Raft guide rescues three puppies; fourth puppy still missing | Local News
A Denali Raft Adventures guide recently rescued three 11-week-old pups who were found stranded on the banks of the Nenana River after leaving their homes.
The three pups are part of the musical litter that was recently born on Jeff Kings Husky Homestead. The wandering pups included Hamilton, Annie, and Fiddler. Wicked is still missing.
“We want to change their names to Lewis and Clark,” said Iditarod Champion Jeff King of two of the restored pups.
The pups were out for a walk earlier in the week when four of them disappeared over a berm and could not be found. Three days later, Demetrios Raisis, Denali Raft Adventures guide, was just starting his raft ride at 7:30 am, leaving Denali Park Village.
“After about 10 minutes we come across this really high cliff called the Neapolitan Wall,” he said. “The boy in front of the raft, who had been quiet all day, said, ‘Look! Puppies! ‘”
Raisis said he saw elk calves there, but puppies? It was a surprise. But there they were. Two pups, half a foot from the water, on top of the rocks, snuggle together, he said.
Because of the current, it was too late to paddle and stop to retrieve them.
“They were in a pretty precarious spot by the river,” he said. “There was no way I could have stopped on land and reached them. I should have climbed a 10-foot rock wall. “
So he ended the trip, but then made plans to return and save the pups.
Sometimes he sees baby moose at this point. You trip over the cliff and get stuck on the riverside. But moose calves usually try to escape by swimming in the river.
“I didn’t want this to happen to these puppies,” said Raisis.
He notified Husky Homestead and dog handler Amanda Otto accompanied him for the rescue trip in an inflatable canoe.
“We both started paddling down the river,” said Raisis. “It took us 10 minutes to negotiate the first corner. Amanda spotted a puppy on the second corner. “
This pup was further upriver and separated from where the other two were sighted. The other two puppies were then also spotted and recovered.
It was not possible to hike out from there, so the pups had to ride on the raft. Raisis brought a mesh bag as she thought this was the best way to keep the pups in the watercraft.
“You could twist around but not get out of the raft,” he said. “It was safer and faster to drive the extra hour and 15 minutes to Riley Creek with three pups in one bag.”
At Riley Creek, the two rescuers released the pups from the mesh bag and arranged for them to be picked up on the Parks Highway. One puppy appeared to have an injured leg, but otherwise they appeared to be in good health, Raisis said.
When they were rescued late last week, the pups had been missing for three days and had probably most recently hiked four miles, and maybe up to six miles given the elevation gain.
The smallest, Wicked, is still missing. This puppy apparently had a knack for hiding, too, Raisis said. Local residents redirected all of their daily walks to this area this week to look for Wicked. One resident even paddled a pack raft along the bank in case Wicked was swept further downstream.
“I am overwhelmed and very grateful to the community for all of their search efforts,” said Amanda Otto. “Since then, I’ve been out and about every day in the area where we found the three of them. As they say, it needs a village. “
The search for Wicked continues.
The former convenience and liquor store in Mountain View will soon be up for sale, according to Justin Charon of Vitus Energy.
“We acquired the property as part of their liquor license (which has been in place for a year),” he said. “We’ll clean up the property and put it up for sale.”
Vitus Energy is an Alaska-based fuel distribution company with offices in Cantwell and Healy, including gas stations, convenience stores, and home fuel deliveries.