Canine celebrity and quasi-feral dog Loki will – hopefully – finally have a home in the next few weeks.
Loki’s long-time caretaker, Bonnie Dawson, has taken the next step in taming the dog, which has been famous for running free in the 553 area since his escape from the Hay River SPCA in 2010.
Dawson has acquired a kennel for her backyard in which the dog will live, as soon as she and Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) officers convince him to move in.
“If I’m successful, it will prove that it is possible, with love, patience and commitment,” said Dawson, adding she is prepared to spend every minute she can getting Loki accustomed to being handled by humans.
The next phase of her ongoing project was undertaken at the behest of the Town of Hay River when Fire Chief Ross Potter gave Dawson a deadline – albeit a fluid one – for dealing with Loki.
“For a long time, the town didn’t pursue the issue,” Potter told the Hub. “But we’ve been getting more and more complaints about him running wild and we had to do something about it.”
The original deadline of May 31 was extended when Potter and Dawson began working together to ensure the story had a happy ending. As of May 24, the plan was to look into the possibility of acquiring a tranquilizer gun and having ENR help get Loki into his new home in Dawson’s backyard. Whether such a gun is available in the territory is still unknown.
“Wherever possible, we try to work with people to get problems solved,” said Potter. “(Dawson) is working hard with ENR and she’s putting in the effort to see this dog safe, so we will continue working with her on that.”
According to Dawson, part of the issue is that Loki – strongly suspected of being at least part wolf – does not clearly fall under any agency’s jurisdiction. He’s partially domesticated and fed by Dawson, yet still not officially hers.
“He doesn’t belong to anybody,” she said. “We’ve adopted each other, but building trust takes a long time.”
Dawson has been bringing Loki food for years and making sure he has clean water to drink. She said she is most often out three and four times a day checking on him, no matter the weather, and believes her efforts have helped keep him civil towards other dogs and people.
“He’s a good-natured beast,” she said. “People walk their dogs and children in the area, and he walks with them and doesn’t cause any trouble.”
But Dawson said she cannot undertake the financial responsibility for Loki alone and has been pursuing donations to buy the needed kennel and pay for his veterinary bills once he can visit one. The dog run for her yard cost $1,200 and was entirely funded by donations from outside the NWT. Dawson’s goal is to reach $1,500, but as of Friday, she said the money had all but stopped coming.
“I will do everything in my power to have him here with me,” she said. “If I don’t do it, who can take him on? I will not see him shot.”
— Sarah Ladik