Sunday, October 30, 2011

October snow and a sad, sorry dog

A big nor'easter came early, barreling up the coast and smothering pretty much everything from New Jersey north to Nova Scotia in the white fluffy stuff.

We had fair warning, and although I'd been plugging away for weeks at the pre-winter farmyard and dooryard chores, I took fair note of the forecast and put a good day's work in Saturday, cleaning up the rest of the equipment and other items lying around the place, fixing the fences and gates that needed to be fixed before the snow, and otherwise taking care of business.

I took special care to check the generator and tractor fuel supplies and put the starter battery for the generator on a trickle charge for the day. With such wet sloppy snow, and the leaves still on the trees, power outages are forecast, and indeed we've had three or four short ones already.

I then retired for a nap on the couch smug and secure in the husbandly knowledge that it could blow as much as it bl*@dy well liked and all would still be well in the world of the Womerlippis.

Since then we've had a good ten inches and it's still whiter than any English Christmas out there.

It's interesting to me that we live more or less constantly, November to March, within a thermometer's hair of the climate regime at the top of Britain's Cairngorm mountain. I well remember how daunting it used to be, on the RAF Mountain Rescue winter climbing course, to drive our Land Rovers from the warm cosiness of the village of Braemar to the top of the road at the Cainrgorm ski area car park, and then continue up to Coire an t-Sneachda for the climbing.

How many times have I made that particular trip?

But here all I have to do right now to get the same experience, as long as there's a "R" in the month, is to stick my head outside my own front door.

Today's plans include a sensible big and greasy breakfast, followed by a good wait for the blizzard to stop, followed by a couple-three hours work with the tractor and snow shovel, to make sure that when this mess melts, as it surely will someday between Monday and Friday, we're ready for it and the meltwater can all drain in a useful direction.

In other Womerlippi news, we had a bit of a blow of a different kind Friday to hear from our vet that Mister Haggis, our recalcitrant shepherd dog, may have canine lymphoma.

We had thought it was just asthma brought on by contamination from the chemicals used in cellulose blown-in insulation.

A few weeks ago, with Aimee gone for a day or two to some wifely conference or some such thing, I'd taken the opportunity to blow a foot of insulation into the tiny crawl space above our front porch, something I'd been meaning to do for a few years now.

But the crawl space was not yet well-sealed, and every time the wind blew thereafter, cellulose dust would settle to the porch floor below, where Haggis spends his days patiently waiting for us the get back from work.

When the poor pup first contracted a good case of pink eye, then developed a nasty cough, it was a fair guess that the cellulose dust was to blame. Occam's razor ain't no facial hair removal device.

Accordingly, I sealed the crawl space up properly with mastic and trim boards, then decontaminated the area below with a good old-fashioned besoming, making good use of the Swiffer mop and it's alcohol-laden cleaner to be sure we'd gotten most of the light grey dust.

Yet the cough persisted, and so Haggis had to go to the vet's Friday. He was very happy to ride in Aimee's Camry car, and indeed sat without moving a muscle at the tire place, while I bought a nice aggressive pair of all-weather radials to see us safe through the snow and down to Virgina for Christmas. On to the vet's, and he was still happy until he made it inside the front door, when the smell of the place suddenly hit him and he made an abrupt u-turn, heading, or attempting to head, right back to the parking lot!

He loves to go for a ride, but he doesn't like to go to the vet.

On the vet's table he was given a very thorough examination, with all kinds of strange palpitations -- the spleen, the lymph node, the tendons on the back of the rear ankle joint, as well as a good old-fashioned stethoscoping, and so on. I appreciate the work of any craftsman, and this particular vet is clearly a master of the medical massage.

Haggis, for his part, was most upset to be felt up so thoroughly, without any choice in the matter.

The upshot was, we must now do a couple weeks of patient dog-watching to rule out kennel cough, and then our sorry mutt must return to the vet's to have some blood work and a biopsy of the lymph nodes. More than likely, he has the carcinoma, in which case he has less than a year to live.

His coughing proceeds apace, and is most unpleasant to hear. We feel quite sorry for him. It's clearly very uncomfortable. Often, he coughs up some interesting clear frothy spittle. We're in the habit of pausing whatever TV show we're watching using the DVR to let him get it over with. Yet another advantage of modern entertainment technology.

Mostly, he just lies quietly, as in this photo, trying not to get worked up about anything. Sensible dog.

The good part is, he now gets three cheeseballs a day, the cheesy mutt, with his several pills wrapped inside.

And, loyal and true friend that he is, all red hair and soppy puppy love for us both, we know that as long as we're both close by, he's happy enough and content with his lot in life.

If he really must die soon, all he will ask of us, to die a happy dog, is a little more of our time and companionship.

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