Well, a lot has happened to our crew since I last wrote upon our arrival into Trenton, Ontario. Our plan at that time was. to have Hunny groomed on Thursday, rent a car on Friday, pick up 8 year old Theo in Buffalo, NY, on Saturday, and be on our way up the Trent Severn waterway on Sunday. The old adage, NEVER MAKE PLANS ON A BOAT., stills holds true. On Thursday morning, Hunny awoke with a bloody spot on her tail, also associated with a somewhat tender 2 inch swelling. We didn’t think much of it at first, and thought perhaps it might be a bug bite. Because the lesion seemed worse the next day, and her tail was now drooping, we took her to be seen by the only vet in town. After X-rays and exam (and thorough debridement of the wound), the vet gave us the shocking news that the bundle of nerves innervating her tail (her spinal cord) had somehow been destroyed, which meant that two-thirds of her tail needed to be removed fairly quickly before it became gangrenous (later, she postulated that the original wound might have been caused by an insect or wasp bite). Because by then it was fairly late on a Friday, and she had another emergency coming in, the surgery couldn’t be performed that day. The wound was cleaned, we were sent home with antibiotics, pain killers, and “the cone of shame”, and an appointment for a “tail-ectomy” on Monday morning.
Her former tail.
Hunny had what I am certain is the worst weekend of her life. It turned out that the bacteria were not susceptible to the original antibiotics, so the infection progressed rapidly. She couldn’t sleep (and thus neither could we), the tail kept getting blacker and more painful, and she began to refuse both food and water. We were frantic. On Sunday morning we drove our rental car to an emergency hospital in Toronto (3 hours away) and begged them to remove her tail; unfortunately the vets there refused as well, saying they only did life-saving surgeries on a weekend, not those that merely relieved horrible suffering. They did debride her wound somewhat, and we were sent home with even stronger pain killers. Yahoo.
Hunny FINALLY underwent the necessary surgery on Monday afternoon. Because the infection had spread so widely, the vet ended up having to take off the entire tail except the small portion containing enough spinal cord function for bowel and bladder control. Hunny was also switched to an effective antibiotic, which I’m sure saved her life.
She’s now slowly recuperating–there is no sign of infection, the tail is healing as well as can be expected though licked and bitten at every opportunity, despite wearing a cone. Her only real problem at this point is “phantom pain” from her nonexistent tail. She can lie down comfortably, but as soon as she starts to walk, she immediately bends her entire rear half around to the side and crab walks, stopping every so often to try to lick her stub. We call her pretzel dog.
All this happened during the same weekend Theo arrived.
We picked him up from the Buffalo airport on Saturday, stopped by Niagara Falls that afternoon,
then drove back to Trenton that night. The next morning, when Hunny was doing so poorly, we all drove back the way we’d come the night before to spend the entire day in the Toronto veterinary hospital’s waiting room. Theo did not complain at all, an amazing feat for an active 8 year old. On Monday, while Hunny was in surgery, David took pity on him, and off they went to Trenton’s municipal pool for a few hours of swimming. David says it was the most well-run, cleanest public pool he’s ever been to. Theo was made to take a swimming test, which he passed with flying colors, before being allowed to swim in the deeper areas of the pool,
FINALLY, on Wednesday afternoon, 3 1/2 days after we’d planned, and after receiving the ok from the vet, Golden and her motley crew, minus one tail, pulled out of the Port Trent Marina and headed upriver on the Trent Severn Waterway.
The first night we only went 7 miles (but 6 locks) to Frankford. This is a quiet, lovely, tiny town without streetlights or stoplights, yet the lock wall offered power. Also within easy walking distance we found a small swimming beach, and a “splash pad” (a free water play area) which Theo enjoyed. However, we think he had the most fun swimming off the swim steps.
On the second night of our voyage, we went to Hastings, another small town with all the amenities one could want except power. We tried the famous “Kawartha ice cream”–voted best ice cream in all of Canada, which we all agreed it deserved. From Hastings we proceeded to Peterborough, the home of the tallest hydraulic lift lock in the world–over 65 feet tall! The town of Peterborough was a wonderful stop—although the lock wall didn’t have power, we were moored right next to a large, shady park which had bike/pedestrian trails leading to either the center of town (with restaurants, hardware and groceries available), or to grand recreational areas. We found a swimming beach
and a combination workout/playground area, which Theo insisted on playing on for hours.
That night was a moment of truth for David and me. You see, for the last few months, we’ve been wrestling with a decision on whether or not to have the old 75 hp engines replaced with newer, more efficient, cleaner, faster 110 hp engines. The work would be done by an experienced former PDQ mechanic in Toronto who has already replaced a few successfully; the new owners are very happy. If we decided to change out the engines, we’d need to leave Golden in Toronto for the winter; if we decided to keep the old ones, we would continue along the Trent Severn and finish our Loop as planned this year. Back and forth we’d go, thinking of multiple reasons to go either way. All we knew for sure is that we had plane reservations on the 4th from Buffalo, so we either had to steam up the Trent Severn to Midland, Ontario, from where we’d continue our Loop this year, or turn around at Peterborough and go back to Trenton and deliver Golden to Toronto after our return from Seattle.
After much agonizing, we decided to….change the engines. Though that meant that we would turn around there, we wanted to give Theo the experience of going up and down the Peterborough Lift Lock. Not surprisingly, Theo ended up being unimpressed–after our enthusiastically breathless descriptions, I think he was expecting a skyscraper that would swoop us into the sky. However, to those of us who are no longer kids, we found this lock to be incredibly impressive. The lock consists of two bathtub like structures side by side.
One proceeds into one of the “bathtubs” and ties up. Then gates are closed, and the ENTIRE LOCK is raised into the air 65 feet—boats, water, and sides! What is happening is that extra water is directed into the upper “bathtub” lock; it thus becomes heavier than the lower one so it starts sinking, and thus lifts the lower bathtub up as the upper one falls. The scariest part was when we returned. We entered the chamber we’d just exited a few minutes before, and looked out onto empty space!
And remember, this structure was built in 1904–with non-reinforced concrete. Man, they knew how to build things 100 years ago.
We re-traced our steps down the Trent Severn, except we added one night in Campbellford to take showers, and where Theo found what he now informs us is the highlight of his trip–a Lego store. Unfortunately the Lego store was closed for the next two days so we promised him we’d drive by on the way to the airport on Friday.
From Campbellford, we went back to Frankford, where Theo had his first lesson in driving a small boat with an outboard.
This evening we returned to the Trenton Marina. We’re in the process of packing and cleaning up the boat, readying it for being left for 10 days until our return on August 15. Tomorrow, Thursday, Hunny has her last vet appointment. Meanwhile, David is going to take a variety of modes of public transportation to Buffalo in order to rent a car to make it easier for the rest of us to get back to Buffalo on Friday (difficult to get one-way rentals internationally). We’ll stay overnight at a motel near the airport, and leave Saturday morning for Seattle. We will return!
One addendum: Theo has been writing a daily blog as well! Please look at it–it gives an entirely different perspective of our most recent travels. Go to: theostours.wordpress.com. And be sure to comment!