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Ode to Chip


CHIP, PICH, BOY, CHIPPER, CHIPPY, our dog, our guardian, our friend, our shadow, may you rest in peace boy…

Chip was a unique dog. His first year of life was a difficult one that left a mark on his personality. Gary was cautioned by friends not to take him that he was a mess, but there was some kind of connection there that bonded them. I think at the time they really needed each other.  He was a  nervous dog with a major separation anxiety problem but the more Gary loved and took care of him the more normal he became.

I met Chip about 3 or 4 years before Gary and I started dating. At a party one summer in Jackson Hole. I remember him pacing between rooms checking on Gary. I tried to pet him but he wouldn’t have it. Only Gary could touch him. I remember thinking “that dog is crazy”. Then a few years later I got to know Gary and his dog Chip. Chip got used to me right away and with a few years of maturity he accepted me as part of his “pack”.

Chip never got over his separation anxiety. He followed Gary everywhere right on his heals all the time. On our wedding day as we were taking our vows Chip made his statement by breaking free of the leash he was on and running down the aisle so he could stand by Gary. I will never forget that. So endearing and such a tribute to his loyalty to Gary.

My parents have been Saints for watching over him while we have gone on various trips. Dealing with his sensitive stomach and such. Over time they were the only ones that could take him as he got used to their house and the routine of staying with them.

When we brought Ellie home Chip showed mild interest in her sniffing and checking out the wiggly bundle. Both Adah and Chip accepted her right away too. Never acting out as she crawled on them, poked at them, pulled their hair. Most old dogs that have had the history of Chip’s first year don’t tolerate children but he never made me nervous around her. If he didn’t like it he would move to the next room or look to me or Gary to help him out. Even on the last good day he had he tolerated Ellie yelling in his face and chasing him around the room. He didn’t feel good and any other old sick dog would have snarled at the innocent playfulness of a child, but he just got up and looked at me for help. He loved us and we loved him.

I haven’t known Gary with out Chip. He has been with us through it all. There is definitely a missing piece now and an emptiness to our wee house. I’m glad I took the time Thanksgiving morning to brush him out before Gary took him to the vet. It was my way of thanking him for watching over Gary when I wasn’t there and keeping him company, thanking him for being such a good dog for Ellie to experience as her first relationship with a dog, and thanking him for loving me too and letting me into his insecure little world.

Many friends and family have responded to the news of Chip passing through phone calls and comments on facebook and skibumpoet. Thank you for all the love and support. I wanted to share some of the comments…

Todd McGowan Lewis

Having become friends with Chip when you first got him, and to have witnessed and been inspired by your nurturing and caring of him, to have seen the trust he had in you right from the start, seeing his enjoyment floating down the snake river with us, still a little skidish yet having a seeming sense of contentment and recognition of a newer betterSee More life with you, and to have seen him years later a totally changed and happy Chip, I recognize the depth of the relationship you had with him. A very hard loss. A very good life. Our condolences Gary. We will miss you Chip.

Patrick Mack I wish someone had given Jesus a dog. As loyal and loving as mine. To sleep by His manger and gaze in His eyes And adore Him for being divine. As our Lord grew to manhood His faithful dog Would have followed Him all through the day. While He preached to the crowds and made the sick well And knelt in the garden to pray. It is sad to remember that Christ went away To face death alone and apart. With no tender dog following close behind, To comfort its Master’s Heart. And when Jesus rose on that Easter morn, How happy He would have been, As His dog kissed His hand and barked it’s delight, For The One who died for all men. Well, the Lord has a dog now, I just sent Him mine, The old pal so dear to me. And I smile through my tears on this first day alone, Knowing they’re in eternity. Day after day, the whole day through, Wherever my road inclined, Four feet said, “Wait, I’m coming with you!”
And trotted along behind. – Rudyard Kipling

Gary, Chip passed on Thanksgiving Day as a message to you. What more beautiful way to express his thankfulness to you for the life you gave him. Chip was a sweet and gentle soul, who we all loved. I am so glad you had each other in these past years. You will miss him, but you also have great memories of him. I cannot think of a better shadow then Chip.

Love Mom

On Thanksgiving Day this year we were thankful to have had 10 good years with Chip.


  1. Taralyn

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Chip. He seemed like an amazing dog, and it was always fun to see him whenever we got to see you guys. My thoughts are definitely with you guys.

