Friday, July 20, 2007

DAY 9, Tuesday July 17, 2007

Our surgeries today began with Bob the Beagle’s neuter which went very well. Two residents, Billy and Lydia then brought Tiny in to us, most likely a Corgi mix with short legs and a longer body. Tiny had been given to Billy and Lydia as a wedding present four years previously and they were quite concerned about a persistent cough she had. Brigitte examined Tiny and decided she probably had an upper respiratory infection (URI) and gave her antibiotics to go home with, and also a deworming injection. The owners had mentioned that they had noticed a very long tapeworm coming out of her mouth earlier in the year. There is a worm here in Northern Canada which dogs can pass on to humans and can eventually be fatal to the humans. It is the Echinococcus granulosis or E. multiocularis tapeworm and can cause hydatid cysts in the lungs, liver and brain of humans. Therefore deworming all of the dogs for this worm is very important when we come to work in the North.
Another interesting thing we learned today was told us while Chris was absentmindedly pulling out the tufts of shedding hair from Tiny while she was holding her. One of the residents who was observing whispered to Chris and said, “you might not want to do that. The dogs here need their thick coats in the winter and if you pull out the shedding coat their winter coat won’t be as thick next year”. Chris thanked him.
Billy mentioned to us that he had once visited Vancouver. When asked what he thought about it he said “It was a culture shock.” He said he saw many things he had never seen before, but trees and grass were the most amazing things he saw. We found that quite humourous. Lydia had spent five weeks in Ottawa and saw her first horse and couldn’t get over how big they are. She said she would be too afraid to ride one. They spoke to us about the different types of meat they have here; caribou is rare to have, seal they do not eat often, but walrus and Arctic Char is wonderful and fairly common. They eat them both raw and cooked. We discussed all of the different types of hides and their uses. They say that everyone has caribou skin coats here as they are the warmest of all hides and each coat lasts for a couple of years. It was very fascinating hearing about their culture and traditions. Very wonderful and interesting people.
In the morning a few of us went up to the Recreation centre to Science Camp. Caitlin spoke to the children there (ages five to ten) for about thirty minutes and played an action game with them. She mainly spoke about bite prevention and safety around dogs to the kids. She’s a natural with the children. When the children were asked how many had ever been bitten by a dog nearly every child’s hand went up. We handed out colouring books and crayons to the children. She also went back in the afternoon and spoke to the older children, ages eleven to thirteen.
One of the other visitors to the clinic today was Steve, a freelance photo journalist originally from California but has lived in Igloolik for the past year. He interviewed us, took many photos and then invited us all to his home that evening for tea. His new wife, Lily, is a polar bear biologist here. We all quickly agreed to be there.
On our way back to our temporary homes, an Inuit man stopped Barb and Chris and told them how very happy he is that we came to Igloolik and thanked us for all that we were doing and for coming. He said he didn’t need to hear the radio show to know how good it was for us to be here! It was very uplifting and encouraging to hear some positive feedback.
We spent two hours visiting with Steve and Lily and had the opportunity to be educated with photos and by Lily about polar bears. Very fascinating, to say the least! Lily spends three months per year tracking, tagging and measuring polar bear populations. For the last two years the team has been working with the bears along the coastline of Labrador and Newfoundland and parts of Baffin Island. Last year they were able to tag 840 bears! They fly in by helicopter, dart the bear from the helicopter while the bear is in the water, and then they herd the bear to shore. Once the sedative in the dart takes effect they start their work. It takes Lily and her technician, Marcus, about twenty minutes per bear. They tattoo the bear with its own unique number (done inside the lip), put a tag in its ear, extract a tooth (similar to the wolf tooth in horses) to age the bear, take a tuft of hair for DNA samples, and check the bear over for any injuries and the general body condition. They leave before the bear is fully awake. It was extremely interesting and quite a learning experience for each one of us. Steve fed us herbal tea and peanut butter cookies he had made for us and then we headed back to our residence for dinner.
Tomorrow we are supposed to go out to Igloolik Point, which we’ve heard so much about, to vaccinate several dog teams out there and hopefully be able to interact and visit with some of the people there.

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