Today, November 15, 2019 Poppy reached her winter limit in Alaska… mind you, we have only been in Winter for about 6 weeks and have another 5 months of it left so it is going to be extra long for her. If you don’t know, Poppy is our absolutely adorable 2 year old pup. Her breed is American Hairless Terrier, but she does have a coat (thank God). At 20 pounds she is quite large for her breed, but overall she is just a beautiful little nugget.
When we found out Alaska was a go, high on the list was figuring out how to keep Poppy alive. She is small, her coat is short, and she’s a princess so -30 degrees just didn’t seem like it would be her deal. True enough, we have reached the limit of what Poppy will deal with.
It all started about a month ago. We had snow, Poppy loved it, but the temperature was also consistently at freezing. Shortly after, the temperatures started dropping lower and lower and Poppy got a urinary tract infection and started having accidents in the house. Fast forward a few weeks and we are back at the vet with another infection. Our vet says for small dogs up here it is common and after treating both infections put her on preventative medications.
While at the vet I also asked about her coat… it seemed to be thinning. The vet even noticed it was thinner than our last visit and also explained its normal for Fairbanks. Apparently, small, short haired dogs lose their fur in the winter from the lack of sunlight! Seems counter intuitive, but it’s true. So now Poppy will be even colder on trips outside since she is losing her coat. Poor pup. The vet recommended giving her Melatonin at night which should help regulate the issue and sent us on the way saying “Don’t worry Poppy, we will get you through this winter one way or another”.
So just to be clear, the darkness is making Poppy lose her coat, and the coldness is inducing a change of potty habits that increases the risk of infection. I think I can safely say Poppy is the one member of the fairly who is counting down the days until we leave Alaska.
She has been a good sport though. Yes, she has accidents, but mostly we make it outside in our coats in time for her to quickly do her business. However, this morning she put on the brakes and said “NOPE”. It was 3 degrees with a wind-chill that made it feel like -13. Last night we got a few inches of fresh snow, and thanks to the wind storm that came with it, the snow was pressed up against the door. I’ve never seen that effect in real life, but it happened here. I opened the door and the imprint of the door was there in the snow… granted this was only the bottom 6 inches or so, but Poppy’s eyes lit and she stepped back. “NOPE not doing it mom”.
This morning she had a vest and her winter coat on. We got out the door, took the few steps off the deck and she peed. I had to carry her to the poop spot, she refused, so I carried her back inside where she immediately ran to a corner and did her business. The vet said this would happen. She has a similar dog and says they have to take multiple trips because it is just too cold and they can’t do it all at once—or will just outright refuse to.
She loves being outside usually, even in the cold she has enjoyed it. The look on her face when I opened the door this morning was priceless though. She was not having it… and I don’t really blame her. But we must conquer! It is only going to get colder. From what I understand January is the worst so it’s all practice till then. As it is, Monday’s high temperature predicted is below zero. You read that right. The highest it will get still will not cross ZERO. We have all the right gear so the temperatures don’t bother us, but poor Poppy, even with gear for her it is just not enough. Needless to say, Poppy gets all her exercise indoors now. The longest walk we take is less than 5 minutes. I am also looking into getting sun lamps. Poppy may benefit the most, but I am sure it would benefit us all to have a bit more sunlight in our lives boosting our Melatonin & Serotonin levels. Unfortunately, I will not be signing Poppy up for the Skijoring class coming up… no, she will not be skiing with me. “All dogs love it” the advertisement said. I don’t agree.
Aside from Alaska doing everything it can to make Poppy unhappy, she is doing well, and so are we. The temps are cold but we are prepared. I am learning all sorts of things about life in the cold that I never even thought about. I’ll start a list and share it with you all later, but here is one… we all have heaters on our engine blocks in our cars that we plug in to keep it from freezing. What I didn’t realize until recently is that the extension cord we use to plug it in needs to be a special kind that is temperature rated so the rubber doesn’t freeze and snap the cord! Who would have thought!
I am also trying out new hobbies. I got my Christmas gift early this year and have already used them… A full set up for cross country skiing. I am terrible at it, but it’s really great exercise and gives me something to do outside while Brock is in school. We really can’t travel until spring. It is too far of a drive to get anywhere, which at this time of year also means far too dangerous. Posts will be few and far between until Spring. It feels so different, and I almost feel the need to apologize to the readers. We were so active in Germany and was blogging almost weekly, and here it seems monthly may be it. It is ok, we will have plenty of time up here. Fil has made the promotion list for Major and our DEROS has not changed… Alaska has us until January 2022. We aren’t leaving early for school, he is going to complete it online starting very soon. We will have two summers full of exploration… and a couple more winters of doing our best to keep Poppy alive.