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Gorgeous big babies- Shawn MacKenzie

A series of posts from the trip of 2009 never before published on our website.

Originally published at

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | Posted by Shawn MacKenzie

Today was our second day at the clinic that we set up in the wildlife lab at the local government building. We arrived at the clinic at 8:30 am and went right to work trying to get things ready for the day.

Shawn performing surgery with Dr. Anne Marie Carey

My day at the clinic started with a dog spay, and then I was doing wellness exams, sometimes working in the lab and other times in a small tent set up outside. The wellness exams were a lot of fun and gave me a great chance to meet some of the local people and hear their stories. Wellness exams consist of a physical exam, vaccines and de-worming. Many funny stories come to mind of my day running the wellness exams, such as the many attempts to successfully de-worm the many dogs that aren’t used to being handled and don’t appreciate people trying to put pills down their throats or feed them a paste in a syringe. By the end of the day I had yellow de-worming medicine all over my pants.

Another story that comes to mind is trying to explain to a local dog owner about canine reproduction. It was quite an interesting conversation as I struggled to remember the details of our Therio lectures in the last three years of classes, taking time to laugh when I remembered funny comments made by a certain professor. On top of my poor explanation of canine reproduction, the dog owner wanted me to help him solve the problem that his 100lb German Shepherd male does not like the female, and when they meet he attacks her. I’m sure it was an interesting conversation to listen to!

Some patients at the clinic

We all thought that since the dogs here aren’t handled very much they would be difficult to work with and give vaccines to; but, for the most part, they are just gorgeous, big babies. There is quite a variety of ways that owners treat their dogs in this community: some dogs are left out all year and fed once every couple days (which suits many of the Husky and Inuit sled dog breeds very well); some dogs are kept indoors and pampered. It is easy to see the impact the dogs have on the community. No matter whether their dog is a family pet, a guard dog, a bear dog (warning owners of polar bears when out on the land), or a sled team dog the people really care about and love their canines. I thought that we would pretty much only see Huskies or Inuit sled dogs when we set up our clinic but we’ve seen many different breeds such as a Cocker Spaniel—that we shaved almost naked to reduce the massive hair matts—a Bichon Frise mix that needed to be neutered, and a German Shepherd with hind limb problems. Today the clinic was a great success and a lot of fun!

Tonight one of the owners of three dogs that came for wellness exams has made us Muskox and Caribou stew for supper (I’ll report in on the taste tomorrow); and then it’s off to relax and play more card games. Tomorrow is a quieter day, according to the schedule, but some of the people here work on their own time so we are never sure what will walk in the door. Hopefully there will be some time for exploring and ice fishing.

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