A Dog For All Seasons

T is a real weather nut. She’s always checking the forecasts on her phone, has half a dozen apps on there that show her forecasts, current conditions, wind predictions, and radar. It’s cool. I get it. Weather is pretty interesting and does have a big impact on how we spend our days, especially living out here in the country.

For example, when I go out first thing in the morning, I might go for a little wander around the yard if it’s nice, check out who or what has wandered through the yard overnight, take my time. But, when it’s raining, lift-me-off-the-ground windy or just plain frigid, I’ll lift my leg for just enough time to relieve the pressure and hustle back to the door, praying that T or Nollind hasn’t gone off to make tea or some other such thing. “I’m back! Let me in!”

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Any weather is good weather for a cuddle.

T has weather apps that cover our winter destinations too but she doesn’t look at them nearly as often as here at home. You see, the weather down in southern Arizona is usually kind of predictable. Sunny and warm. To my way of thinking, predictable, especially when it’s sunny and warm, is a good thing, a very good thing.

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Just another boring winter day in Arizona. Sigh…

Now, here at home, where we live three-quarters of the year, the weather is never predictable and rarely boring. In fact, during this particular fall season, we’ve had all four seasons for the price of one.

September started off a lot like July and August were, hot and dry. It felt like the summer that just wouldn’t end. T and Nollind got more miles out of their flip-flops this summer than ever before. In fact, one of T’s weather sites said it was the hottest summer in forty years!

Fall arrived around the middle of September, with cooler evenings, a little frost here and there overnight, and the leaves drifting down off the trees. I love fall. We can walk at any time of day without getting overheated, there are lots of animals out and about for us to track, and evening cuddle time comes a bit earlier.

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A September walk in the hay field.

But then, just barely into October, winter arrived with a fury like I’ve never seen so early in the year. The temperatures dropped below freezing and the wind blew the snow into drifts that were way taller than me and hard enough for us to walk on. We’ve seen big storms out here on the prairie before, but never in October, not even in November. It was like we’d fast-forwarded two months and landed in the middle of a blizzard!

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Digging out.

The horses had to be brought into the shelter and blanketed, Nollind got the truck stuck and had to pull it out with the tractor, and I basically spent the whole day trying to avoid going outdoors. You’d be amazed how long I can hold it when there’s such a powerful incentive! Even just outside the door, sheltered by the caragana bushes that surround the house, the snow was swirling everywhere because of the very strong winds. One quick trip outside and I was soaked and shivering.

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The horses trying to stay warm by eating. I like their strategy!

Now, the next day was a different story. The snow and the wind had stopped and we went for a walk. There is nothing like a roll in fresh snow. It’s even better than green grass. I must have rolled a dozen times in our short walk around the property—just couldn’t stop. Of course, the snow didn’t last.

Once the sun was out and things warmed up to normal October temperatures, all that snow melted and made the grass turn green again.  It’s like spring! Don’t worry though, the horses aren’t fooled one bit. They’ll happily eat the pretend-spring grass but they haven’t stopped working on those winter coats they started on back in September. I should probably do the same.

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The last of the snow drifts (this one was five feet high!)

 

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So, It Has Come to This

This … started out as needing a boost getting in and out of the truck. It happened when Teresa and Nollind got a new truck that was higher than the old one, so I wrote it off as being just that, a taller truck.

This … is a wooden step being added to the bottom of the fifth wheel stairs. They raised the fifth wheel axle last year, to better match the truck when overnighting without unhitching, so, again, I chalked it up to equipment changes, not aging.

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Partway through last winter in the desert, this … was a small staircase added to the bedroom so I could get up on the bed and, more importantly, have an alternative to jumping down.

This … is the plethora of pills and supplements that I get fed on a regular basis to keep things working. Two medications for my arthritis, three for the heart condition, Legend and Cartrophen injected every couple of weeks, and a joint supplement tablet as big as my foot that I really don’t like the taste of. Hide that in a pill pocket! And then there’s the renal diet. Yes, you read that correctly. A low protein diet, for me, a dyed-in-the-wool meat lover!

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This … is being assisted up and down the basement stairs and being blocked at night from going on my own. How embarrassing.

This … is missing most of the day because I’m sleeping all but a couple of hours.

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This … is being left behind when Teresa goes to town or for a walk and takes Chico along.

This … is not hearing them leave.

This … is having my walks cut to 45 minutes, then 30, and now sometimes just 20. I rarely leave the property anymore.

