Gia #2 is a border collie/Labrador Retriever mix. She was about a year old when we adopted her. The rescue told us that she was a stray and rescued from a high-kill shelter in western Virginia by a woman in eastern Tennessee. Gia was on the list to be euthanized. In fact, she was 8 hours from the needle when she was pulled. Like all rescue organizations, they had a veterinarian examine and spay her. Once she was cleared for adoption, they transported her to Delaware to the rescue and they put her profile on doggie Tinder where I found her by swiping right (just the way you do on Tinder for humans!). My contact at the rescue told me that her foster mom said Gia was skittish. We did not know to what extent but we would soon find out.
My contact at the rescue brought Gia up from Delaware one Friday night to do a meet and greet with Clifford. They got along right off the bat and she got to stay. And so, it begins…
On our first walk Gia escaped from her harness and briefly ran away. An idling Mack truck had spooked her. Over the next few days and weeks, we were learning that she was afraid of SO MUCH: thunder and fireworks (no surprise there), motorcycles, loud cars, pneumatic tools (repetitive stapling or nailing), etc. She also would bark ferociously at any dog walking with their owners past our house. I took her to a few trainers, but they used a lot of old school methods such as jerking corrections, alpha dog stuff, etc. I’ve probably spent about $2000 on trainers–some group classes and some private sessions. A few months after we got Gia, my husband and I went on our vacation which had been planned the year before. We took Clifford and Gia to a local kennel. I’d never used this kennel, but I did my homework. It had good reviews. I scoped out the kennel and it appeared alright. I brought our dogs down for a couple of doggie day care sessions and they did well. We signed them up for their “vacation”.
When we returned from our trip, Gia was a mess. The owner of the kennel had to keep Gia and Clifford apart from the other dogs because she got into skirmishes with them. Prior to our vacation, I had visited the kennel on weekends. What I hadn’t been aware of was that it was also next to an area where garbage/recycling trucks parked. The beeping sound of those trucks was enough to drive Gia over the edge. The owner suggested that I muzzle Gia because of her aggressive behavior. I felt so bad. Gia had reverted to her old ways and I blamed myself.
I read up on positive dog training (add the cost of MANY books to the growing Gia dog training tab). I believe that with Gia’s issues positive is the way to go. She is already nervous so jerking her leash, pulling, etc. will not make her a happy dog when outside. Inside, she is the boss and you would never know that she suffers from agoraphobia. We live on a semi-busy county road so there are always trucks, a bus or two, and souped-up muscle cars. We cannot afford to move yet to find Gia a country place.
I reached out to my vet who gave her Lorazepam (generic version of Ativan). It dulled her senses and increased her appetite and she gained weight. He recommended I take her to an animal behaviorist—at $300.00/hour! I took her to meet with the doctor (a quick thirty-minute session). The exam room was not your typical vet examining room. It was a giant doggie playroom. A big box in the corner loaded with balls and squeaky toys. It had a bowl of water for the patient, aromatherapy and light classical music playing. The doctor asked me a bunch of questions and evaluated Gia. She also suggested I try another canine expert who was versed in Victoria Stilwell’s training methods.
Having determined that Gia is noise sensitive she suggested I purchase earmuffs for Gia, the kind that dogs that fly on planes and helicopters use to protect their ears. I bought them. They were $85. Add that to the costs of helping my baby girl. I felt so stupid walking her with earmuffs on. They would not stay on her, so I bought her a snood to keep them in place. That lasted for one walk. The doctor gave Gia a prescription for Fluoxetine (generic version of Prozac). We weaned her from the Lorazepam and started her on the new drug. This one made her more anxious and aggressive. Not what I was looking to do. We weaned her off Fluoxetine too. Just say no to drugs! When we weaned her of the Fluoxetine, Gia did seem much better. That, too, turned out to be short-lived.
