A Triad of Troubles

Back in September of 2017, Logan made the following observation on vet visits for old dogs in his “Ten Steps to Healing” post. My buddy had a rather dark sense of humour at times.

“…when they told me I was going to the vet, it had an ominous ring to it. You humans might not understand what I’m talking about since, with humans, there is no trip to the family doctor you’re not going to return from. In the world of pets, especially when we get old or sick or injured, a trip to the vet can be like a scene from Dead Man Walking.”

I often think of Logan when I’m hanging out in Logieland.

Well, that said, I’m off to the vet today. I don’t think I should be worried, but I have had quite a lot going on lately. I’ve told you about my digestive troubles—my inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)—but I’ve written little about my other afflictions. Way back in 2018, I had a suspicious lump removed from my right thigh. Then last May, T discovered a lump on the inside of that same hind leg, this time in a place that wasn’t operable because of the muscles and tendons. The diagnosis … a type of tumor that is unlikely to spread to other parts of the body, but will continue to grow. Well, grow it has.

My lumpy leg doesn’t really hurt, but because the tumor has wrapped itself around my hock joint, it does make it difficult to bend and straighten my leg completely. So I walk a bit like I’ve got a peg leg. Not a big problem, unless you combine this with the third of my health issues.

The hock joint on that back right leg has a very limited range of motion … but I get where I’m going.

At the same time the vet checked the lumps on my leg last spring, she noticed some abnormalities in my gait and diagnosed it as spondylosis or arthritis in the spine. An x-ray in the fall confirmed arthritis near the base of my tail. The arthritis along the spine impacts the nerves and interferes with communication between the brain and my legs. At first it was just irregularity, but now it’s weakness. I can still walk reasonably well, but climbing stairs is out, and I can’t stand in one place for long without an unplanned sit.

T and Nollind have joked about getting me a kick stand, so that I don’t topple sideways while I’m standing and eating. Not a bad idea really. Or maybe those training wheels kids have on their bicycles? I could get around like crazy with a set of those!

Even better than training wheels!

Anyway, apparently it’s time for a visit to the vet about my triad of troubles. Until recently, diet and CBD oil were keeping things managed, but for the past month my GI tract has been in frequent turmoil and I’m having more and more difficulty getting myself into a standing position from the floor…and then staying there.

Always in my corner.

So, wish me luck. I have at least a few more camping trips in my summer plans and I’d like to enjoy them in good health! (Disclaimer: taking into consideration current age and circumstances.)

Camping is the Cure

You might have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog for over a month. I was hoping Storm would fill in more than just the one week in early May, but he claims he’s been too busy helping Rosa with her weight-loss program, Gidget with her frisky-old-mare program, and Nevada with his food-sharing program. It does sound busy, although I’m not sure what all these programs are. I’ll let him fill you in next time I can get him to write.

I tried Hank too, since he hasn’t written anything since last year, but he claims he’s far too occupied with his new barn-mate, Mariah. I’ve met her. She’s cute. So I can understand him being distracted. Although from what I heard, the distraction wasn’t due to love at first sight. But again, I’ll let him tell that story.

Deep sand is hard going in my condition, so I did the smart thing.

One reader was concerned that something had happened to me. Well, it did. I got old. And, for me, old age isn’t just a slowing down, but a breaking down it seems.

Although coming home wasn’t without some challenges (read The Hazards of Home), I was on a GI-tract positive roll since mid-January which meant I was more energetic, stronger, and had put some weight on after my months of poor digestion. And then T’s attempt at a food addition went awry, which was followed by some poor scavenging decisions on my part, and multiplied by a previous food addition turning on me, which was heaped on by the pet food company changing at least one batch of the duck & potato (D&P) formula I was eating. Come on! Give a guy a break!

Getting a break of a different kind our first night in camp. That tall grass just kept tripping me!

And then I got one … a break, that is. Despite my guts being in frequent turmoil, T and Nollind packed up the remaining cans from of an old flat of D&P food and carted me off to Little Fish Lake Provincial Park for a few days of camping.

We’re on our way! Grocery stop in Strathmore.

Now you might think that taking an ailing dog camping wasn’t a great idea, but consider it from a canine perspective…when camping, my people have nothing to do but hang out with me. Right?! Nobody goes to Calgary to teach sailing lessons, nobody goes outside to hang out with horses, nobody sits staring at their computers for hours on end, and when we’re in the trailer, the peeps are never more than seventeen feet away. It’s all me, all the time. Dog-a-palooza! We go for walks, we hang by the fire, we cuddle on the bed, we have meals together. And this particular camping trip was made even better when G & S joined us on day two, making for even more attention.

