It’s hard to imagine how cold -35° C is until you’re in it. With the wind chill it feels more like -45° or -50° C, and that is bone chilling. Any exposed skin prickles from the cold and your ears don’t have a chance without a hat.
That is what the dogs in the northernmost Canadian communities survive every year — that is, if they’re a northern breed, have appropriate shelter, aren’t old or sick, and fingers crossed, they are provided enough food. Unfortunately, not all the dogs head into winter healthy or well fed. And some will even be pregnant with their next litter by the time the first snow flies.
With the extreme weather, many pups don’t have a chance. Yet with all the odds stacked against them, some puppies actually do survive.
Molly didn’t have a name when someone called me about her. She was found huddled with her mother in their meager shelter, emaciated and shivering. I don’t know if there had been other puppies in the litter, but by the time I became aware of Molly and her mum, they were the only two left.
Both were missing most of the fur that they really needed to stay warm. Molly’s legs were bent and useless from the cold and lack of proper nutrition. She was covered in lice.
She was dying.
I don’t have any idea why some survive and some don’t. Sometimes the hardiest ones fade away while the ones who seem to be the worst off actually survive. Molly was intent on being one of the survivors.
When I picked her up, her little body was so full of joy that she wiggled and wagged and tottered about on her front legs which still buckled over at the ankles. She didn’t seem to notice that she had any sort of disability. She was just going forward, one day at a time, now that she was warm, fed and loved.
Molly came home with me and continued her amazing recovery. In her short life thus far, she has been treated for mange, lice, worms, parvo virus (a big killer of pups in the communities) and kennel cough. Her legs were splinted and with good nutrition they have finally straightened out.
Molly is just one of thousands of dogs who have benefited from veterinary care provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Northern Dogs Project. Every year we provide veterinary clinics in remote First Nations communities, helping people there give their animals better care. We also provide public education programs, and deliver doghouses to help dogs through the extreme cold of Northern Canada.
Molly’s mum came home too and instead of having to look after each other, they reveled in the simple pleasure of playing together. Now there is only one more hurdle for Molly to overcome: to win over the lucky ones who will be her new family.
Just like she has with everything else, I expect that Molly will conquer that challenge as well!
READ: Much needed shelter for Northern Dogs
Article source: IFAW