Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nukka the ICE-MUTT

Nukka the ICE-MUTT
Meet Nukka, our ice-mutt.  Long ago, shortly after coming up with the acronym ICE-MITT, we decided that we needed an ICE-MUTT now for this trip.  As much as I love dogs, I never truly thought this dream could actually become a reality since my condo by-laws don't allow dogs.  However, there is only so much joking/wishful thinking you can do with Ellyn regarding dogs before she just accepts it to be fact.  Shorty after arriving in Barrow, we found our way to the animal shelter/vet where there routinely was several strays awaiting adoption always chained outside.  It turns out that Barrow has a problem of too many dogs ending up at the shelter from abuse, abandonment, or some other reason.  After hearing this at our first (of many) stops to play with the dogs, it was already a foregone conclusion: we were going to have an ICE-MUTT and there was no way Ellyn would be stopped.  Of course there was still quite a few logistics such as getting the dog on a plane to Fairbanks, a 5,000 mile road trip in a Uhaul with a dog, who will actually adopt the dog when we get home, border patrol in both Canada and the USA, etc.  However, before I realized this was indeed happening, Ellyn had already picked out a puppy, figured out the logistics, and had her family agree to adopt a dog from Barrow.

Meeting Nukka for the 1st time
Nukka is a beautiful mix of husky, pit bull, and potentially some other breeds.  She is roughly 1 1/2 so Ellyn and I decided to split the difference of our birthdays and give her an "official" birthday of October 19, 2013.  Her full name, Nukkalaq, means "little sister" in Inupiat.  Until this week, she had never known a life outside of Barrow.  That means no mountains, trees, or many of the strange creatures we have in the lower 48.  The actual adoption day, the day we packed up and left Barrow, was a bit of an adventure.  The night before we realized that she might not be able to cross border patrol in the USA since her rabies shot was less than 30 days ago.  Ellyn woke up early, and frantically called and visited the vet to find that Nukka did indeed have shots from much earlier so we would be ok to cross.  Whew, we still have our ICE-MUTT.  3 hours later, after loading all of the ICE-MITTs into our tiny little plane, we cleared out the front seat for Nukka and her crate, and she left the snow and ice of Barrow for the first time in her life.  In Fairbanks, we transitioned to our Uhaul, and the front cab became her new home.  Of course, as it turns out neither border patrol ever ended up checking her papers.

Nukka likes to drive the Uhaul
If you have ever done a long journey in a Uhaul truck, you can begin to appreciate what a drive from Fairbanks to New Hampshire might be like for 3 adults and a medium=sized dog crammed into the front cab.  Nukka spends her days rotating from the laps of Rachel, Ellyn, and myself, often sprawling across all 3 of us at once.  Recently, Nukka has decided that she enjoys driving and has started to lean up against the steering wheel.  At first, it was only her head on my lap.  Then slowly she started plopping the majority of her body on my lap as I drove.  Next the head moved to be slightly leaning on the steering wheel.  Once she started putting the paws on as well, I had to remind her that was where my hands belong.  Today, she pushed even further and ended up honking the horn a couple of times, so we have had to set some new ground rules for driving.  Although my space has become quite cramped, driving with a dog on your lap almost makes you forget how long this trip is and truly does make the miles go by much faster.  Nukka is also a very fast learning, and already knows: sit, lay down, paw, double-high-five paw, and working on stay.  She has also learned that we humans like to have snacks for long drives, and this makes for easy stealing when crammed in the cab of a Uhaul.

Nukka sees mountains for the 1st time and doesn't know what she thinks of them
Quick status update: We just reached the United States in North Dakota.  Presented at a science museum in Edmonton yesterday, which went very well.  Still have ice cores in the truck and ICE-MITTs running.  Some issues with the back of the Uhaul getting to hot from the generators, but more on that later.

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