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Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Out In The Cold

Texas weather has a reputation for being bipolar. The sun shines and all seems perfect, but by the time you get dressed and open the door to go outside, hail plummets from the black sky and a tornado comes roaring down on you. Okay, so maybe not that extreme, but this past week illustrates the fluctuation of Texas weather perfectly.

Early last week, the weather was pleasantly mild. The dogs even had a blast chasing bunnies and playing outside while I caught up on some yard work. By late Thursday, however, the weather people predicted that we would have snow. Snow! Yeah! We haven’t had proper snow in years…2010 to be exact. The neighborhood kids would get a snow day, traffic would be light on my way to work and Grimm and Rufus could experience the cold, pure flakes of frost for the first time.

The weather forecasters were correct in saying we would get frozen precipitation, but wrong in leading us to believe it would be snow. Instead of white, fluffy flakes we got hard, crunchy ice. Yes, technically it was still frozen precipitation, but ice and snow are not the same thing. For one, you don’t usually slip and bust your bottom while walking on snow covered ground. Ice covered ground, however, leads to lots of slipping and cursing and muscle pulls and cursing and falling and cursing and then bruises…in that order. Even though hard pellets of sleet and ice were falling from the sky, I was determined to make allow Grimm and Rufus to experience the joys of frozen precipitation for the first time.

"I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun...this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!"

“I thought you said this would be fun! This is not fun…this cold stuff stings my eyes and is, well, cold!”

 

Both dogs were tremendously excited at first when their jackets came out. They suited up, I opened the back door onto the porch, they bolted out and promptly slid and crashed into the rear portion of the deck. Both dogs started trying to stand and continued to slip. They looked a little bit bewildered and confused, but no way were they running back indoors. I was determined they would have their moment of icy fun.

 

"What in the world is this cold stuff? I can't sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!"

“What in the world is this cold stuff? I can’t sit down properly on my wooden bench without my butt slipping and getting cold!”

 

Grimm gingerly walked around the deck, sniffing at the ice. He kept lifting up his feet and frankly looked miserable. The ice pellets were blasting down and hitting him in the eyes and he begged to go back indoors. Rufus kept running in circles and slipping and falling, only to try again. I did not realize that he had to really go to the bathroom. I thought his frantic circling was due to the cold ice touching his feet and the frozen precipitation hitting his head. Finally, he found the one spot on the deck where there was an actual patch of what might have passed for snow and urinated on it.

 

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

The only small patch of snow around and Rufus pees on it. So much for my tiny baby snowman.

 

Where was Zella while the boys and I were having so much fun slipping and sliding and trying not to fall in yellow snow, you ask? She was curled up on the couch, refusing to step one hair over the threshold into the cold. She much preferred the warmth of the indoors to the stinging pellets of ice. I don’t know why. Ice pellets in your eye and slipping and sliding on ice seems like awesome fun to me.

 

"Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles."

“Outside, you say? Um, no. I decline your invitation. But have fun and watch for falling icicles.”

 

Zella is not generally a fan of frozen precipitation, snow or ice. She’s seen and experienced both before and was in no hurry to repeat the experience. There was a reason she lived in Texas, she told me, and the current weather we were experiencing was not the reason why. She never expounded on why she lived here but it must be because of her excellent owner. I feel so blessed.

 

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

This was the last time Zella experienced snow and other aspects of frozen precipitation. She was not amused then, either.

 

 

After drying paws, the boy woofers and I came inside to thaw out. They were never going outside again if they could help it. I don’t think they are fans of cold, frozen precipitation, at least of the variety we have here in Texas.

The whole city of Austin pretty much shut down and we made national news for being the dumbest drivers in the world. I was not one of the 150 plus people who got into accidents of some kind or another driving on ice, but I did experience the fun of slipping and sliding while trying to stay on a road and not run into other vehicles or trees or houses. I must say, though, it was pretty amusing to watch a few terrified drivers pull off the road, hazard lights fluttering as quickly as their pulses, and then wait in their cars in cold panic, determined not to drive any further until the ice melted. Since it was 6:00 in the morning and temperatures were not to get above freezing until early afternoon, it looked like they had a long wait ahead. They were probably wishing they had stayed inside, curled up on the couch. Being out in the cold was not fun. Zella had the right idea.

