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Purple Pups: Grizzly Ham

ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — Grizzly doesn't last long before falling asleep on the floor during Vikings games.

To be fair, the 9-year-old Siberian Husky is more excited by C.J. Ham's arrival at home than by a big play on the television.

"He lays here; I don't know if he's watching," Ham joked during the offseason. "He's usually sleeping in about five minutes, dreaming and howling in his sleep. I definitely don't dress him up [in a jersey]. He doesn't like things on him; he'd probably rip it off right away."

Ham gestured toward Grizzly, once again snoozing near the fullback's feet.

"We got him when he was a puppy; he's a family dog," Ham explained. "He's been around for a long time. When he was younger, he was kind of just like any other Siberian Husky – running around, tearing stuff up, getting into things. But definitely as he's gotten older, he's mellowed out, very chill. He loves to just hang out and chew on his bone."

Grizzly lives up to his name, though his coloring is black-and-white. He lumbers on large paws and wears a thick, fluffy coat.

Ham said Grizzly was the biggest one in the litter nine years ago, and the name suited him early on.

Grizzly was Ham's first child, but he and his wife, Stephanie, now have two daughters: Skylar and Stella. The girls don't hold back from loving – sometimes roughly, as little ones can do – on Grizzly, and he doesn't resist.

"He does a great job [with the kids]. When Stella was born (November 2018), wherever she went, he'd go," Ham said. "He'd lay right next to her. He is very protective of Skylar and Stella, and it's really cool to see that."

Added Ham: "He just loves people. He loves attention."

Ham joked that Grizzly may like people a little too much sometimes. And being a Siberian Husky, he doesn't bark but instead "talks" and howls.

"Any other dog, you walk up to the door, and they're going to bark and make noise. He will literally just stare you to death," Ham laughed. "So when it comes to a guard dog, he's probably not going to do anything, but they love to howl. They howl all the time. Whenever they want something, they howl. They want to go outside, they howl. And it gets pretty loud."

Being outdoors is among Grizzly's favorite activities, especially during cold weather. Fortunately for him, the Hams live in Minnesota.

Ham, a Duluth native, called winter "this dude's favorite time of year" and said that even during the harshest of cold snaps, Grizzly begs to be let out of the house.

"I mean, when it was minus-20 degrees outside, he was scratching at the door to go outside and lay in his bed on the porch. I'm thinking, you know, 'Somebody's going to call animal control on me – you can't have your dog outside for longer than 30 minutes … in sub-zero weather,' " Ham laughed. "But he loves it, he loves being outside. Especially when the snow's out, he loves to just run and jump in the snow."

Ham took the crew to a nearby park, where Grizzly perked up and barreled toward a softball field blanketed in white.

"C'mon, Grizz!" Ham called, slapping his thigh and setting into a jog.

Grizzly was mostly able to stay atop the icy crust, his feet punching through the snow a few times as he ran alongside his owner.

Ham recalled the puppy days, when he would take Grizzly to an open field in Duluth to burn off some energy.

"When he was young, he'd just run for days. You could see the joy," Ham said. "The dude is like a gazelle when it comes to running."

He noted, chuckling, that Grizzly never properly learned how to play fetch.

"He'd chase the ball but never bring it back," Ham said.

Even at 9 years old, Grizzly occasionally gets into mischief if given the opportunity.

Ham called Grizzly's intuitiveness a "sixth sense," saying he always seems to know if the family plans to be out of the house for a longer period of time.

"He knows that we're not coming back [soon], so he'll start jumping on the furniture or things like that," Ham said. "Last time we had gone out of town and hired somebody to dog-sit for us, we were gone for maybe three hours, and they had come in, gone into our room and saw all the feathers in our down comforter were gone. They were all over the bed.

"He knows we're not coming back and kind of does what he wants," Ham added.

Grizzly may test his owners' patience from time to time, but he's definitely a part of the family and returns all of the affection he receives.

"They're truly a man's best friend. They listen to you, they follow you around," Ham said. "It's just nice to have somebody you can be with that isn't necessarily going to talk to you but still be your companion, to be next to you."