Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 12

Bill spent this morning back in the role of our personal chauffeur.  Corrine, Barb and Archer had to be at the airport at 7:30 to start their full day of travelling.  First stop - Chuchill.  For a 12 hour layover.  Ouch. 

The rest of the team spent the first part of the morning tying up all the loose ends, like returning the coffee maker (Thanks, Russell! You were a life saver with that one!) and all of the keys we had.  But too soon it was time for us all to cram all the luggage in the back of Laurie's pickup truck, and cram the team into Bill's truck for the trip to the airport ourselves.  Baker Lake airport is kinda...ummm.. small.  So we pretty much took it over with all of our stuff.  But we got everything checked in - including Brownie, the puppy we are bringing back - and got ourselves on the plane. 
** I would just like to take the opportunity to point out that I have not said anything at all about Cynthia.  Nada.  As promised.   heehee. 
Our first flight of the day was to Rankin Inlet, where we had a three hour layover.  While Gina took care of Brownie, Cynthia stayed with all of our things.  The rest of the group took off for a little exploring of Rankin and a few last minutes souveiners and pictures. 
Back to the airport, back onto another plane, and off to Winnipeg we go.  I should mention what great treatment we all got on our flights with First Air, one of the Northern airlines.  Warm towels, hot meals, pillows and blankets, and some of the nicest, friendliest flight attendants I've ever met!   Barb and Corrine are traveling with another airline, CalmAir, and I can only assume they are having a similar experience.  It's not cheap to travel in our North, but they sure know how to treat you!!   Thank you to both FirstAir and CalmAir!
We all safely arrived in Winnipeg, and that is where most of us had to split up for the final legs of the trip home. 
It's so hard to believe that 12 days ago most of us hadn't even met.  Now we each have so many more great friends.  Trips like this one bring the team so close together so quickly, it feels like we've been a team forever.   It is so hard to say goodbye and spread back out across the country. 

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 11

Our surgery clinic is dismantled, our vaccine clinic is all cleaned up.  

Team Baker Lake 2010
We all enjoyed a leisurely start to our day, very aware that it's our last real day in Baker Lake as we fly out tomorrow.  Since we don't have any work scheduled for today - but we do have about 50 left over hotdogs from yesterday's Puppy Parade - most of the team headed out for a walk around the hamlet to share the hotdog bounty with the dogs.  It was easy to spot all of the pets we had spayed and neutered by the shaved patches on their front legs from their IV catheter placement, so most of them got a free recheck!  We are very happy to report that everyone is doing great.  Hopefully we didn't cause a hamlet-wide rash of hotdog-induced diarrhea! 

This morning was also sad because we performed two euthanasias.  As everyone who has experienced this either from the side of a pet owner or as part of the veterinary team, knows how difficult it is.  While it is very sad, we can take comfort in knowing that our team was here to make sure that these pets had a caring and pain-free passing. 

Donna and Corrine got to spend a few hours this afternoon out on ATVs on the tundra with Sue as their personal tour guide.

Jen and Cynthia
The rest of the team arrived at Sue's house for a farewell party later in the afternoon.  But we couldn't be done just yet!  Gina, Laura and Corrine had to leave for a bit to go out to vaccinate and deworm one last sled team that we hadn't be able to get to before.  Everyone in the community knows we were staying with Sue, and I guess word got out to a few more people that we were leaving the next day... TWO different people come over to Sue's to see if we could still vaccinate their dogs!  Good thing we had some supplies still at Sue's!  So our last two vaccines were done in her garage!   

Bill and Laura
Our new best friend Bill was there with party favours and his wife Andrea joined us later in the evening.   We started the evening out with a relatively tame game of "spoons.."  but - as it seems to with most games in this group - it quickly escalated into an olympic-level sport!  Cards and spoons and dirty looks flying, but only a few minor injurys were sustained!   

Elaine, Monica and Zoe
Barb and Corrine have to leave early in the morning, so they had to go to bed early.  I'm not sure how much sleep they actually got while the rest of the team was still partying, but they did try.  Sue has to work tomorrow, so she won't be able to come see us off.  It was hard to leave. 

