*Testing Myself - Personal Loss*
By: nuckingfutz
26 August 2007

No matter how well prepared you are, there is always the possibility of everything that can possibly go wrong - going wrong. I was ill-prepared for a few things. One of those was suffering the loss of a loved one, not that I think there is any such thing as being able to fully prepare fo such a thing. Another was not knowing all the dangers that lurked in the woods of Maine.

Shortly afer my arrival in Maine, I was warned about leaving my dogs unattended, either in a kennel or tied, in this part of the world. Leaving them in the camp was not an option and leaving them in my kennel or on a chain was not an option. The predator to be concerned with is coyotes. Pookie, in particular would be a tempting appetizer for a pack of coyotes. Gizmo, with his low-rider stature as are all Bassets, would make an easy "pack" meal. And although he was growing, he was certainly no threat to anything wild.

Then I was cautioned about the fisher cat. The person pointing this out said it is a vicious, wild cat capable of climbing into the kennel, eating both dogs, then climbing back out. At the time, without the Internet at my finger tips, I couldn't look it up to see what the fisher cat was all about. A trip to the Lincoln Library was of no use. I looked for a book on predatory animals and found only a book which also discussed the hippopotamus and I am told those are not native to Maine. The librarian had heard of Fisher Cats, but couldn't offer much in the way of describing it. That day, I was unable to use one of the public computers. When I did get online to look up this predator, my search was more for Maine's predatory animals in general and the results were anything but what I had hoped to find. That settled it: I couldn't leave the dogs in the camp when temperatures rose to 110+F when all closed in and leaving them in the kennel outside offered little or no protection for them. I felt I had no choice but to take the dogs with me when I went on errands and leave them in my idling car with the air conditioner running. I kept my fingers crossed that some animal rights fanatic didn't break the windshield to "rescue" them and that my engine wouldn't die in my absence.

After I'd been at my camp a couple weeks, a contractor said my kennel would not protect my dogs from coyotes. A neighbor had also voiced concern about the coyotes in the area and my dogs being vulnerable to them if left unattended. I got it. Coyotes were a problem and my dogs would have no chance of survival against them. In the three months I was there, I never heard nor saw a single coyote.

The predator that caused me anguish was the one I hadn't been warned about - the hawk. It came and went so fast that it was all I could do to identify it as a hawk. Thanks to this massive bird that I hadn't seen before nor since, I now have 2, rather than 8 parakeets. Yes, they were in a cage, but only 2 had clipped wings. When the bottom of the cage fell away, it released all but one of my feathered friends. I didn't see what happened that caused the bottom to fall away, but suspect the hawk may have tried to grab one of my birds right through the cage and the impact was what did it. I heard the commotion and when I looked out the already open door, I only saw the bottom of the cage on the ground and the parakeets flying in every direction. The two with clipped wings fell to the ground. One stayed right where it fell, looking up at the cage it called home. The other scurried to get under the camp and as I approached to rescue it, the hawk made it's first and sudden appearance as it swooped down, grabbed the running parakeet off the ground and kept going. Although stunned, I went back to the cage and rescued the other flightless bird and put him in the cage. He eagerly obliged by climbing to a perch and staying there. One never showed any interest in flying free and remained in the cage while I put the bottom back on.

Then there was Gizmo, the basset pup:

Same week, different pet. It wasn't the dreaded coyote. We had a disagreement, Gizmo and me, that morning. I had errands to run, needed ice. I called Gizmo and he came running, then stopped short when he saw me standing by the kennel, holding the gate open. He made an about face and went the other way. I had things to put in the car and went to move it closer to the camp. The car was in the other direction. I got in, looked to make sure Gizmo wasn't in the area, then backed up and heard him cry. He must have high-tailed it right behind me and went under the car when I was getting in. I wasn't even remotely prepared for that loss. Not at all. I don't expect a baby anything to die. Even though he was only a few months old, I knew he was well on his way to being the best dog in the world - like all the other dogs I've had.

The point is that even though I could put my big girl panties on and pull myself together, what if that had been a child's pet during post fan? What if it had been your child? Your spouse? Are you preparing for the worst to include loss of a loved one? I wasn't. This is one prep area that will prove the most challenging for everyone concerned. Death happens. The living have to get over it. In a post fan event, we have to get over it sooner than later. Are you up to this ultimate test of preparedness - when the chips are already down? Think about it.

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