Winter holiday 2014: Part I


The morning of our last day in Ottawa before heading south…the blowing snow should have been a portend of things to come…


My biggest anxiety about crossing the border was our unusual doggie paperwork.  You see, Skye, our 11 1/2 year old border collie who accompanies us everywhere, continues to be in remission from lymphoma.  As such, she has not been vaccinated since before her diagnosis.  For anything.  Not even rabies.  This is apparently a problem if you want to cross the border.

There is something called the Rabies Challenge Fund and the website has a list of states that accept medical exemptions for rabies vaccinations.  New York is one of those states and the state into which we were crossing.  Your vet can fill out a form which indicates that although your dog is otherwise healthy, she is not healthy enough to receive vaccinations — cancer and other chronic illnesses compromise the immune system so much that this could spell disaster.

We did not have this form.  However, we did have certification from our vet that Skye had a rabies ‘titer’, which indicated that her immune system had high enough levels of antibodies against rabies for her to be protected.  Ever skeptical of bureaucracy, I also came armed with a million pieces of paper and websites in my brain.  What good they were in my brain, I don’t know.

As we approached the border, the sun shone as we clutched our passports and Skye’s paperwork.  Passing them out through the window to the sullen and scary customs agent, he was more concerned about whether we were bringing fruit across the border than a rabid dog.

And with that, we drove through.  The sun that had shone brightly suddenly turned to this.


And then this —


And then, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse —



This was the worst whiteout I had ever driven through.  Well, maybe not.  Once I was driving somewhere in Ontario and had to pull over on the shoulder because I COULDN’T SEE AT ALL.  When the whiteout subsided, the shoulder was filled with cars that had lined up like soldiers — one after the other — and no one had crashed into the one ahead.  It was a miracle.  As was this very slow drive along Highway I-81 S in upstate New York.


Fahrenheit and miles seem so strange to me now that I have to translate Celsius and kilometers first.  About minus 8-9 degrees Celsius = 15-16 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s not much different from where I left.  But I know it will get better….


The moment when I kicked the last piece of cr*ppy ice from the car’s wheel well was a cause for celebration.  Yes, I am petty.


I had forgotten that anywhere south of Virginia is land of the very small white fuzzy dog.  Skye was appearing increasingly out of place.


Hotels requiring dogs less than 10 pounds.  Rules requiring dogs to be on a leash no longer than six feet.  Heck, the distance a small white fuzzy dog can run between the end of that leash and your feet is enough to exhaust them.  But not Skye-dog.  She needs space to run.


Finally reaching Florida, we see evidence of the standard American grasp of the obvious.  Not to mention insistence on politeness.


Aaahh.  Sun and heat at last.