By Hannah Lindoff

The great thing about living in a small town where concerts, amusement parks, the zoo, the aquarium or half the time even the movies are not an option, is that we can celebrate holidays, festivals and tournaments is a very big way.  In my family we each have our own event at a time of year that is “ours,” when we are super-star of the family. 

My husband’s event is Gold Medal.  Gold Medal is his week and everything is about Gold Medal and Hoonah.  We spend weeks in preparation.  This year Anthony hit open gyms, bought new shoes, changed his diet and I taught our daughter to chant “Hoo-nah, Hoo-nah!”  Marigold’s event this year was Celebration.  She practiced her “Hoo-ha” for months and I can proudly report that she both made it onto the stage and did some dancing.  And we were there Mom, Dad, Grandmas, Aunties, cousins, bursting with pride.  My event is Holiday Cup-yes, I still have the trophy in my office – we won and it was awesome.  I have six more months to revel in the glory and I shall.

These events are fun for all of us and get our family through the winter.  If it weren’t for basketball games, soccer or dance practices what would we do?  But the most important event for our family is the 4th of July because that is our dog Haagu’s day, when he competes in the Frisbee Contest.

Haagu is a tall 85 pound chocolate lab and he’ll be six years old this year.  The 4th of July is Haagu’s birthday.  The 4th is also my mother’s birthday, but no crowd would gather to watch her catch a Frisbee so she graciously waits until after the festivities on the Fourth to claim the family’s attention.  Until dinner time it is all about Haagu.  It’s an important day for our family because Haagu is a truly fantastic dog who deserves a jubilant crowd cheering for him every day.  Haagu has been with us since he was eight weeks old and is the greatest companion.  He took on his role as big brother very dutifully when our daughter was born. He adjusted to being second fiddle in the family with grace and dignity and is fantastic at cleaning up after the baby eats.

The first time Haagu competed in the Super Dog Frisbee Contest is still one of my fondest memories of Juneau Fourth of July.   It was a hot, sunny day, the last bluebird Fourth of July in the streak of many, many great Fourths.  I was so nervous for Haagu I could not eat any of the fry-bread or cotton candy at Sandy Beach.  We registered Haagu for the contest at one of the baseball dugouts and then we waited as the crowd gathered.  The audience formed a wide ring around the field and the throwers and their dogs lined up at home plate one at a time.

I froze when they called Haagu’s name.  In all my years of athletics including my college soccer days I was never this nervous.   Anthony led Haagu over to home plate and threw the first toss.  It was a practice toss and Haagu dropped it. “It’s okay, it’s okay!”  I assured my sister, “That one doesn’t count!”   We held our breath.  Anthony tossed the first judged Frisbee and Haagu sailed through the air and grabbed it.   I breathed a little bit.  “At least he got one.  He won’t have zero points.”  At this point I was muttering to myself the same way I muttered “That ref hates you Anthony, you better stop talking” at Gold Medal and “Stay on the stage Honey, just stay on the stage,” during Celebration.  Anthony threw out another toss.  Again Haagu came up with a clean catch!

The crowd loved Haagu.  Haagu loved the crowd.  After his third catch he trotted through the people along the first base line, taking in their affection.   Haagu was hot.  His tongue drooped from his mouth and he panted hard but he gave the people a great show.

On his fourth toss he leapt so high his front paws and back paws came together in the air as he snatched the swirling Frisbee in his jaws and with that Haagu triumphantly concluded his performance and returned to my sister and I waiting on the sideline.  A fan came with water for Haagu and then we watched the other dogs, biting our nails and secretly enjoying the “awwws” of the crowd when a dog missed a catch.

Much of the crowd dispersed while the judges deliberated but the hard core fans remained.  The judges finally announced the winners and Haagu won…second place!  He was proud, Anthony was proud, but I am STILL proud.  Haagu won a certificate, a chew toy, a gift certificate to the Gatineau Humane Society gift shop and some doggy shampoo.  There are new mothers who carry their infants with less pride than I felt carrying Haagu’s winnings.

We walked through the crowd at Sandy Beach and found Haagu some more water.  Then we strutted around a little while longer enjoying the sun and the glory of his second place win.  We walked by a young girl who called out to her friends, “Hey, that was my favorite dog from the Frisbee contest!”  “Me too,” I thought to myself, “Me too.”

Hannah Lindoff grew up in Juneau and returned to the community after graduating college.  She now lives with her husband Anthony, daughter Marigold and dog Haagu on Mountainside.  Hannah can be reached at