Saturday, October 5 2013
I had the idea of returning to that spot just south of Reichel Road to see if I could find any more relics of the shrine I'd found there yesterday (the quartz crystals on a bluestone boulder and the weathered Buddha tossed unceremoniously into the bushes). But without a GPS, compass, or even just the sun, it was impossible to set a course through the trackless forest. It's too flat, monotonous, and unfamiliar for me to walk through it without going badly off-course. Today my course went off so badly to the west that I nearly made it to the headwaters of Canary Creek before getting to Reichel Road, far from where I wanted to be. Along the way, though, the dogs treed a beautiful American Marten, a species of mid-sized weasel I'd never seen before (though I have seen its larger cousin, the Fisher).
Shortly before reaching the stone wall and trail that marks the northern boundary of the forest before the semi-suburbia of western Reichel Road, the dogs ran off into the forest after something. I wouldn't see them again until I got home. For most of the rest of the walk, I took the main axis of the Stick Trail, occasionally snapping photographs along the way. There had been some rain last night for the first time in weeks, and it was the occasion for a final hurrah for this year's Red Efts.
Back at the house, it seemed a little odd that the dogs weren't there. The Stick Trail takes a long time to hike, so I'd assumed Eleanor would be out in front waiting anxiously for me (as she often does for Gretchen). I began reheating last night's pasta to reup my blood sugar when I heard Ramona's nails ticking on the floor upstairs. She eventually came down, though she seemed oddly subdued. Where was Eleanor? I called out for her and then went back to my pasta, assuming she'd show up as she always does.
When it was done, I took my bowl of pasta upstairs to eat in front of my computer. That was when I saw Eleanor. She was on a ruined pillow back behind my computer, in a place where the cathedral ceiling provides too little headroom for anything but critters and storage. This was unusual behavior. Why wasn't Eleanor excitedly greeting me. But then I saw she was trembling and that her knee had been sliced open, exposing a flap of skin an inch by a half inch. That was bad, but not outside the range of injuries she has managed to get in the past. But then I saw another injury, this one being a puncture in her side a quarter inch wide. It was like the fang punctures recently installed in Ramona by a Black Bear, but more isolated. By now I was pretty sure she'd been mauled by a creature, probably a bear, so I went to look for other injuries. When I went to turn her over she let out a pained yelp and ran off to the bedroom.
Eventually I was able to assess Eleanor's injuries. She had a constellation of small injuries in the middle of her back, three disparate punctures along her left side, and a few inch-long slices along her right. Altogether she had eleven separate injuries, and she was also bleeding slowly from her back. It was matting her hair and getting on a pillowcase. Though she didn't look like she was in critical condition, clearly I was out of my league with regard to fixing Eleanor.
So I called Gretchen followed by our housecall vet (with whom we've had little contact since the aborted Marie — aka "the Baby" — euthanasia). The housecall vet seemed to think the injuries were out of her league as well, so I set up an appointment at the Hurley vet. When Gretchen finally got through to me, she called the vet and had them move up the appointment to immediately.
Eleanor was clearly in low-grade state of shock, but she was with it enough to want to eat a tick that I plucked off her head. She was also excited by the prospect of riding in the car, though the process of climbing into the back seat was clearly painful for her.
At the vet, triage was performed and it was determined that Eleanor was not in a life-threatening state. She had good blood pressure and color and her breathing seemed mostly normal. Freakishly while I was there, a photogenic vegan couple from Woodstock that Gretchen and I know (but not the photogenic Buddhist vegans) came in with their five year old dog Lola, who was suffering from some neurological effects possibly related to tertiary Lyme Disease.
Back at the house, the Hurley vet called me and tried to upsell me on another rabies shot "just in case" because Eleanor had been attacked "by an unknown animal." I said no and I could tell from her voice that she thought I was insane. She then went on to tell me about how terrible rabies is, sort of like a lottery advertisement that tells you all the creative things you can do with money.
Eleanor was fixed up in a remarkably short time and so I went in again to pick her up. The vet had been a youngish dudebro and was more chatty than a Hurley vet typically is. Dismissing the idea that Eleanor had been attacked by an animal, dudebro vet advanced the theory that she had gotten tangled up in barbed wire. That made no sense to me at all; the punctures were far too large in diameter to have been created by a wire. Although the general absence of scratches and the fact that some of the punctures were far from each other were somewhat puzzling. Maybe we'll never know, but based on recent experience my best theory is that Eleanor was attacked after chasing either a mother bear or her cubs. The bears involved may have been the same ones that Ramona got tangled up with a couple weeks ago.
A rough approximation of the hike today.
A bad photo of the Marten near 41.930507N, 74.112439W.
A large split boulder near 41.925398N, 74.114499W. (Click to enlarge.)
Moss on the boulder. Plane orientation is different for the different worlds. (Click to enlarge.)
A Red Eft near the southwest end of the Stick Trail. (Click to enlarge.)
The fields of Hurley off Wynkoop (looking south) on my way back from the vet. (Click to enlarge.)
Eleanor freshly back from the vet. (Click to enlarge.)
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