It’s Aki’s birthday so I take her to the Treadwell ruins, a place frequented by many dogs. A light rain fell on the car when we drove here but it has stopped. Most of the frost and ice melted as the temperature rose last night, revealing some still-green leaves growing close to the ground. Aki smells and pees without canine company until we reach the beach and find a young couple kissing while a Chihuahua and Labrador circle them. With the dogs playing in the sand and the Juneau waterfront in the background, they could be posing for a travel poster—Come to Juneau, a town loved by lovers and dogs. Aki charges down the beach to the dogs, startling the lovers out of their almost chaste embrace. While she dashes around with the Chihuahua, I trace a line of relic wooden pilings out to a rectangular sided tower rising out of the channel. It could be the top of a submerged battlement but I know it is just the old air intake tower for the Treadwell mine.
A mature bald eagle, head and tail the color of snow on Mt. Juneau, flies down channel a few feet off the water. Recognizing danger, three mallards burst off the water before the eagle can sink his talons into one of them. Usually eagles hunt by soaring over prey and then diving on them. One dove on Aki when she was a puppy. She had run down a different beach to play with a dog too far away for me to protect her. The eagle glided to a point several hundred feet above the little dog, circled and plummeted, talons forced forward like bayonets. Aki scampered into the woods before the eagle stuck. The smell of cooking hot dogs, not fear of danger saved her life. Maybe we should have hot dogs for dinner to celebrate her birthday.