Bryan Welch, AVC 2020, traveled to Nain and Natuashish in 2019 as one of the student participants on the Chinook Project. As part of the experience, the students craft various pieces of reflective writing.
Oreo was a roughly 16 week-old husky puppy that came to see us during our time in Natuashish. Oreo was originally scheduled to have an ovariohysterectomy (spay) performed one morning, but the owner has decided that they did not want to go forward with the spay the morning of surgery. While I was disappointed with this change in heart, I did understand the owner’s concerns and respected their wishes to keep their puppy intact. I am not sure what changed the owner’s mind, whether it was the chatter amongst the community members, or personal reflection on what it would really mean to leave another dog in the community capable of adding more puppies to the population, but the owner decided to go forward with the spay later that afternoon. I was excited that the owner had changed their mind, as it meant that I would get to perform the spay as planned. This experience would not only provide me with valuable hands-on surgical experience, but it would also be helping to prevent the stray dog population.
Despite Oreo coming to see us after the point at which we would normally perform a spay during the day, the team felt that it would be prudent of us to perform the spay that evening. We also decided to keep Oreo for the night for us to monitor her recovery, as well as, to give her some extra love and care for the night. Myself, one of the clinicians and one of my classmates stayed at the fire hall to perform Oreo’s spay while the rest of the team went to get dinner. By this point in our journey the team had begun acting like a well-oiled machine. My favorite part of our trip was performing surgery and this was no exception. We put on a great 90’s alternative playlist and got to work singing and dancing along as we got Oreo prepared for surgery. This particular surgery was a great learning experience for me because I was shown how to perform a Miller’s knot on Oreo’s pedicles; a technique that I have grown to love and used on all of the surgeries I performed on the trip after Oreo’s. The spay went without complication, although it had inherent challenges due to her young age and small size. Despite these challenges Oreo’s spay went flawlessly and she did great through the duration of her anesthesia thanks to the great team I was working with.
That evening Oreo came home with me and the other students to the trailer we were all staying with. We set her up with a nice comfortable crate and two of the other students even volunteered a couple of clothing items that we fashioned into a makeshift onesie to keep her away from her incision for the night. I think all of the students were a little skeptical of how Oreo would behave staying with us for the night. Aside from being a fresh post-op patient in a new environment, she was also being confined within a crate inside (she was normally an outside dog) and she had this crazy pajama outfit that we had imposed upon her. To our great surprise, Oreo proved to be extremely well behaved and an absolutely lovely puppy to cuddle and care for during the night. She slept (almost) all through the night and one of my teammates was kind enough to get up a couple hours early with her in the morning to help take care of her. We did not have any kind of dog kibble to offer Oreo for breakfast, but she did enjoy a nice bowl of honey nut cheerios and happily chomped on them and sampled everyone’s yogurt at breakfast.
I was sad to see Oreo go that morning, but I was thankful that I was able to see her doing so well after surgery and really, who doesn’t love a little spontaneous puppy time? This was one of the rare times during this project that I was able to see one of the animals that we had performed surgery on outside of their recovery period at the clinic and it was wonderful to see how comfortable and happy she was. Oreo is one of the many amazing memories that I made during this experience and I hope to be fortunate enough to return to the Chinook project in a clinician role one day to make more wonderful memories like this one.