The one thing that many pet parents can all lament is the critical lack in pet friendly housing. I get it. I know some amazing pet parents, but I also have met some pet parents that leave something – or a lot – to be desired. The same people who never clean up after their dogs on trails, are the same people that never clean up after their pets in their own yard. And unfortunately, those people probably don’t live in a bubble; they probably share a yard, share a driveway, or at least share a view on a street. No one wants to live next to ‘that’ house. So, if you are a pet parent, just take a moment to think about yourself, and reflect to see if maybe someone sees you as ‘that’ person. There is nothing worse than failing to reflect on your own behavior.
As frustrating as it is to have a negative neighbor, there is nothing more awesome than being or having an amazing neighbor! I have been lucky enough to have such an amazing neighbor, and their poor basset hound named Tugboat. Just like Auke Bay attracts the water dogs, and North Douglas is home to the more adventurous in their solitude, so South Douglas is the dog park.
Poor Tugboat was often subjected to my puppy’s enthusiastic exclamations and exuberant licking. He bayed in true basset fashion to voice his displeasure with the licking frontal assault. However, he was always a good sport in dealing with this dreaded girlfriend that lived down the street. Like Tugboat, Kiska had many doggy friends living around Sandy Beach. We spent many happy hours a day on the beach: morning, noon, and night we hit the sand and frolicked with our furry companions. The joy that parents experience watching their children grow and change is not lost on canine parents. Being able to watch puppies mature into dogletts, and dogletts into dogs, is a joy we share. The puppy we knew as Hudson, is now a lovely beast, and being able to see him on Juneau trails as a handsome young man warms my heart.
Every Saturday morning at 9am is a community dog walk at Sandy Beach, and the beach is an explosion of wagging tails and happy chatter. The old Treadwell Mine is a mix of past and present, as old relics of our mining days litter the beach, and strong tides will wash up new artifacts. Every now and then, new art decorates the dilapidated walls of the stone buildings. At one point a paper mache dancing girl even hung from the ceiling, and the wind made her dance in her own splendid solitude. One year a local artist made a giant wind chime from logs strung between old pilings, and when the fierce Taku winds raced across the beach, they whipped around the chimes and the beach rang out.
But, not only is South Douglas and Sandy Beach a wonderful dog community, is also the starting point for my favorite mountain: Mount Jumbo. I personally consider Mt Jumbo to be McGinnis’s little sister. Like any good neighbor, she sits patiently between two houses, with just a modest sign to point travelers on their way. Like many adventurous women, she has like-minded friends. The Mount Jumbo trail connects with the Treadwell Ditch before turning off and heading up through the meadows and over the hill. Like most true Southeast Alaskans, she loves a sunny afternoon, and her trail is best hiked after a few dry days. She challenges you with her steep and rocky climb, yet she gives you places to rest your feet and packs; she takes your breath away, but she promises you her summit if you are committed to make the journey. It might be a little silly, but we actually park at Sandy Beach, walk to the tide line, then start our accent of Mt Jumbo – that way we truly hike from sea to summit. And of course, there are plenty of dogs to share the summit view with.
Courtney Wendel has lived in Juneau since she was a year old. She has a twin brother and an older brother, and learned to enjoy the outdoors at a young age by following the boys into mischief. Graduating from JDHS in 2006, she attended UAS to receive her Literature of the Environment, BA English degree. When not at work she spends most of her time on the diverse trail system hiking, running, or camping with her spotted pooch and adventure buddies.