Navigating the hardships of Northern Canada

The intent of the Northern Dogs Project is to keep dogs in the communities by helping their people to provide for themAs winter approaches, we at IFAW are thinking about the dogs we have rescued and cared for in the Northern communities of Canada, where life can be hard for these dogs. As some of the dogs hunker down into the houses our project has built for them, we also think of other dogs who have proven resilience in many other ways.

People often say there are ‘too many dogs’ so we work on the population level, but truth be told, many of the professed ‘dog problems’ stem from normal things that dogs do that, in the end, bother people.

If you’ve ever seen free roaming dogs in action, then you know what I’m talking about. When they are not at home or following their owners around, they do doggy things like find friends and go swimming, follow their kids to the school, chase their owner’s truck, or hang out on their porch. The more nuisance side includes dogs getting into garbage, barking, having pups under someone’s front porch, or chasing cars.

And that nuisance side can get the dogs into trouble, particularly anything that has to do with cars.

Many of the dogs understand cars and whether they know the danger they represent, they stay out of the way. But puppies simply don’t have the experience and many of them are killed in clashes with vehicles.

Sasquatch was one such pup who had a serious run in with a car, but she was thankfully one of the lucky ones. 

By the time I got the call that there was a puppy who had been hit by a car, it had been about a week since the incident. The owner had contacted a teacher to say that they didn’t want the furry red pup anymore and it’s the teacher who contacted me to ask if I could take her.

Thanks to Pilots and Paws (a charitable organization that flies animals in need -, Sasquatch (so named because of her similarity in appearance to the famous forest dweller) arrived south within a few days.  On arrival, she pushed out of her crate looking live every other happy, waggy puppy -- except for the splint she had on her front right leg.

I took Sasquatch straight to the vet for x-rays and it turned out that she didn’t just have a fractured leg, she also had a broken jaw.

Of course, puppies are so elastic and the break in her leg was already starting to heal, and healing in alignment.  The surgeon looked at the x-rays and gave the green light to carry on with splinting rather than surgery.  The dental surgeon was next and she also gave the go ahead to forego surgery on her jaw saying that oftentimes, surgery fixes the problem but it can also make things worse.

Her recommendation was to leave Sasquatch’s jaw to continue healing on its own, recognizing that she may need some corrective intervention in the future.

The intent of the Northern Dogs Project is to keep dogs in the communities by helping their people to provide for them. But sometimes dogs and pups are simply unwanted or like Sasquatch, they need serious vet care.  Sometimes dogs need things in their communities and that’s where education can help or food or in-community vet care or the provision of dog houses.

Winter is a tough time for dogs who don’t get enough food or don’t have proper shelter.  For those dogs, we continue our work with our partner communities. As for the dogs and pups, like Sasquatch, who need to be out roaming about, we are there for them too.


Your holiday gift today will help animals in the frozen North, as well as around the world.

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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
Gail A'Brunzo, Manager, Wildlife Rescue
Manager, Wildlife Rescue
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