( Danielle, AVC 2016, travelled to Natuashish in 2015. Students were asked to write a short piece based on a photograph that resonated with them. )
Every now and then in veterinary medicine a particular animal comes along with whom you make a special connection. It’s like when you meet your best friend for the first time, something just clicks and you are compatible. I came across a furry friend like this during my Chinook experience.
The first moment I laid eyes on her was one evening while walking to supper. This short, little, stubby-legged community dog was holding her own in the distance amongst a group of much bigger dogs. She looked like what I, and most people, would call a corgi mix. Later I learned that she was a dog that has a type of chondrodysplastic dwarfism that exists throughout Labrador and the Eastern Artic. These particular type of dogs are sometimes referred to as ‘crackies’ .
This first sight of her was enough to pull at my heart strings and I couldn’t get her out of my head. On the next day, as soon as our local community helper walked in the door, I was running up to him asking about this dog. After a short description of her, which likely included too many adjectives such as cute, sweet, and adorable, I begged for him to try to find her for me. He promised that he would try his best.
Later that day, I was overjoyed to see him walk through the doors with this little one in his arms. I called ‘dibs’ on working her up so I could spend as much time as possible with her. To no surprise, she was as sweet as you could imagine and I (rightfully so) called her ‘Princess’. She loved to cuddle and play but also had a spunky and sassy side to her, which just made me love her even more.
You could tell she had to be a tough dog and did what she had to do to keep up with the others. As you can see in the picture of her and me, there is a muzzle by my foot. She was one of the very few dogs during the trip that we had to muzzle in order to give her pre-medication by injection. But as soon as that was over, she was back up in my arms giving me kisses.
After her surgery, we released her close to her original pick up spot. My heart ached and tears filled my eyes as I set her back on the ground, positive that I wouldn’t see her again. However, she must have liked me (and us) too because from that day forward we were greeted by her almost every time we went down the road to Elsie’s for our meals. The children in the area knew her well and informed me that she was known in the community as ‘Baby Girl’, another very fitting name for this dog. After a few days, she fit in well with a pack of riff-raff dogs we had done surgery on throughout our stay and released near-by.
Saying goodbye to her was a heartbreaking moment for me and I often think about her with her stubby legs, her awful under-bite and unique personality. I think about the bond that we formed and how quickly she stole my heart away and how I wish I could have spent more time with her. The only comfort I had as I walked away was that I knew she is happy in Natuashish. She had friends and was well socialized, she was well-fed and was a part of the community.
I hope that one day our paths will cross again, but until then, I will cherish the moments we had together and be grateful to have meet and connected with such a unique and special dog. Until next time, Princess!