The first of the "goodbyes" are done... and they weren't easy.  Even more to come tomorrow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 10

We had invited all of the children and graduates from Barb's obedience classes as well as the puppies we had spayed and neutered to come meet us at lunch time for a Puppy Parade!  It was very cute!   All of the graduates recieved a certificate, and everyone was proudly sporting their new collars and leashes!  We had hotdogs for the kids, as well as stickers, temporary tattoos and some small toys for them too.  Everyone had a great time.

Our Puppy Parade

There is no denying that we are rapidly approaching the end of our trip, as today was the last day for our surgery and vaccine clinics.   We were all hoping to go out with a bang and have a super busy day, but we performed 2 dog spays, 1 dog neuter and treated a kitty with an abcessed tail.

Dog team, out on the tundra.

Down at the vaccine clinic we had someone come in and ask if we could still vaccinate his sled dog team just outside of town. We had decided that Laura should drive up (with the dog team owner following) to the surgery area to pick up Jen, Cynthia and Monica, so they could follow him out to his team on the ATV, but they were nowhere to be found.  They had gone to the house to change into warmer clothes.  Ok, off to the house we went.  But they weren't there either.  Back to the vaccine clinic where we started, and there they were waiting.  Then we realized that none of our group who was going knew how to drive the ATV!   So after a very short lesson for Cynthia they were off!  I'm sure that Phillip the dog team owner thinks we are all a little crazy!  But they got there, and we had another team of 5 adult dogs and 2 puppies vaccinated and dewormed.  Eight more puppies too young for vaccines got dewormed.

Cynthia, Monica and Jen - on the way to the sled team.
This is a good time to seguay into talking about Sue's ATV.  The poor thing is really taking a beating.  Sue is letting all of us learn how to drive on it!  And some of us aren't really what would be called a "quick study."   Now, in our defence, it's not an automatic, and it's a little finicky.  The only one who can consistently start it on the first time is Zoe.  Corrine has to reach down and use her hand on the foot shifter.  Laura accidentally popped a wheelie with Donna on the back right in front of the RCMP office.  And Cynthia got waved down and told to shift up as she tore through town in second gear.  But we have all had an absolute ball learning, and our driving skills are definitely improving.  Not to mention the entertainment value we have provided to the people of Baker Lake!
 packed up

Gina and Zoe, out vaccinating.
We had heard that the thing to do on Saturday night in the happenin' hamlet of Baker Lake is to go to the Community Centre for a dance.  We started to be a little concerned when the most information we could get was it would either be square-dancing or a teen-dance, but how could we not go?  Most of the team got all gussied up (that means deodorant and a clean-ish shirt for this team!) and headed down around 10:30.  Unfortunately, the dance had been cancelled.  So after having a discussion with some local kids about why 12 years shouldn't chew tobacco, we headed back home for another evening of speed-scrabble and Cranium.   

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 9

Archer showing off what a good boy he is!
Another hard working day for Archer!  Back to the school with Barb, Jen, Cynthia and Donna to visit a grade 3 class to learn about bite prevention.  They also watched our Dogs with Jobs videos.  The class had drawn some wonderful pictures of Archer and had many questions to ask about him.

Elaine examining one of the team
It was another busy day in our vaccine clinic today.  Twenty-nine pets vaccinated and dewormed, including another sled dog team by Elaine and Kim.

Victor's sled team
We are starting to realize that even starting at noon may be a little early, as we don't get many people coming in until around 3:00.  The leisurely mornings and slow start means that we just work later, today's surgeries weren't all sent home until after 10:00pm.   

The start of another beautiful sunset over the tundra.
A 9 year old retreiver named Barker was neutered today, and he also had a pretty significant bilateral entropian, which was tacked by Gina and her team to offer a little relief to his poor irritated eyes.  Hopefully it will make him feel better.

A very cute 6 month old puppy was brought in to the surgery clinic today, and we were told we could spay her if we wanted to, but the owner's didn't want her back.  Of course we spayed her, got her vaccinated and dewormed, and now we are looking for a home.  She and Archer became fast friends and she is loving all the people and other dogs that are coming around. 

Who could say no to that face?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 8

Barb and Archer were back at the elementary school this morning, along with Monica, Elaine, Zoe, Donna.  They all went to a grade 5 class and showed "Dogs with Jobs" videos to the children.  Archer has reached a certain level of fame here in Baker Lake, so everywhere he goes you hear the children calling out to him.

