Canadian Northern Dogs Clinics Seeing Dozens of Animals Everyday
I saw a wolf! As we drove out to meet the vet team who was flying in with Cloud Nine Rescue flights, a big, light coloured wolf ran across the road in front of my van. I screeched to a halt and backed up so I could focus my headlights on him. He had come to a complete stop, chest deep in the snow at the far side of the road and looked me right in the eye before lurching through the snow on his way into the forest. For those who have never seen a wolf in the wild, they don’t look or move like dogs. They are definitely wolves!
There are a few new things this year. For starters, this is the first time we’ve held the clinics here in April, squeezing them in between winter and Goose Break. It’s been warm, which is important for animals recovering from surgery, but it’s supposed to get cold.
Marie Josée, Northern Dogs Lead Vet, has been texting me weather updates which show cold days and nights ahead. Ug. Secondly, the two vets have trained on some new field techniques and are keen to put them to use. And thirdly, Becky, the intake vet tech, has Jodi to help her hold, vaccinate, and deworm dogs as well as sedate animals for surgery. This should ease the load on that position.
Last year the vets spayed and neutered 30 animals here in one day and that prompted Stanley (community contact) to ask if we could come for two days this year. How long we stay in a community depends on the number of animals that have visited the clinic in past years, who is doing the groundwork in the community to get the word out, and of course, if there is a direct ask and it makes sense, we can add a day. This is a small community so we’ll see if an additional day makes sense for the future. The vets can do 40 surgeries in a day so what I am looking for is a significant increase in numbers from last year to justify this second day.
The vets and techs pull the equipment out of the containers and in no time there is a fully functioning surgery with two surgery tables with anesthetic machines, supplies are laid out, the autoclave is set up to sterilize instruments, and the vet team is ready for their first patient.
It started slowly but the dogs did start coming in for vaccinations and surgery. Toby was the first neuter, a 7 month old Bernese Mountain Dog purchased from a breeder down south. Bupkiss, a really cute 6 month old St Bernard cross, also purchased down south, was next up for a spay. Her owner was a young girl who isn’t old enough to take responsibility for a dog but Bupkiss is well looked after by the grandparents.
Charlie, a 5 month old shepherd cross, had not been eating or drinking that morning, was lethargic and had an issue with one of his eyes. Although his owner was not sure at first if she wanted to neuter him, she had time to think about it as Becky carried out a physical and took his temperature. When his owner decided to go ahead and neuter Charlie, the vets took the opportunity to have a good look at the eye while he was under anesthetic.
Clinic triage is somewhat like an emergency hospital intake. The owners are greeted by us, the intake people. We take down the owner information, the dog information and we note any concerns that the owner might have (e.g. runny eye, cut on foot, skinny, etc.). We also ask if the dog is being brought in for surgery, vaccines only, or something else.
If it is not an emergency, the intake vet tech Becky then looks at the dog. She is like a nurse and if there is an issue, she looks it over and deals with it, or makes the decision that a vet needs to see the animal. With Charlie, Becky did the work and in the end, his owner decided to go ahead with the neuter. The vets were able to have a good look at his eye and he went home with antibiotics and instructions for the next two weeks.
Then Mira, Smokey, Buddy, Samantha, Fluffy, Golden Girl and a young mother AND her four, four week old pups filtered through our system of intake, physical and surgery. Final tally for the day… 14 surgeries and 30 vaccinations (14 of these were already neutered, 7 were already spayed). Next up is dinner and bed. Talk tomorrow.