Voices from the River: Not a fishing dog

Birkie. Not a fishing dog.

By Jenny Weis

If you’re my friend and you’ve just invited me to something, you can bet the next text I send you will say, “Can Birkie come?”

For better or for worse, I’m the kind of person who brings my dog everywhere. Sure, she’s got her quirks (Whhyyyyy on the chewing rocks, girl?!) but she’s my family and where I go, she goes. Luckily, life in Alaska is generally dog friendly. We dress casually, our cars are already messy, and our trails and parks aren’t crowded. Given this culture, there are few reasons to ever NOT bring the dog.

Birkie joins me in stores whenever allowed, she comes to the office, and you can bet she’s on every weekend adventure upon which I embark. Dogs don’t get the [wo]man’s best friend nickname, for nothin’.

However, the one place you WON’T see her with me is on the river. In fact, I cannot think of a worse river dog. For one, she hates boats. It’s like she stores all her stored-up neuroses for any floating vessel and chooses to release them all at once, like Pandora’s box. Put ‘er in there, and she’ll spend each second contemplating a wigglier, sneakier way to jump out of the damn thing.

We tried to make her a boat dog as a pup, but it didn’t stick. You basically have to bear hug her — all 65 pounds of her — the entire time. Combine that with a fast flowing and extremely cold river… no thank you.

The next problem is that she loves salmon. The deader, moldier and stinkier, the better. Pre-chewed and spit out by a bear — great. She loves to eat ‘em, roll in ‘em — you get the picture. Try a two-hour car ride with the lady after such an afternoon, and you’ll need to give yourself a 24-hour nostril-recuperation break. Minimum.

Finally, she inexplicably loves small things that move. Leaves blowing in the wind? She gonna grab ‘em. Sweeping seeds off the deck? She’s gonna frantically chase them all. Dumping grass from the lawn mower thingy? She’ll plant herself right under the bag until she’s green all over. Rocks or snowballs sliding off a trail? She’s gonna go get ‘em — cliff or not.

Given this, you can only imagine how a fly gently hitting the water (over and over and over) would go… This dog is about the best trail companion you can have. She’s full of personality, loves to snuggle, is awesome at home, never goes on the furniture when I’m looking, (mostly) comes when called, and is always up for an adventure.

But she friggin’ SUCKS at fishing.

Jenny Weis is the communications director for TU's Alaska Program. She lives and works in Anchorage. 

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