It was a busy day in the clinics today, we vaccinated 30 pets and performed 11 spays and neuters.   We have a great helper in Mona, a local lady who seems to knows everyone in town and all of their pets.  She jumps in her truck and comes back with a load of dogs for surgery.  She is a wonderful person and we are all so greatful for her help! 

Things seem to happen to us in bunches - husky day one day, fluffy day the next.... well, it was poo-day today.  'nuff said about that.

Today brought a not-so-simple case into our surgery.  Brucer is a 6 month old Mastiff x with inaudable heart sounds, increased respiratory effort and - to top everything off - one retained testical!   We were all really wishing we had an xray machine available, but without one our best guess was that he has a diaphragmatic hernia.  After explaining all of the potential conplications to Brucer's owner, he still wanted to have him neutered.  He was watched super closely during his anesthesia and surgery, and came through with flying colours. 

Jen, Monica and Cynthia got to see a full sled team coming riding into the vaccine clinic.  Quite a site to see the team hooked up to a 4x4 pulling it down the road! 
(picture of this to follow, because I can't pull it off of Monica's camera from here)

Another special visitor to the vaccine clinic was a special guy from last year.  Petri the cat was surrendered to last year's team and spent a few days living in the house with them until he was found a new home.  His name is now Brownie, and he is doing great with his new family!!  Thanks Cheryl for bring him in for a visit and to get him revaccinated.

We also got an unexpected donation today.  One of the southerners in town - it's hard to get used to being called a southerner! - brought in her dog to be vaccinated and made a donation for CAAT.  She and her husband had also given donations in lieu of gifts as wedding favours, so this was their second time supporting our organization.  Always a great surprise!   A giant thank you to Krista and her husband!

Donna, our great and glorious leader, working hard!

Another wonderful dinner - Artic char, jasmine rice with lime leaves, and veggies; and a game of charades rounded out the night.  

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Baker Lake Nunavut - DAY 7

Barb, Archer, Donna and Corinne spent this morning at the schools. They started the day at the secondary school and spoke with a group of 100 kids in grades 6, 7 & 8. The videos about Guide Dogs and Avalanche Rescue Dogs had them enthralled. Afterwards, they all moved to the elementary school where Archer was a star! He was a wonderful boy letting many of the children lead him around and showing off his obedience skills for them. The kids' excitement when he sat when a child told him to was priceless!

Archer soaking up the attention at the school.
The rest of our team had the day off and spent the morning shopping for souveniers. We found a gift shop and another shop that specializes in local art. We also stopped at the Northern store. It is the "everything" store in town. The prices are more than a little shocking for us "Southerners" $12.99 for a gallon of milk!
Monica, Cynthia and Laura in the "backseat" of Bill's truck.
At noon Bill came and picked us all up and drove us out to the barge-yard at the end of town where we were starting our hike with Sue and her dog Bandit. Hairy Sunshine joined Gina, Jen, Elaine, Monica, Kim, Zoe, Cynthia and Laura on the hike across the tundra. We were all well layered as the wind is pretty chilling but it was a beautiful warm day in the sun. Sue took us along an ATV trail that ran along the lake and says we hiked 12km in total. We went up hill and down valleys, over rocks and through mud. It was a fabulous day! The intention was to pick some blueberries along the way, but we didn't find very many. And those that we did find didn't make it into the bucket! There were a number of other types of berries we found, so we all got a lesson on artic fruit - cranberries, cloudberries, and crowberries. We were hoping to see a Muskox that Sue had seen in the area before, but no luck. We did, however, see an artic fox in the distance hunting some geese, and some caribou tracks in the sand.
along the trail
At the end of our trek the group was resting on the rocks in the bargeyard waiting for Bill to come take us home, when saw this Artic Hare. He came right up within a few feet of us and wasn't afraid at all. Well, at least he wasn't afraid until we tried to feed him dog food and crowberries! That's when he ran away.
Artic hare.
Most of our group spent the evening enjoying a wonderful dinner, a rowdy game of full-contact Cranium and a mouth watering double-chocolate banana pecan pie!

