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A Modern Christmas on Hold

December 5, 2009

Last night we headed out a bought an 8 foot tall Fraser fir. Nathan tied it to the roof of the car despite his lack of knot tying badges from the Boy Scouts. It was solid as a rock!

The trouble started when we went inside to gather tools to prep the tree. Barney disappeared for a moment. This usually means he’s consuming–not just destroying, but consuming–half a roll of toilet paper, so we were suspicious. He came when called but was walking slowly. I thought he must have been ashamed at being caught doing something bad.

While Nathan started unwrapping the tree in the carport, I grabbed Barney’s leash. Instead of responding with his usual Going Outside Happy Dance followed by sitting to get his leash put on, Barney stumbled toward me while listing to the side. Then he slid to the floor and laid down. Once I got him outside, he laid on the ground motionless while Nathan trimmed the tree and screwed it into its stand. Nathan had to lift Barney to his feet to get him to follow me into the house.

Nathan hauled the tree inside and it looked great! I decided to wait overnight for its branches to fall. Half an hour later, Barney’s behavior had returned to normal but the area around his eyes had swelled to twice the normal size. His “eyebrow” area was huge and the skin, stretched out and visible through his fur, was bright red. The swelling is visible on the left in the picture below. The eyebrow usually sticks out about half as far.

Dr. Nathan administered a couple of doses of antihistamine and Barney responded within minutes. He was looking lots better and I had high hopes that we would be able to keep the tree.

A few hours later Barney’s muzzle started to look a little red. Before I knew it, it had swelled up to twice its normal size. Lips, muzzle, snout, everything–huge. Once again, Nathan played vet, and kept pushing antihistamines for the next hour, to no avail. So Nathan moved the tree out to the carport and I vacuumed up the evidence and threw our clothes in the laundry. At bedtime, Barney’s face was still swollen and itchy, and he was rubbing his face with his paws and against the floor. Today the swelling has gone down considerably but he’s not back to normal. For comparison, here’s a shot of what his muzzle usually looks like from a similar angle. Not a very convincing comparison, I know, but trust me!

So additional Christmas decorating is on hold. Our new $50 Fraser fir will probably be living outside for the next month. Some preliminary Googling suggests hosing the tree down and letting it dry outside may reduce allergens (possibly mold), but that seems unreasonable when the temperature is below freezing. Other types of pine trees, especially those less fragrant, may be better for allergies, but I’m not excited about a $40-$60 gamble when Barney was so clearly uncomfortable. If we can find one cheap enough, it may be time to go artificial. Better for the environment anyway, right?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2009 2:30 pm

    oh poor little Barney. We have tree allergies in common. I’ve never been able to have a real tree because I have issues. Pink tree now?

    • December 7, 2009 5:33 pm

      I’m thinking white tree! Not a surprise, right? 🙂

      • December 7, 2009 5:57 pm

        White tree would be awesome!! Especially since I’m listening to the Charlie Brown soundtrack right now and thinking of bright metal trees ha ha!

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