  2. Jacob Brochhagen

    Dear Gary and Danette,

    It is only now that I read about the passing of our dear old friend Chip, and as I sit here recalling so many memories of him I can’t help but smile. I remember when Cree showed up at Mellow Yellow with what I thought had to be the craziest dog in the Western Hemisphere. Only a person like you Gary would have a heart big enough to take what we all thought would be a disaster waiting to happen into your home, and show him the patience and love that finally brought him out of his shell and into the world that the rest of us inhabited. There are so many memories of Chip, and practically none of them are dull ones. I remember the day when you felt comfortable enough to bring him down to the cabins. At some point he must have thought that you had left, because he took off in search of you. He wasn’t out of our sight for more than a few minutes before we realized that he was gone and began to search frantically for him. once we came to the conclusion that he was nowhere around the cabins, either you or Watson (or both of you) decided to take the search mobile. Someone had the idea that he may have found his way back to your house, and to our amazement, he had. I also recall the day of your wedding day when I was given the simple task of holding Chip and Adah’s leash during the service. Even though we were a mere 20 feet away from the two of you, with an unobstructed view, Chip decided that that was simply not going to do. About one minute into the service, he took one look at me, looked over at you, and without so much as a seconds hesitation, expertly ducked out of his collar and went to stand by your side. I am completely convinced that he played a vital role in teaching Shore how a good dog should act, and I would like to think that he carries a little piece of Chips legacy on. So here is to Chip, who went from one of the craziest dogs I have ever known, to one of the best. He’ll be missed, even from afar.

    Love you guys,


  3. Jake, I was trying to get in touch with everyone who knew Chip well, to let them know the news, so sorry you had to find out on your own over the web. It was a really nice letter you wrote, and it makes us feel really good.

    For the story re: the cabins. Actually, KC Spiro took him that day b/c I was busy at home working on a very early version of GravityFed. They were gone about an hour when I saw Chip come running across the yard from the living room window. I thought to myself, “hmmm, must be they are back”. When I opened the door to let Chip in, though…there was no KC 😉 Likely before you guys even decided to come back to Buttonwood to check (this was before cell phones were everywhere), he had run all the way home (v-lined) and even crossed 9400 South at one point between Wasatch Blvd and our house near Smiths! About 15 minutes later poor KC showed up in a panic to see Chip sitting there next to me..haha. I was always curious, so I checked the mileage from the cabins to our house.. and it was 4 miles. So he ran 4 miles and crossed a very busy road knowing exactly where he had to go to get back to me. Crazy.

    I remember the times we all had at the Dolores River when we care took the Entrada Wilderness Ranch that one summer. I crack up to this day when I think of Shore trying to swim across and his ass end slowly sinking while he drifted down stream with the current 🙂 Our dogs sure loved that summer and 3 weeks Shore stayed with us.

    And at our wedding, that worried me a bit because I didn’t think he was going to go back in the collar…so I was sort of ready for him to sit there next to us during the whole ceremony!

    Anyways, thanks again for the letter it means a lot. Miss you guys so hope to hang out this winter…if you’re coming out for some Pow.

    G & D

  4. Leslie

    Such a nice post Danette. I love hearing stories! He really was a special dog.

  5. Mom

    Danette, that was a beautiful tribute to Chip. Chip was lucky to have you as the mama of the house. As I was reading about your first introduction to Chip, I thought of mine. Gary and Chip came across country for a family vacation at the ocean. Gary had gone on a bike ride and left Chip with us. I went to check on him in Gary’s bedroom and Chip asked me (politely) to please leave until his master came home:) Once he realized we were okay people (well in his eyes) and his master wasn’t leaving him, he took to the ocean and swam his heart out. What a dog! Thanks to Paul and Sherrie for their loving care. Thanks to Ellie, Chip will always have the nickname Pich. And Thanks to you Danette for this wonderful tribute and I am sure Chip is pretty proud of it too.

  6. grandma mckenney


  7. Charie

    That made me cry to read what you wrote about Chip and then to read Grandma McKenny’s comment about your dad crying. Thinking of you guys because I know that because he was a family member the holidays are a time to remember the past with him. Love you guys!

  8. Sarah

    Awww, what a lovely tribute to Chip. It really takes me back to the good times in Utah. Now I have a little rescue dog with a few definite quirks, but also a heart of gold. When I first met him, he immediately reminded me of Chip.


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