Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Second Chance for Storm and Tasha - and their Babies!


By Jennie Davies

I live on Berens River reserve, a fly-in community on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg. I moved here six years ago to teach school and noticed the stray dog problem immediately. I started building relationships with rescues and WHS and flying dogs out within weeks of arriving. So far I have sent out 159 dogs and hope to get to 200 before I move this summer.

Sparky was the father of the pups. He showed up in the teacherage two years ago with his buddy Chaos. They were owned by an older couple that lived down the road at the time. Life on reserves is hard on dogs and Sparky figured out pretty quickly that in the teacherage he had a well-defined territory, lots of friendly people, and all the food he wanted. (A teaching couple fell in love with Chaos and bought him off the family; he now lives like a king in the Haida Gwaii Islands on the northwest coast of BC with his new family). Sparky would woo all the ladies and chase off other strays. He was also an unapologetic car chaser, which put him at great risk, so I tried to buy him from his family but they wouldn't sell. He was a huge, imposing majestic dog and quite well known and a status symbol, unfortunately. Shortly after the Storm pups were born, Sparky was hit by a car and suffered massive internal injuries. He dragged himself off the road into the teacherage and we got him inside. I made arrangements to have him flown out on the next flight that afternoon but he was just too badly hurt. He died about an hour and a half after being hit. We were with him when he died and he fought to the very end. I called his owner to tell her he had died and she didn't want him anymore. She allowed us to cremate him in the bush and have a spirit-releasing ceremony. I have his collar and an eagle feather hanging on a hook in my house and they are the talismans I touch when I need strength.

Storm turned up in the teacherage in September of this year. She was already limping and wouldn't put that sore leg down very often. She was feisty and friendly and despite her injury, could keep up with the rest of the pack really well. We went for walks often and she was always game.

When dogs show up I have to be careful not to send out dogs that are actually "owned" by someone as this does great harm to rescue efforts. Like anyone, the local people don't like to feel that they are being criticized for the way they treat their animals, so I try to make sure that I am rescuing only dogs that are truly homeless. My test is this: If they show up, have no collar, and stick around for more than two or three weeks with no interest in going anywhere else, they are fair game. Unfortunately, in that waiting period, Storm went into heat. Sparky was extremely dominant and would not allow ANY other dogs near the ladies when they were receptive; he frequently bore serious battle wounds but he always won the wars. It became evident very quickly that Storm was pregnant (as was Tasha, also with Sparky's pups).

I knew I had to get the mamas into rescue before the pups came because by then it was turning winter and I would be gone for holidays in December, leaving no one to care for them. (It is virtually impossible to find someone to care responsibly for animals in our community. From sore experience I have learned to take my dogs with me every time I fly out unless another teacher is available to dog sit). I made arrangements for Tasha first as she was due earlier and Jenn Black from Manitoba Great Pyrenees Rescue lent me a huge kennel to send her out in. It was so big that I called MMDR and said, hey, how about two mamas? They are so great that they said, sure no problem! So I loaded all 18 dogs (2 mamas and 16 unborn pups) into the kennel and flew them down to Winnipeg, where their story was taken over by Manitoba Mutts.

I have always trusted that my rescues are going to good homes but to see the love and investment that these pups are receiving via the MMDR alumni page is just humbling. Dog rescue is its own reward but seeing these puppies so loved, and knowing the life they've escaped, fills my heart with light. There is a lot of darkness in an isolated and poverty-stricken community, so it helps keep me going more than anyone who hasn't lived here could know. When I hear stories like Cyclone and Jagger getting to grow up together with two little best-friend girls, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Tasha - Adopted!
Storm - Waiting for her Furever Home
Two of Storm's Puppies! Chief & Jagger

Amethyst - one of Tasha's Puppies

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