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Another gloomy weekend in Germany…

We’re now at that time of year when Germany’s weather gets much less predictable. Today, the temperature is about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s kind of overcast and rainy. It was sort of like that yesterday, too, although the sun did appear for a brief period in the afternoon. I tried to sit outside, but it was too windy to enjoy the sunshine, so back into the house I went.

Ordinarily, yucky weather wouldn’t necessarily keep us homebound, but we also decided to stay home because we’re a bit concerned about Arran. I mentioned in a few recent posts that he hasn’t been himself lately. A week ago, I discovered enlarged lymph nodes in his popliteal glands behind his knees (back legs). I immediately became concerned about lymphoma, which is the dreaded cancer that took our dog, Zane, in 2019. Bill took Arran in to see the vet last week, because besides the lymph nodes, Arran also had a few pesky fleas, which he picked up from the hedgehog who has been residing in our backyard.

The vet did a fine needle aspirate, and at this point, we still haven’t gotten the results. She also put him on antibiotics, which he’ll finish today. I would say he had a partial response to the antibiotics. The lymph nodes are still large, but Arran did seem to feel somewhat less lethargic. We treated him for the fleas, and I washed everything in sight, and that seems to have gotten rid of them for now. I just have a bad feeling that he has cancer. It might or might not be lymphoma. If it is lymphoma, it’s not like it was for Zane, who seemed to have a very aggressive case of it. He died exactly one week after he was diagnosed. Arran, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be ailing much, other than being a little slower to eat his breakfast, quicker to tire on his walks, and slightly less spry when he jumps up on the bed.

The dogs are due to get dentals next week, and if Arran is still with us, he’ll probably get a biopsy. Bill and I talked about it last night, and I think we agree that whatever we do for Arran will be conservative, because he’s about 14 years old. That is the human equivalent as a man in his 90s. Canine lymphoma is treatable, but it’s not curable. As sad as it was to lose Zane, though, his was the easiest of our canine deaths. He had a good last week. If that is what’s in store for Arran, I wouldn’t object.

On the other hand, it’s possible this is an infection and the antibiotics he’s been taking weren’t the right ones to cure it… or it could be another type of cancer. I really don’t know. I hate this part of having animals in my life, but I don’t hate it enough to give them up for good. Anyway, at this point, Arran is still eating, drinking, sleeping, taking walks, and hanging around with us. So this weekend, we decided to give him some more of our time.

Noyzi is also hanging out with us more. He likes to listen to me practice guitar, especially since he knows that when I’m done playing, if Bill isn’t home and hasn’t already taken him out, that means it’s walk time.

One thing that does worry me a bit is that we are due to go to The Black Forest at the end of the month, and we can’t cancel our reservation without having to pay for the stay. I did buy travel insurance with cancel for any reason coverage, but it’s not so easy to get reimbursed by travel insurance. Plus, I really want to go… Yes, we’ll be visiting our dentist, but I would also like to have a change of scenery. We haven’t gone anywhere since June. We’re long overdue for a trip.

I think that like Zane, Arran is going to stay with us for as long as he possibly can. He’s already the oldest dog we’ve had the pleasure of having. All of the others have died younger. He’s a very resilient, spunky dog, and he LOVES Bill so much. So we’ll see what happens. Below are photos that were taken within the past 36 hours or so. As you can see, the boys look fine. But I am still worried about those big lymph nodes.

Edited to add on September 19, 2022… Unfortunately, my concerns were on target. Arran does have lymphoma. So we will be speaking with the vet to determine what to do from this point. I think we are inclined to keep him comfortable for as long as possible, but we’ll see what the vet says.

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The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.

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Today’s garden visitor…

Early this morning, Bill let Arran out to do his business. Arran immediately alerted to the ivy covered fence on the right side of the yard. It was very early– not even 6am yet– so it wasn’t a good thing that Arran was barking so assertively. Bill brought him back inside, but Arran remained obsessed with getting outside.

I prefer to let the dogs out, if they want to go out. I’ve cleaned up too many accidents to know that it’s not a good idea to deny them the chance to pee when the need arises. But Arran and Noyzi were both still fixated on the fence line, and I didn’t want them to piss off the neighbors, so I went over to see what the issue was. There, I saw it… a humongous spiky hedgehog, curled up by the fence. It’s daytime, and hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so I figured it might be sleeping. Still, I’m not interested in having a dead animal in my yard, so I got a shovel and gently pulled it out for a better look. It took a minute or two, but I finally saw it breathe. So, after I took a photo for posterity, I put it back where I found it, and shooed the dogs back inside.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a hedgehog in my German backyards. The first time we lived in Germany (2007-09), I had to rescue a hedgehog from the jaws of my then beagles, Flea and MacGregor. Later, when we were still living at that house, I discovered an enormous hedgehog raiding the trash. My guess is that it was the same one I saved from my beagles. I see from Facebook, that happened in August, too…

Dated August 19, 2009just found an enormous hedgehog raiding the trash… good thing my hounds were inside.

I last saw a hedgehog in our garden in October 2020. I noticed that it lived under a platform in our yard. For all I know, this is the same creature, as according to my reading, they can live up to 7 or 8 years in the wild. I also read that August is when hedgehogs in this latitude usually give birth. Some babies are born in July or September, but in Germany, at least half are born in August. For all I know, this is a female hedgehog who is about to have babies. I sure hope she moves, though, because I don’t want my dogs trying to eat her. She’s very spiky. Or maybe it’s a he. I don’t know.

I remember seeing hedgehogs in the 70s, when my dad was stationed at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England. We moved back to the United States, and I didn’t see them again until years later, when Sonic the Hedgehog became a popular video game and people adopted them as pets. I don’t think hedgehogs are as popular to own as pets anymore. But they sure are around in the European wilderness, especially in Germany… I never saw one when we lived in Jettingen. There, we saw lots of field mice, which Arran was occasionally able to catch, even when he was on his leash (which he almost always was, since we didn’t have an adequately fenced yard). They are good to have in gardens, because they eat bugs. For that reason, I welcome our cute visitor. I’m always amazed at the things I learn as a result of living over here.

Hedgehogs were never really an issue for us in the USA. Over the course of 20 years and many different homes, we’ve had snakes, squirrels, deer, wild ducks, turtles, mice, rats, chimney swifts, groundhogs, toads, coyotes, moles, foxes, chipmunks, rabbits, and all manner of birds. But wild hedgehogs are strictly a European thing… kind of like slugs. I know there are slugs in the USA, but I never saw so many of them there as I have here. They are huge, and pretty gross. I remember our first German landlord used to put out bowls of beer to attract the slugs and drown them. I don’t take those steps myself, because I love beer and hate to waste it on killing slugs. Also, beer attracts bees, who also end up drowning.

I’m still kind of shocked by how big that hedgehog is. I’ll bet it’s a female who’s about to give birth. I’m not going to turn it over and try to look for the telltale sex organs, though. Like I said… lots of spiky quills! It’s already Monday; I don’t need any wild animal related mishaps today.

ETA: I just checked where I left the hedgehog, and it’s moved. So that’s a good thing… Hope it finds a less dangerous place to be.

Here’s a video of the hedgehog, who came out while we were eating dinner a few days later. I suspect it’s a female, about to have babies… or maybe newly postpartum.

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