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Couple proposes naming lake for dog that died in landslide

November 25, 2018

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — The Sitka Historic Preservation Commission will consider backing a proposal to name a lake for a beloved dog that died as the small body of water was created by a landslide.

Kevin Knox and Maggie Gallin have applied to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names to designate the 1-acre (0.4-hectare) body of water as “Luna Lake,” the Sitka Sentinel reported, after their 11-year-old border collie, Luna.

The landslide killed Luna and nearly killed the couple.

Knox, Gallin and Luna on May 12, 2013, were camping at a U.S. Forest Service cabin at the east end of Redoubt Lake.

Knox was outside the cabin and heard a rumble that sounded like a jet engine. He looked up and saw the hillside above sliding his way.

He yelled for his wife to run. The last time he saw Luna, she was nipping at his heels as he ran from the path of the slide, he said. Knox and Gallin ended up in the lake under trees.

The couple searched for three hours without finding Luna. They returned several times, once with a search and rescue dog and handler.

Luna had been with Knox since she was 9 months old and had seen him through the loss of his father in 2006 and the illness and death of his former wife, Beth Peterman, in 2009.

“For a long time Luna was the hub of my family,” Knox said. “I’d been through a lot with her.”

Gallin met Knox when he needed a dog-sitter and they started dating a year later.

The landslide blocked a small stream and created the new, small lake. After revisiting the site, Knox and Gallin thought naming it after Luna would be an appropriate tribute.

“It’s not as big as it was when it first formed but it’s still there,” Knox said.

Naming a landmark is challenging. The U.S. Forest Service, Sealaska Heritage and Sealaska Corp. will also weigh in on the proposal. The state historical commission also will seek comment from the public.

Roberta Littlefield, chairwoman of the Sitka Historic Preservation Commission, said Friday that state regulation protocols discourage the naming of geographical locations after pets. Members of the Sitka commission, she said, favor the proposal but want to research precedents elsewhere before voting. The proposal will come up again at a December meeting, Littlefield said.

Knox and Gallin said the 2013 landslide is unforgettable.

“It’s still fresh in our minds,” Gallin said. “It’s not something you ever forget. It changes your relationship with the earth, and your sense of stability.”

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