The dog lot is empty and when the wind blows, you can hear the lifeless chains banging. There are no dogs outside barking or playing — the only thing to be heard is the sound of heavy equipment trying to fix the damage. The damage. There seems to be lots of that. The dog lot is caked in mud and the gravel we had moved in all summer was either buried under heavy sticky silt, or washed away with the rising waters.
It’s still hard to believe any of this happened.
One moment we were feeding dogs, scooping them, playing with them in a very wet dog lot, and the next moment we realized that we were going to flood. We’d taken a trip in our car up river and seen the evidence first hand. It seemed like no one believed us at the time, but we knew the water was coming. We called our neighbors, The Seavey Family, who had just vacated their summer dog lot and asked if we could take our dogs there. They agreed.
The dogs had no idea what was going on when the trucks came. We loaded the dogs one by one into the Seavey’s dog truck — our own truck has has great timing and is in currently in the shop — the whole time the dogs were going nuts with excitement. They, of course, thought they were going to be going on some sort of dog run and adventure. Well, it was an adventure, just not the one they were hoping for.
We even gathered the puppies: Pinky, Brain, Pickles, Porkchop and even little Bonnie & Clyde. Everyone made the mass exodus.
No sooner had we gotten the dogs secured in their new spot, did the water come. It came as a slow oozing brown stream. Travis and I had already moved much of our important belongings out of the basement — 1 ton of dog food, all our power tools, our Turning Heads Kennel merchandise — and begin fortifying the house, building baricades and walls.
Our legs couldn’t move fast enough. Our arms weren’t strong enough. We simply couldn’t keep up.
When it was all over, the basement had flooded. We didn’t know it then but we lost some valuable things: pictures, Travis’ yearbook, and most of all a certain peace of mind. Two feet of water came into the house. Several more outside. For as far as the eye could see, our house was surrounded by water. It was as if we were a castle floating on a lake. Our driveway turned into a raging river with the power to move just about anything.
Dog houses started floating off because the water levels got so high. Travis and my father (my parents choose the worst week imaginable to come visit) hurried outside and begin stacking them and chaining them down.We had to open part of the fence enclosing the dog lot to let water rush out.
And all the while we kept thinking: is it going to come higher? and Are the dogs ok? We watched for many hours as the water slowly started rising only to suddenly recede. Once, when we thought the worst was past we began frantically cleaning up the layers and layers of silt in the basement — only to wake up to another foot of water.
The dogs were and are, still ok. It was hard to believe. During the worst of it, we had water up to our knees just about everywhere outside and deeper in other places. It was impossible to think that the dogs didn’t have the same, but they didn’t. We were unable to get to them for two days, during which time Danny Seavey texted us updates saying that the dogs were fine and that they were being fed. It was comforting, yet hard to imagine.
When we finally got to see the dogs for the first time, it was total relief. I walked through the Seavey’s dog lot on the verge of tears as I walked up and down and greeted each dog. The only part of the Seavey’s dog lot that remained unscathed was where we had put out dogs. Someone was watching out for us.
Although the rain has stopped now, our dog lot is still empty. Walking through it is like stepping onto quick-sand and your likely to sink when you least expect it. Crossing the yard this morning, I unexpectedly sank up to my knees in mud. There is a lot of work ahead of us and it will certainly not be easy. The physical damage can be remedied: holes can be filled, gravel can be brought in, and mud can be removed, but the psychological damage will linger for some time. There is something eery about an empty dog lot full of water.
If you didn’t see it, check out Travis’ interview with the Anchorage Daily News.
We will continue working hard to bring our dogs home. Until them, please, pray for sunshine.