A chilly first evening in camp…but together.

The combination of old-batch D&P and trailer time was just what the doctor ordered. I felt great. On our last night, we did a long walk up the hill above the lake and I didn’t even need a rest. I got a tiny glimpse of how I felt back in March and April when I was passing my chariot on the trail.

Evening walk along the hill. That’s camp way in the background.

With my good-old-reliable food now not so reliable, and increasingly hard to find, T is cooking for me. Which is great, except that my system had an initial reaction to the increased fat and protein in the diet. She’s adjusted the quantities of things and we’re hoping for an improvement. I sure love the taste, have been licking my bowl clean enough to put back in the cupboard, so I’m hoping we can land on a recipe that works. Oh, how I miss my iron-stomach days.

We also tracked down eleven cans of a different batch of D&P. It looks the same as the old stuff, so toes crossed.

Can’t wait to get me some more of this camping cure.

I hear we’re headed camping again in just over a week. I am looking forward to that. In the meantime, I’ll just have to share my people with the boats and horses and computers.

Springtime at the Barn

They’re home! Hooray! My people are home! Don’t get me wrong, our winter team is a marvel, out here looking after us in all kinds of wild and woolly conditions. In fact, in case I didn’t mention this before … you rock, Judy and Marg! But, as great as the winter team is, it just doesn’t compare to having my very own person back at the barn. T looks after all of us, of course, but she’s mine—always has been, always will be. As soon as T’s home, it’s me getting the grooming and scratches and treats. Nevada and Rosa do too of course, but I’m her number one.

Ready for my spring spa treatment!

So, what does springtime look like around the barn? Well, you might think muddy. But, no, not this year, or most years in recent history. If anything, it’s more likely to be dusty. Although, we did get one good dump of snow in April, the blowing sideways kind. But, after many months of winter, I don’t want to talk about snow anymore, so I’ll just post one photo. Here you go …

That snow fence is amazing stuff.

The other thing there’s no shortage of, besides dust, is hair. And Nevada is the king of the shedding blade. The red and white hair rolls off him in sheets. And, no matter how thoroughly T grooms him, every time she gets out the shedding blade, another layer rolls off. It’s quite a natural phenomenon. After Spot’s first few trips to the grooming kit, there is hair everywhere. The day of his first grooming, one of those dust devils came through and created a cone of swirling white hair fifty feet into the sky!

And that’s only a portion of the day’s shedding session.

Now Rosa and I shed too, of course, but in little clumps and individual hairs, not like we’re peeling off a fur coat. As you can see in the photo below of Rosa post-grooming, there’s no sign of brown or black hair on the ground, other than a few wads of mane and tail hair.

This year, we horses weren’t the only ones to get a spring cleaning. On one particularly lovely day, T dumped out all the grooming kits and started cleaning and organizing. You might be wondering why we have so many grooming tools and multiples of a bunch of them. Well, T wondered the same thing, not really sure where it all came from. I guess that’s what happens when you have a bunch of boarders coming and going for a number of years.

A tool for every part of my body … times three or four.

The other thing that starts happening around the barn in spring is getting horses (and rider) in shape. In the early days of spring, this means a little time in the round pen. I think T does this to get some of the winter kinks out, or see if there are any, and this year we had a few. I just couldn’t keep my attention off a horse grazing in a distant pasture, and Rosa’s one quarter Thoroughbred rose to the surface, and she put on a grand show of galloping around in a circle (even though she wasn’t asked to).

Starting to find my stride and pay attention.

Rosa does this every year, works so much harder than she needs to the first time out. As soon as T asks her to move, she takes off at a dead run, motorcycling around the pen like a crazy horse, working up a sweat. Once T asks her to stop and restart a couple of times, she realizes she’s only being asked to walk or maybe trot. I’m pretty sure she learned this from the first trainer they sent her to as a youngster, because T never chases or asks us to run.

“Oohhh…you just want my attention when you shake that flag. Okay. How’s this?”

We’ve been in the round pen a couple of times now, out for grooming a few times, and have had our hooves trimmed. Pretty sure the saddle is coming out soon. I know horses who would run off at the suggestion (like T’s former horse, Echo), but me, I’m generally keen to do anything, which is why I’m always right here at the gate, ready and waiting.

Until next time, this is Fur-iday Files correspondent Storm signing off, from the field.