The Salish Wool Dog

Art by me, Kelsey Ehler. Use with permission.

It is a fact that the Coast Salish people weave some kickin’ rad wool textiles, but you might wonder how they developed the art without any sheep around. The answer to this, along with a number of life’s problems, is ‘dogs’. In this case, the Salish Wool Dog, a spitz-like dog that was kicking around the area well before white guys came sailing by.

How this would work: take an adorable little woolly puppy. Keep it away from those bad boy hunting dogs from across the way, preferably by keeping it in your house or on an island with its kin and away from the riffraff. Feed it all the salmon – raw, or cooked. (That shit’s good for your skin, hair, fur, wool – whatever you may have.) Do this all right, and you’ll have a dog covered with a soft white cloud, which you can then proceed to sheer with a mussel shell knife. Keep it pure, or mix it with other fibers (goat hair, plants, feathers) to taste, and voila! It’s Loom Time. Make yourself a blanket, and friend, you’ve got yourself some portable wealth.

Unfortunately, the Salish Wool Dog is now extinct, on account of the continent being flooded with cheap, machine-woven sheep’s wool blanket come the Industrial Revolution. Also, which is cheaper to keep: a sheep munching on foliage, or a dog which demands nothing but the finest of salmon to maintain its glorious coat? But hey, we could always use poodles if we want to get all traditional again.

Source: ‘Coast Salish Woolly Dogs’, by Russel Barsh.

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