Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Our Blue-Green Algae Scare: Draining the Swamp

Even though it has been extremely dry this year, we managed to keep Cookie's frog ditch going. That made Cookie very happy. Every time we walk out of the house, she makes a beeline straight for it.

And then, a horrible thing happened.

Our Blue-Green Algae Scare: Draining the Swamp

The ditch had water in it the entire year and other than being muddy from the agitated clay, the water was good and clean. And then, suddenly, a day after we finally got some rain, it turned kind of green.

My heart sank.

Could it be the dreaded blue-green algae?

It looked nothing like the photos of blue-green algae mostly do and it didn't really fit the description. But the more I was reading, the less sure I was.

I took some photos and showed them to some of my veterinary friends. Nobody would say it is not blue-green algae. They didn't say it was, but they all agreed that it is best to play it safe.

I absolutely agree with playing it safe, but this is Cookie's playground!

Perhaps it was pollen that got washed into the water with the rain? We did have yellow-green dust on everything. Perhaps it was some perfectly harmless green stuff? But who'd want to take the chance?

I decided the best thing to do was to drain it, let it dry and then refill however sparse our access to water is. We were gone all day to see Cookie's PT, and I was going to drain it when we came back.

It was not deep enough to use a pump, nor a pump would empty all of the water. I went, armed with my trusty snow shovel. I get there, and the water looked the way it usually does. Just muddy, beige.

I returned to Google to see whether blue-green algae could disappear as quickly as it appeared.

It turns out that it can. The articles also said that the water was safe again 24 hours after the algae would be gone. I became hopeful.

In the morning I went to check on it. The green stuff had returned. I realized I had no choice than to drain it. We could have, of course, just Cookie away from it but it is her playground. We could have waited until it dries out but that would take forever. The only solution was to manually drain it to get it back to full function as soon as possible.

Once I started, I kept thinking how foolish I was and felt I can't possibly drain all the water from there. But I would never falter when doing something for my girly.

I drained the whole damn thing.

I posted my green water photos on justanswer.com as well. Just as I returned from draining the ditch, I got an answer. The expert believed that this was not blue-green algae, also mainly since it was full of frogs that didn't die.

Now you're telling me.

Just as well, though. I think I wouldn't be able to take even the slightest chance with Cookie's safety no matter. I would have drained it anyway but would feel bad at the thought that perhaps I didn't have to.

Cookie is broken-hearted at what happened to her ditch. And just when it got a whole bunch of fresh water. She doesn't understand what happened. Breaks my heart too.

But I did what I believe was the safest as well as the fastest way to restore her playground to her. So that's the kind of things I do for my girl.

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  1. It's always best to play it safe. I wonder, though, is there some sort of at-home test to detect blue-green algae?

    1. I wish. Apparently pretty complicated; couldn't even find a lab around here to get that done.

  2. A lot of work but better safe than sorry! I would have done the exact same thing to make sure my dog was safe! The things we do to protect out pets and make them happy :)

    1. A "normal" person would just keep their dog away from it, I think. But Cookie really loves to play there. So fixing the problem was the only choice for me.

  3. I always say rather be safe than sorry and although Cookie might be heart broken her health comes first and soon there will be clear water there for her

    1. True. Gotta get a proper pond going one of these days. That would solve this problem. Though we never had an issue for three years ... just this year with it being so damn dry.

  4. I probably would have done the same thing, drained the whole thing even if there was just a small chance it would be bad for my boys. The things we do for our pets huh?

    1. I know, right? The stuff I shoveled over time. But having all that experience, at least I knew that draining it with a shovel would work. As too shallow for a pump.

  5. Poor Cookie, but you were right to drain it to be safe. Our pets' health is never something we want to take a chance with, and water can be replaced. Do you wait for it to rain or do you fill it up yourself?

    1. Once we have our own well, we'll keep it filled properly. We filled it but it's so dry it happened all over again. So I drained it all over again. Now we are waiting for rain.

  6. I just learned about blue green algae recently (after my dog swam in a pond at a campground). I can't believe it. On the news, several dogs died in New Brunswick. I'm going to be more vigilant now.

    1. I knew about it but I certainly learned way more details than I even wanted. Pretty good odds this wasn't but I still erred on the side of caution particularly since some lakes in our region did test positive for cyanobacteria blooms.

  7. That's a lot of hard work, but better safe than sorry! I think it would have been more devastating to her if you just tried to keep her out of the ditch. We have a very small pond but the dogs don't go in it. We have a lot of frogs and fish, so I guess it doesn't have blue-green algae.

    1. Yes, you get it. Keeping her away she would not understand at all. A "broken ditch" is easier to comprehend.

  8. That looks backbreaking. Frustrating for you to have found out after the fact you didn't have to dig it out, but better safe than sorry! Hope it rains soon (or that you have easy access to water without having to lug buckets.

    1. I had shoveled so much stuff for my girls over time ... tons of snow, busting ice, shoveling water ... I'm a pro now.

  9. Your such a good dog mom. I'd do the same thing if I needed to. It's always better to be safer than sorry. I hope Cookie is enjoying her playground again.

    1. I'm glad at least some people don't think I'm crazy :-)

  10. We have toxic algae n New Zealand, and local warnings are everywhere to warm people doggy swimming is dangerous in the Hutt River.

    Algae = Danger!

    1. Nasty stuff. This year seems to be very conducive to this stuff.

  11. I'm with you I totally would have done the same thing just to be safe!

    1. I'd love to watch ;-) Apparently me, shoveling the water out of the ditch, was quite a sight. LOL

  12. I'm with you, better to be safe than sorry. I have to say, even if it was not the blue-green algae, it was pretty yucky looking. Here's hoping for some rain so Cookie can have her beloved ditch back! Kudos to you, her amazing doggie momma!

    1. Thank you, a bunch of rain in forecast for tomorrow, hopefully it actually does happen this time.

  13. I don’t blame you for playing it safe. We must look out for our fur babies.

    1. Never had this problem with the ditch before; it's been too dry this year.

  14. A lot of work and sad for Cookie and the frogs (I had a lab Cookie that loved playing in ponds). But always better to be safe than sorry and hopefully you can refill soon.

    1. Very sad; you should have seen her face when she found out what happened--poor thing. We're supposed to be getting a bunch of rain tomorrow; hopefully this finally happens. Usually they predict rain and never happens.

  15. You're a good doggie mama! It is always best to play it safe with our pets, it's not worth taking any chances. And besides, sometimes it's good to miss something you love for just a little while, it makes it that much sweeter when it comes back to you. Love to Cookie.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Love Them

    1. Cookie thanks for the love. She can't wait for the rain tomorrow.

  16. Here in FL, we're currently dealing with toxic red algae, so I love tat you wrote about your algae issue!

    1. Nasty stuff, isn't it? I've learned a lot about it. Though the more you learn, the less sure you are that it's possible to identify it without lab testing.