By Lilly Milman
Jessy, the lost dog belonging to Alberta couple Grant and Cindy Reekie, was returned to her owners on Sept. 4 in Skagway after being lost for nearly two and a half months.
The Reekies were hiking during a vacation in Skagway on June 13 when a train whistle spooked Jessy and sent her running up the service road on the Dewey Lake Trail System. The couple stayed in town for a few weeks to look for Jessy, but could not find her and returned home July 5 to Beaumont, Alberta. However, Skagway residents kept searching, using the Facebook page “Skagway Swap” to post constant updates on potential sightings — the most recent being by the reservoir on Aug. 5.
Skagway resident Brandon Lawrence saw Jessy laying down at the Small Boat Harbor in the early morning on Aug. 29 and called Paws and Claws board member Katherine Selmer Moseley, who hopped in her truck and drove over.
By the time she got there, Jessy had already been spotted by Mayor Andrew Cremata across from M&M Tours. Cremata called out to security guard Joseph Delchev, who chased and caught her on the railroad dock around 7:50 a.m. Within 10 minutes, Police Chief Ray Leggett picked her up on the dock and brought her to Paws and Claws Animal Shelter.
Grant Reekie was in his car with his nephew and brother when the calls started coming in from Skagway residents and he said they didn’t stop for the rest of the day. “You have to sit down,” he told his wife when he called her to give her the good news. “They found Jessy and she’s OK.”
Moseley watched over Jessy at Paws and Claws for five days, with the help of fellow Paws and Claws board members Donna Griffard and Laurie Healy. Jessy’s condition improved quickly. She gained about a pound a day and showed more energy each time Moseley, Griffard and Healy came to check on her.
“It was very rewarding to see her progress from day one when she came in,” Moseley said. “The first day she only went out to the bathroom and then back inside. On the last day, it’s like she knew her owners were coming to get her. She was really a lot more confident and actually wanted to go on longer walks.”
The Reekies flew to Whitehorse on Sept. 4 and drove into Skagway later that day for the reunion at the shelter.
“We were worried if she’d remember us,” Cindy Reekie said. “But when we saw her, she started jumping up and down. She’s not an excitable dog, but she was excited then.”
They were given permission to bring her to their hotel room at the Westmark for the night, where Jessy slept peacefully. In the morning on Sept. 5, Jessy woke up the Reekies with an old ritual: She walked up to each of them, putting her face near theirs until they got out of bed. This was how she woke the couple up every morning in Alberta, Cindy said.
The Reekies walked Jessy around town Sept. 5, wearing matching custom-made shirts that read “Jessy Thanks Skagway.” They were stopped every few minutes by Skagway residents — who were walking down the street, driving past in their cars and even calling out from the windows of SMART buses — asking about her.
“Everyone is waving and asking, ‘Is that Jessy?’” Cindy Reekie said. “It feels like the whole town is celebrating. We are so happy to be back. It feels like a second home here.”
The Reekies made a donation to Paws and Claws to thank those who took care of Jessy.
After a Whitehorse veterinarian approved Jessy to fly for her first time, the Reekies flew back to Edmonton that day.
Because Jessy is a rescued dog, the Reekies never knew when to celebrate her birthday. From now on, they will celebrate Jessy’s birthday on Aug. 29 in honor of her rescue.