A Boy, His Dog, and a Brush – Life’s Necessities- Heather Bruinooge

Heather Bruinooge, AVC 2019, traveled to Nain and Sheshatshiu in 2018 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project.  As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.  

I have countless memories from my involvement in the Chinook Project but one in particular has stuck with me. I have questioned its recurrence in my mind and wondered why it has made such a mark. To be brutally honest this memory is about a dog brush.

Heather Bruinooge with the boy, his dog and his brush

On a busy afternoon, a boy and his friend were patiently waiting in our clinic to pick their beloved dog up. I was to finish their dog’s discharge so my teammate could get ready for surgery. An in depth conversation about grooming the boy’s dog was being discussed when I exchanged tasks with my teammate. My teammate recommended regular brushings as the boy listened intently, taking in every tip. He asked if we had a brush and my teammate replied, “Oh yes, of course” to which he replied, “Can I have it?” My teammate kindly handed the brush over assuming he wanted to brush the dog while the rest of the discharge was discussed. I took over at this point, not completely understanding what my teammate meant when she handed the brush over. The boy had the brush clasped in both hands, his eyes were lit up and he was smiling from ear to ear. At this moment I realized he was taking this brush home with him. I questioned if I should request the brush back, but quickly disregarded because the boy was keen on taking care of his dog and I was impressed by his maturity and attentiveness to the discharge instructions. He was going to take good care of this dog and if a brush could help him do it, so be it.

I have yet to tell any of the instructors about the brush, they are likely finding out while reading this blog post. It was our only one, and I was the last person to possibly get it back. At the time, I wasn’t upset with my decision, but could see that lacking a brush could create an issue later in the clinic. From my perspective, the benefits of making this boy’s day and creating a lasting memory far outweighed the loss of a dog brush. This memory has stuck with me because it reflects my impression of the children of Nain and Sheshatshiu; motivated, curious and fearless. I hope this curiosity and willingness to learn stays with them and pushes them to achieve anything they set their minds to.

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