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Abandoned dog finds a home in Yellowknife after a brush with death

A dog is man’s best friend, as the saying goes, which is exactly the case for Greg Rogers, an electrician for Ice Electric.
Greg Rogers and his golden lab, Hemi, who was eager to play shortly after arriving at Somba K’e Park. Jonathan Gardiner/NNSL photo

A dog is man’s best friend, as the saying goes, which is exactly the case for Greg Rogers, an electrician for Ice Electric.

This is a story of his dog named Hemi, named after a type of Dodge engine, how he nearly died on the streets, and how they created a lasting bond together.

Approximately eight-and-a-half years ago, two puppies, Hemi, a golden lab, and his non-biological brother named Diesel, a black lab, were living on the streets of Rankin Inlet. That winter, a carpenter living in Iqaluit travelled to Rankin Inlet with his team for his job when he came across the two puppies.

The team saw the puppies for multiple consecutive days scrounging for food by themselves. The puppies appeared to be emaciated, their ribs were visible on their bodies, and the team believed that the puppies would not survive long without intervention.

Since they had no apparent owner, the team hid the two puppies in their jackets and took them on the plane home to Iqaluit, where they would reside with the carpenter for under six months until they all moved to Yellowknife.

In 2015, Rogers heard his new neighbour, the carpenter, yelling out “Diesel” and “Hemi!” Rogers asked the carpenter who he was yelling at. They responded, saying that the two dogs were missing.

Although Rogers never met his neighbour before, he was a dog lover so he decided to help in the search anyway. Rogers suspected that the dogs took a skidoo trail that leads to Kam Lake, so they began their search there. After an hour of driving around in that area, they found and recovered the two dogs.

After the ordeal, Rogers and the carpenter exchanged phone numbers since their two trades work closely together. Not long after, the carpenter called Rogers to do some electrical work. After he arrived on site, the carpenter told Rogers how the puppies nearly died in Rankin Inlet, and that he only wanted to keep one dog.

He asked Rogers if he knew anyone who might want one of them, and Rogers immediately volunteered.

He was given the choice of which dog he wanted to take home, so Rogers took Hemi home because golden labs tend to be calmer, he said.

Rogers described Hemi as being calm, loyal, and quiet with a passive demeanour, though it was not always like that – he said Hemi was not trained and not well-behaved when he got him.

He recalled an incident that occurred shortly after he took ownership of Hemi where left to his own devices, Hemi tore through a screen door and garbage inside their garage.

Rogers said that it took about a month of ‘tough love’ to reform Hemi into the peaceful dog he is today.

“Since then he’s the world’s most disciplined, awesome puppy,” he said.

Rogers said that the carpenter paid him $250 for taking Hemi and provided the supplies he would need to take care of him.

Hemi is approximately nine years old, though his exact birthday is unknown.

Anecdotally, Rogers said that one time Hemi was lost and was dropped off by a group of high school graduates riding in a limousine.

“Good for him, I guess,” he said humorously, never having the opportunity to ride in one himself.

Rogers said that he sometimes rides in a side-by-side ATV, which has 24,000 kilometres on it. Hemi has ridden inside or has run in front of it every time it has been used.

He explained that Hemi gets excited when they go somewhere together, and after barking, Hemi will jump onto Rogers’s lap.

“That’s the only time he barks,” he said.

They’ll take the ATV to a cabin where they often reside and where Hemi has his very own bedroom.

Near the cabin is a lake where Hemi and Rogers will play together; one of Hemi’s favourite things to do is to play fetch.

Rogers throws sticks into the lake and Hemi will fetch it continuously until Rogers is “blue in the face,” he said.

Another anecdote is when Hemi was riding with a bylaw officer.

Hemi plays without a leash in their backyard. One time, bylaw pulled someone over just outside his property.

When the officer got out to give the person they pulled over a ticket, they left the door to their vehicle open. Hemi was apparently eager to go somewhere, so he went inside the vehicle and sat in the passenger seat until the bylaw found him there. They got Hemi home without any problems.

Rogers said that Hemi is a gentleman, and is very friendly to people, pets and other animals.

On Jan. 1 every year, Rogers said ducks show up on their property and Hemi has a friendly relationship with them. He likes to watch them and chase off foxes lurking nearby. He also brings cheer to people wherever he goes.

Hemi goes to work with Rogers every day and when people see Hemi riding with Rogers, he said they‘ll often smile and wave.

He recalled that he’s seen people on the sidewalk looking glum and they will light up when they see Hemi.

Rogers’s favourite thing to do with Hemi is working and relaxing in their backyard together.

“I’m working, he’s beside me, then he runs off and finds a bone or something and then comes back and then we sit down and look at the lake,” he said. “He’s man’s best friend for sure. My boy.”