Geal Charn - in the shadow of a man's best friend
by Graeme D » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:40 pm
Munros included on this walk: Geal Chàrn (Monadhliath)
Date walked: 18/02/2018
Time taken: 7.1 hours
Distance: 17.9 km
Ascent: 850m18 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
We took her to the vets in early January, after the lump had started to bleed on and off, and they said that the lump was benign and not unusual in a dog of her age. Her age, they said, was also remarkable for a Chocolate Labrador. They could operate, but it would be costly and at her age, she would probably not survive the operation. Operating was a non-starter for us anyway, even before the vet said that. She had gone through two major operations in the last couple of years and we knew that putting her through that trauma again would be unwise and unkind. The vet agreed. She asked us if we thought Lucy was happy and had some quality of life, which we did. In the end, we left with our dog and a £50 bill for the consultation and a course of antibiotics. I think we all knew that her time was now being counted in months (low single figures at best).
A couple of weeks later the lump started to bleed more heavily and more regularly and started to smell quite bad. We took her back and another vet said that there was nothing they could do, other than advising the application of hydrocortisone cream. Given its location on her body, they couldn’t even dress it. The vet said that best case scenario (however unlikely) was that the wound would heal naturally and close up, worst case the haematoma would “shell out” and she could bleed out profusely. We left again, still clinging to the fact that the vet was happy she was in no pain from the bleed and that her appetite was as good as ever and she could still manage the occasional leisurely plod round the lane a couple of times a week. We bought a surgical collar to stop her gnawing at it and hoped for the best. The mess being made by her on the flooring and the carpets wasn’t a huge issue, given that most of them were about to be ripped out, but we were spending an increasing amount of time on our hands and knees cleaning up blood. She was also being increasingly confined to the kitchen, where it was easier to clean up. I was aware that we were treading an increasingly fine line between doing the right thing and letting things go too far.
Then came the Friday morning of the February mid-term weekend. I came downstairs in the morning and the kitchen looked like the scene of a murder in a Friday 13th movie. Lucy had managed to get out from the barricaded area where her blanket was and blood was everywhere, including up several kitchen units. It was time. We couldn’t go on like this. She was bleeding to death.
I needed some fresh air so I drove to the vets and asked if they had someone available to come out and do the needful. They could manage a house visit around 2 o'clock that afternoon. I nodded my agreement and left while I was still just about holding it together. My composure lasted as far as the car but no further.
By 2.45 that afternoon she was gone, but not before a last plod round the lane (most of which I spent carrying her and in tears) and a last meal of scrambled eggs, meatballs and prawns. The farting would have been horrendous if she had been spared any longer!
My wife and daughter were away later that afternoon with three other mums and 6/7 year old kids to Kilconquhar for the weekend leaving me home alone. The Saturday was spent helping the guy who had bought our old kitchen rip it out and load it onto his van, so I spent the Saturday evening with no wife, no daughter, no dog and no kitchen. I was feeling very sorry for myself and in dire need of some mountain therapy. At the same time I felt drained and the thought of actually pulling some gear together and planning a route was almost too much to contemplate. My good mate Robin came round that evening for a curry and a few beers and made me see sense. Actually he told me to man up and get my **** together! So I did and the following day I headed up the A9 to see to some unfinished business on Geal Charn from the Spey Dam.
Zoom to Meall Cuaich from the Dalwhinnie-Laggan road
Creag Dubh and a coo in a field
Robin had been right (as if I ever doubted it!). I needed the space, the time, the reflection, the quietness and power of the mountains. The walk up Glen Markie was amazing in pristine conditions and more than once, a young Lucy was with me, bounding through the deep snow and having an absolute blast.
Creag Ruadh across the Spey Dam
Starting the walk up Glen Markie
Back to Creag Ruadh
Deeper into Glen Markie
Deep snow ruts and back to Creag Ruadh
Lucy is here somewhere!
Not a bad spot for a bite of lunch, all things considered!