I contacted the recommended trainer and made an appointment. She came to the house and evaluated Gia. Clifford, the lover of all things human, kept barking at this woman. I had never seen him behave like that. He would get all whale-eyed and bark at her while looking at her from the corner of his eye. Gia would go over to him and try to calm him down (one of her most adorable traits with him) and tell him that the lady was there to help her. Clifford went over to his bed and just watched. The trainer sat there on the sofa taking notes on her laptop. She hardly interacted with Gia at all. I thought it was odd, but she was the professional. The trainer suggested I take Gia to agility classes as this would help with her confidence and, being part border collie, she would excel. She also suggested I change her food. The commercially produced food I was giving her, although the highest quality I could find was not healthy. I did switch. Turns out the agility center also sells it (the proprietor is Tito Jackson, no relation to the late Michael’s brother). I now buy the food direct from the farm in upstate New York. It is an organic raw food diet and the dogs have done well. Believe it or not, it is also much less expensive, and dogs absorb more of the vitamins and minerals (read between the lines here–less waste!).
But I digress. The trainer mentioned that we were going to work in stages to help develop Gia’s confidence. We signed a contract ($700) for six sessions. The first session was after the evaluation. I felt buyer’s remorse but in my heart of hearts I still wanted to help Gia, so I gave the trainer a check and we scheduled our next appointment. During the second session, Clifford did his whole “Danger, Danger Will Robinson” routine. Gia calmed him down and we decided to go for a walk. I had Clifford and the trainer took Gia. A half a block later, the trainer said, “Let’s switch dogs, I can’t control Gia”. I was surprised because that was her job. I agreed and we went back to the house. The trainer cut the session short, I am guessing out of a little embarrassment. I fired her the next day, requesting the balance of my money back. She was surprised and I said that I did not feel that she was bonding with Gia and, therefore, she would not be effective. The good news? She returned the balance. The bad news? I still had an unbalanced dog. Back to the drawing board…(to be continued)
My name is Pat Jimenez and I have a dog story for you.
The first dog I owned as an adult was a purebred Boxer named Milo. He was my buddy, my partner in crime. He loved it when I made the house special for dinner (mac and cheese with hamburger). He was the best dog. He was six years old when I got married and he became my husband’s best buddy, too. Milo developed cancer and passed in February 2005. We were so despondent. We did not think we would ever get another dog. We stayed dog-less for almost a year.
During that year of grieving, I saw one of our neighbors walking a little white dog named Gia. I thought it was a Jack Russell Terrier. Fast forward to January 2006 and that same neighbor, who had moved away to get a larger yard for the puppy came to my door. She was crying and told me that her children were allergic to the dog and she needed to get rid of it. She knew I liked the puppy and didn’t want to see it go to the pound. I spoke to my husband and he agreed. Turns out that in Spanish (the neighbor’s primary language) “my children were allergic” translates to “we can’t housebreak this dog” in English (joke). Incidentally, that family got more dogs.
Gia was a Boxer/Pitbull mix. We had her housebroken in a few days. She was a good dog, but she did not like other dogs. She also had Isolation Distress. Isolation Distress is an anxiety disorder. It is not Separation Anxiety. With Separation Anxiety a pet attaches itself to ONE person. When that person is not around, the pet experiences stress. It does not matter that anyone else is with him/her. Isolation Distress is when the pet does not like to be alone. I could have brought a stranger into the house to stay with her and she would have been fine. Unfortunately, I had a lot of woodwork and furniture that bore the brunt of that anxiety!
Gia liked going on walks and road trips. She was good off leash. My husband used to walk her in the park and then hide behind one of the large trees there. Gia would have fun tracking him down in a game of hide-and-go seek. When she found him, she would give him a scolding look for hiding on her.
Gia suffered three bouts with cancer. The last one was when she was 10-1/2 years old. It was aggressive–the tumor was growing inwards and affecting her organs. We found the tumor just before Labor Day 2015. The vet oncologist said they could do a cat scan, perform surgery and chemotherapy. It would cost us $12,000 out-of-pocket and maybe she’d get three more months– if she survived the anesthesia. If she’d been five years old and they could have given her five more years, I would have handed over my credit card in a minute. We decided that it was not fair to her. We kept her comfortable with pain medication. Ultimately, she crossed The Rainbow Bridge October 2015.
After losing Gia, my husband and I weren’t sure if we wanted another dog right away. I was starting a class online in January and would finish in August. We decided that we would get a dog when my class finished and I had more time to take care of it. Getting a dog in August soon became getting a dog in early summer, which then became getting a dog after the New Year to getting a dog as my Christmas present.
