Arizona Dreamin’

I was totally on board with T and Nollind’s staying-home-for-the-winter adventure.  Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, winter camping, making snow angels, and a healthy dose of cozy, indoor cuddle time all sounded like a good winter to me, but then the weather turned frigid. I enjoy snoozing in my dog bed as much as the next 10-year-old pooch but, two weeks later, cabin fever is setting in.

The good old days of December … snow + mild = fun.

When I enjoy this weather least is during my first-thing-in-the-morning constitutional, when I’m all warm and sleepy from bed and hit that minus-a-billion air that freezes my nostrils shut and makes me wonder how long I can hold it if I turn around and run back inside. The cats used to have an indoor bathroom but the peeps have never installed one for me. Pretty sure I’d figure out how to use it when the weather is cold like this.

So, I’ve been dreaming … about the desert, about long walks on bare earth, about lying in the Arizona sun, about Sid time. I didn’t think I’d miss it so much but I’ve realized that being outdoors is crucial to my feeling-goodness and there’s not nearly the outdoor time here in winter that we have when we’re snowbirding.

The picture of outdoor feeling-goodness.

That old expression, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate clothing” has some truth to it, but the theory doesn’t really work for a dog who dislikes wearing clothing. My replacement would be something like, “There’s no bad weather just inappropriate planning.” In other words, there’s no winter weather two or three days of driving can’t fix.

Warmer … but I still hate clothes.

In case you’ve never been to Arizona in winter, and are wondering what I’m talking about, here is a little side-by-side photo comparison…

Below left: Feb 2018 = Sleeping just outside the door, luxuriating in the sun.
Below right: Feb 2019 = Sleeping just inside the door, sulking because it’s cold.

Below left: Feb 2018 = Where are we going today?!
Below right: Feb 2019 = Can I just stay in bed?

Below left: Feb 2018 = A hug because she loves me.
Below right: Feb 2019 = A hug because I was shivering and lifting my paws.

Below left: Feb 2018 = Appropriate clothing and looking happy.
Below right: Feb 2019 = Appropriate clothing and … well … apparently, clothing isn’t everything.

I’m going to hang onto this last pair of pics and start posting them around the house in the fall, just in case they get any crazy ideas about not going to the desert next winter!

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Winter Whoas

We knew it would come. It always does. Winter weather of the prairie variety. Technically, it’s been winter since November in our part of the world, we even had some wintry weather in early October, but we didn’t have any serious winter conditions until a week ago. Last Friday it blew in and hasn’t left us.

We horses are generally very good at adapting to changing conditions and weathering cold temperatures, but this year I think we got a bit complacent, maybe even forgot just what Old Man Winter can be like when he turns on us. We went from weeks of mostly above freezing daytime temperatures and reasonable overnights to the minus 20s, 30s, and even into the 40s with the wind chill. The wind has come from a variety of directions but all of them nasty COLD.

Winter weather moving in.

The biggest concern around here when we get a big weather change is Nevada. He’s just not as tough as he used to be. Years ago, he was the guy who’d head out to graze in the worst of conditions. We’d watch him walk out into the storm, thinking he was crazy or incredibly brave, or both, and we’d inevitably feel compelled to leave our cozy shelter and follow our fearless leader.

At 28, Nevada’s much more sensitive to changes in weather and feed. T was three days into adding something new to his diet when the weather turned cold and snowy. She and Nollind had fed him and headed out for a dog walk when I started to see the signs of a bellyache—stretching out like he needed to pee, pawing at the ground, restlessness, and no interest in his hay cubes.

Nevada enjoying his daily private lunch.

I watched to the south where I’d seen the peeps and Chico disappear over the hill. “Come back! We need you!” Thirty minutes later, they reappeared half a mile from home, making their way at that excruciatingly slow pace that humans travel. “Hurry!” I wanted to shout.

T noticed the symptoms right away and they came to the old guy’s aid. Light walking, TTouch belly lifts, resting him out of the north wind that was now blowing with bitterness. Nothing was working. After an hour and a half, the symptoms were getting worse. Time to call the vet.

Looking south into the snow.

I’ve never been treated for colic and had the “up your nose with a rubber hose” experience, but from what I’ve been told, it is not at all pleasant. As soon as the vet rolled in Nevada attempted to perk up, trying to convince everyone he was just fine. He even passed some manure. But, based on his heart rate and some dehydration, he got the hose treatment anyway, for fluids and electrolytes, along with a shot of painkiller.