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 6

Today was another event filled day.

Gina and Laura were working in the vaccine clinic, and the day started off relatively slowly.  So they took this opportunity to go door to door with some vaccines and to spread the word about what we are doing.  Two houses later and we had three dogs vaccinated (including two that were spayed and neutered by our team last year).  Back to the RCMP garage they headed to check on Zoe who was holding the fort, and she had a bunch of puppies waiting for vaccines, deworming and surgery.
Gina and Zoe our to vaccinate a team.
The rest of the team were waiting for the pets to arrive up at surgery, so they spend the morning practicing their yoga poses.  You never know what a trip like this will throw at you, and we all knew going into it that we were expected to be flexible... but yoga?  Hmmm. 

Yoga class in the recovery area.
A lot of what we are doing here is about population control, and that was brought to light today.  Here in Baker Lake, unwanted or unowned dogs and cats are destroyed (by gunshot) by the By-Law officer.   We have been befriending the By-Law officer and discussing humane techniques with him.  He got a call today from someone in town who doesn't want their dog anymore because he has too much fur.  He brought him to us for euthanasia so he didn't have to shoot him.  Of course, he came in with a super-cute, friendly, matted up ball of hair that the entire team fell in love with.  He spent the afternoon in the RCMP garage with Gina and Laura while we decided what to do.  "Hairy-Sunshine" has now moved to Sue's house as a tempory home.   Further reports to follow!! 

Hairy Sunshine, our little man.
After the slow start for the surgery teams, we had a few groups of dogs come in together, including a Mom and her eight 10 day old puppies.  Mom got spayed and vaccined, and all of the puppies got lots of love!  Too little to be spayed and neutered this time, but at least Mom won't have to have any more babies. 
Mama and her babies.

A box full of 10 day old puppies! 
By the end of the day, we had 7 dog neuters and 7 dogs spays done, and 19 more pets vaccinated.

Archer had the day off today, and spent the day playing with Bill from Texas - our resident chauffeur and tour guide - and his yellow lab, Chase.  Archer even got the spa treatment and had a bath!   Now he smells better than some of our team in fact, since we've been waterless for 2 days. 

Baker Lake, Nunavut - DAY 5

After our late night last night, Elaine and Kim were still up at 7am to head out with Sue and Frances to see one of the local teams of sled dogs.  After an hour long ATV ride there and back over the rocky trails, they had 8 dogs vaccinated.

The surgery teams also got an earlier than normal start as we had another dog team coming in - all to be spayed and neutered!  Joe brought his 9 dogs in 2 by 2, and we got them all done.

Joe and two of his team, heading back home.
Of course, that couldn't be all our wonderful surgery teams did that day!  We also had some puppies and dogs in, and a single cat - named Tina Turner.  I'm not sure that Tina Turner was all that happy to spend the afternoon in a room full of howling dogs, but her owner's thrilled to have her spayed and brought in some freshmade bannock to thank us! 

Barb had one obedience class today, with a local girl who has Cerebral Palsy.  She wanted to learn how to walk her dog, and how to teach her dog to walk beside her bike.  She was so excited about her new leash and collar!

Just as we thought we were done for the day, we had our first emergency come in.  One of the little puppies we had neutered was back.  We had told the owner to be sure to feed the pups as soon as they were back home, and this little puppy didn't even wait for the fish to come off the hook.  He had gotten a large fishhook stuck right through his lips!  After we got him freed, we were still worried about swelling - so, of course, we took him home with us for the evening!  He was quite excited to see his owners when they came for him a little later.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Baker Lake, Nunavut 2010 - DAY 4

Some of the team started the day with a trek up to see the cemetery just outside of the hamlet.  We had to pass the snow fence to get there.  Now for those of you who have never been north before - this is no ordinary snowfence!   Apparently Baker Lake used to be known for it's snowdrifts in the winter - whole houses would be buried.  So now there is a giant 30 foot tall snowfence to protect the town from the drifts.

