Princess and Spotty Nibbles gave birth to their puppies near the end of April. I was the only one at the Units during the day while everyone else was teaching, so I sat outside and checked on Princess while she was in labour. Princess, from what we know, was possibly a first time mother and gave birth to six puppies, however, one did not make it. The remaining five were healthy and we made sure to bring Princess inside as soon as we were able to to ensure their safety. The small runt was buried in behind the Units and a little prayer was said for her.
Spotty Nibbles had eight puppies shortly after Princess and I am sure that she enjoyed losing that extra weight! Our very sweet neighbour (Saeed) definitely had a full house with the pack staying in there during the nights and with the 13 new puppies. There were plenty of very early mornings and tiresome days, but with us working together we managed to keep all of the pack happy. Throughout the day I would go in and check on Princess, Spotty and their puppies to make sure that they had water and food, and to keep them company. Spotty was definitely pleased whenever she got to go outside for a break from her eight following her around once they could walk.
Princess with her puppies in the laundry room, cozy and warm compared to the snowy outside.
Spotty Nibbles with her puppies in the spare bedroom. She definitely had her paws full!
Aurora and Pirate were even more protective of the pack and the puppies, Aurora had sadly lost some of her own litters due to them being taken away or their lives cut extremely short, so her motherly instinct to help protect Princess' and Spotty's puppies kicked in. Joy seemed confused overall by the puppies and was not sure how to think of them most of the time. He eventually got more used to them, even if he would try to hide behind us from the "scary" puppies!
Aurora and Pirate waiting outside of our door before going out to check on the puppies. They were also not impressed with more snow...I don't blame them! Small treats of egg and toast followed!
Now that the puppies had arrived I was working hard communicating with rescues to try to figure out a way the puppies could be flown out of Shamattawa. As soon as I knew the dogs were pregnant I worried about all of their futures and safety, feeling responsible considering all of the time we had put in to gain the pack's trust and now having the 13 pups in our care. There are residents in Shamattawa who want to do well and are kind-hearted, but due to the poor living conditions and the area, many do not have the means to care for an animal...It's difficult to have all of that when your own living situation is grim compared to off-reserve areas of Canada, and culture has been lost. If people do not know who they truly are, like the Swampy Cree in Shamattawa, it is difficult to take care of other living beings especially with their own struggles on the reserve (contaminated water, isolation, alcohol, and more). Many do not understand how to take proper care for an animal although they would like to, so dogs become wild, many dying well before the age of one. The dogs that do live to be at least a few years old are survivors and have to fight to live. There is also no vet clinic on the reserve, so unless one has the money and will to fly their dog to Winnipeg ($400+ one-way) to get vaccinated or treated, there is no help for them. Worms and rabies are the main threat and it is a continuous cycle. Our pack had worms and there was nothing we could really do except try to limit how much they ate and what they ate to help flush their bodies out.
Education and assistance truly are key, as I wrote in my previous post, and unless more people become aware of the living conditions for residents and animals throughout Canada then there will be a standstill. It became my mission to save the dogs I would be able to in Shamattawa and I knew I could not do it alone. I contacted my friend, Niki, who has been involved with Infinite WOOFS animal Rescue as a volunteer in Alberta to see if their team had any connections in Winnipeg, and if there was a way to get the puppies flown out of Shamattawa. In no time we had a full group conversation happening via Facebook for me to give details about the pack, the puppies, the care they had, where they would have to fly, and how they would get to Alberta. Yes, the plan was to fly and drive the puppies to Alberta! There was only one problem...funding.