 

 

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Ahhh…summer in Texas.  The sun is sweltering, the humidity is high, the mosquitoes are as big as mockingbirds and all the dogs want to laze around inside during the daylight hours.  I can’t say that I blame them.  It’s too hot to run around outside unless it’s early morning or late evening, but that’s when the giant mosquitoes swarm around and make life miserable.  What to do?  Do we risk heat stroke or exsanguination?  Both sound like bad ideas.  Maybe we’ll just stay inside.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

My lazy dogs have taken over the couch this summer.

Even the bunnies are too hot to run.  When the dogs are outside and rustle up a rabbit, the rabbit runs a few yards then stops and hunkers down.  My very brilliant dogs stop the chase and turn around, twirling in circles, looking every which way.  “Whaaat??  Where did the bunny go?  Bunny?  Oh, buuunnnnyyy…”.

Very slowly, rabbit ears come up over the grass.  The bunny peers at the dogs, as if to ask, “Really?  Are we really going to do this?  I’m hot, you’re hot; can’t we just pretend you got me, I’ll play dead, and we can both go on about our day?”.

The dogs exchange looks, shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, okay.  Good point.  But we sooooo got you, bunny.  You better play dead for a long time.”

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn't tire him out so much.

Grimm dreams of colder days when chasing bunnies and frisbees doesn’t tire him out so much.

How do you entertain three lively dogs when it is hot enough outside to fry your brain?  Walks during the day are out of the question.  The concrete and asphalt would burn their little footsies.  Running around outside in the heat of the day leads to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, even with a giant water trough outside to jump in periodically.  Roughhousing inside causes too much chaos.  So what do we do?  We wait until dusk and then we all pile into the car and head to the nearest lake–Lake Pflugerville.

Zella can't wait until evening comes.  Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Zella can’t wait until evening comes. Her dramatic sighs from the couch illustrate her frustration with being inside during the day.

Lake Pflugerville really isn’t a true Texas lake…more of a giant Texas pond.  It does, however, have a 3.2 mile dirt and gravel track around it, a large expanse of water, and enough constant wind and rough breezes to blow even the most determined mosquito off course.  Not having many artificial lights around it makes for great star watching and moon gazing.  The croaks of the frogs, the quacks of the ducks, the splashes of the fish and all the smells in between delight the dogs.  Plus, if they want, they can go for a moonlit swim.  This biweekly excursion has become a favorite trip for the woofers and me.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass.  In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch...and over the rug...and under the table.

Rufus daydreams about chasing Grimm through the lush prairie grass. In a minute, his daydream will turn into reality, but instead of chasing Grimm through the grass, he will chase him around the couch…and over the rug…and under the table.

The lazy days of summer are aptly named.  The heat and humidity seem to soak up everyone’s energy.  Here at my house we seem to have become seasonal vampires, only out during the hours between twilight and early dawn.  On the days when I’m not working, we save the rest of the day for napping and lazing around, working on indoor projects or doggy behavior training while indoors.  Even though it gets hard to work their bodies during the hottest parts of summer, I can still engage their brains.  I can’t have complete lazy bums around here.  Plus, the waggle of their tails while indoors makes for a nice breeze.  If only they could aim them better, we could turn those tails in mosquito swatters.  Maybe we’ll work on that during these lazy days.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

The boys wake up when the sun goes down.

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My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.
–Lady Bird Johnson

If you grew up in Texas, at some point you probably found yourself being photographed while sitting or lying in a patch of bluebonnets.  It is a rite of passage for most children growing up in this state.  Every spring, once the bright blue spires dot the roadsides, parents load up their children (and possibly the family dog) and go in search for the perfect spot.  It is not unusual for that perfect spot to literally be on the side of a busy highway.  For those of you who didn’t grow up here but have witnessed this roadside pilgrimage and wondered just what the heck was going on,  I’ll let you in on a great Texas secret:  we’re plumb crazy about our wildflowers, but especially the bluebonnets.

Grimm shows off his Texas sized tongue while lounging in the bluebonnets.

Grimm shows off his Texas sized tongue while lounging in the bluebonnets.

