... and our dogs
The Dogs, front to back: Bobo, Chase, Tupelo and Dawson
Jerry Black is a retired Northwest Airlines pilot and Marian Palaia is currently a program coordinator with the Office for Civic Engagement at the University of Montana. We are both animal lovers, though Jerry (being retired) has a little more time to advocate on their behalf, and is not shy about doing so. After we were introduced last winter by mutual friend Susan Waite, we quickly settled into a Sunday morning dog hiking routine with Jerry’s three dogs, Dawson, Bo Bo and Chase (he also has two cats, two kids and a grandson), and Marian’s dog Tupelo (no other animals or offspring, by design). Last February, Jerry returned from a tracking course in the Swan, having made the startling and intriguing discovery that not only does moose poop burn quite a lot like incense, it actually smells good when it burns. Like willow, or sweetgrass, or dogwood. After about a ten-minute business-planning session/hike in the North Hills, Moose-Cense was born. Jerry originally wanted to box up the poop in clear plastic containers, but Marian, with absolutely no prior knowledge of marketing, design, or anything even remotely related, commandeered the role of artistic director. The result, which has been a process of experimentation and discovery, is what you will find on this site. Pretty soon we are going to be selling t-shirts, caps, coffee mugs and bags. For the systems, we will make every effort to continue using sustainable or found materials, and fashioning as much of our product ourselves as we can manage. In other words, neither of us is the least bit interested in mass production, or going all Beanie Baby with this shit. It is not an exact science, so the only promise we can make is that we will try our best. We will also be donating a portion of our profits (in the event we actually start making some of those) to Northwest Connections, whose tracking course was the catalyst for this venture. We are open to suggestion and collaboration, and would love to ultimately have as close to a totally made in Montana product as possible. We also want to keep it fun and uncomplicated, as it has been (mostly) up to now, which is not to say it has been easy and worry-free, but what the heck is? We are also looking into a small business loan to buy our own moose, but then we will need a place to keep it. Once we have a place big enough to keep a moose, we will probably need to get some more dogs. Stay tuned.