Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baker Lake, Nunavut - Day 7, 8 & 9.

Day 7 - This was our full day off!  Why this day?  Because Shane was willing to be our personal chauffeur and take us for a trip up the mine road!  Sounds exciting, eh?  But it really is - people have been telling us that the best chance we have of seeing wildlife - like caribou or muskox - is up the mine road!  The whole team is pretty excited about the possibility of seeing some live wildlife. 
So off we go... the mine road is a wee bit bumpy, and we only have permission to drive the first 53km,  but the sights are beautiful!  We made him stop a number of times for pictures, or to let us go exploring.  Our wildlife spotting didn't go so well... not a muskox in sight.  The only "caribou" we saw looked suspiciously like a prancing Carley with mismatched antlers on her head! 
We stopped at a particularly pretty spot and went out on another hike, Sue was doing her best to find us some animals, but to no avail.  Even without a muskox spotting, it was a pretty awesome day.
To make it even more awesome - when we got home - we had water!! Woohoooo!!!  Flushing toilets, hand washing, and the ability to do dishes... it can be pretty exciting.  Gotta say it, 9 women, 1 house.. the ability to flush is a wonderful thing.
We spent the remainer of our afternoon checking out the gift shops and looking for some of the artists in town for souveniers to bring home. 

Day 8 - Our last working day!  It started off earlier than usual as we had an appointment to go out to vaccinate and deworm another team of 9 sled dogs.  The vast majority of the sled dogs we have seen have been great to work with.  A little nervous, perhaps, but their owners are great at handling them, and the dogs are pretty cooperative.  We only needed to muzzle a few the whole time we've been here. 
Our vaccination clinic was jumping today - at one point we had 10 pets waiting to be vaccinated!  We got everyone seen, and things tapered off after lunch - until it was announced over the local radio station that it was our last day and we'd be closing at 5:00.  We ended up getting 41 dogs and 3 cats vaccinated and dewormed today.
Since we are flying out early the next day, and therefore won't be around if there were any post-operative complications, today was a minor-proceedures only day.  We did one dog neuter and removed an oral mass from another dog.  This was also our last time to check up on our patients and make sure they are all doing well before we head out.  Thankfully, everyone appears to be great - healing well and we are thrilled. We had two people who wanted to get their dogs spayed today, and it was very disappointing for the whole team to have to turn them away.  However, our first priority is always the health and safety of these pets, and we couldn't ethically put them at risk.  So we'll just have to do them next year!
After that it was time to break everything down, clean up, and pack. 
Then, it was time to party!  Just a little.  We has a small soiree at our house, and invited many of the people who had helped us out so much.  It was a great evening of fun, food and laughter. 
Of course we couldn't actually be done working - we heard about another team of 4 dogs that needed to be vaccinated, so Sue and Laura got back into their grubby clothes, dug out some syringes from the supply bags and headed out.  Then we had Katie stop by for a check up before we left, who we are happy to report is no worse for wear after her post-spay chilly swim.

Day 9 - the flights home.  The trip home started early, and we got one last good dose of Baker Lake wind and rain getting to the airport.  The plane was pretty empty, so most of us got to sleep at least a little on the way down.  Once we got to the Winnipeg airport, it was time to start saying our goodbyes, and making promises to keep in touch (Facebook!).  We were 9 strangers who have shared some great times, some sad times, many funny times, and hopefully some lifelong friendships have been started. 
Team Baker Lake 2011, you ROCK!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Baker Lake, Nunavut - Day 5 & 6

