( Michelle, AVC 2016, travelled to Natuashish in 2015. Students were asked to write a short piece based on a photograph that resonated with them. Also, please note for background that there are often ‘community dogs’ in the locations we visit – these are animals without owners, or with only loose connections to humans. However, they often exist in good health, either being fed outside by caring people, or scavenging what they can. We do our best to provide vaccines to these dogs, and make sure they will not reproduce and also provide education to communities. It is our opinion that often these dogs are doing well, and it is not the role of the project to interfere with this way of life, nor remove dogs from communities. )
We met a puppy at the dump on our first day in Natuashish. She was curious and friendly, and was sharing some peanut butter with a black bear who was rummaging through the garbage. We nicknamed her ‘Dumpy’ for obvious reasons.
On our third day, we went to the dump and picked her up so she could be spayed and vaccinated. Dumpy was one of the first surgeries of the day, so when she recovered in the early morning we kept her in the recovery area, since we couldn’t bring her back to the dump until the end of the day. Later, a stray from a different part of the village was brought to us to by a member of the community who was helping us bring in animals from the community. This dog was the same size, age, and had similar features as ‘Dumpy’. We thought they could have been from the same litter. When the second puppy’s surgery was completed we brought her to the recovery area and she started to shiver, as animals (and people) do when recovering from anesthesia, despite our efforts to keep them warm. Dumpy saw she was cold and decided to snuggle. She stayed like that for hours. They rustled around into all different positions, and even after the puppy was fully awake and warm, they continued to stay close together.
It broke our hearts, thinking that these two had bonded so much over the day, that we would have to send them to separate corners of the village. We talked with the resident who had brought the second puppy in and asked if we could drop them off together in town, and he whole-heartedly supported the idea. So later that day, he took our two stray friends, and released them where the second was found. We saw them running around together two days later, still the best of friends.