20 June 2011
Customer Service Agent, Canon Digital Cameras
To Whom it May Concern:
Since March, I have been the happy owner of one of the new PowerShot Elph 300 HS cameras. My previous camera was also a PowerShot Elph; one of the much earlier ones, with only four megapixels. The 300 HS was obviously a huge leap forward in technology. I am writing this letter to sadly report that I am no longer able to use my 300 HS, and while I don't believe the reason my camera no longer works is covered under the warranty, I thought you might be interested in hearing the story of its demise.
This is the last picture I took with my camera, using the automatic setting:
Note the clarity of detail in the face of the dog. He is perceptibly uncomfortable sporting his new porcupine whiskers. Note, as well, the horse fading misleadingly into insignificance just beyond the dog. And further, note the subtle but present signs of wilderness all around: tall conifers, patchy grass, mud.
For several years now I have enjoyed both the pleasures and the responsibilities of housesitting for family friends who have a tree farm and horses, and whose land borders the Clearwater National Forest near Harvard, in northern Idaho. Although I grew up on a small farm myself, and am not averse to getting my hands dirty, today I live in Seattle and my dogs are, primarily, city dogs. The older, more sensible dog has retired from accompanying trail rides through the National Forest but the younger, erratically curious one is just entering his third year of excursions. I have seen many varieties of wildlife on my rides and hikes through the area, including deer, coyote kits, owls, moose and mooselings, and once, thrillingly, a grey wolf. I have also seen signs of bear and cougar, although I am happy to report signs only.
This porcupine was the first for all of us.
We had only been out for about 20 minutes (expecting a ride of maybe an hour and a half); myself, my dog, one of the farm dogs, a friend who had come to hang out with me to play on horses in the woods, and two horses. The dogs had veered off the track into the woods as is their wont—I believe they easily cover two miles to every one of ours—and when they returned, I noticed my dog behaving strangely. As we walked along and turned onto a logging road, enjoying the mountain air, he kept throwing himself to the ground and rolling about. As there are innumerable kinds of animal scat around, as well as bits of carcasses in various stages of decay, I assumed he was merely perfuming his body as he felt would be most attractive (to be quickly scrubbed off as soon as we returned home, long-dead deer not being a scent I enjoy to the same degree). He went on and on, though, flinging himself to the ground, and running his muzzle through the still-full drainage ditches on the sides of the road we were riding on. An instant after it dawned on me that he might be trying to rub something off, I caught a glimpse of white along his upper lip.
I called a halt and slid off my horse (not the one pictured), caught the dog, and immediately recognized porcupine quills, known from a set of earrings my mother had once brought me from Alaska.
"Oh, poor doggy!" I crooned, as my friend dismounted and took the reins of my horse as well as hers. "Hold still, let me get a picture, then I'll take those out!" I was able to snap this photograph before my mothering instincts reached full steam and pushed everything else from my mind, including the delicacy of modern technology. I set my camera down next to me on the road and, quick as a flash, grabbed a quill and yanked. I hoped it didn't have a big barb on the end; it didn't, but it wasn't an easy extraction. Nevertheless, it came out, and the dog yelped and leapt away, pulling me off balance and startling the horse in the picture, who rushed at my friend, indiscriminately kicking at any cameras that might be in the way. Only one was.
In full-on Mother/Veterinarian mode by this time, I ignored my camera and instead spent the next 20 minutes wrestling in the dirt and mud with my 74-pound Lab mix, slowly, and evidently painfully, extracting the quills. Each time the dog leapt away I would untiringly call him back and he, desperate but also, somehow, hanging on to a thread of trust in me, would come and let me have another go . . . or at least let me catch him again. He was salivating madly and the quills were slick with mud and saliva, but one by one I got them out, even the last four, stuck in the roof of his mouth. To his credit, this pain-crazed young beast, drops of blood spattering his snout, did NOT bite down when I held his lower jaw open with my bare hand. What a good dog!
Once the last quill was out the dog was quite recovered; we remounted our horses, and continued our ride. Some might think we should have turned immediately upon discovering the quills and gone straight to the vet, but even if we had it would've been more than an hour before Porcupine Mustache could've been seen—and that's if there were no other patients. Field surgery was what was required.
A subtle but deadly dent and a bit of mud was all that marred the face of my new red camera; I pushed "on" hopefully, but "off" it remained.
For all of you blog readers who are not Canon Customer Service, you might be interested to know that the story of yesterday does not end there. It was, in fact, a day that was far, far from being a plateau. Inside the last gate at the end of our ride, maybe 200 yards from dismounting, Sikem, who had already destroyed a camera, shied and MS took a tumble. She hit her lower left back (kidney-level) and clocked her helmeted head, but is, in fact, perfectly fine today except for some residual pain and a tiny bit of blood in her urine . . . which is perhaps a bruise to the kidney, although there's not enough blood to indicate a laceration.
I would love to write more about this because it is an entire other story complete with rural EMTs and trips to the closest hospital facility—in Moscow, 45 minutes away—both late last night to collect MS (she rode in the ambulance because I needed to eat and change clothes after the Hoover/Porcupine debacle—I was so covered in mud and grime when I answered the door to the EMTs they thought I was the patient) and earlyearly this morning to deliver a new urine sample—but I am too exhausted to give the story its due and tomorrow we must deliver another earlyearly sample, and then in the afternoon we're heading home. Suffice it to say that, when MS was holding both horses and I was battling Hoover, Sikem stood patiently and Shadow patently did NOT; also, the moment MS came off him, Sikem stood stock still above her, as he should, instead of continuing to his stall even though it was so close. Accidents happen, when you're living life to the fullest.