I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

“It will be easier if Trixie stays home with us,” Chip said. He’s in the final stretch of his training for the Boston Marathon, and a trip to Tenakee Springs wasn’t on his workout plan. Besides, the cabin there is my project. He is hugely helpful and generous as I take flight on a dream of mine that we don’t share equally. He has only been to Tenakee three times, I think—maybe two? And now my cabin is done.

Trixie is my dog while Jeff is everyone’s, so it made sense to bring her as I set up the little vacation home.

She’s charming, but has some issues.

She’s afraid of the coats in the mud room and greets friends and family with leaps. She has never left home and never been on her own without another dog. Still, it’s the first time I’ve been able to stay in the cabin and my dog should be there with me.

My daughters said it’s best not to add the complication on this trip. Wait until next time when I don’t have as much stuff. Walking before the trip, Beth looked at Trixie rolling in the mud and said, “It will be harder.” Debra said, “That would leave one dog home with Chip, right? I think it will be good for everyone, all four creatures, to have a new experience. You’ll figure it out. Take Trixie.”

So I did.

All the stuff for the house had to be loaded and unloaded onto the ferry baggage cart in Juneau and Tenakee (I took a truck on the ferry from Haines to Juneau, but there are no cars allowed in Tenakee. It all had to be unpacked and restaged for the second ferry.) We left Haines on a snowy afternoon, arrived in Juneau at about 8:00, spent the night with my daughter, and departed on the seven AM ferry for Tenakee.

We arrived at the terminal at 5:30, since I was a little anxious. So was Trixie. Funny how that works.

I was worried about walking her down the long steel ramp onto the ferry car deck. I envisioned tugging, shoving, crying, barking. Slipping her collar and diving into Auke Bay. Jumping in to save her. The ferry leaving while the EMTs revive us. Or worse. I still could call my son-in-law’s father. Jim could come and get her.

Turns out she was cautiously optimistic about the ride, and walked onto the car deck and into the kennel in the “pet room” on the M/V Hubbard with barely a nudge.

Five hours later when I sprung her from the kennel in Tenakee, she waited while I clipped the leash and walked right up the ramp like a pro. I handed the leash to a friend she’d never met while I unloaded the baggage cart.

Sometimes things really do turn out fine.

She trotted tail-up to the harbor and back with me before we set to work unpacking.

The next day I tied her leash to the lawn chair in front of the store when I went in. Trixie never runs away but she likes being attached to the leash and me, and I figured that would signal that I’d be right back.

I saw a flash of white as the chair bounced down the trail. I yelled and whistled but she was gone—Out of sight. I wasn’t sure which way they went. I trotted over to the cabin thinking she probably ran home, but she wasn’t anywhere. I sprinted the other way, back past the store, bath, the café, the fire hall—no Trixie- but a nice young man I since have met at a party, said, “Is your dog a runner? I just saw her up at the school dragging a chair.” The school? That’s way out of her range— I went that way, calling, pleading—but no Trixie. I ran back to the cabin again– (have I mentioned it was raining and I was in rubber boots?) still no Trixie—I didn’t want to cry and I didn’t want to worry that she had hanged herself falling off a dock or wrapping the leash around a tree. I jogged back to the store hoping for help, but it was closed for the day. (My groceries where in the wagon with a Baggie of change.) I was about to call someone — when I heard a whimper in the bushes behind a utility box.There she was. Quivering, muddy, still tied to a broken plastic lawn chair that wasn’t white anymore.

Luckily she let me give her a bath, because the next day she was a celebrity.  (Although she still granted the chair of shame a wide berth. I will bring a new one the next time I come out.)

The weather improved and it was glorious inside and out. We took long walks and did laundry.

There are only about 40 people in town this time of year, and I think almost all of them had heard the Trixie and chair story. As I formally introduced her they’d say, “Is that the dog with the chair?” Or “How’s she feeling?” or they’d smile and nod knowingly. The only other question was “So, is your husband coming out?” I have a feeling some of them wondered if I had a husband. I mean, I did have a housewarming party without him.

A few days later Chip flew out to surprise us and we all rode the ferry home.

I wish I could hear what Trixie is telling her buddy Jeff about her adventure– I saw a deer and a whale, met some new friends, and got to sleep on the bed. The only downside is that the Tenakee chairs are very aggressive. Especially the one by the store.