Psst…It’s Me, Chico

I’m not sure this is allowed, blogging from beyond the Rainbow Bridge, but I cleverly figured out a way to do it (and I even managed to grab a few photos from the archives that live in the cloud.) So…

Hi! It’s been a while. I’ve been pretty busy these last few months, getting oriented to my new form, my new world, but as soon as I had a little free time, the first thing I looked into was getting in touch with all of you. Since we’d never heard from Logan after he left in 2018, I just assumed it wasn’t possible. If a clever guy like Logan couldn’t do it, what were the chances for me? But the difference between Logan and me is that I was always a little more human focused, to the point of actually trying to be more like one.

Desert sunset viewing from my camp chair.

I’m betting your first questions are “What’s it like there?” and “Is it is great as I imagine?” Especially those of you who have animal friends who have crossed the bridge. Well, the answers are … wonderful! and yes! All those health issues I contended with in my final months? Gone. I can eat anything I want and as much as I want, run around like the scud missile I used to be, and that damn tumor on my leg is completely gone. On top of that, the weather is always fine, whatever that means to each of us. For example, the Pyrenees, like Aspen, tend to like the snow, me a warm, sunny spot with a cool stream nearby. Logan likes that same sunny day, but only if he has a shady den to occupy.

A warm, sunny spot in a bed of cover. Sigh…

Yep, he’s here, my buddy Logan. In fact, he was right there waiting for me just across the bridge. He knew I was coming. Man was it good to see him. We had a vigorous play session right then and there, just like we used to back on the farm or in the desert as young dogs. He tells me there are some sand dunes to climb so I’m looking forward to that.

Or in this case … on a beach back in 2014.

As good as it was to see Logan, it sure was hard to leave my people. I know they didn’t want me to go, and that T agonized over the decision to send me away, but they did the right thing and I’m grateful. Life had really become a struggle, just to get up, to get outside, to eat even. That good old duck and potato food was just not tasting very good anymore. I can’t even look at a duck around here without gagging a little. Fortunately, the buffet is always open and I can have anything I want. Anything.

In this place, that yummy smelling plate of food would be mine!

The other really cool thing about being here? I can still communicate with beings on earth, mentally that is. Humans are tough, because they’re not very open to the idea of talking to animals, but other animals are easy peasy. For example, when T was walking along a river pathway in Sundre back in July, I suggested to this Pug dog that T would love a little lick on the face, because that’s how I used to greet her when she’d been away. Well, that little dog ran straight up to T, put her paws on her leg, and when T knelt down to say hello, slurp, right on the chin. And I think T knew that somehow it was me.

My signature chin lick.

And then I suggested to Ria that she pay extra attention to T when they were camping together and she went above and beyond, on duty just as soon as she heard the trailer door every morning. What a great friend.

Ria in all her fluffy sweetness.

I’ve also been talking to the horses and cats at the farm. I’ve enlisted Storm to run up to the fence anytime T is outside, and I convinced Hank to follow her around when she’s doing chores. Mariah helped with that one, offering to show him around. You should see the smile on her face with two cats following her around the paddocks as she rakes manure. But don’t tell her it was my idea. I’d like her to bond with her earthly critters.

I even convinced Storm to take T for an evening walk, just like I used to.

I admit to being a little jealous that I’m no longer the recipient of all that love. I mean, I am, I feel it, but I can’t physically experience it anymore. Some here say that we can reincarnate, go back to earth. Others that we wait here until our people join us. And yet others that we can choose which path to take. I think, if I do have the choice, I’ll go back, and this time as a smaller dog that fits nicely into someone’s lap. I got to be a bit of a lapdog in my final year, but, given my 50-pound size, it wasn’t all that comfortable for any of us.

Hm…I take that back. We both look pretty comfy.

Boy, it sure feels good to be back blogging. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to get in touch, or if it’s even allowed, but if I can, I will, because I’m just not ready to disappear. So, until next time, Fur-iday Files correspondent Chico reporting from beyond the Rainbow Bridge.

They Call the Cat Mariah

Hey gang, it’s me, Hank the barn cat. (Since you haven’t heard from me in a while, I figured I should refresh your memories.) Before I tell you about Mariah, I just wanted to pay tribute to our canine friend who left us in July. Chico and I didn’t spend a ton of time together, but as dogs and cats go, we got along really well, especially considering he used to be a cat chaser. He never tried to chase me, seeming to know right from the start that I belonged at the farm. He let me rub on him, I let him smell my butt. We had it worked out. He wasn’t spending as much time at the barn anymore because of his sensitive digestive system, but I did have a chance to say goodbye before he left us, and I’m glad of that.

Barn dog.

The last time I wrote, I was looking for a new companion after losing my friend Fran in June. Wow, it’s been over a year already. I missed her terribly last winter. It’s a long, cold season in Alberta, but much longer and colder when you’re a solo cat living in a barn. The mice kept me company, and a feral who lives on the property popped in now and then for a meal from my food bowl, and J or M the horse sitters were by on a daily basis. But there were a lot of hours to just lie in Meowi (cat Hawaii) by myself, remembering the good old days of cuddling up with Fran.

Cuddle time with Fran.

They tried to adopt a companion for me last fall, but as soon as her three-week locked-in-the-barn period was over, she left. I think my barn is a terrific place to live, but she didn’t seem to agree. Or perhaps it was it something I said? Anyway, by then it was too late to try bringing in another cat, so I was on my own.

