Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baker Lake- Day 9

The last clinic day in Baker Lake began with a few surgeries. While Janet and Julie diligently worked on sterilizing the last few animals, the rest of the team began the arduous task of clean up. Since a classroom was used as a clinic site, it was imperative that every last trace of dog and cat smell was vanquished from the air!

Tuesday was the slowest clinic day, as it appeared that everyone who wanted their animals seen had arranged for this in the past week. There were a few more vaccines and exams, but other than that, the team chattered excitedly about the town caribou feast which was to be held that evening at the community centre. Later in the afternoon, Jess, Christina, Laura, and Caitlin headed out to a dog team situated about 5 km outside of town. Their owner, Oscar, wanted the 17 dogs examined and vaccinated. Wolves and barren land grizzly bears are frequent visitors to his family's cabin out on the tundra, and one of his dogs had been injured several weeks prior by a wild animal (the dogs are not able to interact with one another as the way they are tethered does not permit this).

The mini-team worked with the dogs over the next 30 minutes or so, while the Arctic sun dipped over the land. The ladies marveled at the small lagoons composed of melted ice, which were bathed in a pink glow from the setting sun. Laura performed a wonderful feat of true "dog whispering", calming a terrified dog who was determined to protect her haunch of caribou from us. Laura spoke soothingly to her, and assured her that we were not interested in taking her meat from her. Finally, Laura was able to slip a muzzle on her, which allowed Dr. Jess to safely administer the vaccine which could potentially save her life someday. Way to go, Laura!

Later on, the tundra adventurers arrived back in town to join the rest of the team at the caribou feast. It appeared that the whole town had arrived to celebrate an evening of good "country food" and fun games. The caribou was roasted and then distributed among three giant barrels, and people could help themselves. There weren't many leftovers!

The highlight of the feast for the CAAT team was the presence of the children. The kids were fascinated by the presence of digital cameras, and were eager to take as many pictures as they could of themselves and their friends. In addition, they enjoyed braiding hair and creating new hairstyles for the CAAT women. Then, a couple of team members joined in an Inuit game, the object of which was to carry a small dried bean between one's knees across the floor to a small cup, and drop it in. Laura and Caitlin joined the adults of the community in some friendly competition, soon losing out to those with more experience! The team returned home later that evening tired and ready for a good sleep in preparation for the next day's adventure- their last day in Baker Lake and a trip out onto the land with Vera Avaala.

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