Yahtzee, A Kanuk, Alaska story (part 2)–read part 1 here

by Voni Harris


Miss Karen  had brought Yahtzee over that very afternoon. They would take the shiny, energetic black lab to the vet every month, since she was a Service Dog, not a regular dog. They had to feed her special food to make her especially strong. And Miss Karen brought him a clicker! She showed him how to teach the dog to sit by clicking the clicker whenever Yahtzee sat down, then giving her treat real quick. Yahtzee was a very smart pup, because Noah trained her to sit with the clicker in just a few minutes that afternoon with Miss Karen. He and his mom took Yahtzee to a puppy class at Miss Karen’s house every week, where each owner had a clicker. Now Yahtzee could sit, down, stay, walk nicely on a leash, touch a spot on the wall, and a bunch of other stuff. Noah had even trained the black lab to ring a bell whenever she needed to go out. The clicker made it easy.

He loved playing with her, and they took her everywhere, especially to the beach down at Kanuk Bay. She loved chasing Noah up and down the beach and retrieving sticks he threw into the ocean.

Noah looked at his watch—his Daddy was a commercial fisherman, and it was just like his Daddy’s waterproof watch. They’d been sitting there for an hour. It was 6:00, and he was beginning to think he hadn’t thought this through very well. He was getting hungry. Yahtzee had given up exploring, taken a nap, and was now looking at him, obviously wondering what on earth Noah was up to. She sat up and began to whine and paw at him.

That’s when Noah heard the footsteps. It was his dad. He came into view, and Noah knew instantly he was in trouble. He was always in trouble when Dad had that look on his face.

“It’s time to come home, Son,” he said. “Time to let Miss Karen have Yahtzee back so she can train her to help someone.”

Dad took Yahtzee’s lead away from him, but then just sat down under the spruce tree with Noah.

Noah couldn’t help the tears forming in his eyes, and he wiped them away with his sleeve, hard.

“But she’s mine! I trained her, took her out, cleaned up after her!”

“Yes, you did. And we are so proud of your diligence in taking care of her. But you need to remember…what was the agreement with Miss Karen?”

“That I would help Yahtzee learn to be a good puppy and get her ready for service dog training so she could help someone.”

“And you agreed to that, right?”

“Yes, Dad.”

“A man always lives up to his promises, Son.”

Wow. His dad had called him a man. Well, he had promised Miss Karen.

“Yahtzee is a smart dog. And she loves people. She’ll be a good service dog,” Noah said.

His dad nodded and sat, quietly.

“I’m ready, Dad.”

He handed Noah the leash. “You take her to Miss Karen, then. But I’ll be with you.”

Miss Karen was waiting in the living room with Elsie. His heart was heavy as he handed her Yahtzee’s leash, but he kept reminding himself about his promise to Miss Karen.

Miss Karen knelt down in front of him and looked him in the eyes. “Thank you,” she said. “This is a very brave thing you’re doing, and I promise Yahtzee will be happy in her new home. You’ve done a good job teaching her puppy manners, and she’s ready to become a service dog. She’s ready.”

He wiped tears furiously with his sleeve, embarrassed to cry in front of Miss Karen. She just scooped him into a hug, then left with a gentle smile, Yahtzee behind her.

He didn’t sit next to Miss Karen at church the next Sunday. Or the next. Even though she, of course, had Elsie with her. He wasn’t really mad at her, but, well, he just didn’t really like her any more. That wasn’t really true, either, though. So he just didn’t sit with her.

He got an F on his last art assignment, because the teacher wanted them to draw a picture of a pet, and he wouldn’t do it. Mom and Dad didn’t know about that yet.

Mom kept trying to get him to go to Kanuk Bay beach with them, but he wouldn’t. Not without Yahtzee.

Miss Karen tried to talk to him at church a couple of times, but he just waved at her and went into the boys’ restroom.


Finally, one Sunday Miss Karen caught him coming out of the boy’s restroom, and he had no choice but to talk to her.

She knelt in front of him. “Noah, I have something to show you. I asked your Mom and Dad, and they said you could come with me.”

Noah looked up to see them in the distance. Dad nodded at him.

“I dunno,” Noah said. He still felt squishy in his gut about Miss Karen.

“Please,” she said. Elsie licked Noah’s hand.


He followed Miss Karen and Elsie out to her Suburban, and they climbed in. They drove to Miss Karen’s house, and she stopped the car, and told Noah, “Follow me quietly.”

They went around to the giant covered porch Miss Karen used for her training classes. She motioned him to be very quiet, and they stopped just outside the door. Inside was a lady in a wheelchair…and Yahtzee!

Yahtzee didn’t notice them. She was focused on the lady. There were some dog toys, a cell phone and some keys on the ground around the chair. “Get the keys,” she told Yahtzee, and Yahtzee picked up the keys in her mouth and handed them to the lady.

Noah felt his mouth drop open. Yahtzee was more than just smart!

“Clarice is staying with me while Yahtzee learns to work with her,” Miss Karen said very quietly. That’s when the lady said, “Yahtzee, get the light,” and Yahtzee came over to the doorway to the light switch and jumped up and touched the switch with her paw, turning the light off. She looked right at Noah. She wagged her tail. Then she went right back over to the lady.

That’s when Noah knew he would be a puppy raiser for Miss Karen again.

Clarice noticed them in the doorway, and called over, “Oh, hi there! You must be Noah.”

He nodded.

She looked down at Yahtzee and said, “Okay, girl!”

Yahtzee came running over and knocked him down to the floor in her excitement. Clarice tossed a ball over to Noah, and they played until Miss Karen brought in sandwiches for everyone and the dog went to sit at Clarice’s feet, ready to do whatever Clarice wanted.

To read the story of how Karen came to live in Kanuk, click here.

Noah’s parents are Salmon and Jennie from this Kanuk story.

Word Nerd Wednesday is tomorrow on vonildawrites!  Which makes sense, since today is Tuesday, right?