Friday, September 11, 2009

Baker Lake, Nunavut: Days 3 and 4

The first full day of work in the community was Wednesday, September 9th. The team was ready to go at the clinic for 10am and already had several surgery and vaccine patients booked. Though Baker Lake is an Arctic community, the majority of dogs here are not sled dogs- most are pet dogs that live either inside or outside the house. Team Baker Lake members noticed that, in contrast to many other communities in Nunavut, the presence of the ancient pure breed of dog called the Canadian Inuit Dog is virtually non-existent. Canadian Inuit Dogs (CIDs) are still used in the far North to pull sleds, but in Baker Lake, many people seem to prefer pets over working dogs. ATVs have replaced dog teams in many areas, so people are beginning to "experiment" with having dogs solely as companions.

There are approximately 7 dog teams in the area, and most of the dog teams are composed of Alaskan huskies. The term Alaskan husky actually describes a mixed dog used for sledding, and doesn't even have to be a breed mix that includes huskies! Apparently, one of the sled teams here is even made up of short-haired gun dog mixes. The team members are excited to see for themselves when they visit each of the sled dog teams, tethered outside of town on the tundra, to vaccinate and deworm each dog.

On days 3 and 4 in Baker Lake (Wednesday and Thursday), another 20 or so animals (both dogs and cats) were spayed and neutered, and many more were vaccinated. It is always interesting to see the common dog breed mixes in town- in Baker Lake, there are many, many spaniel mixes with lovely floppy ears! It certainly indicates which of the dogs are doing most of the reproducing around here. Satisfyingly, the team has sterilized several mature male spaniel crosses- hopefully the surgery takes some of the swagger out of their step!

On day 3, Dr. Gina and her team spent the day at the vaccine table, while Dr. Janet and Dr. Jess and their teams were in surgery. Several tough surgical cases meant that many team members stayed at the clinic until very late. On the night of day three, two of those cases stayed as pampered overnight guests at Casa CAAT. Spot is a young and sweet female spaniel and Girl is a beautiful, graceful German Shepherd/Husky mix. Girl in particular swiftly wormed her way into the team's heart, with her liquid brown eyes and earnest expression.

Team member Dee was up several times during the "sleepover" night, checking on Girl and Spot and ensuring that they were comfortable. Every day on this project, each team member proves their compassionate and unceasing commitment to animal care and welfare time and time again. Thankfully, Girl has a very good home here in Baker Lake. Thus, the team can rest easy knowing that with continued veterinary care provided by CAAT in future trips, she should have a long and healthy life.

Please stay tuned for more news of the CAAT Baker Lake project! Thank you for reading and please remember that CAAT is not able to provide veterinary care in remote communities without financial assistance from generous donors. Thank you so much for your continued support, in whatever form it takes!

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