By Lilly Milman
Skagway residents have been on the hunt for a lost dog from Alberta named Jessy since June 13, using the popular Facebook group for locals, Skagway Swap, as a meeting place for sightings, updates and search-party coordination.
Jessy is a 10-year-old mix between a border collie, Dalmatian and Labrador. She has mostly white, longer hair, with black spots around her hindquarters. Owners Grant and Cindy Reekie said she was described accurately by one Skagway local as looking “like a cow.”
Jessy was last spotted on the Lower Dewey Lake trail around 4:50 p.m. July 3.
The Reekies were on a trip around Southeast Alaska and the Yukon as part of their bucket list to celebrate Grant’s recent retirement. They arrived in Skagway on June 12 and only anticipated staying a few days. However, they extended their stay after Jessy was lost, and only made it back to their home in Beaumont, Alberta on July 5. They headed back to Canada from Skagway twice, but turned around midway both times after being notified that Jessy was sighted.
Jessy was lost on their first full day in Skagway, while hiking up to Upper Dewey Lake in the morning. The Reekies like to keep her on leash “99.9 percent of the time,” Grant said, but they decided against it after seeing signs that notified them it was an off-leash trail. She stayed within three or four feet of the couple the entire way up and on the way down.
“She’s a scaredy cat, so she likes to stay close,” he said.
At around 3:30 p.m. June 13, while Grant was rummaging through his backpack to get Jessy’s leash at the trailhead, a train came around from the east. The dog was spooked by the train’s whistle and ran down across the tracks. The conductor blew the whistle again, Grant said. Jessy ran past her owners and back up the trail toward Upper Dewey.
Grant immediately followed, abandoning his pack at the trailhead, and hiked all the way back up to Upper Dewey Lake. Grant searched both the Upper and Lower Dewey Lake areas for about five hours with no luck.
Grant and Cindy reported Jessy to the police that night, and both the police chief and the Pullen Creek RV Park managers recommended use Skagway Swap. Skagway Swap member Mandy Reigle posted on their behalf on June 14. Since then, the Reekies began planning all of their search efforts around what was posted in the online group. Grant estimated they searched an average six hours per day before returning to Alberta.
Posts about Jessy have accumulated hundreds of comments.
Swap member Kevin Murphy, who works on a tugboat and has lived in Skagway year-round since 2016, went out about three times a day for about a week. He spotted Jessy on June 26 while taking his boat out just south of the railroad dock and followed her up the bluff, but could not find her after over an hour of searching. He said he has a special place in his heart for dogs, given that he grew up raising sled dogs and hunting dogs in Homer and recently had to put down his own pet.
“When I saw that Jessy was lost, I just went into autopilot I guess,” he said.
Murphy coordinated with Katherine Selmer Moseley of Paws and Claws Animal Shelter to set up a live trap in an attempt to catch the dog. Haines Animal Rescue Kennel loaned Moseley the trap, and transportation was donated by the Haines Skagway Fast Ferry. Murphy also took multiple groups on his boat to look for Jessy.
Grant and Cindy said the Skagway community is responsible for getting them through these past weeks, especially in terms of moral support.
“I’ve never, ever seen anything like it in my life,” Cindy said. “If this doesn’t give you faith in the whole world turning around, I don’t know what will.”
During their few weeks in and around Skagway, the Reekies received assistance from the library, Skagway Development Corp., National Park Service, Skagway Police, local businesses and individuals. They were loaned camping gear and given special permission to camp overnight on the Dewey Lake Trail System and to post flyers at the trailhead. The couple even overheard tourists from cruise ships calling out Jessy’s name on the trails, Grant said.
Community members have assured the Reekies that if she is found, she will be given medical assistance and cared for until they can return to Skagway.