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After just a few days in his new surroundings Henson is quite
relaxed and feeling at home. Photo: Hamilton
by Mark Hamilton
Sue and I just spent a weekend doing something that came totally unexpected to us: we drove to Ottawa, picked up a dog that just came down from Iqaluit on a late afternoon flight and drove back home the next day. Why was that unexpected, you ask? The truth: due to our ages, Sue and I recently decided our current group of dogs will be our last group of dogs. All the same, we chose to include this dog into our group because at nine years of age he fits nicely with the age range of our other dogs (7-11). Having him increases the likelihood that we will have a male dog available for each of our bitches with whom they can live out the balance of their lives.
The drive to Ottawa was relatively drama free. The border crossing was quick and uncomplicated. Gas stops were incorporated into other routine stops and traffic was never congested. Of course driving 400+ miles (644+ km) with the intention of meeting an in bound flight does create its own tension, but all went well and we were at the airport with time to spare.
Saturday night Henson wasn’t at all comfortable being in a hotel room, doubly so if it included him being inside his airline crate. With the air conditioner cranked down to its lowest setting, the room was configured such that we were able to confine him to the area by the main door (the room also had a sliding glass door for direct access outside). Henson was willing to sleep quietly in this area as long as I slept on the floor with him and periodically took him outside for a few minutes. It wasn’t the first time dogs being transported home to Connecticut from the Arctic required this type of accommodation, so I was comfortable with the idea if not so much with the floor.
Sunday’s border crossing back into the U.S.A. wasn’t much more rigorous than our crossing into Canada with the singular exception that this time U.S. Customs x-rayed our Subaru Forester. There was no further delay after this procedure, so I guess the car didn’t have any ‘broken bones’. For a while during our drive home Henson required a stop and short walkabout every hour-and-a-half to two hours. But as the day grew longer he stopped asking for breaks as he either became more comfortable with the ride or just gave up all hope that the ride would ever end. It was likely the latter as for the last 25 or so miles (40 km) he didn’t even bother to raise his head.
Once home and in our fenced-in back yard we immediately removed his leash and collar, the first time we permitted him to be unfettered by those two restraints, and allowed him to explore and wander on his own. We stayed with him to keep him company. Henson’s basic good nature immediately shone bright as he quietly visited the other dogs through the kennel fencing and repeatedly came back to visit with us as well. He ate well that night and has continued to eat well since. Overnights weren’t entirely silent for the first couple of days but on Wednesday morning his three day de-worming treatment was complete and Henson got to meet Pikatiq and Monkey, our two bitches. His overnights have been silent since.
It seems odd to us that this has worked out the way it has because in some significant ways Henson reminds us of our first three arctic retirees: Puggiq, Tiriganiaq and Amaruq. All four dogs were born in Pond Inlet. Henson’s body type is strikingly similar to Puggiq’s, with his somewhat shorter muzzle, very broad skull, deep, thick neck and a torso that is a bit more massive. Henson also has the habit of lifting one or the other of his front legs in an effort to place it somewhere on our person when greeting us, a trait Amaruq exhibited and which we also saw in Amaruq and Tiriganiaq’s pups. So Henson, the last of our “new” Inuit Dogs, reminds us of the very first of our Inuit Dogs. It’s comforting to some degree.
The plan to close out our doggie-days isn’t at all comforting however. I accept the plan. I just don’t like it. I do understand the logic behind our plan and as such also accept that. What I haven’t yet squared myself with is the concept of being a doggie-person but not having any dogs. I love the ISD. I love working with the ISD and I love having them around. The idea of having some other kind of dog as a house pet is about as appealing to me as having another root canal. Like so much else in life being dog-less is just something to which we’re going to have to adapt. It will be a work in progress, and we’ll probably have to really work at it to show any progress.