(Photo assignment : students were asked to choose a photograph and explain why it has special significance to them)
In many remote northern communities there is a stray dog population. In Sheshatshiu,there was one dog, in particular, that several community members were trying to catch to bring her in to the clinic to be spayed. She had had many litters of pups and was adding to the stray population. She wasn’t able to be caught until the last day of clinics and we had just enough time to spay her before we packed up. She was ragged and thin and her teats sagged, suggesting she had a current litter of pups stowed away somewhere. Above all else, she was nervous and fearful. When I was intubating her I noticed that her jaw had been previously fractured and had healed in a completely abnormal position. As I heard more about Jasmine’s story, my heart broke.
Jasmine is a dog living in the community, and one might think at first she is unowned. However, there are 4 families in the area that she visits and who feed her. Without a place to call home, Jasmine is forced to defend herself against the aggressive stray male dogs who form packs, chase and corner her, then they breed with her one after the other. I have never visited an area with many strays and had never before thought about a situation like this occurring between dogs.
This is the only picture of Jasmine that I took and it’s poor quality is because it was taken on a cell phone. I sent this picture to my partner and told him Jasmine’s story. At first, I wanted to rescue her and bring her home with me so she could know love and comfort. But then I realized that she DID know love and that was with the 4 families who feed her and are happy to see her daily and that they would miss her if she was removed from the community. By spaying her, we have improved her prognosis for a healthier, longer life.
It was Jasmine who reminded me that I am susceptible to getting swept away in emotional cases. Although being emotional has its place, I have to remember to also stay grounded and rational. It was inspiring to visit Sheshatshiu and meet the community members who are doing so much to try and help the dog population. I was grateful to be part of this effort.