In the days before my sons came to be I still worked in the field
surveying seismic lines for the oil and gas companies. We explore
in some of the most remote areas by constructing our own temporary
roads, or lines. A 4x4 pick-up can go a long way into the back
country with a D6 cat in front of it.
I should tell you about Sam. Or Samo or Cactus Sam, they are
all the same dog. Sam was my traveling companion for some of
these field years. Sam was a great white Samoyed. To have had
an animal as gifted as him call me his was truly privileged. I could
tell you why I called him Cactus Sam but that is a different story
and, besides, he always thinks the joke is on him when I tell
To the North and East was open wilderness and it was there throughout
we traversed our lines. My job was to strike off the cats and control
the line construction; A job with zero tolerance for error as the cats
worked in pairs to cut and clean three to five kilometers of new
line per day. Sam kept company all the way unless he was off chasing
Our transportation this day was an Argo, an open topped six or
eight wheeled ATV. Ours was a six wheeled orange model. We
were traveling in to strike some line off one morning when we saw them.
As we rounded a corner in the trail we surprised a pack of wolves.
For a moment they all looked at us. There was a black one, a brown,
some greys. Eight to ten in the pack that I saw. For a moment they
looked at us with one mind and vanished into the brush at the same
time. The black is the one I remember most but what impressed
me about them was how they acted together.
That night, or perhaps the next, at the end of the day they saw us
again. The reverse was not true for we heard them this time but
saw nothing. At dusk they began to howl in the valley before us.
Such melancholy they sing. I sometimes believe their song is meant
to lull their prey into standing still to appreciate it. One begins and
another joins.... I had thought by the sound of it that they were
I took a step into the valley with Sam at my side. Something made
me turn us back after that first step and call it a day’s work. Maybe,
it was just common sense. Maybe, but I know the wolves were there,
FOOT & CHAIN