A tale of two adopted Northern Dogs

The following blog is part of an occasional series about IFAW staff who have opened their homes to adopt pets from our companion animal projects around the world.

I am outside watching my two dogs bomb around the field at the edge of our woods. They bark, growl and chase one another, a boundless flurry of energy.

As I watch them play, I can’t help but think about what might have been…

They are Northern Dogs, adopted out of the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s project in northern Canada. It is quite possible neither of them would be here today if it weren’t for the work that IFAW is doing there. 

Zeke is the older. I adopted him 3 ½ years ago. He was only a pup but he had been hanging around with a group of older dogs who were roaming the neighborhood and making community members nervous – something that usually doesn’t bode well for the animals. If it weren’t for our great relationship with the animal control officer there, Zeke probably wouldn’t have made it past four months. 

My little girl Luna was found in the snow with her littermates. It was a frigid 30 below.  They were only about 10 weeks old and two of them had not been strong enough to survive the bitter cold. Again my colleagues came to the rescue.

So in late March, I made the long drive up to Toronto, as I did with Zeke almost three years before (almost to the day), and became Luna’s mom.

I have had several dogs – all great – but Northern Dogs are a breed apart. They are sturdy, playful, smart, adaptable and highly social. They have to be in order to survive the harsh environment and conditions in which they often live.

That said – as it is with children – just because you already have one does not mean you will know what to expect with the next.

Zeke and Luna couldn’t be more different.

Zeke is obedient, doting, mellow, well-behaved, cautious and has a conscience (usually guilty).  He is the most loving creature on the planet and hangs on my every breath.

Luna is crazy. She is only eight months old, but I can tell by the look in her eyes and how she listens (or doesn’t) that this is her personality.  She is an alpha girl, obsessed with balls, and can destroy any squeaky (even those marketed as indestructible) in minutes.

She is reckless, she has already broken a toe from running top speed without paying attention to where she was going, and naughty, she jumps on counters and eats entire meals, ingredients and napkins.

We have found that our best defense is to keep the house baby-proofed and keep her exhausted. 

Zeke is an avid fetcher and swimmer. His favorite vacation is when we take him to the lake. It is a week of running, fetching, swimming and chasing the ducks who taunt him at every chance. This was Luna’s first year.

We thought for sure she would bound into the water. After all, she loves getting wet – in fact I cannot water the garden when she is around because she jumps in and out of the beds trying to catch the water and rolls all over the ground in an effort to get as wet and muddy as possible.

So it was a surprise when she walked into the lake and froze when only knee deep. For two days she would stand, lift up her paw and gently place it on the water’s surface, somewhat bewildered when it disappeared. Why couldn’t she walk on the water??

Finally after much coaxing and luring with a ball, she ventured far enough in so that she became buoyant – her fear reflexes kicked in – literally – and those feet started paddling and the lightbulb went off.  We could not keep her out of the water from that point on…

Luna and Zeke are beloved companions – she is the pesky “little sister” and he loves to school her when she gets too wild. They nuzzle, play tug of war, swim together, chase each other around the yard and explore the woods as a team.

They get to be dogs.

Northern Dogs.

At day’s end Zeke curls up on the floor beside the bed and Luna crawls under it—safe in her cave, protected by her “older brother.”

If it weren’t for IFAW’s supporters, we would not be able to help these communities and their dogs.  Many dogs like Luna and Zeke would not be alive today and would not be filling people’s lives with so much joy and entertainment.

So thank you – for the many animals whose lives you touch through your support and for the two dogs that have touched mine.


Post a comment


Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy