I have so many stories to tell – stories of the people I met, the places I saw, and the patients I helped. But most of all, there’s Barkley.
We arrived in Postville, Labrador, after a long boat ride over tumultuous waters, having left Makkovik early that same morning. After settling into the apartment we would call home for the next few days, myself and some of the veterinarians set out to meet a patient we’d been hearing about since first arriving in Makkovik. Her name was Barkley, but she was most often referred to as “the dog with the large mass dragging from her face.”
I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived at the community hall where we were told to meet Barkley – I had visions in my mind of some poor, sickly animal. Instead what we found was the eager, loving face of an adorable little terrier, and an entire entourage of community members who had come to show their support.
Weighing down sweet little Barkley’s face was a grapefruit-sized mass; over time, gravity had caused that mass to stretch the skin down so it hung almost like a fruit from a branch. Barkley’s supporters told us that several years ago, Barkley was bitten in the face by another dog. The injury, which would have been easily treated had she had access to veterinary care, had gradually developed into this mass. To make things worse, she had been attacked by another dog after that, which reopened the wound and caused infection. Both the mass and the chronic infection had caused Barkley to become weak and anemic, and her quality of life was poor.
After assessing the mass, we determined that it could be safely removed, so we sent her home that night and prepped her for surgery the next morning. I was lucky enough to be able to assist with the surgery, and was part of the very proud team that ultimately removed the mass.
A week later, on our very last day in Postville, Barkley returned after a very smooth recovery. Once a very tired and weak dog, Barkley was now full of energy and had a healthy appetite. The surgery was a complete success!
Barkley’s story is just one of many from Northern Canada’s small towns, where veterinary access is minimal if not nonexistent – yet it is a strong reminder as to why The Chinook Project is so important. Without our help, poor Barkley would have continued through her life suffering, but thanks to The Chinook Project, our volunteers and our sponsors, we were able to give Barkley a second chance at life.