Smile and say “thank you”

Please forgive the lack of productivity on here for the past few months. As always, I do have a fairly good excuse.

Most of those of you who read this, do so because you have an interest in us, our dogs, sled dogs generally, or life in Alaska and will probably be aware of the events here in Willow last June. If for some reason, you don’t know, then in a nutshell, there was a bit of a fire.

Actually, it was quite a big fire, and ended up consuming around 7,500 acres, 55 homes and quite a few other structures. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but we were in the path of the fire and had to evacuate all our dogs with practically no advance warning. Things were slightly more complicated because my wife was back in the UK, so I was dealing with our 51 dogs on my own. Our friends, Mille and Joar, who also stay here were similarly a person down – Joar was in Norway, so it was just Mille for all their dogs. Thanks to wonderful friends appearing at the crucial moment, we duly managed to get everyone out and ended up camping at Underdog Feeds for a week. Late that Sunday night, I got a phone call from my friend Leo, who was working on the fire crew, to say that he had been by our place and that it was gone. Just like that, we were homeless.  As were many others.

This is all that was left of our home.
This is all that was left of our home.

It was a week before we were allowed back home. Fortunately, the dogyard had survived relatively unscathed and most of the working dogs could go back to their usual spots and routines. For us humans and the house dogs, it was a bit more of a “make do and mend” situation. As described in an earlier post, one of our old girls was unable to cope with all the stress involved. For the rest of us, we resolved to make the best of the situation and resolutely cheered ourselves on with cries of “it could have been so much worse”.

Friends, strangers and organisations rallied around with offers of help, physical, financial, emotional and most importantly, food ! Which is how this post got it’s title. I feel awkward with attention and was quite uncomfortable with the whole thing – friends know this and gave me good advice.  Just smile and say thank you.  And you know what, that really helped.

9 months on, we are well on the way to rebuilding our home.  I now own more than one pair of pants – having driven away from the house that day in June with just the clothes on my back. We’ve survived an Alaskan winter in our temporary home and while the dogs haven’t run very much at all, they have had plenty of free running and hugging time.

And that, dear readers is why I haven’t posted this winter.