Northern Dogs slideshow: the "Final Four" feral pups each find forever homes

Since 2002, each year the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Northern Dogs Project takes a team of vets and educators to remote and underserved Canadian communities. 

As well as providing clinics for much needed veterinary services, the team works with community members to create stable, healthy dog populations.

The Feral Four have each found their own place after being removed from their community in April by the Northern Dogs Team. 

Not being socialized to people, it was only a matter of time before they did something that would put them on the Not Welcome list.

If you recall, once they came south, Katniss, the smallest of the litter, was taken almost immediately into a home environment after being picked on by one of her littermates. 

Her foster family has a wonderful clan of dogs who took Katniss under their wing, in particular Rockstar, a shihtzu who came out of the north last year with traumatic facial wounds. 

Rockstar and Katniss bonded quickly with one another and after six months in her foster home, Katniss has now trusts her people.

And of course, when you have two dogs who are so completely enamored with each other and two people who are completely tickled with their foster, it’s a love match. 

Katniss’ Facebook status now says “Adopted!”.

Kazz, the boldest of the litter is also in a foster home where he has blossomed with the home’s dogs and cats.  Still not sure how much he should depend on his people, they are dedicated to meeting his needs in whatever creative way he can accommodate.

The other two males who were separated into different pens to await their foster homes have ended up on a very different path to happiness. 

A couple of months ago, Laurie called to say that she had found a woman who believed the two boys should be free and wanted to provide them with whatever they needed to live that life with her and her dogs. 

In the northern community, they had lived with their mother (who is still up north, being fed by caring community members – we hope to spay her at the next Northern Dogs clinic in the spring) on the edge of town.

Down here, they remained aloof and uncomfortable, moving to the far side of their pens when people were near. 

With that in mind, it was a no brainer that these two should have the opportunity to live their lives, free, but cared for. 

With no need to keep them separated in preparation for foster homes anymore, they were neutered and vaccinated and put back together into one pen where they stayed for a week. 

At the same time, a release pen was erected out at their new home. 

The following week, the boys were moved to the release pen in preparation for a ‘soft release’. 

This means that the animals (can be any animal -- bear, wolf, dog) are not simply released into the environment, but rather, are put into a pen in their new environment for a time. 

This is intended to acclimatize them to their new surroundings with the hope that when they are released, they will know this is their home and stick around. 

Starsky and Hutch, as they were now named, were taken to their pen and fed by their new caregiver for a week. 

Everyone was excited for release day, I think the photos speak for themselves… two dogs returning to the lifestyle they came from that they also yearned to return to. 

It is not enough to say thank you to the people who were involved in making this happen

Starsky and Hutch are never far from one another, they know where they live and who their dog family is. 

They are fed and watched out for while they build trust with the small number of people who they call family.

--JH

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Experts

Cora Bailey
Director, Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW)
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Dr. Ian Robinson, Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Vice President, Programs & Int'l Operations
Gail A'Brunzo, IFAW Wildlife Rescue Manager
Wildlife Rescue Manager, IFAW HQ
Hanna Lentz, Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Program Officer/Campaigner, IFAW HQ
Jan Hannah
Northern Dogs Project Manager
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Companion Animals
Program Director, Companion Animals
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Veterinarian, DVM, PhD
Nancy Barr, Program Director, Animal Action Education
Program Director, Animal Action Education
Rebecca Brimley, Program Advisor
Program Advisor