When the sedative wore off, he was right as rain, but grumpy about being cooped up in the barn. I was in there too, to keep him company, but I had hay and he had none. As the herd boss, he’s not accustomed to watching another horse eat.

Outdoors is (almost) always better for this guy.

Nevada’s not a big fan of staying indoors, and moving around is good for digestion so, with his heavy winter blanket strapped in place, we were turned out into the weather. Hay nets hanging in the shelter, fresh straw, some loose hay in the big brown feeder and we were set for the night. I think T would spoil us anyway but, when Nevada is under the weather, we all benefit. She and Nollind were back to check on him twice that night, bringing treats for all and a top-up on the hay. When the weather gets mean, it’s a bit like having room service.

Gidget enjoying room service.

By Saturday morning we were down into the -20C range (-4F), the wind had increased and it was feeling very cold. I probably didn’t need one, and she knows it, but T put a blanket on me anyway. I got a new one this year and, I admit, it does feel better than the old hand-me-down that never quite fit me right.

I love the name on my new blanket. Suits me, don’t you think?

A blanket always feels great at first, cuts right down on the wind-chill factor, but then the itch sets in, especially up around the neck and shoulders. Drives me mad! So, I roll, I rub on things, and I mooch scratches from the humans when they’re out each day. It’ll be off as soon as it warms up some and, now that we’ve had our first blast of real winter, I’m optimistic they’ll let me run clothing-free for the next cold snap. Until then, I’ll just accept the blanket for what it is … a gesture of love and caring from T.

After a roll in the snow to remove the blanket … Drat! Still there.

Flashback Fur-iday — Logan’s Loop

It’s hard to say just how many miles Logan travelled in his lifetime. The tally started in the years before I knew him and included many an unsanctioned run across the prairie or through the woods as well as countless miles behind the hooves of a horse out on the trail.

Lunch break on the trail at Station Flats in 2011. (Read Tribute to a Trail Dog)

Our canal walk is about a 3-mile round trip, our loop to the big poplar grove to the west about the same, and there have been countless miles racked up in many parts of Western Canada as well as the deserts of Utah, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Suffice to say, Logan was a happy but high-mileage model by the end of his stay on this earth.

I love to get out and walk, and trot, and run, or just go at whatever pace my leash allows. 

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places, February 2015

Hiking at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg in 2015.

We spent nine days camped near Wickenburg and we hiked for two hours every day, and only once did we cover the same trail. Wanderlust doggie paradise!

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places – February 2015

One of many, many walks along the canal near home. See more canal photos!

In Logan’s final couple of years, the walks had to be reduced, due to his arthritis and his heart condition. At first, the limitation was set at “no more than an hour” but, in his last year, that hour was reduced to 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, and so on.

… just a couple of years ago I completed the two-hour Majestic Trail hike without a thought beyond enjoying the exercise and the day. This year, all I could think about was getting back to camp, having a big drink of water, and lying under the trailer in the shade. 

I’m As Good Once As I Ever Was – February 2017

Majestic Trail near Wickenburg, Arizona.

One of our favourite walks in that final year was what I like to call Logan’s Loop, a one-mile journey around the twenty acres we call home. It was a favourite because we were normally off-leash, and because of the old irrigation ditch and aspen groves that run down the middle of the hay field. Many different critters make this area their stomping grounds so it is a complete scent-fest for us dogs.

Water break on Logan’s Loop, Spring 2018

As Teresa’s Aunt Manda used to say, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken!” But I have weakened. For starters, my right front leg is just managing our one-mile morning walks (although I have to say, somewhat proudly, that I trot most of the way).

Still Here, October 2017

Exploring the aspen grove on his loop. Spring 2018

Until T hurt her back last week, we hadn’t walked Logan’s Loop since June or so of last year when Logan could still do it. It was good for T to keep moving in those first days of recovery but not too far, so there we were, back on the loop, exploring our twenty acres and its groves of aspens. I felt Logan there, in the trees and in the hay field, walking alongside us, sharing the sights and smells of the winter afternoon.

Early summer walk, 2018.

It’s been four months since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge but, out on Logan’s Loop, I feel like he hasn’t left us at all.