Remember the time you saved Sunshine with rose hips?
Yes, we had been out on trapline for a couple weeks with our dog team and two pups who were about four weeks old. One of the pups, Sunshine, started losing hair in a patch on one of his forelegs. After a few days it started to fester and weep in that spot. My ex-husband wanted to kill him. He said he’d seen this before and it would spread to the rest of the team and there wasn’t a cure for it. Being kind of attached to the pup, and not having a lot of faith in my ex-husbands medical expertise, I decided to give it a shot on my own. We didn’t have much in the way of first aid or medical supplies out on trapline. I resorted to compresses made with garlic, rose hips, and spruce needles. I fed the dog a tea of garlic, rose hips, and spruce needles. In about a week the area healed up, but he never did grow hair back on it. Sunshine and I became best friends over this incident and he stayed with me for eighteen years (unusually long for a dog).
How did you know to use the rose hips, garlic, and spruce?
Well, you could call it intuition, or you could call it desperation. Some might call it dumb luck. There wasn’t a whole lot of choice.
Were you using spruce tips, or mature needles?
Mature needles, and pitch. I used pitch of a lot of things, but I didn’t put it on the wound while it was festering.
What else did you use pitch for?
Spruce pitch is great when you have cuts, scrapes, or burns. It’s a little rough because you have to warm it up so that it’s malleable, and then when you put it on your skin it’s pretty hot. However, it seals the area keeping out bacteria and dirt, and has amazing healing properties. I also use spruce pitch for my dogs ears when they get a yeast infection. I mix it with vinegar. If you warm it up in warm water it’s properties will go more into the vinegar, be dissolved by the vinegar, and then I use a small spray bottle and do one squirt in the dogs ear. Be sure not to get it in their eyes. It really tends to dry up the yeast and kill any infection or open wounds that are going on in there.
How did you know all this about spruce pitch?
Mostly it’s been trial and error. The reason I started the trial and error with it was that someone in the village told me spruce pitch was good for wounds. From there I mostly experimented when I was needing something but didn’t have access to other solutions.