Working North – Sample Chapter

The Puppy And The Polar Bear
Asshole the dog

Cape Dyer Baffin Island DEW Line camp was perched on the top of a granite and moss covered mini Gibraltar. The radar and weather base nestles in the crags of rocks over-looking the coast of Baffin Island. On one side of the camp the land gently sloped down seven mile to the silent black waters of the fjord. On the seaward side of the base was a two thousand-foot drop to the to the grumbling and squeaking ice of the Davis Strait. There were thirteen technicians on that site and three dogs. The men’s names are lost in time. The huskies’ names were Spike, Ike, and Asshole.

Asshole did not start his life being Asshole, he started out named Ken after the man that adopted him. He was always the friendliest of an aloof lot. He was friendly because everybody kept calling him. Someone would shout out:

“Hey Asshole!” and then Ken the large white dog with the huge open husky face would wander over while the technicians all laughed. How he got his nickname was not funny. Nobody laughed, nobody laughed for a long time.

When our hero was a fat little white ball of puppy fur, an eight hundred-pound she Polar Bear lumbered through the site. A Polar Bear can be very fast. A lot of seals have died with surprised looks on their faces because they fatally underestimated the speed of a Polar Bear. So there our very young hero was, exploring the DEW Line site waddling along fat, dumb, and happy. Of the three new puppies he was the friendliest.

Suddenly Polar Bear and puppy saw each other. The resulting race was no contest. A couple of lunges and the Polar Bear scooped the fat puppy in her mouth. The poor small bundle of fur didn’t have enough time even to let out a whimper. With the puppy gripped in those vise jaws the cream coloured bear started down the road out of the shelter of the buildings. Several crew stood helpless and watched the bear with the pup in her mouth. The hardest thing to watch was the eyes of the helpless pup, terror filled and pleading.

Fat little legs flopping out either side of the bear’s mouth the baby dog was surrounded by those six-inch incisors. The puppy’s wide terror eyes and whimpering told the entire story. Several workers stood quiet in open doors and watched what was the last they would see of that Husky pup.

About an hour later, as fast as fat little legs could pump, a miracle appeared. Shouts of surprise, joy, cheering greeted that puppy back from the dead. Tongue flopping in the wind, eyes wide with fear, the ball of white fur rocketed towards the awaiting crew. It continued to run, passed all the buildings, passed the Radar towers, passed thunderstruck workers, right between their legs and outstretched arms, and it kept on going, out onto the empty land beyond. The nearest village was Broughton Island, ninety miles to the north and that’s where the puppy was headed. To the far side of Broughton Island. That dog was gone!

The amazed workers finally mounted the snow machines and headed out after the pup. A mile away from the camp they finally caught up to that still running puppy. The mechanic picked up the pup and he was covered in frozen slobber and bear milk. There wasn’t’ a scratch on him, not a mark. One of the crew exclaimed:

“That bear thought you were a bear cub! Why you lucky little Asshole”!

And the name stuck.