Canadian Northern Dogs: What to do with “the young ferals”?

The young pups in transport.All the dogs and cats that we brought down quickly went on to find their new homes. 

Calpyso, Scar, Buddy, Bridget, Petit Chien, Black Puppy and Bridget have all been adopted and Wolfie and Red Buddy have home visits for new homes tomorrow night. 

The ferals, however, are a different story.  About four months of age, we decided to take them south after being asked by the woman in the community who had been feeding them and their mother. 

Their age is borderline as far as reshaping their behaviours.  But if we didn’t take them, I knew they would end up on the wrong side of community tolerance. 

Capturing them was as tricky as I expected -- and not because we are not experienced in how to do it.  While you are intent on capturing them, they are just as intent on avoiding you. 

The idea was for them to be contained on the back porch where we could inch our way up, capture them slowly and cover their heads with a towel as we transported them to the crates in the van. 

Of course, things often don’t go as expected and I was disappointed to see that they weren’t contained.  Thankfully I counted, one, two, three, four pups along with mum, staying on the property but moving away from us around the house.  I have no doubt; the whole dog family knew something was up before we got out of the van. 

Make that, they knew something was up before we even pulled up! 

Acclimatizing to humans in their pen.As we circled the house, they circled the house.  Even though we were moving slowly and using as little as energy as possible, they were way more street smart than to be fooled by us. 

Thankfully, the next door neighbour had been feeding the pups so he pulled out his frying pan and used his regular call to get their attention. 

As they ate out of the frying pan on his doorstep, we moved in behind them.  As I grabbed one, he turned, put his sharp puppy teeth into my hand, shrieked and squirmed.  He was out of my arms, off the porch and as far away from me in a nano second.  

Again the neighbour stepped in and used their familiarity with him to lure them in, pick each one up, cover their eyes and carry them over to the crates. 

Anyone who doubts the bonds of animal families need only to have witnessed the calling between mama dog and her pups. 

It didn’t stop as they were put in the crates, nor as we closed the van hatch.  She sat at the curb, calling to her pups who sat in the crates, calling back. 

The decision to remove them was made to save their lives but it was still heartbreaking to feel their despair.

The four pups travelled quietly in their two crates, trying to keep as far away as possible when we fed them. 

On arrival, they were transferred to a big pen where they could acclimatize to humans through positive food related interactions.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare and our partners will make sure the pups get all they need to thrive. 

I’ll keep you posted.


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters