An Alaska Highway Road Trip – Caribou and Rescue Puppies

For a couple of days this week, my focus was on helping YARN (the Yukon Animal Rescue Network) in Watson Lake get some supplies. My bonuses were seeing lots of caribou, and getting to snuggle with a litter of 7-week-old rescue puppies.

On Monday, I made 4 stops around Whitehorse collecting donations of food, toys, and bedding from other volunteers, and 1 stop at a grocery store for 4 cases of evaporated milk which makes the transition from mother’s milk to dog food easier for puppies. Cathy’s Jeep made this possible – our Chevy Tracker is too small, and my pickup is too old (28 years) for a long highway trip.

The Jeep loaded with dog rescue supplies
Just after 07:30, I was on my way, with a quick stop to pick up another long-time rescue supporter. We may have a litter of puppies to bring back to Whitehorse, and it’s always nice to have more hands when stops need to be made. The Jeep GPS said that it would take 5 hours, 37 minutes for the 422 km trip to Watson Lake (see a map). That’s far more accurate than Google Maps but still silly when the speed limit is 100 kmh most of the way. I figured on a 10-11 hour day.

The Jeep Cherokee dash
The weather forecast called for lots of snow flurries and showers for the day, but it started off looking pretty good.

A Spring sky in the Yukon
I counted on seeing caribou along the Alaska Highway, and 25 minutes after leaving the Carcross Corner, we met our first little herd.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway near Marsh Lake, Yukon
At 09:25, we stopped at the Teslin viewpoint, always a great spot to stretch your legs.

Teslin viewpoint
A closer look at the Nisutlin Bay bridge, which is the longest one on the highway at 584 meters (1,917 feet) as well as one of the oldest (it opened in 1956).

The Nisutlin Bay bridge, Yukon
The Teslin Tlingit Council has installed 3 very good panels at the viewpoint describing their efforts to take care of salmon stocks in the area.

Teslin Tlingit Council salmon information panels
An hour after leaving Teslin, we met another little herd of 8 caribou. This time of year, only female caribou have antlers.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway south of Teslin, Yukon

Caribou on the Alaska Highway south of Teslin, Yukon
Ten minutes later, more caribou! No, I never get tired of seeing them. They’re one of my favourite animals.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway south of Teslin, Yukon
Gerry and I stopped for lunch once we reached Watson Lake, then went over to the shelter. Puppies are a soft spot for me and many of my friends, and rescue puppies even more so. These ones have colouring that probably makes you think that they’re a large breed, but they’re actually very small. They each fit in the palm of my hand, and Mom is probably less than 30 pounds. For adoption purposes, this is the “Fruit” litter – each will be named after some type of fruit, though they had just arrived and only one had gotten a name yet.

Rescue puppies at the YARN shelter in Watson Lake, Yukon
This little girl, the runt of the litter, melted my heart – she was so snuggly! I tucked her up under my neck for a long time.

Rescue puppy at the YARN shelter in Watson Lake, Yukon
YARN had just been given a stainless steel feeding bowl specially designed for litters – it worked very well to keep them separated.

Rescue puppies at the YARN shelter in Watson Lake, Yukon
Socialization is an important part of getting rescue puppies ready for adoption, and Gerry and I spent quite a while at the shelter, with the puppies and with the older dogs as well. A planned foster for the litter had fallen through when she got sick, so we didn’t get to take the puppies back to Whitehorse.

Rescue puppies at the YARN shelter in Watson Lake, Yukon
On the way back to Whitehorse, we only saw one small group of caribou, and they very quickly changed their minds about going across the highway.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway north of Watson Lake, Yukon

The forecast snow flurries and showers only appeared for half an hour or so on the way home, and we had a fair bit of sunshine. We got back to the Carcross Corner just after 6:30 pm. It had been a rather long but very rewarding day.


An Alaska Highway Road Trip – Caribou and Rescue Puppies — 4 Comments