When you think of local celebrities, you may picture the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas, actress Amy Adams, or rock band the Fray. But one celebrity eclipses them all by a landslide in terms of fanatical popularity.
With slightly over one million followers, Loki the Wolf Dog has become an Instagram sensation with his rich white-gray coat, signature blue-steel gaze and crazy poses. He and his owner, Kelly Lund, are known for their picturesque adventures, whether it's snowboarding down a mountain while Loki runs alongside Lund or camping in one of Lund's hidden spots. Lund got Loki three and a half years ago and created the Instagram account after his friends wouldn't stop making fun of him for posting so many dog photos on his own feed.
We caught up with Lund to talk Colorado, the outdoors and living la vida Loki.
Westword: When and why did you move to Colorado?
Kelly Lund: I moved here in 2007 to attend Colorado Christian University. I’m from a place in northern California called Crescent City, between the redwood forest and the ocean. It’s a town of just 7,000 people, so there’s not much to do, but the scenery is incredible. While I love where I’m from, Colorado has more opportunities to get involved in the outdoor industry. I work for the City of Denver as their outdoor recreation coordinator, running programs to get kids active and outside. Loki comes to the office with me sometimes.
How has having an Insta-famous pet changed your life?
It feels a little surreal. Honestly, I try to let the attention go in one ear and out the other and not let it get to my head. Unlike Loki, if I don't watch myself, it could give me a big head. Overall, I am very thankful for the opportunities it's given me: traveling, meeting people and perhaps making it a full-time gig someday.
What about the Instagram feed do you think connects with people?
I think many people connect with it because most all of us who have pets understand how invaluable they are. I hope we are inspiring people to get out and make memories with our animals. I hope to help raise the standards in how we treat our pets and remind people to bring them along for the adventure. People value that consistent connection we have; they are always faithful, even if other relationships come and go.
When you’re in town, what are some of your hangouts?
To be perfectly honest, I’m a bit of a hermit, because it’s like managing two full-time jobs. I like working on my house and traveling (we’re gone about two weekends a month somewhere within driving distance of Colorado). I love doughnuts and Little Man Ice Cream. Loki gets a lick or two. I’m not a beer person, but we used to hang out at Denver Beer Co. a lot since they were so dog-friendly. Unfortunately, that changed a few months ago when the health department began classifying beer as food and cracking down on the local breweries.
Where do you go to get outside?
Our go-to is Green Mountain, which overlooks the whole metro area. When we’re really getting out of the city, we spend a lot of time in Genesee Park. We love camping down Interstate 285, but I won’t tell you the exact spot. I just wrote a post about not geo-tagging your locations on social media. Just north of my home town in California, there’s a place we used to call our secret spot that blew up on Instagram, and now there are signs everywhere limiting its usage, which is sad. When we go out into the wilderness, I want to be able to camp freely without abandon.
Does Loki get recognized when you're out and about?
We hiked a mountain outside Silverthorne last weekend, and one of the four people we saw stopped us, but we try to go places where there isn’t a whole lot of foot traffic. Sometimes people also notice my white pickup; it’s become a bit iconic, too.
Where do you still want to explore?
There are plenty of places I want to check out — Lost Creek and Buffalo Creek being two. Basically anywhere I won't see another soul and we won’t bother anyone. We’ve only done one fourteener together, and with 2,000 other people on the trail, it was just too much. I want to encourage people to hike thirteeners, because they’re just as challenging and you’ll have the route all to yourselves.
How do you find these “secret” places?
Just roaming, looking at maps, researching wilderness areas and talking to people who live in the area. One of the best places I’ve ever found was because I went into the ranger station and asked. He drew me Xs on the map, like a treasure hunt. It took 25 miles of scouring dirt roads to find, but that campsite was sacred.
Tell me about you – the man behind the dog. What were you doing before all this blew up?
I was doing a lot more international trips before Loki (I won’t fly with him). I bought a house in Lakewood four to five years ago that was in foreclosure, and I love working on that. I built the garage all by myself. I love to scuba dive, and was working on getting my skydiving license. Before Loki I actually had another dog named Kayuh that I took backpacking and camping. Exploring’s always kinda been my thing.
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How’d you come up with the name Shark Toof for your Instagram handle?
I was at a wedding in Bakersfield, California, years ago when my buddy was first telling me about Instagram. We stopped at this 7-Eleven, and it said "Shark Toof" on the bathroom wall. I thought it was hilarious. Completely unrelated at the time, I was thinking about starting a poop blog. That didn’t work out, but it did come full circle, since the name came from a bathroom. There’s also a famous street artist with the same name, so people accidentally tag me in his photos all the time.