The ground up here is all permafrost and rock, so below ground burial is impractical if not impossible.  The wooden caskets are above ground and covered by rocks.  Tombs are marked with crosses and the occasional tombstone, and most are also decorated with flowers and trinkets.   The view from the cemetery is awesome, you can look out over the entire hamlet.
Yesterday was the day of Husky crosses in our clinic, and today was the day of our "less typical" northern dog breeds.  We saw a couple of Maltese dogs - one of who was seen sitting on a motorcycle in town, a Chihuahua, and a super cute Boxer puppy named Harley who took no time at all to win all of our hearts!

Zoe and Harley

Jen, Monica and Cynthia were busy in the vaccine clinic and much appreciated the help of Frances Ross, one of Baker Lake's school teachers, with some of the paperwork.  Frances even brought us all cookies and macaroons baked by her class - very yummy and enjoyed by all! 

At the end of the day we had two dogs spayed, seven dogs neutered, and another 22 pets vaccinated.  Barb had three more great obedience classes.  We were very excited to see a number of pets that were neutered and vaccinated last year back for another vaccine!  It's nice that the people of Baker Lake seem very happy to have us back in their community and grateful for the care of their pets. 

At the end of our work day, a few of us headed up to the airport with Sue to pick up our groceries.  There is a food-mail program that has fresh produce flown in every two weeks, and Sue was making sure we are loaded up and not going hungry.  We haven't mentioned it on here before now, but we are being so spoiled with food!  A number of people in the community started cooking and freezing food for us weeks ago, and we were all thrilled with the options BEFORE the food-mail delivery!  Our only problem will be eating it all before it goes bad.   Ok, not a real concern with 11 hungry ladies working so hard! 

The low part of our day happed shortly after returning to the house.  Because Baker Lake is on rock and permafrost, there are no water pipes coming to the houses.  Each house has it's own water tank and sewage tank, Water gets trucked in, sewage gets trucked out.  We ran out of water.  The timing was especially unfortunate for Cynthia who was in the middle of a shower at the time! 

The high point of our night came at around 2:30am.  We have a few team members who were determined to see the Northern Lights while in Nunavut, and someone had told us 2am was the best time to see them.  So tonight Laura had set her alarm and gotten up to check - at first they were dim, but obviously there so everyone came treking out in their jammies and shoe to check them out.  It was cold, so pretty soon everyone was back inside - except for Laura.  A little while later she was back inside telling everyone they simply had to come back out...  The lights were phenomenal!  It was almost indescribable, but they were blue and green and dancing across the sky!  We stood outside just in awe.  Thanks to Jen who was able to get some great pictures!  You can rest assured that each of us will be getting copies of those pictures.

Northern Lights over our house!  Awesome!
Finally, we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of the cold and back to bed.

Baker Lake Nunavut 2010, DAY THREE:

Cynthia, our 3rd year Veterinary Student
Our first full day in Baker Lake started with waffles, fruit and coffee.  The team met in the power company's crew house for our first meeting where we went over the "game plan" for the day, as well as answered any questions about our anesthetic protocol, how the surgeries would proceed, signing waivers and team documents.  Donna assigned two technicians to each of the three Veterinarians.  The three teams would rotate daily - two teams working in surgery and one team working at the vaccine clinic.  The Government of Nunavut graciously donated their garage/maintenance shop for our surgical clinic to take place and the local RCMP detachment donated their garage to serve as our vaccine clinic.  The plan was that the owners and their dogs/cats would go first to the vaccine clinic and be admitted - all of the paperwork filled out, a physical exam given to each animal, and depending on whether or not the pet was going to be spayed or neutered (speutered), they would receive their Rabies vaccine and Distemper/Parvo combo vaccine and dewormer or they would be sent up to the Wildlife building for surgery.  We find it is more safe to wait until after a pet's surgery to give the vaccines and dewormer, in case of an allergic reaction to the vaccine.  We decided as a group that the first vaccination team would be Dr. Gina, along with Barb and Zoe.  

At 10:30 a.m. the remaining eight team members walked the short distance to the wildlife centre to begin setting up the surgery and recovery areas.  Tables were brought in and adjusted to the proper height with two by fours under the legs, all of the medical supply bags were opened and sorted out on two other tables.  Our super-tech, Monica had agreed pre-project to be in charge of the anesthesia so she busied herself setting up all of the necessary anesthesia equipment, drugs and supplies.