Day 5 - One thing we all learned pretty quickly up here is that "Baker Lake-time" isn't really the same as time would be at home.  Schedules are just a suggestion.  That being said - if you ever come up here and Sue invites you on a 30 minute walk, be prepared!!  We started this morning off with a truck ride to the end of town for our hike.. and we came back 3 hours later.  It was an awesome hike across the tundra, and no matter what you may hear, we did very little dilly-dattling, it was long!  We did make time to pick and eat some artic blueberries, and perhaps whined just a little about wet feet, but we had a great time and got some fabulous pictures.  Kristie did her best to chase down an Arctic Hare, but he just didn't seem to want to cooperate. 
What started out as a slow day end up being great!  Since we were slow in surgery, we decided that today would be the day to start our door-to-door vaccine service.  Angela and Renee walked around town knocking on people's doors with great success.. only one person said no to having their dog vaccinated!   We ended up spaying two dogs with 40 more being vaccinated and dewormed!  We saw two cats today, both for vaccines and deworming.  The surgery team also saw an injured puppy who needed some TLC and to have his wounds cleaned.
The hamlet of Baker Lake doesn't have any underground water or sewage systems, the water is trucked in and the sewage is pumped out.  Each  house has holding tanks. We have been doing our best to conserve water, and have done a great job so far - in fact our water tank is still more than half full!  However, if your sewage tank gets full, the water also stops.  In what has become a CAAT team tradition, today we ran out of water.  Poor Angela - she was so excited about her hot shower... got all ready and turned on the tap.. and nothing.  But Sue is on the case - we should have water soon!  Nine women, one house, no water... what could go wrong? 

Day 6 - Still no water, but that's ok... we still have a functioning bathroom in the wildlife office where our surgery is set up!  Oh wait.. no we don't.  We've lost the water there too!  Ahhhh!!  Maybe now would be a good time to thank Rob from the wildlife office for all of his help with our trip..  We love you Rob!  :)   Sorry about the bathroom!
You know what would make this day better?  Rain and 70-80kph winds... oh yeah!  It is chilly is Baker Lake today.  Everyone kept telling us that you just don't see big rainstorms in Baker Lake.. only a few times a year.  Well, we must have brought the thunder and lighting with us or something.  Unfortunately, the weather did a pretty good job of keeping people away from the clinic today.  We saw a few brave souls, 13 dogs in total for vaccines and deworming, one dog spay and two dog neuters.
Sue was giving Mike a ride home with his dog Katie who had just been spayed, when they stopped the truck Katie jumped out and ran.  She went out onto the tundra and wouldn't let them near her, she ended up in a lake for over an hour.  Once they finally got ahold of her, Sue drove them back to the house where we are all staying. Poor Katie was freezing cold.  We warmed her with towels, warm blankets and a hair dryer.  Her brother, Nanook, watched on from beside his dad looking very concerned.  It didn't take long to get her temperature up to normal and have her perk up.  Katie, Nanook and Mike their owner ended up staying with us for dinner (in case you're interested, the green beans and french fries got spat out by the dogs every time!) before getting dropped off at home again.
Hey look at that, a perfect seguay for talking about dinner!  Tonight was Bernadette from the powercorp with her Greek appetizers and kabobs (and wine!) to start; followed by Corrie with her traditional caribou stew and rice, and fried caribou.  Everything was so good!!  Carley, the vegetarian in our group, even enjoyed the caribou.. meat hunted from the land up here is just different then farmed meat. None of us are at risk of going hungry on this trip!  And what would be the perfect end to that dinner?  Homemade peanutbutter cookies warm from the oven.. yum.  Thanks Kristie! 
The weather cleared enough for the northern lights to peek through a bit - not as bright as they can be, but still great to see.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Baker Lake, Nunavut - Day 4

No dog-sled teams scheduled for this morning, and since our clinics don't open until noon, we got to have a sleep-in day!  Woohoo!
Apparently the new official colour of Team Baker Lake is pink - ever since our Team Leader was entrusted with one load of laundry.   (Sorry especially to Carley and Michelle!)

Today we met Trixie, an 11 year old Golden Retriever who is lame in her front left leg.  Her owner brought her in and said she's been lame since the winter.  It appears that she must had compeletely luxated her carpus and it healed improperly.  We sent her home with some Metacam to see if it will help her to be more comfortable. 

It was another busy day in our surgery clinic - 6 dogs were spayed and 3 more neutered.  One of the neuters was a dog who is pretty well known around town to the lady dogs, so his neighbours are pretty excited that his roaming days are over.   Our vaccination clinic saw 18 dogs and 3 cats today.

The only other thing I have to say is CHEESECAKE!  and BROWNIES!  Yum yum yum!! 

