I’m Jesse – co-owner of Rex Specs™ Dog Goggles. For those of you that don’t know, Yaz (licking my face in the photo above) is a 12 year old Alaskan Husky that fell into my lap just a few weeks after college. She is one of the best things to happen to me. Rex Specs™ were developed and started because of her – and after a few years of running this business and watching her grow older I feel compelled to share and document our story – not only for you to read, but also for me to remember.
It was 2005 and I had just moved to Talkeetna, Alaska to explore for the summer. Alaska was always a place I wanted to visit. It was so intriguing, so big, so wild in my imagination. I figured I’d visit someday, but out of the blue, a few days before college graduation I received a phone call from my childhood buddy JR. “Want to go to Alaska for the summer?” He exclaimed over the phone. After about ten minutes of discussion he had me convinced. So that was it - I decided to ditch the carpentry job I had lined up for the summer and head to Alaska instead. The only other thing that was decided at that point in my life was that I was going to get a dog. I’m a dog lover – always have been. I’m the type of person that points and says ‘do you see that dog’ to whomever I’m with almost every time I see a dog. I just want to pet them and say hello. I knew that once my responsibilities as a student were over I’d find a dog to take care of. The Alaska Range
Talkeetna is a small town, everything is within walking distance – and for this reason we decided that we would fly to Anchorage and find our way to Talkeetna. No car for the summer. I don’t even think we had bikes. Life was simple and easy. Once we rolled into town, the job search was on. The only way to get a job in Talkeetna is to show up and check the community board. Posters, ads, events, and job opportunities were tacked up daily as the tourist season approached. By day three I still hadn’t landed a job but there it was - a flyer for a litter of sled dogs looking for receptive homes or other mushers to adopt them. I believe they wanted $30 to help cover the shots and care they had provided to that point.
I had to check it out. JR and I stopped by the kwanzaa hut that had the dogs up for adoption. Holy shit they were cute. Not only that – they were wild. Little monsters that didn’t have a domesticated drop of blood in their body. They were bred to run – forever. That’s it – just run, eat, poop, and sleep. These pups’ parents never went into a house, or knew any commands. We walked up and the puppies were on us like a bunch of little gremlins, biting, chewing, snarling – trying to get attention. Probably the least wild of the bunch was the all white one, clearly the smallest of the pack and was the last to approach us. She jumped up and licked my face (something she’s always done, and something I’ve let her get too comfortable doing). That was it – ‘I guess we’ll take this one’. We took a little of the dog food they had been feeding the puppies and were on our way.
Crossing the tracks on the way home.
JR and I had scored a sweet place to live – a 10x10 cabin with no running water, stove, sink, shower or toilet. Of course we didn’t have a dog collar, leash, water bowl, food bowl – nothing. No job, just a dog and a ‘rustic’ cabin with our sleeping pads on bunk beds and a grimy couch. We didn’t have much, but at that point in our lives we felt like we had it all. Looking back – we did have it all. Never once did I worry about a darn thing the entire summer.
Our bathroom for the summer.
With a ziplock bag of dog food, a naked puppy, fresh 12 pack of Miller High Life, and some Chef Boyardee raviolis from Nagleys General Store we started walking back to the cabin. On that walk – she got her name. Yaz. Named after the great Carl Yastrzemski. I was, and still am a huge baseball guy. At that point in time, Carl Yastrzemski was the last one to win the triple crown (highest batting average, most HR’s and most RBI’s in the same season). This is one of the great feats in baseball - so, the puppy was named Yaz – the greatest of all time.
Yaz was 6 weeks old when we picked her up. On the way home, she seemed confused, tired, and a little scared. She most definitely couldn’t walk the whole way – and we ended up carrying her the last half mile. Once we got to the cabin I braided a collar for the little trouble maker out of tree bark to get us by, found something for a water dish, and started a bonfire to sit around – something we did a lot of that summer. As the sunset, at 11PM, JR and I continued our three night ritual – the mosquito massacre. Five minutes of killing any bug in our little cabin. It was freaking incredible the amount of mosquitos we could kill in five minutes. Then, we’d lie down just to hear more buzzing around. Without any crate, dog bed, or experience having my own puppy we turned off the lantern and waited to see what would happen.
Stay tuned for all of our Forever Dog stories and Part II: Yaz Does What She Wants