While having Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt’s house, my cousin told me about a nearby rescue organization. When I got home, I went online to their website and fell in love with a Boxer/American Staffordshire three-year boy named Clifford. Clifford was a single guy living the high life on the streets of Georgia. He was rescued by a woman who usually only rescues Pit bulls because of their short lives in shelters but she felt a connection to Clifford. Clifford was being transported from Georgia to a new foster here in New Jersey. He was only here three days when I met him (maybe stalked is a better word) at an adoption event and we adopted him.
Clifford had been fostered on a horse farm. He loves big animals. When we go to any place where there are other dogs, like rescue events, he gravitates towards the Danes, Greyhounds, and Newfies. Maybe they make him feel petite. He is a charmer. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. This guy and my other guy, Milo, were the easiest dogs I have ever known. Clifford has such a sweet temperament–except he does have a high prey drive. I chalk that up to his survival on the streets of Georgia. Here in New Jersey, groundhogs, birds, squirrels have lost to the Cliff-man. I was able to save one groundhog and one cat. The skunks handled their own business…three times. Ugh!
My husband and I thought that maybe Clifford could use a companion. We have never had 2 dogs at the same time, but we figured, why not? Cue the theme music from Jaws!
We found Gia on Petfinder in early March 2016. Yes, her name was Gia, too. Both girls came to me with the same name. I do not believe in changing a dog’s given name (Clifford came with his, too, and I loved it!). Gia #1 was white with a tan patch (aka white Gia) and Gia #2 is black with a white nose, white feet, and a white patch on her chest (aka black Gia). We felt it was kismet and had to get her. My boys were easy, my girls, not so much! My experiences with my first Gia were a warmup for my trials and tribulations with my second Gia. Nothing could have fully prepared me for what I would endure with Gia#2…(to be continued !)
There's a reason we call them man's best friend (or a woman’s in my case) One day I saw an advert in my local newspaper " Dog for sale £30 ". Unbeknown to me, this ad would change my life forever. As soon as Tess and I made eye contact, we both knew it was meant to be. She came home with me and that’s when it all began. Thirteen years of willingness to provide her family members with unconditional love, loyalty and companionship down to her very last breath. In Tess’s presence, somehow nothing else in this world mattered. I was always greeted with the same enthusiasm each and every time I walked in the door. The pure love she gave, sparing no expense and asking absolutely nothing in return.
They say that dogs have the ability to sense what’s really going on and boy did Tess have that sense! There was a time in my life where I found myself in an abusive relationship. The abuser often exploited my devotion to Tess in order to control and manipulate me. He also made it clear that if I ended the relationship, I would never see my gorgeous girl again. Tess was my stable ground and I clung to her during the storm of emotional and physical abuse I faced. As the abuse continued, her increasing affection and unparalleled loyalty provided a safe harbour for me. Whenever I felt weighed down with discouragement and despair, her wet kisses, snuggles and tail wags inspired me to keep coming up for air.
In the end it was Tess that saved me from abuse. She always showed her displeasure with my abuser’s treatment of me and one day she snapped and took a chunk out of him. Normally, I don’t condone aggressiveness of any kind, but if she had not come to my rescue that day and done what she did, I would not be here now. I owe that pooch my life.
It was a very emotional and physically draining time for me, and I'm sure for Tess to. Do I leave and risk harm to me and Tess or do I stay and risk the same. After Tess bit my tormentor we did leave and stay with my parents, Unfortunately it was still in the same town as my abuser so there were times our paths would cross and when they did, Tess's whole demeanor would change, going from a happy, bouncy, trotting-along-not-a-care-in-the-world little lady to a stand-offish pooch rooted to the spot and stiff, growling until he passed by. Tess always spotted him before I did and my abuser knew to just keep walking. Eventually my abuser moved away and we didn't see him again. It was quite a few years later (Tess had already crossed the rainbow bridge) when we heard that my abuser had actually raped a woman he was in a relationship with and was awaiting trial. In hindsight, things for me and Tess could have turned out much worse than they actually did. I'll be forever grateful to Tess for giving me the strength to get out when I did. There was nothing she wouldn't do for me and I for her, the bond we had has been like no other.
