My dog Nooka has eargasms, as my reading during the cold snap confirmed.
While just about any dog thoroughly enjoys an ear rub, Nooka has always taken the pleasure from it to an entirely different level. When she is in a relaxed mood and gets the base of her ear rubbed, within no time her eyes will glaze over, she will start groaning loudly and go all slack. I always thought this quite hilarious and had jokingly referred to it as her eargasm without realizing how close to the truth I was.
To keep cabin fever at bay and prevent my brain cells from shrinking to an undetectable size, I had spent some of the frigid evenings during the last week studying my dog health book, which also features alternative methods. Among other things, it gives body maps of the acupuncture points used in administering acupressure to a dog. And there on the chart depicting a dog ear, the spot that, when stimulated, sends Nooka into wild ecstasy was clearly labelled as the acupressure point for the reproductive system.
At first, I found it hysterically funny to suddenly have her extreme reaction explained. Then I started to feel slightly perverted, not to mention very self-conscious when confronted with a dog ear. I wish I could erase this new knowledge from my brain.
Despite the sudden drop in ear rubs, Nooka is a happy dog these days. Minus 35 is her cut-off temperature for outdoor activities; below this, she turns into a quivering hunched-over caricature of a dog, wobbling along almost on tiptoes. Good thing we don’t live in the Central Yukon. So now that our window sill glaciers are starting to melt and the thermometer readings are inching up again, Nooka is unfolding back into her normal shape.
As are the chickens. Up on their perches in the chicken coop, they remained relatively cozy in above-zero temperatures, but around the minus 40 mark, the floor level froze. Since they had to descend from their perches for eating and drinking, those activities (which they normally enjoy) became rather frenzied as their feet got cold. The chicken coop is almost completely buried in snow—I shovel it against the walls up to the roof level and that goes a long way to keep the inside comparatively warm. Just the window and door remain uncovered by snow.
I am happy that it’s warming up, too, although I made pretty good use of the cold snap. Having abandoned the dog acupressure research for the time being after that one unsavoury discovery, I spent the remainder of the cold snap fixing up assorted things so that I am now better equipped than before the temperatures took their plunge.
One dandy item I made is a bum warmer, for a lack of better terms. I was fed up with that part of my anatomy always getting super chilled in frigid cold. Out of an old pair of underwear and a piece of imitation lambswool, I sewed a cozy and protective cover for those nether regions. It is not much of a fashion statement, particularly when worn on top of the fleece pants, but it did put an immediate stop to the frozen bum problem. After extensive testing in very cold temperatures, I can highly recommend this homemade garment to anyone else out there with a similar affliction.
I also re-strung my tattered bear paw snowshoes with new rawhide webbing and converted an ill-fitting winter jacket with strangely short and constricting sleeves into a vest. As I was busy with this, I listened to the radio and learned that my activities were typical of a recessionista. Apparently, all across the country people are now beginning to fix things up rather than throw them out and trying to embrace a less affluent lifestyle.
Surely, Yukoners must be among the best adapted people in Canada to deal with the economic downturn. The art of reusing and recycling just about anything is of course alive and well in the North, particularly in the smaller communities, where frequenting the land fills, yard sales and second-hand stores is valued as a treasure hunt and not seen as a deplorable sign of abject poverty.
But for now, I am done with my recessionist tasks and dog-health education. It’s time to resume the outdoor chores, such as restocking the dwindling firewood pile. Looking at the thermometer, I think I don’t even have to wear my bum warmer.
Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of the Yukon
River south of Whitehorse.