When I was a kid, every spring the family would load up in the minivan and drive west towards the Hill Country–prime bluebonnet territory.  My folks could disguise the trip as a mini vacation and, by my parents reckoning, my siblings and I could frolic through the fields on some back country road without as much worry about us becoming human roadkill.  Plus, in the hill country, there was always the possibility of getting longhorn cattle in the background of the photograph.  True, there might have been a greater probability of having one of us kids being bitten by a rattlesnake, but there were four of us and I’m pretty sure my parents thought the risk of losing a child perfectly acceptable in return for the perfect picture.  Seriously.  That’s how hard-core Texans are about their bluebonnet photo-ops.  You may get bitten by ants, stung by bees, bitten by a snake or gored by a longhorn, but by-golly your parents captured the glory of spring and the essence of youth by pairing you with those blue flowers.  I won’t mention the rashes incurred, though, from commando crawling through the flowers so that mom and dad could get that perfect “flower + face” close up.  No sirree.  Some things are too horrible to relive.

Charley smiles pretty and puts up with my photographing nonsense.

Charley smiles pretty and puts up with my photographing nonsense.

Since I have no children, my dogs now get to suffer as I did as a child.  They now get to endure the biting insects and deal with the sun being in their eyes.  Cruelly, they also have to pose with any number of my flowering plants to commemorate the event.  Like the bluebonnets, some of these plants only flower once a year and photographing the flower in question lets me enjoy it’s beauty year-round.  On the plus side, I usually don’t make them stand next to the giant prickly pear cactus when it is in bloom but that is only because I am not terribly fond of plucking cacti needles out of doggy legs.

Rufus acts serious when posing in front of the lavender plant.

Rufus acts serious when posing in front of the lavender plant.

Zella humors me and stays in place for her photograph with the oleander bush.  She is really just dying to go chase more bunnies.

Zella humors me and stays in place for her photograph with the oleander bush. She is really just dying to go chase more bunnies.

I thought this snail was really cute but none of the dogs would pose with him.  Oh, well.

I thought this snail was really cute but none of the dogs would pose with him. Oh, well.

All of the new growth, the bloom of the flowers and the emergence of tiny crawly things reminds us of the miracle of our earth.  Everything has it’s own niche and balances perfectly in sync with everything else.  We humans sometimes forget how delicate nature can be and days like today, Earth Day, remind us of the importance of doing our part to keep Mother Earth healthy and hale.  Sustainable living through reducing, recycling and reusing has become an everyday mantra.  Urban farming and composting have become commonplace which, in my view, helps us to get back to the literal roots of it all–the interconnection of nature and the natural world.  To enjoy it, we must protect it and each do our own small part to make the world a greener and healthy place.  After all, future generations of Texas kids need to be able to live through their own great bluebonnet photo trek and without bluebonnets, they will never be able to appreciate the soothing relief provided by Calamine lotion.  See?  Circle of life.

Grimm has decided he has had enough posing with the posies and races towards me through the young sunflowers.

Grimm has decided he has had enough posing with the posies and races towards me through the young sunflowers.

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Autumn has officially arrived here in Central Texas.  Acorns are starting to fall from the live oak trees in my yard, goldenrod and ragweed are blooming, and the days and nights are getting cooler.  Squirrels are driving the dogs crazy, my allergies are killing me, and the small town chili festivals are about to commence.

Goldenrods bloom in my yard. These plants are often confused with ragweed, which also blooms this time of year. Ragweed, unlike goldenrod, causes my immune system to go haywire, leaving me (and lots of others) in misery.

Grimm stalks through the ragweed towards the oak trees where the squirrels are taunting him.

Speaking of chili festivals, I came across a funny anecdote that made the email rounds a few years back.  I hadn’t read it in a while, and thought it was time for a resurrection.  Originally, this was said to be an actual account relayed to paramedics at a chili cook-off event.  While I don’t doubt that many people have suffered at the hands of a masochistic chili connoisseur, I cannot verify its authenticity or original author.  However, this story still makes me laugh out loud, especially since I have had similar thoughts when eating some of these ridiculously spicy concoctions.  There’s hot, then there’s HOT.