I have two rescue dogs now that are my world, I don't love them any less, I just love them differently. The pain of losing her that day will stay with me a lifetime. There's not a day goes by where I don't think of her and feel thankful for the life we had together.
People have been very generous in complimenting my wife Clara and me for rescuing Lance and then sticking by him despite his unpredictability. Financially, Lance didn’t cost us a lot of money (apart from that time he got “porcupined”). After all, we got him for “free” and he was incredibly durable health-wise. Lance was expensive in the sense that he nearly cost us our sanity. Was it worth living with a dog that had us on pins and needles? Definitely. As I mention in the book, “I would take that dog back in a flash, baggage and all.”
Our current dog Buddy, a poodle/beagle mix, was diagnosed with congestive heart disease several months ago. He is now on a regular regimen of visits to the veterinarian and an assortment of medications. We’re spending about $400-$500 a month on visits to the clinic and another $270 a month on medications. This is money that—as the saying goes—we don’t have.
While Lance had us on edge because of his biting tendencies, Buddy has us on edge financially but much more so because his life is literally a day to day thing. He has wheezing spells when he can barely breathe. Clara and I can only sit, watch and hope. So far, Buddy has survived these fits.
At night, Buddy has taken to sleeping in the living room by himself. When I get up in the morning and come out into the dark I’m never sure if I’m going to find him alive or dead. I’m afraid to turn the light on and find out. I go into the kitchen to make coffee and wait for him to show some signs of life. Invariably, I start hearing his tail thump. My first feeling is one of relief—he’s lived to see another day!
So, in a sense we’re spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars and living on emotional pins and needles just to hear a tail thump in the morning. Dog lovers know that’s a worthwhile investment.
What sacrifices have you made for your dog?
Due to the virus, my personal appearances have dwindled to zero. Among the many postponed events was the Kulpmont 100 Beerfest. Based on my experience at last year’s edition, I had been looking forward to this particular venue with special relish. The following essay explains why (if you’ve already read this on my author website I apologize but reading it here might just make you laugh again).
Dogs and beer?!
What does a Beerfest have to do with a dog rescue? You’d be surprised. I think I’ve found a new target market for Lance: A Spirit Unbroken—beer drinkers that love dogs or, put another way, dog lovers that drink beer.
Last Saturday (June 29, 2019), I drove two hours to offer my book at an event—the Kulpmont100 Beerfest.
Things didn’t start off on a positive note. I missed an exit early in my drive, absent-mindedly continuing on a road that takes me to my day job on weekdays. After getting back on the right track, I got stuck in a traffic jam. I showed up just minutes before the event began and rushed to get everything set up.
A half-hour into the event, the skies began to darken. Then came strong winds quickly followed by torrents of rain accompanied by thunder and lightning. I had all to do to keep my tent from blowing away. I hunkered down underneath it, holding on for dear life to one of the tent poles. My coffee thermos got blown off my table and rolled away, never to be seen again. Custom bookmarks got soaked beyond repair. My flyers suddenly were “gone with the wind.”
While I clung to my tent hoping that it would not be blown away (and me with it!), the attendees of this event remained safe and comfortable just yards away, protected by the huge roof of a pavilion. Sheltered from the downpour, they continued to do what they came there to do—sample beer.
As the storm carried on, the thought occurred to me: so this is the life of a self-published author! Then, another thought occurred to me: who got me into this mess? Why, Lance, of course! No Lance would have meant no book which in turn would have meant no rained-on Beerfest. I thought about all the times on our hikes I wound up stuck in foul weather—weather that never seemed to bother Lance. If he had been with me last Saturday, I’m sure he would’ve been having the time of his life.
The rain continued to come down in sheets. I remained planted under my waterlogged tent, faced with having to pack up my goods and schlep to my car, all in the midst of a monsoon.
Just when it looked as if the day was going to literally be a washout, the storm abated and the sun began asserting itself. I resurrected my tent and put what remained of my goods in order. I was back in business. People began leaving the pavilion and many of them headed (staggered?) toward me. That’s when things took a turn for the better. This would become the most unusual book signing I’ve ever participated in:
1—A lady strolled up to my table and began petting the front cover of the book as if she was actually petting Lance. She did it in such dramatic fashion that it dawned on me she was under the influence. She bought a book and convinced her two friends, also a bit tipsy, to buy e-books on their phones.