But as soon as T got home this spring, she was on the look for just the right cat to fill Fran’s place. The cat in the fall had been completely feral and just didn’t want to be anywhere that involved humans. So this time T went looking for someone semi-friendly who was hopefully a good mouser and she found just the girl. Introducing … Mariah!

Mariah.

Semi-friendly is the perfect way to describe her. She’s not feral, not even that afraid. She just doesn’t have interest in people much beyond feeding. Me, I love a good rub or a brushing, but she’s more interested in prowling around the barn or property catching mice. She is a mouser extraordinaire. Fran was a good little hunter, but this girl, wow, she is lethal. I’m glad I’m bigger than she is.

Sleeping tiger.

I have to admit; I didn’t like her at first. Fran’s were tough paws to fill and after being rejected by Roo last fall, and having the big bully of a feral come and go over the winter, I was a little stand-offish. Okay, it was more like run at her than stand off, but you get my drift. I had a hard time accepting her. But, once I realized we weren’t going to be let out of the barn until I behaved like a gentleman, I decided to try to like her. And I kinda do.

I like her, but no, I didn’t share my treat.

What’s really cool is that Mariah has introduced me to a whole new world. I’ve lived here on the farm since the spring of 2014 and have never ventured beyond the halfway point of the paddock that sits in front of my barn. The world was just too big and scary to venture any farther. But as soon as T started opening the barn door in the mornings for us to spend some time outdoors, Mariah was off exploring the rest of the yard all day, only returning when T called us for late-day feed and shut in. She’d look so pleased when she came home, smelling of places I hadn’t been, things I’d never seen.

Exploring above ground.

So, one day, I followed her across the barnyard, making it all the way to the gate into the paddock. The next day, I ventured as far as the tool shed, and then the driveway, up to the north horse shelter, and finally, after about a month of my explorations, the deck! I was pretty nervous, but when I saw T sitting there having her breakfast just a few feet away, I figured it was safe. I’ve been back twice since then and regularly follow T around when she’s doing horse chores.

I still spend most of my time at the barn. I’m most comfortable there. But exploring that big old world out there has broadened my horizons and slimmed down my physique. I’m feeling (and looking) pretty good. And Mariah and I are becoming good friends. She’s even rubbed on me a few times and let me eat from her bowl. We don’t cuddle like Fran and I used to, but maybe once the weather turns cold we’ll take that step in our relationship. For now, we’ll just explore the great outdoors together and have someone to share a meal with at the end of each day. Life is good.

Tribute to a Free Spirit (aka Trail Dog Disaster)

Back in 2018, I wrote a blog post called “Tribute to a Trail Dog” in honour of our canine friend Logan. He was indeed a trail dog supreme. We logged a lot of miles with him at our heels.

Logan with my predecessor, Alta.

Chico, on the other hand, was more of a trail dog disaster. He loved to come along, would go all day, but not always in the same direction as we horses and our riders. He’d chase squirrels, rabbits, deer, and anything else that moved (other than us) as far as he could maintain sight or scent. You can probably imagine this didn’t go over well with T and Nollind.

End of a ride: Doesn’t that expression just say, “How awesome was that?!”

Chico joined the family in January of 2011, and that summer we did a few trail rides, each one with the same result, a lot of backtracking and calling and frustration. In late summer, we hauled out to Kananaskis for a week on the trails, and our second camp spot on that trip was Etherington Creek Equestrian. That’s where the final straw was tossed on the camel. At the end of a long, tiring ride, Chico spotted a deer and was gone, baying like a mad hound, taking Logan with him. We followed as far as we could, but turned back to camp when the trail ran out, listening to the sounds of barking dogs fade into the distant woods.

Exhausted dog after his deer-chasing incident.

They came back. They always did. But never again did they get to follow us on the trails. Logan was getting a little arthritic anyway, so the timing wasn’t terrible for him. They continued to join us for rides from home, where the risk of dogs getting lost or coming across wildlife was much less. I had a hard time finding a photo of Chico with me or any of the other horses out on a ride because, although a heeler cross, he just wasn’t much of a heeler, always following his nose away from the group in one direction or another.

A rare photo.

Aside from enjoying a jaunt through the fields around home, Chico and I had one very important, all-encompassing, life-giving thing in common. We both L-O-V-E-D food. He’d eat anything we dropped on the ground and would get his nose into our feed bins if we’d let him and he wasn’t caught by T. And he often stole carrots from the boarders’ bags if they left them at his height. I’m a little fussier than he was about what I’ll consume, vegetarian for starters, but I also will do just about anything for food. T has mistakenly called me Chico more than once when I’m mooching for treats.

Scoring a snack.

Not sure if it was dedication or living in hope of scoring a snack, but Chico never missed feeding time … even when the weather was nasty. I know he regretted being out on more than one occasion, especially when there was nothing on offer other than hay. Good for sleeping in, but not much else.

Since last fall, when Chico developed digestive troubles, we haven’t seen much of him. And almost nothing since they returned from Arizona this spring. Horse feed didn’t make the very short list of things he could eat. Man, I felt for him. If suddenly I couldn’t eat the things I most enjoyed … well … horrors! My paddock-mate is not far from that, with her sensitivity to nature’s most beautiful food—green grass. Poor Rosa.

So, even though we’re not used to him mooching from our feed tubs anymore, or following us along the trail, we did see him coming and going with T every day, stopping to sniff noses now and then. And we miss the little Nevada mini-me a bunch. I hope he can eat anything he wants across that Rainbow Bridge, and that there are plenty of critters to chase.