Recently, a man named Frank was visiting Texas from Springfield, Illinois.  Like most tourists, he thought it would be great fun to experience some of the local flavor.  He decided to attend a local chili cook-off which was taking place that same day.  Unbeknownst to Frank, one of the original three judges of the competition called in at the last minute, regretting that he would not be able to make it to the judging.  The other two judges were at a loss as to what to do.  At that precise moment, Frank found himself at the judge’s table asking for directions on how to get to the Coors Light vendor.  Using their native Texan ingenuity, the judges asked Frank if he would like to fill in.  He was assured by the two judges that the chili wouldn’t be all that spicy and, besides, he would have all the free beer he wanted during the tasting.  Luckily for them, Frank was up for the challenge and became Judge #3.  Unfortunately, Frank found out the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished.  Here are the scorecard notes from the event:

*Chili #1:  Mike’s Maniac Monster Chili

Judge #1:  A little too heavy on the tomato.  Amusing kick.

Judge #2:  Nice, smooth tomato flavor.  Very mild.

Judge #3 (aka Frank):  Holy shit!  What the hell is this stuff?  You could remove dried paint from your driveway with this stuff!  Took me two beers to put the flames out.  I hope that’s the worst one.  These Texans are crazy…

*Chili #2:  Austin’s Afterburner Chili

Judge #1:  Smoky, with a hint of pork.  Slight jalapeno tang.

Judge #2:  Exciting BBQ flavor, but needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge #3:  Keep this out of the reach of children.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to taste besides pain.  I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

*Chili #3:  Fred’s Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili 

Judge #1:  Excellent firehouse chili.  Great kick.

Judge #2:  A bit salty, but good use of peppers.

Judge #3:  Call the EPA.  I’ve located an uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano.  Everyone knows the routine by now.  Get me more beer before I ignite!  Barmaid pounded me on the back and now my backbone is in the front part of my chest.  I’m getting shit-faced from all the beer!

*Chili #4:  Bubba’s Black Magic

Judge #1:  Black bean chili with almost no spice.  Disappointing.

Judge #2:  Hint of lime in the black beans.  Good side dish for fish or other mild foods;  not much of a chili.

Judge #3:  I felt something scraping across my tongue, but I was unable to taste it.  Is it possible to burn off your taste buds?  Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills.  This 300 pound woman is starting to look HOT…just like this nuclear waste I’m eating.  Is chili an aphrodisiac?

*Chili #5:  Lisa’s Legal Lip Remover

Judge #1:  Meaty, strong chili.  Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick.  Very impressive!

Judge #2:  Chili using shredded beef.  Could use more tomato.  Must admit, the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge #3:  My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes.  I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics.  The contestant seemed offended when I told her I thought her chili had given me brain damage.  Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer on it directly from the pitcher.  I wonder if I’m burning my lips off?  It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.  Screw them!

*Chili #6:  Vera’s Very Vegetarian Variety

Judge #1:  Thin yet bold vegetarian chili.  Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge #2:  The best yet.  Aggressive use of peppers, onion and garlic.  Superb!

Judge #3:  My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames.  I shit on myself when I farted and I’m worried it will eat through the chair.  No one seems inclined to stand behind me except Sally.  I can’t feel my lips anymore and I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.

*Chili #7:  Susan’s Screaming Sensation Chili

Judge #1:  A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge #2:  Ho hum, tastes like the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment.  I should note that I am somewhat worried about Judge #3.  He appears to be in a bit of distress and is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge #3:  You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin and I wouldn’t feel a thing.  I’ve lost sight in one eye and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water.  My shirt is covered in chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth.  My pants are full of lava to match my shirt.  At least during the autopsy they’ll know what killed me.  I’ve decided to stop breathing–it’s too painful.  Screw it!  I’m not getting any oxygen anyway.  If I need air, I’ll just suck it through the four inch hole in my stomach.

*Chili #8:  Big Tom’s Toenail Curling Chili

Judge #1:  The perfect ending!  This is a nice blend chili.  Not too bold but spicy enough to declare it’s existence.

Judge #2:  This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot.  Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself.  Not sure if he’s gonna make it.  Poor fella–wonder how he would have reacted to really hot chili?

Judge #3:  <<no report>>

Giant pots of chili like this are found at local festivals known as “chili cook-offs”.

