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Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Case of the Startling Sneezes.

FLD Gus sits in the sun (with puppy-legs askew) at the patio door and whines.  He's been out to "park" so I know he just wants to explore our urban patch of flora out back, protected by a redwood privacy fence.  I slide the heavy glass door aside.  Gus leaps out, bounds off the brick patio that Andy installed so carefully a few summers ago, lands on a field-stone paver with his head down, nose sniffing in full gear.

The snapdragons and petunias are long withered away, red and gold Japanese Maple leaves litter the far corner.  The towering dogwood in the opposite corner still boasts foliage, although its branches have turned wine-red; purple mums give a good fight against the nightly frosts.

Frost lingers in the shadows; it is a chilly Sunday morning even with the sun.  I slide the door closed and smile.  Gus loves to be outside and he is soon busy rooting around the dying plants.

FLD Gus planning his exploration of our urban garden.

I, too take in the sun as it warms the tile floor, sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee to leisurely read the Sunday Morning Free Press.  At last the time is back to normal!  I don't particularly like Day Light Savings Time and always relish our extra hour in the fall.

Something causes me to glance outside.  FLD Gus is under the dogwood, not very visible behind a swatch of ornamental grasses.  What's he doing? I wonder.  I can see his head bobbing up and down, over and over.

When I slide the patio door open a few inches, I hear Gus sneezing.  "Choooo, choooo, chooo, choooo..."  He doesn't stop!  Gus, I call.  He looks up at me and keeps right on sneezing.  I can't see him clearly behind the grasses, so I call for him to come in.  He jumps over and sneezes all the way to the patio.  When he looks up again, I gasp.  What's wrong?!  The right side of his face is distorted, like he was squinting his right eye and lifting his lip at the same time.  And still he sneezes, violently now.  "Achoooo, achoooo, achoooo, achoooo," again and again.

I drag him inside, cradle his body, grasp his head between my hands and try to take a look.  I sweep his mouth, but find nothing.  I lift his lip.  Nothing.  I can't see anything in his eye.  His right nostril is squinched, but I can't find a problem here, either.  WHAT'S WRONG?!  As soon as my grip on his face lessens, he starts up with the sneezing again.

Andy rushes down from upstairs to see what I'm fussing about.  Something's wrong with Gus, he won't stop sneezing!  I wonder if he's been stung, but it seems too late in the season for bees.  Andy inspects Gus as I did, and finds nothing.  "Let him go," he says.

I let Gus free.

He shakes himself.  He turns and trots over to the water bowl and laps a generous drink.  He turns back to the two of us kneeling on the floor behind him, slobbers water and tilts his head as if he's thinking, What?  I'm fine!

Gus's sneezing fit has mysteriously ended.  He IS fine, and bounces over to see why we're sitting back on our ankles on the floor.  "Got me," Andy says.

The only thing we can think of is that in his exuberant sniffing, perhaps a blade of the long grass poked into his moist nose, the fluffy head depositing irritants.

Sneezing was probably just the right thing for FLD Gus to do!

Smart puppy!

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