2—Another lady came up to me and asked, “Is this book going to make me cry?” That often is the kiss of death as I cannot in good conscience tell people that they won’t shed a tear or two reading Lance’s story. However, I held the book for her and asked her to read the next-to-last paragraph from the book blurb on the back cover (that’s where Lance’s quirkiness is described). She said she was not up to it and I wound up reading the paragraph to her. When I was done she said, “I’ve decided you are a kind soul.” She bought not one but three books.
3—Still another lady wobbled up to my table and announced, “I just lost my dog.” I replied, “I’m so sorry to hear that. When did it happen?” She responded, “Oh, about an hour ago I guess.” “How are you handling it?” I asked. She said, “Fine.” Her response was so blasé I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly so I asked, “Your dog died? You lost your dog?” “No!” she responded. “I lost my glass.” She was referring to the complimentary drinking glass attendees were given as they went from one beer vendor to the other. She had mistaken me for a beer crafter and approached me to get another glass. When I explained to her what I was offering, she stumbled off to the tent next to me where her needs were met. For the record, no book purchase.
For the first time in my life I found myself surrounded by well over 500 people that were under the influence. Certainly, it was the first time in my life I was sober and found myself surrounded by well over 500 people that were under the influence. All in all, a very surreal feeling.
I left the beerfest a bit ahead of everybody else. I didn’t want to leave surrounded by a swarm of gas-fueled cars driven by alcohol-fueled drivers.
Lance got me into a lot of unique situations while he was living; his spirit continues to “hound” me!
The thought occurs to me—I can get angry with humans, even those very close to me. Sometimes that anger morphs into a grudge which I might hold on to for a long time. Yet, I rarely if ever get angry with the dog. At worst, I might be briefly irritated by one. I definitely have never held a grudge against a dog.
Maybe that’s because I relate to humans on humans’ terms. Just like me, other people are capable of anger and holding grudges. Likewise, I relate to dogs on dogs’ terms. A dog rarely if ever has gotten angry at me and, when it comes to grudges, unlike some people, a dog will always give you a chance to redeem yourself.
Does this make any sense to you?
This story is reblogged from the iheartdogs.com website
written by Kristen Cudd
One of the unique aspects of adopting a shelter dog is the fact that, so often, there is little information known about the dog’s previous life. We may always have to wonder: were they loved, were they lost, were they okay before I found them? Even the smallest snippet of background information can make a dog’s personality and temperament more easily understood.
Evan Strand and his girlfriend Hannah Dordal had recently gotten a Labrador puppy. Like all Labrador puppies, little Waylon was energetic, curious, playful, and a fair but mischievous pup. The couple decided that they would adopt an older dog to serve as a good example for him. An older dog that knew the ins and outs of being a model companion would be good for little Waylon and the family overall.
The couple found Willie through the Humane Society in Woodbury, Minnesota. He seemed like a calm, collected, and sweet dog so they went to meet him. It seemed fated, with the names Willie and Waylon but they took Willie on a walk to seal the deal. While signing the adoption papers, they learned a fact about Willie’s past: he had been surrendered by a man that was going into hospice care.
This broke the couple’s heart but also painted a clear and impossible to ignore picture about Willie. He had been loved. He had been wanted. He had been okay. Now that Evan and Hannah had found Willie, they wanted to let Willie’s former family know that Willie was going to continue being loved, wanted, and okay.
They asked the Humane Society if they could have the previous family’s contact information, but of course they couldn’t release that information to Evan and Hannah. The couple threw a long shot and took to social media instead. Evan posted,
“Willie is a very loving and well trained dog, this leads me to believe his owner was attached to him and would appreciate being able to see him again and know that he made it to a good home.”
The post was shared an incredible 13,000 times. It was eventually seen by a member of Willie’s extended family who informed Evan and Hannah that Willie’s previous caregiver had succumb to his illness and passed away in hospice. Evan and Hannah were so very sad to hear of his passing and disappointed that they could not deliver the comfort they hoped to deliver with a last visit from Willie.
We believe that there is truth in the adage, “it is the thought that counts.” Thanks go out to Evan and Hannah for bringing Willie to his new forever home.