At any rate, fall happens to be my favorite time of year.  The dogs enjoy it, too, and act friskier than normal.  Of course, chasing the squirrels who are looking for acorns adds to the fun.  Grimm really hadn’t seen too many squirrels until we were outside today.  At one time, when I first bought my current home, there were no squirrels to be seen.  The trees in my neighborhood were too small and puny to adequately support a large squirrel population at the time.  Now that the trees have matured, the squirrel families have as well.

The only downfall (pun intended) to autumn is the ragweed and it’s stupid pollen.  I guess chili cook-offs can be dangerous, too.   As long as I stock up on Zyrtec I’ll be able to survive the ragweed pollen explosion.  And, as long as I take my Prilosec and Zantac, I’ll survive the chili festivals, too.  I can’t guarantee Grimm will survive the fall unscathed–those squirrels can really chunk an acorn.

Zella and Grimm clean off after a long day of chasing squirrels.

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While outside today, I almost stepped on the toad frog below.  This toad’s nearly perfect camouflage allowed it to blend seamlessly into the background. The irony, however, is that this same adaptive strategy, meant to protect and disguise this frog from predators, worked so well that it almost caused this toad to be squished.  To be fair, this camouflage also makes the toad invisible to prey–if only I were a juicy grub or beetle.

Nature has perfected the art of camouflage.

At the last second, right before my foot fell, the toad leaped up and hopped away.  Needless to say, I gave a little yelp (okay, I sorta squealed like a girl, but that’s okay because I am a girl).  Grimm, who was walking with me, also jumped and he did scream like a little girl (he pretends to be tough, but he’s my cowardly lion, er, pit bull).  He then proceeded to try to sniff the toad, but the toad continued his strategy of just hopping away.  Finally, when the toad could go no further, he just hunkered down as low as he could go.  At this point, I knew that the frog’s secondary defense mechanism would be used if Grimm kept his pursuit.

Pictured above is the Texas toad (and this happens to be the official state amphibian). The swellings behind the eyes are the parotoid glands.

The Texas toad (Bufo speciosis), like other toads, has two glands on top of it’s head just behind the eyes called the parotoid glands.  These glands secrete bufotoxin, a neurotoxin that can cause irritation to the mucous membranes, nausea, and other symptoms depending on the exact chemicals in the excreted substance.  If you have ever seen your dog shake his head, paw at his mouth, drool or salivate excessively after licking or eating a toad, this is the chemical responsible.  This species of toad usually doesn’t pack enough punch to be truly dangerous to a dog, but other species can cause problems, especially if you have a small dog squaring off with a more venomous toad frog.

Grimm seriously wanted to lick (or eat) this old toad.  I didn’t want to deal with strings of dog drool and I wanted to keep the frog around for insect control, so I scooted the bumpy amphibian under the house, away from doggy lips.  Grimm was disappointed to see his frog prince escape.

What is that bumpy, jumping thing?

A whole knot of toad frogs lives around my house (and yes, a group of toads is called a knot).  Because these amphibians are mostly nocturnal, I don’t usually see my bumpy friends during the day.  When I water the front flower beds in the evenings, these bulldog looking frogs come lumbering out from under all the rocks and stones piled around the porch.  Because of our constant drought here in the Austin area, they need the water.  Not only do I water the plants, but I water the frogs, too.  They repay me by eating the bugs that are drawn to the front porch lights–my own little ecosystem in action.

Grimm’s still a little disappointed that I didn’t let him kiss a frog.  He’s under the impression that the toad would have turned into something grand.  I told him he’s been reading too many fairy tales.  Besides, I have a suspicion that the frog in the tales stayed a frog.  Too much bufotoxin can cause some amazing hallucinations–maybe even causing a lowly amphibian to look like a handsome prince.  Mother nature is an awesome chemist.

Toad, come back!

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The weather here in Austin finally cooperated.  It was a chilly 77 degrees this morning (I know, all things are relative; but if you live in central Texas, you have to be part reptile, and anything between 65 and 90 degrees is “chilly”.)  Perfect weather for EXTREME SPORTSdog scootering.

Okay, I’ll admit, dog scootering doesn’t sound that extreme, more mediocre at best. And no, it’s not watching a dog scoot around on it’s butt.  Dog scootering is akin to dog mushing, but instead of a sled, you use a scooter of some type while the dog/dogs pull you.  Some people call it scooter-joring or dryland mushing, but those terms sound no better.

