack (right)

Round Mr. Sun smiled happily down as the merry western breezes blew across the High Plains. They blew hither and yon and finally found the Gopher family as they sat down to their mid-day meal. "Aha!" said the merry breezes, "We knew we'd find someone if we looked long enough. Is the Gopher family having a picnic? Are there goodies that they will share with us?" For you see, the breezes were merry but perpetually hungry, for they had no tummies to fill. Poor breezes! Papa Gopher felt the merry breezes and smiled, for he knew that anywhere the Western wind blew was a place blessed by Mother Nature. "Mama," he said, "Mama Gopher, where are you and where is my lunch? I am fearfully hungry and feel like I could eat a barrel of roots all by myself."

"Patience Papa!" said Mama Gopher, "We will have lunch just as soon as little Gary Gopher comes home from school." You may not think it but little gophers have to go to school too, for they must learn to avoid hawks and BB guns and that most feared creature, the dog. Just then, little Gary Gopher came running up to the family picnic. "What's for eats? I'm starving!" he said. Mama Gopher said,

"Tsk, tsk, little Gary. Where are your manners? Have you licked your paws clean before eating?" "No, Mama." said little Gary, contritely, and began licking his paws. "What did you learn in school today, Gary?" asked Papa Gopher, for he liked to stay involved his his children's education. "We learned about dogs, Papa, and how they like to eat us gophers. They're so big and mean and have so many sharp teeth. It was scary!"

Papa Gopher nodded sagely in agreement and said, "Shall I tell you a story of a dog and how he didn't eat me, even though he had the chance?" "Oh yes! Please do!" chorused both Mama and Gary Gopher, for they loved a good story with their picnics. "It was back when I was just a youngling with barely enough sense to hide from a hawk. One day I was roaming not far from our back entrance and I looked up and saw a big yellow dog standing right over me!"

"Oh no!" said Mama and Gary. "Whatever did you do?" "Well," said Papa, "I did the only thing I could do. The dog was between me and our hole so I dove under a large pile of nearby wood. The dog saw where I went so he started to dig at the wood pile. I thought sure I was a dead duck." "I thought we were gophers, Papa." said little Gary Gopher, for he was quick on the uptake and knew the difference between a duck and a Richardson Ground Squirrel, which is what gophers are called by humans. "My!" said Papa. "You are quick on the uptake, little Gary.

Well, there I was cowering under that wood pile and pretty soon a human came up. The next thing I know he lifted all the wood off me so the dog could get at me." "Ohmigosh, Papa!" said little Gary. "Did he eat you?" "No, indeed." said Papa, "Though I was sure he was going to. When that human got the last piece of wood off me I was totally exposed and trapped between the dog and the human. I started saying my prayers for I knew that surely I was about to become someone's dinner." Papa Gopher paused, took a sip of tea and wiped his lips, for gophers are very fastidious about their table manners. "And then what happened?" asked little Gary. "There I was," said Papa Gopher, "a big yellow dog on one side of me, a human on the other and nowhere to run. The next thing I knew, that dog reached down at me with his mouth..." "Oh no!" said Mama Gopher, who had never heard this story before. "Oh, yes." returned Papa Gopher. "I saw those huge fangs coming at me and then... and then..."

"Yes? And then?" asked little Gary and Mama Gopher in unison. "And then, he kissed me!" "He what?" "He opened his mouth full of those big white teeth," said Papa Gopher, "and his tongue came out and he gave me a big kiss." "I don't believe it!" said Mama Gopher. Little Gary Gopher just shook his head. This flew in the face of everything Miss Teacher Gopher had taught her students about dogs. "And then what happened, Papa?" "Well, that dog picked me up in his mouth and it was big and warm and wet. And then he brought me over to the human and dropped me at his feet."

Mama and little Gary were hanging on every word. Papa Gopher knew how to keep them interested. "I just stood there on the ground," Papa continued, "and I looked up at that dog and wondered why I was still alive. Then I noticed that I was close to a hole so I ducked down it lickity split and breathed a giant sigh of relief." "Gee, Papa," asked little Gary, "are all dogs that friendly?" "No indeed, Gary," chuckled Papa, who knew better. "Most dogs would have snapped me in half like a twig. However, this dog was a Chinook, and they are apparently blessed by Mother Nature with a kind and amiable disposition. If it had been any other dog in the world... well, I hate to think about it!" "Us too!" echoed both Mama and Gary Gopher.

Then the Gopher family said grace before they ate their noon meal. And little Gary Gopher quietly said a special prayer for the Chinook dog that had kissed his father instead of eating him and secretly wished that all dogs were as nice as Chinooks.

The winner for Best Overall Story: "Would you be my neighbor?" by Jessica Maurer

Jessica and her team

Jessica Maurer driving a WoodsRunner
team with Katahdin in the team (rear
right dog). This is how she got hooked!

I walked Gubby every night around my neighborhood. Gubby, a Shepard/Samoyed cross, is now very old, but she remembers those walks. We always went around the block a certain way. One spring night, we went in a new direction. Just as I was passing a four foot stockade fence, the first head popped up, then, the next, then, the next. In a matter of seconds, I was staring at five beautiful dog heads, all eyes staring back at me. No one made a sound. We continued our walk.

I found myself taking this new route often, lingering by the fence of beautiful heads, hoping to find a human outside. Finally, when my persistence paid off, I met Connie Jones and was introduced to my first Chinooks. We talked over her backyard fence, getting to know each other. I learned about Chinooks and their history. Over the next year, I visited often, always talking over the fence. I met Bob and learned the dog's names and personalities. We talked about politics, flowers and food. We became friends. After I met Penthea, we all talked over the fence. Then, the puppies came.

Bob said, "come by sometime without Gubby and see the puppies." How could we resist? When the puppies were in the backyard, we'd come by and hold them over the fence. Then came the big question, "would you be interested in this puppy?". How could we resist?

We brought Katahdin home, never knowing this single act would open the door to a whole new community of friends and range of activities. Lest you be fooled, Penthea and I already had enough friends and activities to keep us busy for years. We were, however, craving a community where people could rely on one another, where common interests brought us together and where diversity could thrive. Connie and Bob and their Chinooks offered us such a community.

The Jones invited us sledding at the Gill's. We went, making new friends and taking our first sled ride. We were invited to a winter carnival where I learned to skijor. We were invited to puppy classes, fairs and on walks. We were invited to attend the birth of a litter, where we aided in the birth of several puppies.

Our community grew, and so did our household. With the first bite of the Chinook bug, came Rangeley. With sledding fever, came Tangles, our Siberian trail guide, Cheena, Baxter and Allagash. From our neighbors, we learned about showing, obedience training and dog house construction. We learned to be patient, strong and constant leaders. We learned about teamwork and how to teach what we’d learned to others.

My neighbors aren’t your average dog breeders. They are people who have learned to build community through dogs. I feel blessed to have walked down Whitney Avenue in Portland, Maine one spring night and to have met these neighbors. On that night, I found some amazing dogs, two loyal friends and a community which spans a continent.