March 6, 2018 - I overslept, so off to work I went unfed, unbathed, unshaven and wearing yesterday’s clothes. On the way, I stopped by my home to wheel the two garbage bins out to the road—trash collection must go on through rain, hail, sleet or snow. First, I filled up a huge trash bag with virtually everything in the refrigerator. For some reason, the odor of olives permeated the interior of the fridge, so the jar of Spanish olives was the first thing to be chucked, quickly followed by almost everything else in the refrigerator. I had bought thirty-five dollars’ worth of cheese and cold cuts just hours before the storm began the past Thursday; that all got thrown out, along with a case of state-of-the-art Brown Cow yogurt. This storm was now draining me financially, as it already had mentally and physically.
Through the snow and out to the road I wheeled the trash bin, loaded with suddenly worthless groceries that, less than a week earlier, had cost close to $300. Next, I brought out the recyclable container, aligned the two bins for pickup and headed back up the driveway toward my car.
The porch light came on! Was I seeing things? Yes, I was—the porch light! Too late to utilize this new found power surge to clean up for work. I drove to the correctional facility comforting myself in the knowledge that the siege was over. Was my comfort short-lived? There had been vague rumblings of second nor’easter due Wednesday. This was Tuesday. Let's live for today!
At the correctional facility, my optimism was dampened somewhat more when told that county employees were not to come to work the following day due to the impending storm.
5 p.m. - After work, I drove to Gina and Ricks’ place, thanked them for their hospitality, collected Buddy and headed home.
While at my job that day, there had been complaints from some co-workers that they had regained electric power only to lose it again. With that in mind, I turned onto Sportsmen Drive (my street) with some trepidation, fearing I'd see that the darkness had returned. I couldn't gauge the power situation looking into the homes I passed and there are no streetlights on Sportsmen Drive that would have tipped me off, so I pulled into my driveway not knowing what to expect. From the outside, I couldn't be sure if I still had electricity. All appeared dark. The porch light was off. Had I left it on? I couldn’t remember. Had I left any lights on inside the house? I couldn’t remember that, either. The suspense was killing me. I walked up the stairs of the side stoop, opened the door and saw, to my great relief, the kitchen light was on. Life was good! In went Buddy, excited to be back in his home but, no doubt, less appreciative than I that the kitchen light was on and what that fact signified. He hopped onto the sofa and made himself comfortable. I cooked up a most likely re-frozen dinner and made a cup of coffee (decaf). I took my food and drink and plopped into my recliner. On went the TV. Ah, the comforts of home were back!
March 7 - 5:30 a.m. There’s nothing like waking up in a warm, well-lit house. Some lights had been left on overnight just so, upon waking up, I could immediately revel in my home’s newfound electricity. When the reveling was over, I let Buddy out to do his business. When he came back in he got fresh kibble and water, the old-fashioned kind from the faucet.
For the first time in six days I was starting the day off with my customary, boring routine - a boring routine I especially appreciated this day. A cup of coffee (still decaf), toasted bagel (however, without the butter that was deep-sixed the day before), a half a grapefruit and a second cup of coffee (yes, decaf). I did some work on the computer for the first time in days. I also called Clara on my freshly-charged phone. She was enjoying her sisters’ company and the great weather in Florida. I was happy for her - sort of.
As the morning progressed, Canadensis suffered very little snow fall. I wished the county hadn't told us to stay home.
1:00 PM – My tune changed. The snow was now falling in bunches. The wind had picked up, although nowhere near as violently as it had in the previous storm, at least not yet. My home's electricity supply now seemed like such a fragile commodity, one that I could do nothing to hold on to. I tried to get as much done as I could while the electric service lasted.
3:00 PM - It was starting to get dark a bit prematurely, perhaps because the sky was overcast and snow was still falling. The wind also had picked up a bit. Just like that, the lights flickered and the TV cable connection went out. Here we go again! Then, just like that, the lights came back on and the TV began rebooting itself. How long would my luck hold out? Though forewarned about this second storm, I hadn’t attempted to purchase batteries, kerosene or bottled water. Clara would have made the effort; that’s who she is. I had neglected to; that's who I am.