Owner and his dog waiting for surgery
By noon we had opened our doors and our first patients started to arrive.    By day's end we had completed seven dog neuters and two cat spays (including their vaccines and deworming) and the vaccination team had given treated thirty-seven dogs and cats with vaccines and dewormer.  Several Cocker Spaniels were also seen with problem ears.  The ears were flushed and cleaned and the dogs were sent home with ear medication.

Barb also started dog obedience training today and gave five individual, one-on-one lessons, mainly teaching the owners how to have their dogs walk nicely beside them on a leash.  Each daily lesson will teach a different essential command, such as sit, stay, lie down.  One girl has asked Barb to teach her dog how to roll over. Not considered essential, but a fun one to show off to her friends and family.

Dr. Jen, Cynthia, Monica, Dr. Gina and Zoe in surgery
As dinner time and evening approached the patient visits lessened and eventually stopped. We decided it was time to call it a day.  After clean up and a walk back to the crew house, we dined on homemade lasagna (meat, and a vegetarian one) and a beautiful green salad for dinner.   An informal team meeting took place where we expressed our feelings and thoughts about how the day went and made suggestions on what could be done differently tomorrow.   Because the majority of the team are still on either Alberta or BC time, we headed to bed early, ready to tackle another day of work tomorrow. 

Dr. Jen doing what she does best! (besides playing hockey, of course)
Laura and Harley

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Baker Lake 2010 DAY TWO:

A little information about Baker Lake before we fly there today! Baker Lake is the only inland community in all of Nunavut, the remaining 25 communities are situated along the ocean. Baker Lake has a population of approximately 1800 people in four hundred households. An estimate of 90% of the population are Inuit and 10% "southerners" as people from the rest of Canada are called. There are between 200 and 250 dogs in the community. Baker Lake has a by-law officer who catches stray dogs and holds them in the "pound" for up to three days. If the dogs are unclaimed, they are shot. The community enforces the law that all dogs must be tied up. Nevertheless, the overpopulation issues continue to some degree in the community amongst the dogs. It is uncertain how many cats are living in homes within the community.

After an early Team breakfast at Denny's, we headed to the airport to board our flight to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut and on to our final destination of Baker Lake Nunavut. It took four taxi cabs to take our entire team and luggage to the Winnipeg airport this morning - one taxi's trunk was so full that the trunk couldn't be closed. As we walked into the airport and headed for First Air's ticket counter, we were greeted with huge smiles and many hugs by our remaining team member, Dr. Gina Bowen of Miami MB, our final missing team member. Our contact person in Baker Lake, Sue MacIsaac, had made previous arrangements with First Air to waive our overweight baggage fees and any extra baggage. Our check-in was fast and easy as compared to the struggle we had in Vancouver at check-in. The ticket agent was very friendly and helpful and no comments were made or questions asked about all of the luggage we had. They were aware that we were a Veterinary team traveling to do volunteer work in Nunavut and just waived us on through! Thank you First Air!

Sue MacIsaac and volunteers have been fundraising in the community for the past year, since last year's CAAT team was in Baker Lake. With the monies raised they were able to pay for our entire teams' flight costs from Winnipeg return with First Air discounting nine tickets and Calm Air discounting two tickets. Barb, Corinne and Archer flew with Calm Air and the remaining team members flew with First Air. Corinne, Barb and Archer departed from the Winnipeg airport at 9:30 a.m. and the rest of us left at 10:30 a.m. After a relatively smooth flight and a most enjoyable one (we were treated like royalty by the two very personable and friendly flight attendants - serving us a wonderful hot meal of Arctic char or a chicken or vegetarian meal, free wine, chocolates, hot towels, free magazines, candies and any beverages we wanted) we landed in Rankin Inlet for a 2 1/2 hour layover. As I walked into the airport lobby (see photo) I thought to myself that it was going to be a long 2 1/2 hours. I was pleasantly surprised by all of the people who came over and struck up conversations with our team members. When people would ask us who we are and what we are doing/where we are going, we would hand them one of CAAT's brochures and tell them how excited we are to have the amazing opportunity to spend ten days in Baker Lake, caring for the community's dogs and cats. We made several exciting and important connections with contacts from other communities in the north, right there at the Rankin Inlet Airport. We received two invitations to come and work in their communities in the near future. There are no Veterinarians living or working in all of Nunavut so whenever a veterinary group such as CAAT can come and hold a clinic, the people are very appreciative. I had the opportunity to meet the Mayor of Baker Lake who was traveling on the same flight as our team and I thanked him several times throughout our conversation for having us come to his community. 


