Fighter pilot, Royal Navy 1945, Hydrographer Iraq 1947-52 India 1952-53, Canadian Hydrographic Arctic explorer 1953-1960, Writer-producer Canadian National Film Board 1961-72, Freelance journalist, audio-visual producer 1972-2009, National Press Club of Canada 1961 - 2006

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dogs like turkey

Further north along the uninhabited Labrador coast, I needed to land on a very small offshore island in order to take a round of horizontal theodolite angles to establish geodetic control points.  I left the ship with a launch towing a dory.  The little islet was just a few hundred feet across.  Unfortunately, some local native chap, who must have lived many miles away, had decided to use that bare piece of rock as a summer storage space for his dog team.  He had no use for his dogs when the snows went and didn’t want to bother with their feeding or care all summer.  So he stranded them on the island where he could pick them up again in the autumn.  

Eight big huskies on five acres of bare rock for five months do not find much to eat.  With only the odd dead fish and other debris washed up they get ravenous.  As we came towards the shore in the dory they waded out to meet us.  Slavering.  We back-pedalled, sculled back to the launch, then went back to the ship.  

That year the Theron  was down by the head with frozen turkeys.  The steward must have bought many scores of them as a cheap job lot in Halifax.  We were getting a little tired of eating so much turkey.

So I commandeered a dozen of the turkeys from the big freezer in the hold.  We picked up the twelve big birds and went back to the island.  When the dogs came down to meet us we threw some of the turkeys ashore then went back to the launch and waited nearly an hour.  Then we went back to the island, threw the rest of the turkeys up on the shore.  Then went up to the islands’ highest part, took a leisurely round of theodolite angles, then built a cairn of rocks as a survey marker.  Then, unmolested by the burping dogs, we got back into the dory and went back to the ship.

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