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  • Ryanne Harper

Tails from the Tiny House

The theme of this week seems to be quarantines: one I've implemented and one I didn't but should have.

If you know me at all, it can probably go without saying that I'm officially isolating myself at home until the COVID-19 threat has passed. (You can call that an overreaction if you'd like. But only if you want to hear the long and disgusting story of how I almost died of H1N1 + Lupus related complications.)

Given that I already work from my house in the woods and venture to town maybe twice a week, completely isolation isn't a drastic change from my everyday life. And since I never know when my immune system is going to knock me down, I'm always stocked up on essentials. I made a quick run to Dollar General for cat food and now we have everything we need for the next few weeks.

Around the same time I decided to stay home and stay well, half of my house became revoltingly ill. It started with Samson. I let him run the trails around our house late at night when I know he won't bother anyone. When he got sick to his stomach, I wrongly assumed he'd eaten something he shouldn't have. So, instead of isolating him, I let him chill on the couch and continue to share the same water bucket as the girls. It was a terrible, terrible call that I paid for with 2 full days of all 3 of them getting sick faster than I could clean up after them. If anyone in your house gets sick, learn from my mistake. Tell them you love them, make sure they have what they need, but stay far, FAR away.

I'm surprised it's taken me this long to make this point. But regardless of whether you have a single pet or 17, it's incredibly important to develop a good relationship with a veterinarian. Don't wait until you have an emergency and have to go to the only place open/you can afford. Take them in for shots or well animal checkups; let everyone in the clinic get to know you and your animals, so they are better equipped to help you when emergencies do happen. When they know you, they're also much more likely to say "this is nothing you can't handle at home" if you call and describe a mild virus that's going around that they can't really do anything about. I was able to keep all 3 dogs hydrated and none of them ran a fever, so we got through their ick without venturing to town. They're back to their healthy, happy selves and the smell of bleach is finally starting to clear out of the house.

After being driven home by the threat of COVID-19, then out of the house by 3 very large, very sick-in-the-smelliest-ways dogs, I spent a lot of time outside bonding with the chickens. At some point during day 2, they all seemed to imprint on me and now they follow me around the yard like I'm the momma bird. It's likely the closest I'll ever get to having animals flock around me like I'm a Disney princess, and I'll take it! So, if anyone needs me in the next few weeks, I'll be frolicking around in the woods with my birds, pretending I live in a cartoon.

**In all seriousness, there are a few things I'd like to say about COVID-19, from the perspective of an immune compromised person. This virus is mild for most people, but can be deadly for people like me. And you could replace "COVID-19" with the name of nearly any other virus or infectious disease and the same would be true. Once this panic has passed, please stay mindful of the importance of taking precautions against spreading any illness. WASH YOUR HANDS. All the time. And if you don't feel good, stay home. Showing up to work with the flu doesn't prove you're some sort of unstoppable badass, but it's going to 100% land the immune compromised girl in the cubicle/office next to you in bed for a week. (Actual thing that's happened to me. Twice.)

Practice common sense and consideration for the people around you, regardless of what virus is going around. AND WASH YOUR HANDS.

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October is my second favorite month of the year; November is my absolute favorite. The weather is perfect, Thanksgiving is involved, I can wear a sweater most days. What's not to love about November?

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