With Sunlight in Cat Lake at 11PM, You Trick Yourself Into Working Longer Days

Dr Emma and her helpers after vaccinating Chipmunk.

Cat Lake is a small community with about 100 houses.  It’s accessible by air only until the winter.  About 25 years ago, they built a winter road which makes Pickle Lake accessible by vehicle during the winter… if the weather is cold enough, if there is enough snow, if the ‘road’ is well taken care of and if it’s not too slushy.

This might seem like a good option but I’m not sure how many of us would choose to drive a winter road where the conditions are iffy and there is no cell phone service if something does happen.

The remoteness of the communities and the lifestyle that comes from that makes you realize how much you take for granted and how much time and money you spend on hobbies, entertainment, and really, just frivolity.

I am not judging, I am just saying.

In the remote north, there are no stores to buy a can of paint if you all of a sudden decided you wanted to repaint your living room.  There is no place to buy a paintbrush.

There is no place to buy a new chair or some gardening plants or a new pair of shoes.

A flight out costs $1200/person, low end dog food costs $60 a bag and a container of milk is $6.

You boil the water before you drink it.

The roads inside the communities aren’t paved and there are only about four of them anyway.  Houses have little to no insulation and if a window is broken, there is no place to get a replacement.  The schools only go to grade 8 and then the kids have to be billeted outside the community, away from their families and their homes.

This is not a recipe for success.  So I can understand why some people wonder why we are there to help the dogs and not the people.  But we aren’t really.  If you help the dogs, you are helping the people and when those in the community help their community (including the dogs), it helps them too.

So to get back to our day on the ground, today was a bit of this and that as we organized for our three and a half day stay.  The vet team set up in one of the school’s seven classrooms while Ann took the rest of us door knocking to talk to the owners who had dogs on the list for vaccinations or surgery.

Ann knows everyone from being a nurse in the community and it’s wonderful to hear people call out her name as she walks by.  In Cat Lake, you knock on the door and let yourself in, so if you turn your back for a second, Ann has disappeared into another doorway and all you can hear is her chirping to the families inside.

Ann worked in Cat Lake for eight years as a nurse so her relationships with community members are close and these relationships are really important for making the Friends of Animush program work.

In the later afternoon, we went out with the vet team to vaccinate dogs at their homes.

While it would be best for owners to bring their dogs to the clinic, the reality is that they don’t so you either go to them or we can’t vaccinate the dogs.

Emma and Rob are new to the project, as is Sam, one of the techs.  Ann wants to make sure that everyone gets a real feeling for the community context so we’ll be tramping around until dinner.  It’s light here until almost 11 pm so your body has absolutely no idea what time it is… this means you can trick it into working longer days and eating when you should really be in bed  :  )

-- JH

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

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