Chinook students are asked to write a short photo essay, using a photograph from their journey that resonates with them. Jessica (AVC 2016) travelled to Natuashish in 2015.
Each and every patient is special and unique in their own right. However, every so often you encounter one who lights a spark inside you, one you know you'll never forget. For me, this patient was "Chubby".
Chubby was a local stray so lovingly named because she was perpetually pregnant. Her latest litter had arrived a mere six weeks previously. When she arrived at our clinic early one morning to be spayed and have quills removed from her muzzle I immediately became attached.
After performing the surgery and monitoring her recovery, I found myself spending every spare moment next to Chubby. From brushing out her winter coat to offering ear scratches, I couldn't get enough of this adorable, affectionate dog.
Alas, the clinic day came to an end and it was up to the team to return Chubby to her home base. Without a moment’s hesitation, she hopped into the front seat of the pick-up truck. There she sat, bright and alert, regally observing the passing scenery as we drove down the dusty roads. Upon arrival at her final destination and after much failed coaxing, Chubby's medium build frame was finally removed from the front seat and lovingly placed on the sandy ground. There she lay nervously, quietly plotting how to make her way back into the vehicle and home with us.
As the truck slowly crept out of the driveway, I couldn't help but take one last look back at the dog who managed to steal my heart in a matter of minutes. Our eyes met and I could instantly feel tears welling in my eyes, ready to overflow at any moment. All I wanted was to give her a warm place to sleep for the night and more time to recover from anesthesia. Feeling helpless as we drove away, all I could do was hope Chubby would be alright.
On our ritualistic walk to breakfast early the next morning, I caught a glimpse of a furry creature running our way; tail wagging and hind end wiggling. To my amazement, it was Chubby! She immediately flopped onto the ground, belly in the air, as if to say "look at my incision, it's healing beautifully and I feel great!". A wave of relief washed over me to know she had successfully recovered, her surgical incision was intact, and she was in good spirits.
In this setting, it is a rare occurrence to have the opportunity to recheck your patient post-surgery. This chance encounter gave me piece of mind knowing our patients are much stronger than we give them credit for. Chubby is a perfect example of the strength and hardiness the animals in this northern community possess. She is certainly a patient I will always remember.