The stress levels did not go away so quickly but excitement and joy came through knowing that puppies would be on a plane! It was June 3rd and the first 8 puppies were ready to be brought to the tiny Shamattawa airport, reminiscent of a large garage. Two of the puppies (one from Spotty's litter and one from Princess's) were staying in Shamattawa to go into the care of two of Saeed's students, and one of Princess' puppies was Saeed's and would travel with him back to Toronto. So, 8 pups were to be on one flight and the other two would be on the next with Princess!
We only had one pet carrier to put puppies in to bring to the airport...which made it difficult with squirmy, growing puppies under two months old! Princess and Spotty knew something was happening as their puppies were being shuffled into different spaces with the truck nearby. I told them that their puppies were going to good homes, would be taken care of and loved, and that they would be on their own journey soon.
The agitation from Spotty and Princess truly hit and even Aurora, Joy, and Pirate felt concerned. This was (and still is) one of the most emotional things I have witnessed and proves just how much care and love these dogs had for their puppies...like ALL mothers. Animals really do feel so much and I wish that more people would truly understand and believe that.
After scooping up four pups to put into the carrier and having the others in a large Tupperware container, Spencer and I placed the purple container on the back seats and the carrier on the bed of the pick-up truck with us. We held the edges of the truck and onto the carrier as we drove away from the Teacher Units. As soon as we slowly drove the curve toward the road over bumps and potholes, Spotty and Princess began to run after the truck as quickly as their little legs could carry them. The rest of the pack barked as they ran after us. We could hear the puppies on the back seats bark and attempt their tiny howls, and the ones with Spencer and I in the bed of the truck did the same. We talked to them while they howled and patted at the carrier door as they saw their mothers race after us. I felt tears want to stream down my cheeks as I yelled to Spotty and Princess that I was sorry and that we would be back. Spencer and I shouted to the front to see if we could slow down and bring the determined and distressed mothers with us. However, the truck sped up and they continued to run faster and faster to catch up while gravel, dirt and dust flew into the air. It wasn't until we turned in the direction of the airport and the Northern Store, an area the Pack normally did not go on their own, that Spencer and I saw Spotty and Princess slowly disappear into a cloud of dust. Their bodies began to fade as we continued on until we saw them stop and heard them howl. Spotty took a few extra steps and then stopped beside Princess. They stood in the middle of the dirt road, completely still, watching us as they howled, until they turned into small specks in the distance surrounded by floating dust.
We could hear them howl even at the airport and it felt like my body was sinking. I knew that the puppies would have a longer, healthier life out of Shamattawa but seeing their mothers, only left with a few puppies at the Units, run after us "caretakers and thieves" made me feel slightly sick.
My heart felt broken - Spencer and I almost cried. I'd be lying if I said my eyes did not well up with tears that time in the truck and in the airport...
After we unloaded the puppies we brought them into the waiting area of the airport...which is one room. The entire airport is pretty much one room with only a couple small storage and administrative rooms. Saeed, Spencer, and one of the teacher's sons, Desmond, sat with the pups while I signed the papers for them to go in the cargo section Perimeter's plane. I wrote a Note of Surrender for Katie to be sent along with the crates - the Rez puppies would now be in the sweet hands of Save a Dog Network Canada.
Once the SADN crates were brought into the room we assembled them and put cozy blankets inside for the pups to stay warm on their flight to Winnipeg. We carried them outside and watched them putter away on a metal wagon and lifted into the cargo section. We said our goodbyes to the puppies and wished them a safe journey to their new homes!
It's a bird! It's a plane! A plane full of pups!
Spotty's and Princess's puppies were all ready to go! When the plane took off I messaged Katie to let her know they were on their way and would reach Winnipeg within 2 hours. It was sad to see them go but reassuring to know their new life off the Rez would begin with love and care from her and other volunteers. Spotty, Princess, and the rest of the Pack were outside of our Units when we got back, the mothers with their heads down upon the dirt, nuzzled in between their paws. We sat outside with them for a while and gave them pets to help them feel better, and when the remaining puppies were brought outside they got to play with them and nap in the sun. It was obvious that they felt loss and we continued to give them attention to help them feel better.
When early evening hit I received a message from Katie along with a picture of the puppies in Winnipeg! They had finished their trip and were ready to have their check-ups and much needed cuddles before going to the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter, due to needing more space. They were doing well, although, unfortunately I heard some sad news from her a couple days following their arrival...
One of Spotty's pups (picture above, sleeping on my arm) had difficulty swallowing liquids and solids due to a throat problem and could not keep anything down. The Rescue worked with veterinarians for a few days but were unable to help the little guy and had to make tough decision to put him to sleep. I had realized that the puppy (who was my favourite) was more tired the night before and day of the flight, but was unaware of something that was critically wrong. It was sad news to hear but I know that the Rescue (which is a No-Kill shelter) and the vets did all they could to help the pup. He was a sweetie and although he's with Patches across the Rainbow Bridge, his other brothers and sisters were still on their journey to loving homes.
* The Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter named all of the puppies, starting with "W" and the puppies have since been adopted! A grim beginning turned into light! *