I’ve been a solo dog for coming on two years now. We’ve had friends come to visit with their dogs, we’ve camped with friends and their dog, but I haven’t lived with another dog, had to share the space and attention that has become mine (all mine).
Last week, while our friend G went for surgery, Ria came to stay with us to lighten the load a little for S who was holding down the fort and offering moral support for the poor guy stuck in hospital. I’ve never been to a hospital, but I hear it is just not a friendly place for people who are accustomed to peace and solitude.
Ria and I have hung out on many occasions, at their place, at our place, on camping trips and walks, and I even stayed with them while T and Nollind were in Toronto in March, but having another canine in my home for a number of days is a very different thing. I had to share what is mine (all mine).
Before this visit, T and Nollind would have told you that I’m not great at sharing, that I can get pushy and needy, and it’s possible that’s true, or was true. But having a dog around that doesn’t require all the extra attention, special food, and treats (laced with medication of course) that Logan did, is quite a different deal.
On top of that, Ria is a great houseguest. She often prefers to lie on the floor, so I didn’t have to share my beds or the couch; she loves toys and gave Logan’s old ones a workout, which didn’t bother me a bit because they don’t interest me; and she loves to chase gophers, and it’s been a long time since I had a hunting buddy.
The only beef I had all week was that she seemed to get more food than I did, but then I eat fast so it was tough to know for sure. On the couple of occasions when she did finish before me, or when my bone seemed to last longer than hers, she was very polite, staring at me from an acceptable distance, and not making any attempts to take what was mine (all mine). She did hover a little closely when she finished her DQ pup cup before I did, but, hey, it was ice cream!
After Ria went home, I was a little concerned that the peeps might miss the presence of a second dog and start talking about adopting, since I’d totally rocked the sharing thing, but—whew—nothing of the sort. They liked having Ria around, but are still enjoying the simplicity of life with a single dog … me.
This means the food, the attention, the beds, the brushing time, and the treats, will continue to be mine (all mine).
It happened again. T and Nollind went on a holiday and Nevada got into trouble. This time it wasn’t gut trouble but rather stick-buried-in-thigh trouble. The stick was less life threatening than his colic of a couple of summers ago, but nasty, painful, and shockingly deep.
It all started innocently enough. The old guy just went down to roll out in the pasture. Thing is, as he’s aged and gotten stiffer, he doesn’t fold his four legs and go down gently like the rest of us, but folds in front and lets his hind end flop onto the ground. He’s a tall guy, his rump at probably five feet, and he weighs over a thousand pounds, so there’s a lot of momentum behind his dropping to the ground.
And on that night three weeks ago, he landed on an old, dead willow stump that drove right through his spotted hide and deep into the tissue.
We knew he was hurt as soon as he was on his feet. There wasn’t a lot of blood but the right side didn’t want to move. So we did what domestic herds do, we rallied around him, not moving too far or too fast, and waited for help to come.
Judy arrived the next morning and came to collect us from the back of the pasture. She knew right away the wound was a job for a veterinarian. The vet was out in the early afternoon, cleaned some pieces of wood out of the wound, stitched up the hanging flaps of skin on each side, put Nevada on antibiotics and painkillers, and left instructions and supplies for twice daily flushing with a diluted iodine solution. At that point, they knew the wound was at least five inches deep, since that’s how far the forceps reached inside.
T and Nollind were home the next day and T continued with Nevada’s daily treatments and medications. By Friday, one week after the injury, the poor guy was hurting, reluctant to move, and the wound was oozing more thickly than the previous days. The vet was called again and, because she couldn’t rule out a couple of nasty possibilities via the farm call, they hauled him to the clinic on Friday afternoon.
We were all worried … waiting and watching the driveway as the hours ticked by. Surely this wasn’t how we’d lose our great patriarch?
In the early evening, the truck and trailer returned. Was it empty? We all held our breath, listening. And then that familiar whinny echoed from the trailer. He was home! The vet had expected an overnight stay for monitoring but the old boy passed all of his blood and clinical tests with flying colours, ruling out any serious complications like Clostridial myositis (gangrene) or Tetanus. He also had the wound ultra-sounded and x-rayed, and even had a long, skinny camera shoved up inside. Which gives me the willies but is also ultra-cool, don’t you think? Very Fantastic Voyage-esque.
The next morning his treatments continued—more antibiotics, more anti-inflammatories, deeper flushing. After seeing how well the camera snaked in there and flushed the wound with many litres of fluid, Nollind asked the vets about some kind of hose rather than just the syringes they’d been using and was given a thin, 16-inch rubber hose. Every morning and every evening since, T and Nollind have taken Nevada in the barn and flushed the wound. For the first few days, they used the iodine solution and then switched to saline which is gentler on the tissue.
I was in the neighbouring stall for last Saturday night’s wound flushing, and that hose nearly disappeared inside him. There were only six inches sticking out which meant ten inches were inside. Wow. I nearly fainted. The two of us stayed in the barn overnight because the weather was nasty and Nevada seemed a little under it, the weather that is. We’d been given our spring vaccinations earlier that day and he had a bit of a reaction. Anyway, it meant I was still in the barn for Sunday morning’s flushing and, would you believe it, that hose went another two inches inside. Twelve inches disappeared into the caverns of that wound!
