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North Paws



For many centuries, humans and dogs have worked together to survive in Canada’s unforgiving Far North. But times have changed – and so has this ancient partnership.
As the new documentary North Paws reveals, dogs have lost their once-important place in northern communities, with tragic consequences.
Produced for The Pet Network by Chester, Nova Scotia-based Nexus Media Inc., North Paws tells the stories of dedicated volunteers who are battling against the odds to protect and better the lives of these dogs.

Historically, dogs were the “essential beast of burden” in Canada’s North: rugged working animals, bred for their strength, tenacity and keen survival instinct. Few people living in this inhospitable clime had the luxury to keep dogs as mere pets.
Over time, as once-nomadic northerners began gravitating toward established communities, and as technology provided new means of transportation, the need for dogs dwindled. Still, many were reluctant to part ways with tradition, and continued to keep large numbers of canines, without consideration to the long-term impact.

Unfortunately, a shortage of veterinary services in many communities makes it costly and impractical to arrange for the spaying or neutering of animals. In places like Yellowknife, the result is a serious canine overpopulation problem – a problem often dealt with in brutal fashion: by rounding up and shooting unwanted dogs.
Filmed on location in the Northwest Territories, North Paws follows the efforts some northerners are making to find better solutions.

Writer/director Natasha Duchene goes inside the campaign to establish the first SPCA shelter in Yellowknife, spotlights the heroic efforts of volunteer animal welfare workers in one of the region’s most remote communities, and meets men and women who are helping northern canines find a prestigious new role in the sport of competitive sled dog racing.
“It is more important than ever,” she says, “for us to understand the ancient partnership between people and dogs.”

North Paws was produced with the assistance of the Canada Media Fund, Nova Scotia Film, Northwest Territories Industry Tourism & Investment, and First Air. Don Duchene and Judith Keenan are the producers.
The North Paws Web site delves further into the fascinating lives of the people and dogs profiled in the documentary. To find out more, just click the link below.

Filmmaker Natasha Duchene, an accomplished singer-songwriter, also composed the music for North Paws. CLICK HERE to visit her site.




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