Snyder: Boris, A Dog Of Pajarito Canyon

Peggy and Dotty Pond with the family dogs, Boris and Boy, at the Pajarito Club, c. 1915. Courtesy/LAHS Archive

Los Alamos Historical Society

When I was researching the life of Peggy Pond Church to write her biography, I came across a puzzling photograph. Peggy and her sister, Dotty, were playing in Pajarito Canyon with their dogs, and clearly one of the dogs was a Russian Wolfhound. The photograph was taken between 1914 and 1916 when the Pond family lived in the canyon at the Pajarito Club. I wondered how Boris, a rare breed for that timeframe, happened to be living as a family pet in an obscure canyon in New Mexico.

Years later I came across a story that most certainly links to Boris and how he became the playmate of two young girls in Pajarito Canyon.

Many of you may have driven on Siringo Road in Santa Fe and wondered how the road got its name. Charlie Siringo was a character of the Old West. During his life he was a lawman, a Pinkerton detective, a bounty hunter, a rancher, and an author of several books about cowboys and adventures. He became a legend, mentioned in novels and songs of the time.

By 1914, Siringo had settled outside of Santa Fe on his Sunny Slope Ranch, a 265-acre spread two miles south of the city, but Siringo’s dog was just about as well-known as his owner. Being a Russian Wolfhound, a unique breed, Eat ‘Em Up Jake was a novelty and drew much attention from people on the streets of Santa Fe.

In his book A Lone Star Cowboy, Siringo tells the story of how he acquired the wolfhound. “Eat ‘Em Up Jake came by his name honestly,” Siringo wrote. “While on the Laramie plains in Wyoming, as a supposed outlaw, I traded a watch for this half starved, lanky Russian Wolfhound.”

An advertisement related to Jake’s offspring ran in the Santa Fe New Mexican in May of 1914. It read, “Russian Pups Popular—Charles A. Siringo, the cowboy detective and writer of detective books, who has a ranch near Santa Fe, was in the city today and was the target of requests for Russian Wolfhounds. The detective has a number of pups at his ranch and his friends are only too willing to take care of them for him.”

It is at this point that I believe Charlie Siringo crossed paths with Ashley Pond and with Los Alamos history. Ashley was in and out of Santa Fe, arranging for the materials and labor that it would take to create the Pajarito Club in Pajarito Canyon. Ashley was an outgoing and likeable figure and would certainly have met Siringo. He loved dogs, as documented by photos in later years when he bred and raised German Shepards at his post-ranch school home on East Palace Avenue. Therefore, I don’t believe that it is far-fetched to say that one of Eat ‘Em Up Jake’s offspring lived for two years in Pajarito Canyon. The dog was given a fine Russian name, Boris, and he shows up in several Pond family photographs from that time period.

Despite the known details of this story, there is still an unanswered question. What happened to Boris when the family moved to Santa Fe? There are no answers for that question in my research and no photographs of the beautiful white wolfhound after 1916.

Note: The Russian dogs were known as wolfhounds until 1936, when the name Borzoi was adopted. How Eat ‘Em Up Jake made his way to the American West, we will probably never know.