I use a measly Razor scooter because:  I already had one handy (yes, I am 35 going on 12);  I’m not dedicated enough to the sport to buy a $300 plus scooter; it’s small, light and easily portable;  and I find the tiny four inch wheels and low carriage greatly increase the risk of a rock or crack in the asphalt causing a major crash and road rash.  I know, extremely stupid, but that’s what makes it an EXTREME SPORT.

I apparently want to make it even more extreme.  Only one of my dogs is even remotely trained in formal pulling.  Grimm doesn’t know “Gee” from “Whiz” and to him “Whoa” means keep running as fast as you can.  He also has a bad habit of looking around and not focusing on the job at hand.  Zella has a fairly good grasp of “Gee”, “Haw”, “Go Steady” and “Yip Yip” (I use this as the command for speed up).  Grimm does like to mimic his smaller, older “sister”, so he does fairly well for a beginner.

Two extremely fast and agile pit bulls pulling like crazy make for one exciting ride. Zooming along at 15-20 mph (I know, doesn’t seem that fast, but 4 inch wheels/looming death, remember?) can be quite exhilarating.  I definitely get lots of comments and strange looks from people.  Most people think a scooter powered by pit bulls definitely helps to keep Austin weird.  Honestly, though, it’s a great workout for them and me, both mentally and physically.  You wouldn’t believe how much you use your core muscles for stability.  They sleep like babies the rest of the day.

You will probably never see dog scootering enter the EXTREME SPORTS arena, but trust me when I say it can be extreme–extremely stupid if you’re not careful.  Do as I say, not as I do and all that.  My dogs and I are just doing our part to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  Pit bull power could be another source of green energy, if you’re up for the challenge!

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Grimm has been acting a little weird lately.  He constantly scans the perimeter when we’re outside, he refuses to sleep by himself, and he wants to know where we keep the shotgun.  Today, I found out why:

Grimm prepares for the zombie apocalypse.

Turns out, he has been reading about zombies…and worrying about zombies…and secretly preparing for the zombie apocalypse.  He reluctantly showed me his secret horde of things he cannot live without in the midst of a zombie pandemic (and yes, one of the items was one of my flip flops).  Silly dog.  I told him he had more realistic things to worry about, like rabies.

Grimm is not alone in his fear of zombie hordes taking over the world.  Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC)  advises, “Be prepared!”.  With all the hype this year about the end of the world, I guess it never hurts to have a backup plan.

Realistically, though, rabies is still a very valid concern (and this virus does have some similarities to the zombie causing agent…whatever that may be).  Rabies attacks the central nervous system of mammals, causing disease in the brain and eventually, death.  Early symptoms include fever, headache, general malaise and discomfort.  As the disease progresses, hallucinations begin, along with partial paralysis, insomnia, confusion, hypersalivation and hydrophobia.

This sure sounds an awful lot like zombie symptoms–shuffling walk (partial paralysis), constant vigilance (insomnia), drooling (hypersalivation), eating your own family (confusion)–and I have never seen anyone portray a swimming zombie, or, for that matter, one even drinking water (hydrophobia).

Charley laughs at Grimm’s phobia of invading zombie hordes. Charley fears nothing…he is the Chuck Norris of the dog world (even if he is
almost 15 years old–this old dog has skills).

In Texas, and specifically Travis county, rabies continues to be found in both domestic and wild animals.  In 2011 (2012 stats were not yet available), Travis county had 68 confirmed rabid animals and neighboring Williamson county had 136 cases.  Most of these are bats and skunks, but even dogs, cats, horses and cattle test positive in Texas.  Rabies is found in every state except for Hawaii, and people in the U.S. still get rabies.  Vaccinating domestic animals and staying away from ill-acting wildlife remains the best preventative.

Zombie hordes, rabid pets…we humans will have no chance when the apocalypse comes.  Grimm, however, will be prepared.  He’s read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk and The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks;  he practices stealthily moving from place to place;  and he’s been honing his paw-eye coordination with the role playing games on the PlayStation.  Plus, he’s been vaccinated against rabies.  Don’t say you haven’t been warned–what you don’t know CAN eat you.

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