Baker Lake, Nunavut - Catch up

First announcement - We have internet!! Yea!!!  So after letting all of the team members check in with their families and friends I've managed to beat them all away from the laptop to update the blog and let the rest of the world hear about our adventures so far! 

Let me introduce Team Baker Lake 2011 - Veterinarian: Jen; Technicians: Angela, Carley, Jackie, Kristie, Laura, and Renee; and assistants: Michelle and Sue. 

Travel Day:  Most of our team members were meeting each other for the first time just 4 days ago.. either in airports from whatever side of the country we were starting from or in the hotel in Winnipeg.  It is always an entertaining experience to walk into an airport waiting room and try to look for people who you have no idea what they look like.. Almost as entertaining as sharing a hotel room with three complete strangers!  However we all found each other and started getting to know each other.  

Day 1:  The next day we met up with the last two members of our team and started the flights north.  A huge "Thank you" to Calm Air and the people at the Buddy Fund for getting us up here!!  For those of you that haven't done it - flying north is not an inexpensive venture, so we appreciate all the help we get to make it possible for our teams to get where they are needed!  We arrived in Baker Lake pretty late in the evening and after a long day of travel we pretty much just dragged all of our stuff inside the house and went to bed. 
Ok,ok.. maybe it wasn't quite THAT easy.  First we got picked up from the airport, had to have another vehicle come because all of our stuff wouldn't fit in the truck that was there, then some of us got a wee bit lost on the way to the house, and when we did get there we found that someone else was already living in the house but wasn't home.  So while we were all sitting there trying to decide how to word the note to leave on the door explaining that 9 women had moved in and gone to bed, please don't trip over us, and we'll chat in the morning, poor Eric came home.  He was very nice and understanding - and moved right out leaving us the house.  Sorry, Eric!  I was worried that we scared him away, but he's been back to help us set up and even brought a pet in for a coworker, so we couldn't have been that bad!
Some of us got a glimpse of the Northern LIghts, which as always is an amazing experience.  We all have our fingers crossed for more!

Day 2:  We got up the next day and had to set up our surgery area as well as our vaccination area.  Some folding tables, some tarps and rearranging of some lights and we were ready to go!  Our first patient had been waiting for us.  "King"  is a puppy who had a rope collar put on when he was smaller and had outgrown it.  It was deeply imbedded into the skin on his neck, causing wounds and infection.  Dr. Jen and her team spent two and a half hours removing the collar and repairing the wound.  We had to fashion him a body harness out of some of our leashes since he won't be able to wear a collar for a while, we have our fingers crossed he won't figure out how to escape it!  He recovered well from his anesthesia and we will be able to check on him reguarly during our stay in Baker.
After that was taken care of the surgery team did a full day of surgeries - five dog neuters and one dog spay.
It was a pretty busy day after the vaccine clinic got up and running - we saw 19 more dogs for vaccinations and deworming. 

Day 3:  I've gotta say that the most exciting thing for me about this day is that my suitcase, that has been MIA since leaving Toronto, magically appeared!  I've never been happier to see clean underwear or hiking boots in all of my life!  Thank you to Carley and Michelle for dressing me up until this point of the trip.  For any of you thinking about coming up here - capris and sandals are NOT Baker Lake attire!
We started off this moring by heading out to vaccinate and deworm two of the sled teams in town - one had 9 dogs, the other had 13.   We were picked up by ATVs, so went out clinging on for dear life, but had a great time. Strugging with frozen fingers to change syringes and needles, and occasionally having to get our bag of garbage from one particularly playful sled dog, we got them all done.  It's obvious to all of us that the team owners really love their dogs and want to provide the best for them.  Both of these teams were seem by last year's team, and were happy to see CAAT back again!
Today we saw Blackie, a 14 year old cat who's been loosing weight.  We soon discovered that a tooth was infected and painful.  We were able to pull it out and send him home with some antibiotics and painkillers.  Hopefully he's on the mend and eating happily soon. 
Our total numbers for today - 4 dog neuters, 7 dog spays, 1 cat neuter, 11 other dogs  and 4 other cats vaccinated and dewormed.
No more Northern Lights.  At least not yet.


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