The “Eyes” Have It

By now, you’re probably expecting to see a photo of a palm tree or cactus in my post. Well … me too. But it all came down to a vote this year, and the eyes have it.

I may be a dog but I know the correct expression is “the ayes have it” but, thing is, they don’t this year. There were three ayes and just one eye but the eye won. Confused yet?

No palm trees for days.

Since the fall, it’s been an on-again-off-again, sooner-then-later trip planning process. When David, Nollind’s dad, was doing so great around Thanksgiving, we started planning our departure for the early part of winter, prepared to return if things changed. As you know from my November 15th blog post, David didn’t continue to do well and, sadly, left us on the 9th of November.

Other than the emotional part, it’s a simple affair when a dog dies. We don’t own property, have bank accounts, or pay taxes. A collar, a few toys, and in Logan’s case, some leftover medications are all that remain in the physical sense. It’s a very different deal with humans, I’ve learned, and Nollind has spent a bucket load of time the past few months wrapping up the many details of his father’s life. And the process didn’t proceed without a hitch, or two, or three, resulting in planned departure dates being regularly scrubbed for new ones.

In late January, the pieces finally came together in the estate resolution process and we set a new date, February 6, just a week away, if the weather cooperated. The very next day, on the 31st, we were walking in the Strathmore Dog Park when T’s eye started to bother her. By the time we were on our way home in the dark after visiting Friday night’s Chinese buffet, she said she was seeing flashes of light to the south. I saw nothing.

They dropped me at home and headed out again, an odd thing it seemed, and didn’t come home until the wee hours of the morning. Even more strange. Turns out they’d been at the hospital, getting T’s eye checked out. She’d experienced a PVD, or posterior vitreous detachment (big words for a dog, right?), in her left eye. It’s not a big deal on its own and her visual symptoms will diminish in time, but the risk for the four to six weeks following the PVD is that it will pull on the retina and cause a tear or complete detachment. I didn’t know what a retina was until all this happened but, turns out, it’s a key component in being able to see.

So, the travel insurance company won’t cover treatment of the eye in the United States if something happens, and we’d be too far from Canada to get her home quickly enough for the surgery. Although it’s unlikely that T’s PVD will cause anything more than what she calls annoying floaters, they decided it was too risky and we’d stay home.

Of course, staying home doesn’t mean staying at home. Less than a week after T’s eye event, we were on the road to Fort Macleod in southern Alberta for what they referred to as a consolation concert. I didn’t see the concert in the historic opera house, but I got to walk in some new places and sleep on a motel bed.

River Valley Wilderness Park at Fort Macleod

Although I’m disappointed we won’t be visiting Lake Mohave, the Valley of Fire, Lake Havasu, Palm Springs, Sue’s place in Sacramento, and all the other great spots on the trip list, I hear there are some alternative close-to-home adventures in the planning. There won’t be palm trees or cactus, but I’m betting on snow-covered mountains, snowy walks under blue skies, time with friends, and plenty more ski days.

Walking at Chestermere Lake with G, S and R.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! 🐾 💖 Thanks for reading!

Flashback Fur-iday – Your Dog on Drugs

Any of you who have been reading our blog for a time might remember Logan’s drug-induced adventures. He was always a funny guy, but under the influence, he was a riot, especially to those of us who knew him best. Don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t a recreational drug user. His usage resulted from a long battle with travel anxiety, a battle originally fought with every form of natural treatment T could come up with. There was the music therapy, the pheromone collar, various herbal and homeopathic elixirs, training tips from experts, aromatherapy, and combinations of the above. A few things seemed to help a little, but nothing turned Logan into an easy traveller.

I’d like to tell you Chico was wrong and I’m doing just fine, but I can’t. I’m just not sure the world explorer shtick is for me. I like being in the truck with my people and new places to walk are fun, but I just can’t stop shaking and panting when we start to roll down the highway. The panting makes me thirsty, the shaking turns my breakfast into purée and I don’t sleep for hours on end. By the time we get to our destination I’m dehydrated, exhausted and I have the runs. You can see why I might be questioning my aptitude for travel.

So, I Guess I’m Not Magellan, January 2015
Contrasting travel experiences.

I think T and Nollind thought he might settle in on a longer journey when we set out on our first big RV adventure in 2011. But that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite was true. Each subsequent day of travel just ramped up the panting, pacing, and drooling. Speaking of drooling, I was a very patient travel companion to Logan, but looking like a favourite chew toy by the end of a day’s drive did get tiresome. So, when the peeps did a little online research and decided it was time to try a less natural approach, I was on board.

Hitched up in BC and ready to cross the border.

The first trial was Gravol, which would apparently make Logan sleepy. T’s family had used it for a car sick dog when she was a kid and it worked like a charm. Logan seemed untouched. Next was Benadryl, also supposed to induce drowsiness. Logan soldiered on through the medication, unaffected.

By the time we reached Salt Lake City, two weeks into our journey, the towel had been thrown in. It was time for the big guns. A trip to the vet was arranged.

He was such a happy guy once we got somewhere. Here we are walking in Boise, Idaho.

Logan’s first prescribed pharmaceutical was diazepam, often known by its brand name Valium. I couldn’t stop staring at my buddy that first day. It was like some other dog had put on a Logan suit and was sitting beside me in the truck.

