A drive to Watson Lake to get 17 rescue puppies

I was on the final days of guiding my Yukon Quest tour when a photo on the Facebook page of the Yukon Animal Rescue Network (YARN) got me thinking about fostering another litter of rescue puppies. On Tuesday, February 12th, I drove to Watson Lake and got 2 litters – 17 puppies in all!

This was the photo that started it –Β little Miss Catalina, from the Airplanes 2 litter (all the puppies are named after aircraft-related people and things).

Catalina, from YARN's Airplanes 2 litter of rescue puppies
On Monday, I got my rescue-puppy facility set up in the garage again, though with improved heating. The doghouse has a heated floor, so it’s very comfortable for them. After the photo was taken, the big door was tarped for extra insulation, too, as night-time temperatures have been dropping to near -30°C (-22°F). A door from this area opens to a 100-square-foot fenced outside play area, though it’s not getting used until it warms up (that’s forecast to happen tomorrow).

My Yukon rescue puppy fostering facility
I loaded Cathy’s Jeep with 3 kennels, and filled each of them with bundles of newspapers that the Whitehorse Star had donated to YARN for puppy use. Tucker was very intrigued by what was going on. To get the rear hatch on the Jeep closed, I had to move the front seats up much further than is best for comfort.

Finally, I invited a friend to join me on the long journey, and she agreed. At 07:00, almost 2 hours before sunrise, we headed east on the Alaska Highway.

As we approached Teslin, the sky started to hint that we were going to be treated to a colourful sunrise. At 08:26, I pulled over for a few shots overlooking Teslin Lake.

Winter sunrise at Teslin Lake, Yukon
Six minutes later, the sky exploded in colour, prompting another stop. We hoped to still have good colours when we reached the Nisutlin Bay Bridge at Teslin, but it had faded by then.

Winter sunrise on the Alaska Highway west of Teslin, Yukon
The gas tank on the Jeep wasn’t completely full when we left Whitehorse, so I stopped in Teslin to top it up.

Fueling the Jeep at Teslin in the winter.
The Nisutlin Bay Bridge, built with 7 Warren through-truss spans, is the longest bridge on the Alaska Highway at 584 meters (1,917 feet). It opened in the spring of 1956.

Nisutlin Bay Bridge
I was very surprised to see Rancheria Lodge closed. When we got back to Whitehorse I heard that both owners have died, but I haven’t found any details yet.

Rancheria Lodge - closed, 2019
I had told my friend that we had about an 80% chance of seeing caribou west of Watson Lake, and within about 20 minutes we saw about 30 of them in 4 groups.

Caribou on the Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon, in the winter

Caribou beside the Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon, in the winter

Caribou beside the Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon, in the winter
Before going to YARN, we stopped for gas, lunch, and then made a quick photo stop at Watson Lake’s famous “Signpost Forest“.

Watson Lake's famous Signpost Forest in the winter
At 12:30, we got to YARN and the unloading and re-loading was soon completed. The next photo shows Joana, Cheryl, and Sylvain with 4 of the 9 puppies in the Airplanes 2 litter I’m fostering.

YARN dog rescue in Watson Lake, Yukon
Space was at a premium, but the puppies would be cozy on the 420-km (261-mile) drive back home. There was very little noise from the puppies on the trip – some of these puppy-drives are very noisy! πŸ™‚

A kennel full of rescue puppies being transported to Whitehorse, Yukon

By about 6:00 pm, the 8 puppies of the Hat litter had been picked up by another foster, and the 9 puppies from Airplanes 2 was settled in their new home. It had been a stressful day for them, so after feeding them and giving each a snuggle and talk, I left them alone for the night.

The next day was health-check day at Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre. They give us such great service – large litters at short notice? – no problem. They had a cart for me to bring in the large crate with all 9 puppies – almost 90 lbs of love! I brought a laundry basket to sort puppies with, to keep track of which puppies had been checked πŸ™‚

A kennel full of rescue puppies at Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre
Dr. Kim Friedenberg had soon given all 9 clean bills of health, and I headed home with health records to pass on to their new families.

A kennel full of rescue puppies at Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre in Whitehorse, Yukon
On the way home from the vet, I stopped for a visit with another of my puppies from a few weeks ago. This was Lentil from the Bean litter. Isn’t he a handsome dude now!?!

Lentil from YARN's Bean rescue puppy litter
Getting this greeting several times a day melts my heart. There’s no love like the love of a rescue.

Being greeted by a litter of Yukon rescue puppies
Two puppies, Bandit and Goose, were adopted the next day – down to 7 for dinner.

Dinner for a litter of Yukon rescue puppies
I managed to get portraits of the 2 adopted puppies minutes before they were picked up.

Bandit, a Yukon rescue puppy

Goose, a Yukon rescue puppy
“HEY, where did our brothers go???”

Yukon rescue puppies
When I started writing this I still had these 7 puppies. Two have been adopted but are staying with me for another week, one is leaving to his furever home today, and I’m adding the final puppy from another foster’s litter – the last one is always tough on both the puppy and the foster.

So that’s my chaotic, love-filled life now. πŸ™‚


A drive to Watson Lake to get 17 rescue puppies — 10 Comments

  1. Hi Murray Wonderful photos. I have driven over that route a number of times but never in the winter. Also just looked at your last two posts, Wow

  2. Hi Murray
    I got some pictures from my friend Leo Volkering of your puppies.
    We are looking for a female x breed with a double coat as she can spent a lot of time outside.
    We live in Cobble Hill BC on a 2 acre fully fenced property. We have our offices at home and have been dog owners for the past 35 years. Sadly our dog past away last July at 27 years of age