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The Sundogs is an exciting Alaskan-based adventure novel brimming with the factual material surrounding the lives of several commercial fishermen's sons from ...
The Sundogs is an exciting Alaskan-based adventure novel brimming with the factual material surrounding the lives of several commercial fishermen's sons from Homer and Kodiak who grew up in the industry providing the reader with an insight into the local life and color while leading into a suspenseful plot.
In Homer, Alaska, in 1992, fifty years later, Roland Ford, a local Homer commercial fisherman of many years, taps his free foot on the floorboard in time with a tape of The Chieftans while he navigates his pick-up slowly down the winding road from his home on the bluff high above town. He's due to pick up Terry, his adopted son, from high school in another ten minutes. He checks his watch and sees he'll have a minute or so to spare. Terry was sent from his home in Illinois to a small orphan- age about nine miles out on East End Road in Homer, Alaska. His mom and dad were Chipiwa Indians who got caught up in booze. His mom got beat up often, usually during one of their drinking bouts. Terry often tried to get between his mom and dad when he was younger, attempting to dissuade them, only to get knocked around himself for his efforts.
On one occasion, he had picked himself up out of a corner he'd just been knocked into and tearfully stared out the window at his dad's car parked in the front yard. He madly stomped out of the house toward the vehicle, gazed through the side window to see the keys dangling from the ignition, then looked around to see if anyone had noticed him. His parents continued yelling and screaming at each other as he studied the upper portion of his house, following their voices as they moved about from room to room. Terry looked back at the dangling car keys in the igni- tion, and moments later, began his grand adventure driving down the Interstate.
He looks around in awe at his new-found mode of transporta- tion. He becomes giddy with excitement. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he would be driving a car this soon in his life. He looks from the road in front of him down to the gauges on the dashboard, attempting to get a feel for everything about him. His eyes stop on the fuel gauge, then he glances back up at the road in front of him. He's not sure if what he saw was correct, so he checks the gauge once again. The needle hangs perilously on the final mark next to the "E," not moving. The knowledge of this pending setback doesn't initially worry Terry, but he soon thinks to himself, I'd better get gas fast. He immediately pulls off the Interstate and stops at a gas station where he rummages through his pockets and under the car seats for gas money. All he can come up with is a lonely dime and an old, realistic-looking, plastic toy gun of his. Trying to be cool, he coasts up to the gas pump and helps himself to five dollars worth of gas, then non-challantly places the nozzle back on the pump. What if I get caught? he thinks to himself as he fondles the toy gun in his pocket, debating with himself whether or not to hold up the attendant. He speeds away without paying, looking back to see if the attendant is watching, then drives down the Interstate until he runs out of gas again. He coasts into a rest stop where the State Troopers catch up with him a few hours later, while he is asleep in the back seat. Before he knows it, he is sitting on a plane next to his juvenile probation officer, enroute for a flight to Anchorage, Alaska. He is in Anchorage for only an hour, just long enough to get a connecting commuter flight to Homer. The beauty of the mountains and the bay surrounding Homer as their plane circles for a landing will remain stuck in Terry's mind for the rest of his life.
Pavick, the founder of the orphanage, meets the plane at the airport where the probation officer hands Terry over to him. Pavick has known Roland and his wife Susan for years. They routinely visit the orphanage, often dropping off freshly-caught fish, or, if Roland and Earl get a chance to fly over to Kodiak and get a couple of deer, they make sure they drop one off to help feed the kids. Roland and Susan stop off at the orphanage one day to drop off a good-sized halibut they had just caught.
It was then that they were introduced to Terry. Pavick loaned him a .22 rifle during his second day at the orphanage and pointed him up the trail behind the orphanage into the woods. "Bring us back some spruce hens or grouse for the pot," Pavick told him, patting him on the back as he headed up the trail. Terry returned a couple of hours later with three spruce hens. "Looks like you got lucky," Pavick said, admiring the birds Terry held up.
"They wouldn't even fly off when I started shooting at them," Terry said excitedly. "Leave 'em out here and we'll clean them. Need to pluck the feathers while they're still warm," Pavick told him. "Go in and get me a big pan and some newspapers."
Terry dropped the birds on the ground in front of Pavick, then handed him the rifle. He began walking toward the house, then turned and asked, "What's the newspaper for?"
"We're out of toilet paper in the outhouse," Pavick said. Susan and Roland began stopping by the orphanage more frequently, sparked by a genuine interest in the well-being of Terry.
He had been at the orphanage for almost three years when Roland offered to take him fishing during one of his visits and Terry jumped at the chance. Terry was fascinated with the sea and, from then on, never missed an opportunity to go boating or fishing. Susan invited Terry over to their place for dinner nearly every weekend and he often spent the night, with Pavick's permission. He readily accepted the couple and their kind treatment, and they accepted him as their own.