The lights flickered again and, this time, they went out. I sat in my recliner, second-guessing my sense of recklessness and envying Clara’s sense of preparedness. At this point, I didn't feel like lugging in firewood anymore—I was beaten down, ready to except the frigid punishment my lackadaisical attitude merited. Upon further reflection, out I went to the woodshed, and back in I came carrying logs. I made five trips, loading up for the long haul. By my calculations, I had enough wood to keep the fire going until I went to bed, which would be soon enough. Tomorrow, I’d utilize the rest of the wood I had brought in. The second act of this weather drama was beginning to feel a lot like the first act.
I sat in my recliner, determined not to start up the fire until the temperature got below 50°F. Why waste firewood? I sat, and I sat, and I sat. Eventually, I dozed off.
4:15 p.m. - I woke up to bad news and good news. The bad news? There was definitely a chill in the air - inside the house. The good news? The lights were back on and cable was again rebooting. How long would this game of electrical cat-and-mouse go on?
I let Buddy go outside and checked the weather conditions. Heavy, wet snow had now fallen to the tune of seven to eight inches. At least for now, though, the snowfall appeared to be tapering off and there were no blasting wind gusts. Was the worst over or was this just a lull designed to get my hopes up?
I spent the rest of the evening in my home with electricity as a welcome guest. Buddy went to bed around seven p.m. I hit the hay around nine p.m. in a warm house. Would I wake up in one?
March 8 - Six a.m. Yes was the answer! The storm was gone but the electric power had thankfully lingered on.
The roads were bit dicey, but I made it to work, albeit twenty minutes late. The first thing I did on the job was to bring up the local weather forecast on my computer. There were no storms in sight for the next seven days. My weeklong weather induced nightmare was over.
March 10 - A bright sunny Saturday and, more importantly, the third straight day of decent weather and electrical power. All local businesses and workplaces had been up and running for several days now. The roads had been cleared of disabled vehicles and debris. The scattered pockets of snow that remained gave little hint as to what havoc the weather had caused for a full week.
In the early afternoon, Clara arrived back home from her vacation. She described in enthusiastic detail what a great time she'd had with her sisters - chatting, shopping, winning $650 at the casino, etc. Then she asked me, “How was your week? Tough? “
“You have no idea.”
Epilogue - Following are some of the lessons I learned from this double-barreled nor’easter attack:
One—During the winter, always have a supply of batteries, kerosene, and bottled water in the house.
Two—Invest in a wood stove, fireplace insert or generator.
Three—Have a decent amount of non-spoilable food in supply at home.
On a lighter note:
Four—You can have cabin fever and be freezing cold at the same time.
Five—When you come in from the storm, make sure there isn’t another one following close behind.
Six—In lieu of all of the above, time your vacation in a warm weather spot as cleverly as Clara did.
Seven—Try to make lemonade out of lemons. The lack of electricity gave me the opportunity to wean myself (admittedly in very uncomfortable fashion) off caffeine (alas, two years later I’m anything but caffeine-free. What is a writer to do?). Also, the limited availability of edible food and my temporarily diminished appetite enabled me to cut down enormously on the junk food I tend to eat daily. Since the storm I had no ice cream, cookies or candy for many weeks (once again, that was then and this is now).
The following lesson stands apart from all the above: Throughout our ordeal, my dog was stoically accepting of everything. If he had any complaints, he kept them to himself. His upbeat mood never slackened and his faith in me never wavered.
Buddy proved once and for all that a dog is a real friend, and not just a fair weather friend.
Hope you enjoyed Cabin Fever. I’d greatly appreciate your feedback.
Walter Stoffel author of Lance: A Spirit Unbroken
P.S. If you missed Part 1 of Cabin Fever, let me know and I’ll get it to you.
P.P.S. It’s Monday, April 2 and, in Canadensis, it’s snowing!
P.P. P.S. Almost forgot! Check out http://www.lanceaspiritunbroken.com/
Walter Stoffel is a substance abuse counselor and GED teacher in correctional facilities. When not behind bars, he likes to read, travel, work out and watch bad movies. Major accomplishment : He entered a 26.2-mile marathon following hip replacement surgery and finished—dead last. The author currently lives with his wife Clara, their dog Buddy (another rescue), and cat Winky (yet another rescue).
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