ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An Alaska dog who was discarded as a puppy on a Valley roadside is now the star of a new children's book -- but it’s a story that can only be told thanks to Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue in Wasilla.
It's a tale that began three years ago, in a Wasilla home that doubles as a rescue mission.
“Two weeks ago, these puppies were found in a sealed box on Shrock Road,” said Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue’s Rhonda Weinrick in a 2007 interview. “A car deposited them on the side of the road and the box moved, and a gentleman found a litter of seven little puppies -- they were four weeks old at the time.”
Rhonda Weinrick, who now runs Alaska Cat Rescue, nursed them all to health and found families for them all.
Now at age 3, one of those dogs, Ellie, has headed back for a visit. She’s experienced the best life has to offer after experiencing the worst, going from being abandoned in a box to the adventures of a lifetime with author Pam Flowers.
“It's a true story of two friends on the Appalachian Trail,” Flowers said. “And when you open it up in inside cover, we had printed Ellie’s pawprint with her name on there, which looks like she signed every book.”
Traveling the trail was quite the adventure, at more than 2,100 miles.
“It took 199 days, which is a bit longer than I thought,” Flowers said. “I thought we'd do it maybe in 180 days.”
Although Ellie is now a literary star, Flowers has kept her life interesting -- including a few close calls along the trail.
“We had a huge windstorm in Vermont; all these trees were falling down around us throughout the night and it was the longest, most frightening night I ever had anywhere,” Flowers said.
There was also a fall that left Flowers’ back badly injured, when Ellie stayed by her side, as well as a time when Flowers thought Ellie was gone forever after she fell through thin ice.
“And I just kept screaming, I saw her body go underneath the water and I thought, ‘I'm never going to see her again,’ and I was filled with rage and called her name as loudly as I could -- ‘Ellie, come, come!’” Flowers said. “And she must have stepped on something, a log or something, and she came up on top of ice and rescued herself.”
Flowers credits Ellie for keeping her going emotionally as well as physically.
“One hundred and ninety-nine days, a human is going to go through times maybe wishing you weren't there, maybe never started this, it's rainy cold and snowy. But this dog never has a bad day, so she would always perk me up,” Flowers said.
To say thank you to those who saved Ellie's life and made their friendship possible, Flowers is donating her proceeds from sales of the book to Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue.
“We just want to make sure they have the right home forever,” Flowers said. “This dog had made such a change in my life, and I thought I owed the Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue a lot for bringing her into my life -- she is the joy of my life.”
“Ellie's Long Walk: The True Story of Two Friends on the Appalachian Trail” will be featured Saturday at Petco on Dimond Boulevard. Flowers and Ellie will be there to sign copies of the book from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact Maria Downey at firstname.lastname@example.org