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Monday, June 15, 2009

Storms: outside and inside

An uninvited guest arrived last night to forage under our bird feeders - a raccoon. We almost never see raccoons at our elevation so the appearance of his masked visage and striped tail surprised me.The raccoon first showed up at about 1:40 AM but he turned his rump toward the camera. He stayed for almost 15 minutes, and then fled when our coyote trotted into the picture. The coyote stayed by our feeders for less than 30 seconds but the raccoon waited a couple of hours to return. I bet that raccoons are very wary of the predatory coyotes.The appearance of the raccoon raises a dilemma. We've chosen not to vaccinate for leptospirosis, which is carried by raccoons, due to the scarcity of raccoons around here. Moreover, many years ago, one of our dogs who was vaccinated against leptospirosis contracted a strain that was not included in the vaccine. So, we know how awful the disease is but we also know that the vaccine isn't foolproof. I'm presently mulling over whether to get K and R vaccinated soon. Here, you can see that, this morning, the intriguing scents drew K directly to the spot visited by the raccoon and coyote.
This morning dawned cloudy with the promise of more drama-filled storms.
K and I rolled through the forest, mellowly enjoying each other. She stuck close by my side, and her ears blew back in the wind as she trotted easily.
Near the end of our ride, we met a neighbor running with her seven dogs, five of whom are very small dogs. Some days, K will play with the tiny canines, but today, she wasn't interested even when one prostrated himself before her. She's usually so deferential around unfamiliar dogs that she doesn't know what to do when one is so obsequious.
As I chatted with the neighbor, we complained about the stormy weather that's hounded us for weeks. Then, I had to laugh when I took note of the view that was just behind our shoulders! What are we complaining about?
When I stopped at home to drop off K, she started showing signs of a tick bite - wheezing, upset tummy, and one small hive. Over the past weeks, it's become clear that K's tick allergy is very dangerous, and might even be deadly if it's not stopped. After balancing the trade-off of her tick allergy and the toxins in a tick collar, I decided to have her wear a collar. A problem is that the collar, and other forms of tick control, work by getting the tick toxin into the dog's bloodstream. So, K has to endure a brief bite and a (hopefully) small reaction before the toxin makes the tick fall off. So far today, the reaction seems to be dissipating without escalating to its full fury. But, we've been keeping a close eye on her so we can act right away if her face swells up.

My husband watched her while I did a fast and exciting ride. Storms nipped at my heels for the entire ride, with thunder first rumbling to the east and then, a little later, to the west. On top of the threatening storms, I had a mechanical problem that took some time to fix, and I was running behind schedule for getting back to watch K. The result was, by far, the most high intensity ride that I've done in quite a while. My body seemed ready for it.

As the thunder rumbled, I saw the same mountain as K and I gazed at early this morning (first mountain photo above) through a forest of pines. By this point, it looked like a different peak due to the dark clouds enshrouding it. The Golden Banner wildflowers almost glow in the foreground due to the dark ambience.
As I pedaled furiously through an aspen grove, the wind picked up and cold rain spritzed me. The aspens rustled, or 'quaked', in the stiff breeze. I realized that I associate quaking aspens with the onset of a big storm. Indeed, just over the treetops, I spotted another mountain that I'd photographed earlier in the morning, now looking haunted with clouds.I beat the storm, just barely, which seems to be the story of the past two weeks. As for storms, K's internal stormy battle against the tick seems to be winding down, which is good news. But, I'm rooting for dry weather so that tick season ends, like usual, early in the summer. I'll breath a big sigh of relief when the ticks disappear.


  1. Sounds like you are getting some energy back or the storm just forced you to energize. I hope it's that things are getting better. Ticks sure have been a pain this Spring but I haven't pulled any off Java or myself for about a week.

  2. Have you tried Frontline? That usually seems to prevent ticks from biting our dogs - it either kills them too fast, or they crawl back off the dog without biting. If I ever find a tick on one of the dogs that has started attaching, it has nearly always been more than a month since their last application.

  3. Mary: You're lucky for so few ticks!

    Dog_geek: I'm going on the recommendation of my vet that Frontline lets the tick attach for slightly longer than Preventic collar. Neither lets a tick attach for long, but with touchy K, it only takes a very brief bite (the vet said that the bites would be so brief that I'd never find one attached to her) to set her off. If the Preventic doesn't seem good enough (we've just started), I'll give Frontline a try. Thanks!

  4. We've never had tick issues, that I know of. So glad for that.

    Poor K. I hope she is feeling better.

  5. i would not vaccinate for lepto, i wouldn't worry about the coon so much as drinking water out of far as the ticks, there are some nasty diseases, lyme, ehrlichia, rocky mnt spotted fever....i would, if i were you use frontline...topical ointment, that rarely has side effects in dogs....
    lovely post, as always...:)

  6. Love racing a storm off a mountain - a challenging moment!

    We use Frontline Plus because of the prevalence of Lyme Disease in the area. Seems to work, though I can not speak to the amount of time a tick may be attached.

  7. kks and The Thundering Herd,

    It seems that most people recommend Frontline. Unfortunately, we already have a Preventic collar on K, based on our vet's suggestion. I'll definitely talk with my vet about it again when I see her (which seems to be every couple of weeks in our wacky pack!).



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