Dog Days in Haines, Alaska
Bill and Sandy from Alabama stomp on our deck at seven o’clock in the morning. Sandy places French-pressed coffee on the picnic table, as they prepare to bring us breakfast. (I thought that it was the beer talking last night).
Soon, Mare and I sit in their Mercedes RV and slurp pancakes drenched in my homemade spruce tip syrup. I worry about our first overnight guest, Jill, who may wake in the loft to find a deserted cabin in the remote…like a weird dream.
I insist on going fishing. It’s a rainy day…a “Hainey” day. Despite a disapproving glare from Mare, who went hiking up Mt. Riley with Jill (www.pacificnwseasons.blogspot.com) yesterday in the sun, while I whacked weeds, I simply have to go. So what if my dog, Alaska Jack, is going on his 5th straight day of horrible diarrhea and Haines has no veterinarian? We’ll call the closest vet, in Juneau.
“Did he eat anything out of the normal?” the Juneau Vet asks.
“Well, some duck pate and raw fish heads.” Mare hears the Vet laughing.
“I’ve never heard of that combination before,” he says. “Is there blood in his stool?”
She looks at me. “Yes, a little.”
“You’d better bring him in, the blood concerns me” he says. “It could be a blockage. The cheapest and fastest way to do this is to put him in a kennel and fly him to Juneau. We will pick him up, give treatment, and send him back.”
“Take me down to the fishin’ hole,” I say. “Drop me off, and you can show Jill around Chilkoot Lake. Pick me up on the way back and I’ll deal with Alaska Jack.”
They leave. I cast. I cast again. “Fish on!”
“I’ll go get my net,” a fellow fisherman says with a French accent.
I drag a 10 pound sockeye ashore, grab him by the gills, pull out my pixie with needle-nose pliers, and knock him out with a rock. By the time French fisherman comes with a net, I’m gutting sockeye in the stream. Then I tie an old rope around a rock, and use it as a stringer to keep sockeye fresh in the cold water, and out of scent of grizzly bears. Onlookers admire the catch. They think that I’m an expert. They should have seen Mare, Alaska Jack and I last week, chasing my first ever sockeye around on the shore, like the “Three Stooges.” Fishing is luck…pure luck.
Mare and Jack and Jill come down the hill and cannot believe the sockeye. My swollen ego barely fits into the truck cab. After another filet job, we will dine of fresh sockeye tonight…impress our guest.
No lack of good eats around here. Last night, we dined on excellent mexican food. Yes, Haines has a mexican restaurant, “Mosey’s Cantina,” www.moseyscantina.com. …but has no vet.
I simply cannot place Alaska Jack into a kennel and put him on a single prop plane to fly to Juneau and be handled by strangers. He’s been neither in a kennel nor a plane. The animal rescue center advises me that there are veterinarians in Whitehorse, Yukon, a five-hour drive. I make one more call to the Juneau vet to see if anything can give Jack some relief in the meanwhile.
“Try some Pepto-Bismal tabs and two raw egg whites,” he says. “It’s a Grandma remedy and I don’t know if it works.”
I separate raw egg yolks while sitting on the truck’s tailgate. Man, I’m filthy, but got a fish in the cooler!
The next morning we bring Jill to Hotel Halsingland www.halsingland-hotel.com for her final night’s stay in Haines. Yes, I get to drive Jack and Jill up the hill, to fetch a…hotel room.
Jack, who is on his 6th day of diarrhea, rides with me to Whitehorse, of course, where crowds celebrate “Canada Day.” The vet prescribes antibiotic and pro-biotic medication, along with a diet of white rice, after a 24-hour fasting period. Fine…time to crawl through congested traffic and stand in a long line at the liquor store.
Eventually, we find what could be the last vacant motel room in town. Jack has not started medication yet. We stroll along the Yukon River. In these parts, he is known as “Yukon Jack.” He squats along the way…amongst the strolling crowd. He pinches out a perfect Tootsie roll. I’m overjoyed. But geez…one more day, if I had waited one more day, we could have avoided this long trip. Perhaps Grandma’s remedy works.
Hold on…here comes a rent-a-cop. He holsters a portable credit card machine in place of a 9-millimeter hand gun. He fines me $200 on the spot. I don’t even try to explain why I have no doggie bags. I’m going back to our room to enjoy running water and electricity. Perhaps I’ll splurge on a hamburger and a few hundred beers tonight.