After lunch I crossed the Markie Burn (not an easy task with deep snow lying across most of its width!) and followed the Piper Burn up towards Bruach nam Biodag and then skirting some serious looking cornicing up onto the summit plateau.
Time to leave the glen and take to the hill proper
The Markie Burn
Magic fence - now you see it, now you don't!
Yours truly on the shoulder of Bruach nam Biodag
I think I'll look for a route around this!
Once onto the ridge, the winter wonderland was amazing but the going was hard through deep, virgin powder snow. But hey ho, this had to be better than sitting at home with no dog and no kitchen!
Across Lochan na Choire to Beinn Sgiath
The Window between Beinn Sgiath and Geal Charn
Summit ridge around the head of the coire
Wildnerness behind me!
Stay focused on that summit!
At this point it closed in entirely to that point where you can see nothing but white, you don't know whether you are going up or down and frankly you begin to question whether you are still on the same planet that you started off on!
...... visibility gone!
Some careful map and compass work was required but even still I think I really only found the summit cairn by inadvertently walking into it and falling over it. Plans to make it a circular route were promptly shelved in favour of the security of following my footsteps back down.
The summit is right there, just a few metres away!
To Lucy Dog (4th December 2003 - 16th February 2018)
Lucy on another Geal Charn, 11th April 2011
by rockhopper » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:55 pm
A fitting tribute, Graeme, to Lucy and sounds like you did the right thing. Never having been a dog owner it's hard to understand fully the bond that builds but you'll have some great memories of good times.
All the best - cheers
by KatTai » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:39 am
by Sunset tripper » Sun Apr 08, 2018 7:58 am
All the best.
- Posts: 2489
- Joined: Nov 3, 2013
- Location: Inverness
by gammy leg walker » Sun Apr 08, 2018 6:52 pm
by malky_c » Mon Apr 09, 2018 3:37 pm
by Mal Grey » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:22 pm
And rather a good hill report to boot. Whiteouts are always interesting!
by BlackPanther » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:58 pm
It's always hard to say goodbye to your furry friend. I've been up that street once so I can fully sympathize with you. My little dog died when I was away traveling and I never had a chance to say good bye. It's been a long time since and time has healed the pain, but the good memories are still fresh in my mind. I know he had a happy life and enjoyed it to the full. I'm sure it was the same with your Lucy. All the photos and stories about her accompanying you on the hills, that you posted over the years on WH show that she was a very happy pooch.
by PeteR » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:16 pm
Your reference to The Watchmaker has left me with a tune running through my head ever since.
by dogplodder » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:00 pm
by Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:16 pm
by Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:20 pm
KatTai wrote:Beautifully written report, I find it hard to read about saying goodbye to furry friends because I know that over the next few months we will probably have to make that decision for one of ours Looks like an amazing walk was had though and it is a very fitting tribute to a hill-dog!
I'm sorry to hear that, but hey, that's how it is. Doesn't make it any easier, it's just how it is. Enjoy what tie you have left together.
by Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:22 pm
PeteR wrote:As has already been said, a very fitting tribute
Your reference to The Watchmaker has left me with a tune running through my head ever since.
The Watchmaker keeps to his schemes?
by Graeme D » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:26 pm
dogplodder wrote:You did absolutely the right thing but it's still heart-wrenching to go through that. I had the same experience as you 'seeing' Lucy bounding along beside you, when out on my first hill two days after losing Tess. It didn't happen again - just that time. Will you consider having another? We have just adopted a 3 year old labrador girl from Lab Rescue, almost a year after losing Tess. She won't be a replacement.... but having her is already such great therapy.
Thank you. No, I'm not sure I will "see" her there in quite the same way again but she will still always be there. Great to hear that you have a new Lab girl in the family. As you say, not a replacement, but a wonderful new friend in her own right. I'm sure we will get another in the fullness of time! A family is not complete without a dog after all!
by Collaciotach » Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:38 pm
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