This … is being lifted out of the fifth wheel (actually carried down the stairs!) during our latest Sid trip.

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This … is words like prognosis and life expectancy popping up in conversations with the vet.

You could say this kinda sucks. But I’m adjusting, it’s what we dogs do, live in the moment, take life as it comes. We don’t dwell on what was, only enjoy what is.

This is just life, this dog’s life, this dog’s getting older, this dog’s journey. So …

This … is a walk around the back forty on a warm, fall day.

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This is playing with my favourite toys (and tiring myself out).

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This is cuddle time with my people on my magnetic therapy mat.

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This is spending time with friends.

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This is a tasty treat (even tastier now that they’ve added an appetite stimulant to my pharmaceutical cocktail).

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This is that rush I get when I stick my head out the car window while driving.

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And best of all, this … is a free pass, a get out of jail free card if you will, a license to do just about anything I please. Want a breath of fresh air at 2 am? Just make a little noise. We old guys can’t hold it like we used to, especially when you give us a diuretic for our heart condition. Best let me out. Feel like some quiet time alone in the yard?  Just give them that look from wherever I’m lying, the one that says, “Are you really going to make me come in? Hard to say how much longer I’ll be able to do this.” Don’t feel like eating dog food? “Gee, my stomach doesn’t feel so good but I could probably force down a bit of that chicken you’re eating.”

As with everything in life, this is all in how you look at it.

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Head for the Hills!

It was my first time in the Cypress Hills, Logan’s too, and I sure hope we go back again … and again. T and Nollind stayed in a cabin there when they were just married so they thought it would be a nice place to go to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. It didn’t hurt that it was snowing in the Rockies so heading east seemed like a good idea. We spent the first couple of days on our own and were joined by friends G & S and their tow behind “Piper” on Friday.

 

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On the road after a Tim’s stop for chili.

 

This is me on departure morning. I do love a road trip!

If you’ve never been to the Cypress Hills, or perhaps don’t know about them, they are remnants of the erosion of a Tertiary plateau of sediment formed during the initial uplift of the Rocky Mountains. (Surprised you with that one, didn’t I? Okay … I copied it from Wikipedia.) In other words, they’re these really cool hills in the southeast corner of Alberta and the southwest corner of Saskatchewan that rise up out of the big, flat prairie to a height of 1,466 metres or 4,810 feet.

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Camp from the Old Baldy trail.

Because the hills get more rain and snow than the surrounding prairie, they’re covered in forest and grassland, sharing vegetation with the mountains of Montana and Wyoming more so than with Canada. The altitude is similar to Banff so some of the animals you find in the mountains live here – cougars in particular. Cats are kinda scary when they’re ten pounds. Not sure I need to see the 30-100 kg variety. Yikes.

We camped at Old Baldy Campground, named so because it sits right at the base of a big, bare hill called Old Baldy. We hiked up to the top on Saturday morning and from up there we could see our campsite down below and Elkwater Lake on the other side. Although, my view was somewhat limited by the aforementioned grassland.

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A dog’s eye view.

From on top of Old Baldy (makes me want to sing) we took a path down to the lake and took the boardwalk through the marshes along the lakeshore. It was too chilly for swimming so I stayed on top rather than under the boardwalk (are you singing yet?)

 

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Along Elkwater Lake with G and S.

 

Logan wasn’t able to come with us on the Old Baldy hike. It was just too much of a climb for him, and too far, so he quite unhappily stayed back in the trailer. He came along on Sunday morning’s hike up at Horseshoe Canyon where the trail was flatter, but he still needed a rest part way. As you can see, I didn’t really mind.

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Rest stop along the Horseshoe Canyon trail.

We didn’t have the warmest camping weather but we had Little Red and I had my Mexican blanket. Suits me, don’t you think? The humans were in toques, gloves and quite likely long underwear, but they braved the elements on Saturday evening to dine outdoors and spend time around the fire.

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Campfire time.

Sunday dawned much sunnier and warmer but, after our trip up to Horseshoe Canyon, it was time to hit the road home. I would have been content to stay another day, or week, but the peeps had to get home and back to work. Speaking of, you won’t be hearing from us next Fur-iday. T and Nollind will be up at the Fall Classic Sale and we dogs will be hanging out in Calgary with G & S.

 

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Looking forward to a lot of this next weekend!

 

See you on Fur-iday the 13th!