Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bush Surgery

Last Sunday gave us our first encounter with just how secluded we really are. Doug, Chris, Janey, Jen, and I decided to take Oakley, Jen's dog, for a walk in the tundra. At this time of year the tundra is covered with wild blueberries and salmon berries. They are delicious, but you have to walk a ways out to get to them. Of course, once we start walking all of the village children have to come out and follow us. These kids are in love with Oakley. They all run around him or bike ahead of us, all calling his name. Oakley is the happiest, friendliest dog I've ever seen and loves the attention. He's also not the brightest. As all of the children are calling his name, he doesn't watch where he's going and falls right into a ground squirrel hole. We all burst into laughter at the sight of it, but didn't notice all the blood at first. When we caught up to him, Jen noticed a large flap of skin hanging off his lip. The poor guy had bit through it and it was gushing blood. She grabbed a piece of paper to push against it to hopefully stop some of the blood, but it was no use. This was a gusher.

Jen took the dog back to our apartment while the rest of us continued our walk. When I returned home two hours later, the dog was still bleeding. Jen had already walked all over town trying to figure out what to do. There are no vets in the village, not really even a doctor. There's just a nurse and she won't do stitches. We came to the conclusion that super glue will have to do. I ran outside and paid some kids a dollar to find us a tube. They come back with this tiny, dried up, old tube of super glue, but when you're in the bush, you use what you can. We gooped up his lip and held up the flap. This method held for about an hour, but was for sure not a permanent solution.

We did eventually get a hold of Mel, our superb plant manager who does it all, and he ran us over a brand new bottle of super glue, but we soon realized his cut was much worse. Jen finally decided to catch a plane in the morning to fly to Barrow. Luckily, the vet was in town, although it would turn out to be the most expensive vet bill ever once she factored in the flight. Total amount paid: $360.00. $270.00 for the round trip flight and $60.00 for the doctor bill.

Ten stitches and one day later, Oakley and Jen returned. Oak doesn't even seem to know the difference and is still as happy as ever. Now to train the kids on not yelling his name.

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