A Canadian Clinic Sidebar: Chipmunk, Top Dog of Cat Lake

Chipmunk, the top community dog in Cat Lake, Canada.

Chipmunk is actually a community dog.  He has about six different ‘owners’ who feed him but really, the whole community watches out for him.  Not that he needs lots of looking after as I’d say he’s top of the dog heap -- car smart, weather resistant, food savvy, and people loving.

These are priority characteristics to have if you’re going to survive harsh weather and a roaming dog lifestyle.  If you walk through the community, you can be almost guaranteed that Chipmunk will materialize beside you, sliding out from under a front porch or just showing up midway along the journey.

And as he follows, others follow him vying for his attention by rolling over submissively for his approval or licking at his mouth.  He is the man around town. Being Top Dog, however, is a job and Chipmunk does make order of the dog population either by chasing someone away or showing in some subtle dog way that they are not welcome.

Chipmunk is about six now and was neutered by the team about four years ago.  He is a big white wolfie looking thing with grey tipped fur and an intelligent and easy going spirit.

We stayed at the teacher’s residence and if anyone from the team was there, you just had to open the door to find him lounging on the front stoop either waiting for a rub or a piece of grub with some of his friends fanned out around him.

These are not inside dogs so at first we left the door open and expected they would stay out.  But they know suckers when they see them and that must have been how they pegged us because they just barged right in.

So then I put one of the big coolers in front of the open door but he was happy to jump over it which meant that his friends were all of a sudden braver and they too were happy to leap into the kitchen.

Protocol then became that the cooler was slid across the doorway and the lid opened which seemed to create enough of a visual barrier to keep them from trying to make it into the kitchen.

The kids call out his name and everyone knows and tolerates him.  He’s easy to be around.  He’s the guy you would follow if you got lost in the woods or needed some advice.  He’s Chipmunk… Top Dog of Cat Lake.  And that is where we will leave him when it’s time to leave Cat Lake.

Home sweet home.

-- JH

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://ifaw.org

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