Northern Dogs: A Community and a Half Away From the Goal
Drive, drive, drive, set up, buzz around, take down, Zzzzzzzz, drive, drive, drive. That’s what it feels like sometimes… a whirlwind with a ton of kilometers in between. And I guess that is what it’s about when you drive two days up, 5 days between communities followed by two days home. But that’s jumping ahead because we are still a community and a half away from thinking of leaving.
I didn’t have time to write yesterday as we had another busy day here as expected. The weather was brutal – snowy and blowy and cold. There is still ice on the lake and people are still walking on it so I assume it’s not ready for break up yet. From the lodge this morning, we watched a man head across while his three dogs cavorted behind him. I say that when the weather is crummy, where better to be than at the dog clinic!
Now, what I have noticed – which I think is correlated to time of year – is that fewer young puppies have been coming in (often with very young owners). In the past, coming in May has meant noticeably more spring pups. Unfortunately, we didn’t see lots of pregnant females either. I will have to work out the data when we get home but for now, it’s a bit of a treat not to see so many young pups and to see more older ones.
Before we got here I was asked to take south a mastiff cross who had been turned in by his owner with a reputation of being dog aggressive. Margaret and Heidi went out to the pound in the snowstorm to take photos of him. Even though I have often been told that dogs who I have been asked to be rehome are ‘bad’ or ‘mean’ or ‘aggressive’, I have never yet taken one south who turns out to be as described. I say it over and over… because the dogs up north roam (for the most part), their dog and human skills are excellent. Like Bruno who would take a short cut to get around the top dog who patrolled the area near the corner. What is considered poor behaviour here is often not near the leash aggression or ill behaved dog shenanigans that we get at home.
Anyway, Leroy, as we called him did look like a brown and white mastiff cross and while his face was scarred, he also had his bits and the freedom to make some poor decisions. I said we would take him with us when we left and so we added him to the neuter list for the day.
We had an owner come in this morning with his dog Porky, a small terrier mix about 8 weeks old. He didn’t want to neuter him – until the pup fell off his lap and landed on his head. Then for whatever reason, he changed his mind and we changed his paperwork to vaccinate and neuter. While he waited, someone sitting across the waiting ‘hall’ mentioned that they had seen his other dog at the pound and asked why he didn’t go and pick her up before it was too late. So off he went and half an hour later he was back with Porky AND Lucky, opting for surgery for her as well.
The dangers of being a small dog in the north are huge. Small dogs have a harder time keeping warm. Small boy dogs will NEVER win a fight over a female in heat and in some cases, they will die trying. Small girl dogs are fought over just as much as big girl dogs and if the winner is a big dude, the pups and the mum will most likely die during birth. Best thing to do for your small dog… neuter him and spay her. Which Willie did, thankfully.
And I was so excited to see Camo again -- a very unique, striped boy who we neutered last year and who was brought in for vaccines. He looks fantastic… good weight, happy with his people. It is so gratifying to see those dogs who touched you the year before come back. Maybe you worried about them or maybe you had fallen for them or maybe you just remembered them. It was good to see Camo. Really good.
We also had a very helpful fellow who was vaccinated in the morning but who hung around all day, trying to be part of the action. Buddy is a tall, very handsome husky cross who we neutered the year before last. He’s as friendly as your closest friend and in his past life, he must have been a nurse… or a tabloid writer. I’m not sure if he wanted to help or was just plain nosey, but he sat at the front door of the school looking in at us mournfully and whenever someone came in, he would slip in with them. I admit… I wanted to take him home. Someone that friendly and that persistent has a very good sense of humour.
We ended the two days a little behind numbers from weekends in past years – 51 surgeries and 74 vaccinations. The weather is supposed to remain frightful so we are up and on the road early tomorrow to make the 3.5 hour trek to our final community. Pack and go… the Northern Dogs Team is on the road again!
To read Jan's previous post about the Northern Dogs team effort, click here.