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Dog Days in Haines, Alaska

Mare on top of Mt. Riley overlooking the inlets and the town of Haines

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 ( 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.”

Ron is on FIRE!

“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.

Healthy Chile Rellenos at Mosey's Cantina

No lack of good eats around here. Last night, we dined on excellent mexican food. Yes, Haines has a mexican restaurant, “Mosey’s Cantina,”  …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 Fireweed is begining to bloom

The next morning we bring Jill to Hotel Halsingland 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.

Jack is back!

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ma & Pa #

    Jack looks soooo cute!!! Your stories are a little tragic and a lot funny!!!!
    Sockeye (by the way) at Krogers is $9.99 a pound per dad……
    What a great writer you are .. Ron…. per ma and pa .. you never cease to amaze us….
    The photos are great too .. I love the flowers!

    July 3, 2011
  2. Ellie #

    This is the best blog you have ever written! You could submit it for funniest animal stories. Glad Jack is doing better regardless if it was Grandma’s rememdy or the antibiotics. But about his meal – duck pate and fish heads? Took some real creativity to come up with combination. Miss you guys.


    July 3, 2011
    • Thanks for your kind words, Ellie. Jack scrounged the fish heads left in our woods by some fisherman. The duck pate, well, I gave him a few bites…You guys will have to come up here to get some fish. Ron

      July 4, 2011
  3. Ellie #

    Oh and how about sending some of that fresh salmon our way?

    July 3, 2011
  4. Glenn Earl #

    Great story. Don’t think Lill would like Haines. Reminds me of growing up on the farm, but no sheep or pet chickens.

    July 4, 2011
    • Yes, outhouses and no running water or electricity…those farmers know all about it! They do have full services and hotels in town…a few anyway. Ron

      July 4, 2011
  5. Thanks Ma and Pa! Kroger sockeye doesn’t flop on the shore though. Jack says hello. Ron

    July 4, 2011
  6. Dusty #

    Looks like you guys are having a good time. You ready to relocate? 16yrs and I’m not done finding new places.

    July 4, 2011
    • Hey Dusty, we feel like we could live here…but haven’t done a winter yet. There is something new around every turn. You should blog…it’s easy and everybody has a story to tell! Ron

      July 4, 2011
  7. Dusty #

    I’ve thought about starting a blog about my adventures here. I like what you are doing. Maybe someday I will write a book.

    July 4, 2011
  8. Bob K #

    $200 bucks!
    Sounds like a bunch of crap to me 🙂

    July 7, 2011
  9. Holly #

    Lovin’ the blog articles. What an amazing Alaskan journey! Alaskan/Yukon Jack is one tough cookie, just like his family. Ron, your writing is fantastic and Marilynn, the pictures have never been more spectacular. Can’t wait to sit and have a beer!

    July 11, 2011
    • Thanks for your kind words, Holly. We may never come back! Ron

      July 12, 2011
    • Marilynn Windust #

      You may need to come to AK Holly as we are looking into winter jobs now!

      July 18, 2011
  10. bob deck #

    wow ron,who told where and how to fish for sockeye,Bob at chilkoot

    July 21, 2011
    • Let me think…some guy named Bob Deck, and then another guy named Richard…I miss both of you jokers! Ron

      July 21, 2011

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