Written by Joanne Dickson of Saskatchewan, Canada
I live in a community in Northern Saskatchewan and when I first moved here, one of the things that disturbed me the most was the high number of stray pets roaming the ditches trying to fend for themselves. My road to rescue was a slow one It started by helping my neighbor’s dogs who had absolutely no shelter in the winter. I purchased dog houses for them and gave them deer meet to help them through the bitterly cold temperatures.
Then it just came naturally to help the animals that ended up in my path, such as a one month old pup who was alone on the street when I drove by, crying in distress and the young, female dog who was outside in -40 degree temperatures when I was doing supervision at school. It took several more years before I heard about a newly formed group of animal rescuers and knew I had to get involved. It’s now my 5th year with Northern Animal Rescue and since being founded in January of 2009, we have rescued more than 1,000 animals from the North. We have been able to save so many lives because of the many partnerships we’ve formed with people in our community and throughout the province.
We are well known in the community and the dump intendant always contacts us when animals are discarded there. It is so sad to know that there are people out there who care so little about their pets that they throw them out like a piece of trash. One of these unfortunate souls was a pregnant Shepherd cross who we eventually named Callie. We had tried to rescue her on a couple of occasions but she was pretty elusive so we left food and water with the intendant so he could feed her on a regular basis. We knew that it was just a matter of time before she would be having her pups and sure enough the call came in one day in May of 2011 that we needed to come and get the mother and pups.
My husband, a fellow board member and myself headed out one evening with everything required to carry out the rescue. It took a while, but after several calls, the mother made an appearance. We knew that she had had her pups somewhere among the auto wrecks, but we had no idea exactly where. If we stayed long enough, we were pretty confident that she would lead us to her pups. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, she took us to a heap of wreckage which used to be an old pick up truck and the pups were somewhere under the old hood. It was obvious that we would have to get them out of there because it was so dangerous with all of the broken glass, rusted out metal and motor fluids that were in the vicinity. When the pups were old enough to move around, they wouldn’t stand a chance of survival.
Digging Them Out With Our Bare Hands
Callie was such a wonderful dog and she allowed us to approach the make-shift cave she had created for her babies. Eventually, we had to dig them out of their hole with our bare hands because we feared burying them or suffocating them if we had used a shovel or similar tool. My husband was the hero of this rescue as he was able to dig deep enough to locate all seven of the pups.
Callie was such an awesome mother, she knew exactly what to do to keep her babies safe in such an unfriendly environment. We loaded up the pups in a kennel and realized that Callie had disappeared. We were in such a dilemma. How could we take these one-week-old pups away from their mother? What a mess. Eventually, she returned and we were able to get her into our truck.
I had readied our outdoor kennel for the family with straw, blankets and an insulated dog house. It was late May, early June by this time and the temperatures were quite mild. They stayed with us for a few weeks and were later transferred to one of our foster homes in the southern part of the province. We’re happy to report that the mother and pups have all found their forever homes and I’ve stayed in touch with Callie’s new family. She is such a lucky girl and she deserves to have a long and happy life. Nothing could be more rewarding than this type of work. I’ll do it for as long as I can!
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