Wednesday, April 24 2013
For this particular spring, today was an unusually warm one, with temperatures reaching up into the mid-70s. At around 3pm I took 120 milligrams of pseudoephedrine to help me with my web development tasks, and it really seemed to help focus my mind, because I got a lot done.
Soon after Gretchen returned from wherever she'd been, I was at my computer in the laboratory and, through the open window, heard an unfamiliar dog barking in the road. I immediately climbed out onto the laboratory deck and saw Eleanor charging down the driveway towards a hapless cyclist who had just finished climbing the mile-long grade from the Esopus Valley (a vertical climb of some 400 feet). I shouted "no" multiple times, but it did no good, and by now Ramona had joined her. Gretchen soon joined me in shouting at the dogs, but by now they were surrounding the cyclist, who had climbed off his bike. And then, out of nowhere, Eleanor bit the cyclist on the leg and then ran off to the farm road. "Ow!" the cyclist exclaimed, "she bit me." At this point Gretchen had made it out to the road, where she grabbed Ramona. The cyclist insisted that it was Ramona that had bit him, but I'd seen it all from the laboratory deck and knew it was Eleanor. But there was no arguing with the guy. By now his leg was bleeding visibly.
This is the kind of dog encounter someone with a dog dreads the most (after, that is, incidents involving cars). But Gretchen is master diplomat, and by the time I walked out to the road, the cyclist didn't actually seem all that upset. Gretchen gave him some antibiotic ointment to spread on his injuries, which consisted of a rectangular array of puncture wounds, one for each of Eleanor's fangs.
Eventually the cyclist continued on his way and we were left with a grim sense of what the fuck. Eleanor is generally a good dog and eager to please. If she had any sense of how upset she had made us, she wouldn't be able to live with herself. We did what we could to reprimand her, and she seemed genuinely contrite, but that wasn't going to be enough. I immediately reconstructed the invisible fence system that we'd used to train Eleanor the last time she'd attacked a cyclist, precisely two years ago. Over the years, two other cyclists have claimed to have been bitten by her, but neither of those cases had been as dramatic and convincing as this one. Happily, it didn't take much work to reconstruct the invisible fence, the wire of which had broken in two places as it crossed the driveway. Simply splicing it back together made it fully operational once more. Once I'd confirmed that the collar still produced a shock (I tested it with a neon bulb), I put the collar on Eleanor.
There are two mysteries in this story. Firstly, what was that "unfamiliar dog barking" I'd heard at the beginning of this whole fiasco? Familiar barks are those from our dogs, or Crazy Dave's two shepherds, or the little white poodle belonging to the new people who moved into the Fussys' place across the road (the "Fussy IIs"). It turned out that the dog I'd heard had been a large German-Shepherd type dog in a car going by. He had seen the cyclist, leaned out the window, and made his big scary bark. It was this that had first riled our dogs and perhaps contributed to the viciousness and unstopableness with which they went running down our driveway, though by the time our dogs met up with the cyclist, this catalyst dog was long gone. The other mystery is why Eleanor had gone running down the driveway at all. Until recently, two-year-old memories of being shocked by the last time she'd worn the collar had made her leery of the driveway, and if she tried to pursue things on Dug Hill Road, it tended to be from the farm road, but getting there requires a circuitous route and the delay usually gave cyclists (and even pedestrians) ample opportunity to escape. But Eleanor hasn't worn her shock collar in most of those two years, and, as I mentioned, the invisible fence system itself had fallen into disrepair. But she'd only become comfortable with walking down the driveway very recently; even as late as this past winter she was avoiding it. (Ramona, of course, has no phobias at all.)
Usually when I take pseudoephedrine, I must eventually drink some alcohol in order to even out the resulting high. Tonight I wanted to see if I could do entirely without, but it was impossible. Still, I managed to make it until 12:30am before drinking (otherwise I would have had to take ambien in order to get to sleep). Often when I drink while on pseudoephedrine I end up drinking a lot, but tonight I was seeing how much control I could maintain and only had two smallish drinks, enough to feel relaxed in the face of the pseudoephedrine but also capable of continuing with my work. I went to bed at about 3:00am.
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