The humans were pretty excited about the extra two inches after a week of flushing, hoping they’d hit the pocket of infection and/or debris that was keeping things from healing. And, you know what? I think they did, because since then Nevada has been healing like crazy. There hasn’t been much discharge since Monday, and yesterday morning Rosa was in keeping him company during the wound cleaning (I was brought in initially but apparently wasn’t behaving well enough to be helpful) and she told us the hose is only going in about four inches now.
We’re all pretty relieved, especially Nevada. If the flushing hadn’t worked, the next option was surgery to remove whatever might be lodged deep in the wound, beyond where the ultrasound and camera could see, and none of us wanted that. As second in command, I’m always pushing to raise my station, but it doesn’t mean I want to lose my Number One of the past sixteen years.
The old guy, well, he’s back to his feisty, 29-year-old self, moving around a lot better, and much more willing to make the trek out back to graze with his underlings. The boss is back!
You’re probably thinking that “Snow in June” isn’t a very promising title for a camping blog, but the snow was only in one place and made for a terrific roll. The rest of our recent journey was summery weather—warm, sunny, and buggy. The bugs don’t actually bother me too much, but they sure drive the humans to distraction.
The original camping plan was for a few days at one of many local campgrounds that recently reopened after the pandemic shutdown. Then T decided there was no reason not to add a couple of days and turn it into a bit more of a vacation. It was a long winter of postponed and then cancelled plans followed by a spring of isolation on the farm so I think she was ready for more miles than the short journey to Kananaskis or Severn Dam.
Wikipedia says that Crimson Lake “received its name from the striking colours of the setting sun reflecting on the surface of its waters seen by an earlier trapper” but T and Nollind are pretty sure it has more to do with the voracious mosquitoes and subsequent bloodletting. Either way, it’s a beautiful spot with a nice campground, great walking trails, and we stayed there two nights.
Wednesday we were on our way west to another provincial park, Goldeye Lake. What should have been a happy arrival at this pretty lake in the foothills was disrupted by a flood in Simon the travel trailer. The campground road had some mega bumps and one of them managed to turn the tap on, which overflowed the sink down into the cupboards and onto the floor. T and Nollind normally turn the pump off when we travel but, oops, they forgot. I don’t think they will again. Our campsite looked like laundry day with everything hanging on lines.
A hike around the lake, combined with a drying breeze and a lack of mosquitoes, put everything to right and the peeps were laughing and playing dominoes at the picnic table by evening (there may have been a drink or two involved).
Thursday we drove to nearby Crescent Falls. It’s a bit of a bumpy ride from the highway to the falls but we left Simon behind at Goldeye so there were no concerns about further trailer disasters. The peeps loved the falls, took photos of them from many angles, oohed and aahed, but me, I was more interested in the other people, and their dogs. After all, it’s just a river that met a cliff, right?
While they watched three kayakers tackle the lower falls, I rested in the shade, watching the other visitors wander by. A few stopped to say hello and give me a scratch. But the best part? The picnic. Is there anything better than a picnic? I say, not likely.
After another evening of campfire time and bluegrass jamming, we were on our way west on Friday morning to yet another provincial park, Thompson Creek. This park sits right on the edge of Banff National Park near Saskatchewan River Crossing. We were all a little concerned at first by the bright yellow signs posted all over the park, but we carried our bear spray just in case and never did see the resident bear.
I’m far more interested in what I smell than what I see, but I have to admit that our day trip to Athabasca Glacier was pretty cool, in more ways than one. That breeze that blows down off the glacier is refreshing, to say the least. We have some packed snow and ice that likes to linger in the spring around here, but did you know the Athabasca Glacier has been melting for over a hundred years and it’s still huge? How impressive it must have been when it flowed right down to the bottom of the valley.
On the way back to camp, we stopped at Parker Ridge where there was still snow at the trailhead parking lot. Yup, quite a lot of it for June 12. The peeps weren’t interested in a snowy hike but stopped just for me because they know how much I love to roll in snow.
Saturday morning was absolutely the best morning of the whole trip. Not because it was time to go home, although that was good too, but because I got pancakes and bacon for my breakfast. So, so, so delicious. The cute tablecloth and tableside fire were nice touches added by T, but, for me, it’s all about the food.
After one last walk around the campground, we started the journey home around noon, making a quick stop at Mistaya Canyon on our way south. I normally drink from every creek or river we come across, especially in the mountains where the water is cold and clean, but I passed on this one. T joked they could lower me down into the canyon on my harness for a sip. Ha ha. Very funny.
So, the first camping trip of the summer season is in the book (there is actually a little book that lives in Simon) and I’m sure hoping it won’t be the last. We came home to an injured horse—Nevada rolled onto an old stump and it punctured his hip—but I’m sure he’ll heal in time for us to venture out again soon.
If you talked to me on day one I might have said I don’t like camping, but it just takes me a little time to adjust to a new routine and a different bed. By day two or three of new places to walk and explore and sniff, I’m one happy camper.