All too soon our flight to Baker Lake was boarding and we had to say goodbye to our new friends. It was with anticipation, though, that we walked across the tarmac and climbed the steps into the plane for our forty-five minute flight to our final distination of Baker Lake. At 3:35 p.m. we landed in Baker Lake were warmly greeted by our contact Sue. We loaded our bags into the back of a pick-up and headed in to town to our places of lodging for the next ten days. Due to the size of our team, we couldn't all stay in one accommodation and were split between Sue's home and a lodging donated to the team by one of the local power companies, I believe. After settling in and a delicious meal of chili and bread, we called it a night. Work would begin tomorrow at noon and we wanted to be well-rested.

Monday, September 06, 2010

BAKER LAKE, NUNAVUT, September 3-12, 2010. DAY ONE:

Baker Lake, Nunavut ,Canada


   CAAT's Arctic adventure to Baker Lake, Nunavut began with five British Columbia team members at the Vancouver International Airport.  After distributing our medical supplies amongst three hockey bags and one large suitcase and weighing all of the bags until they were approximately 50 pounds, our allowed baggage weight, we approached the Air Canada ticket counter for check-in for our flight to Winnipeg Manitoba. The ticket agent then informed us that our medical supply luggage was a few pounds over the fifty pound limit and we would have to pay a fee for each piece of luggage.  Our team leader, Donna, explained to her that we are a volunteer veterinary charity traveling to Nunavut at our own expense to run a free veterinary clinic for ten days.  She went and found her supervisor who came and looked over our bags and ended up waiving the fees on every bag.  One smaller duffel type bag she wanted us to carry on to the plane with us though and we readily agreed to do so.  We were so relieved!  After many expression of thanks and a big hug of gratitude from Donna, we started to go through Security.  As the duffel bag went through the x-ray scanner, we realized that when we had earlier distributed our medical supplies we had placed our surgical instrument packs  in  that bag.  We were quickly told by Security that  the bag needed to go back to the ticket counter and be checked in.  Our flight was due to leave in a little less than thirty minutes and we still had a long walk to our departure gate.  Dr Jen, being the hockey player she is and being the fittest of the bunch perhaps, sprinted back to the ticket counter, found the supervisor once more who promptly waived our extra bag fee and checked it on to the flight.  Jen raced back at a full sprint and boarded the plane with five minutes to spare.  Thank you Air Canada for not allowing the plane to depart until our fearless Dr. Jen was safe on board.  And a huge thank you to Air Canada for waiving our baggage fees and extra luggage.  I gained a new appreciation for Air Canada this evening.

 The Baker Lake Team arrived at various times throughout the evening at the Comfort Inn Airport Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Team members Kim Dunsdon (Registered Veterinary Technician - RVT), Laura Sutton (RVT) and Cynthia Rose ( 3rd year Veterinary Student, University of Guelph) flew in from Toronto, Dr. Elaine Murphy flew in from Calgary Alberta, Monica Fillmore (Registered Animal Health Technician -R.A.H.T.) flew in from Kelowna, BC, and Dr. Jennifer Buller (Errington BC), Barbara Ashmead (Assistant & dog wrangler extraordinaire from Qualicum Beach BC), Zoe Russell (R.A.H.T. from Ladysmith BC), Corinne Barker (Assistant and Head of Recovery area from Bowser BC) and Donna Lasser (R.A.H.T., Team Leader, from Hope BC) all arrived from Vancouver. Dr. Gina Bowen of Miami, Manitoba would join us the next morning at the Winnipeg Airport. We also have a "special" guest along on this trip by the name of "Archer", a nine month old black Lab-in- training in Barb's care (she is a puppy raiser/trainer for the BC Guide Dogs). After a "meet and greet" time, a short visit, and wake up and breakfast plans were made for the morning, we fell into our beds exhausted but excited for our far North experience to begin.

Archer having a "dog nap" on the flight


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