I think I’m finally getting a bit more comfortable with truck time. Sa and Nollind think it’s due to the new treat they got for me that they call “magic cheese”, but it just says Havarti on the package, which I’ve had before. There is something special about it though because I feel really mellow about an hour after I eat some, and riding in the truck is pretty cool then, watching the world go by outside the window. I like sticking my head out and getting that rush of a thousand scents at once blasting in. Oddly enough, the cheese also seems to make me more hungry, something my people call “the munchies” and seem quite amused by. It’s usually Chico making them laugh so I’m happy I can entertain now and then.

Murky Water and Magic Cheese, December 2011
By Utah’s red rock country, we were a foursome of happy travellers.

The trouble with the diazepam, was that is often didn’t work on day two of a road trip, and sometimes seemed to add to his anxiety. And the timing of administering had to be just right because if it hadn’t completely set in, his nervous system would override it and the shakes would begin.

And then it stopped working altogether and he and T went back to seeking an herbal or otherwise natural solution with no success.

I thought I was ready. I really did. I’d been practicing my deep breathing and meditation in the days leading up to our trip and I was sure I had it this time. So there we were, on our way, and I was breathing a little faster than my practice sessions but still holding it together. I was enjoying the scenery as it went rushing by the windows— RUSHING BY?! ACK! Must we go this fast?! Does this beast only have one gear? What’s the hurry? Isn’t this supposed to be a vacation?  So much for zen.

Travel Woes, August 2016
Even with T in the back seat beside him, he’d try to hide on the floor of the truck.

When our friends G & S offered up Dixie’s Alprazolam, prescribed to help her through thunderstorms, T and Nollind were happy to give it a try. Oh my. What a difference. It was like that first day with Valium all over again, but this drug worked with a small dose on consecutive days. Logan would get a piece of magic cheese in the morning and then tiny pieces of magic cheese through the travel day every few hours. He slept, for the first time ever in a vehicle. He stared out the window. He didn’t drool all over me and our space. And he told some good stories.

Heeeyyyyy ….. duuuuudes. I’m writing to you from the road as it flashes by my window. Whoa! What was that? S’okay. It’s all good. Just a semi (that’s pronounced semm-eye in these parts) going past us. Man, those things clip along and you would be amazed at how many of them are on the road down here. Hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions! They usually scare the bejeezus out of me, but today, for some reason, they just look kooool as they stream past us. Whoa … there goes a red one! Niiiiice.

They Call Me Buzz, March 2017
Sleeping while underway. We were all in shock.

Food. That was the other thing that happened to Logan on drugs. He ate things he normally wouldn’t touch, and his eyes turned into saucers as soon as a snack opportunity presented itself. In short, he loved food as much as I did!

I think they expected the drugs to make me groggy, but it was more like the pills erased my fears and inhibitions. The truck travel was fun, the leash-less jog around the rest area with Nollind in hot pursuit was definitely a highlight, and food never tasted so good. March 2017

They Call Me Buzz, March 2017
Panting because he’s hot rather than terrified.

And Dixie’s magic meds, and a refill of the same, lasted through two whole trips south, working just as well on the last day as the first. Alprazolam was a game changer for Logan when it came to travel.

Good afternoon. This is your captain speaking. We are flying at an altitude of 6870 feet… wait… I think I’m higher than that. ;o)

We’re in our third state of the day and I’ve been in this state through all three. March 2018

From the Cockpit, March 2018
Cool companion.

I’d take panting, drooling, pacing Logan over no Logan at all on our road trips this past sixteen months, but Logan on drugs, well, he was one cool companion.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho

I have to confess to not possessing the strongest work ethic. But, I do like to be the centre of attention.  Herein lies the double-edged sword of horsedom for me, attention and work often come as a package. 

Nevada’s the one with the great gig. He goes out every afternoon for extra food, sometimes a grooming, and does absolutely nothing in terms of work. Although, he does have teeth that are wearing out and a pelvis that gives him grief so perhaps his life isn’t all sunshine and oats.

“Working” at our two different jobs.

Maybe it’s Gidget who’s got the sweetest arrangement. She doesn’t get extra food every day, but quite reliably every second day, plus a grooming and some hand-fed snacks. She has to do a few exercises and gets ridden some in the warmer months but, generally, she’s got the best of both worlds. She’s old enough for semi-retirement but not so old that chewing is challenging and things hurt.

A prairie ride on an autumn day.

If I could only pick and choose .. let’s see … I’d take the daily grain, the snacks, the brushing, but hold the workout. Don’t get me wrong, I do occasionally get pampered just for the sake of it, but my waistline can’t handle more food than I’m already getting so daily grain is out of the question. Damn my pokey metabolism!

Enjoying my Christmas grain.

But, full confession, once the saddle’s on, we’ve shaken off the cobwebs, and the joints get warmed up, I start having fun and can even get a little frisky. When that happens, I can just feel T smiling up there, which makes me smile and gives me the push to keep on doing whatever it is she’s asking me to do.

Summer evening ride, complete with trail dog.

We’re a good team, T and I. She’s not super dedicated to any type of horse sport or competition at this stage of life so we can just spend time together, get some exercise, and enjoy a sunny day. And, if I have to put on a few miles to be the one who comes out of the pasture for some one-on-one time, it’s a small price to pay.

Putting on a few miles in Kananaskis Country.

T took most of last year off from riding and I missed our time together. She had other things she wanted to focus on and I had a wee bit of lameness in one leg that she wanted to rest. I’m feeling good now and I think she is too ‘cause I’ve been saddled up twice in January. That might not sound like a lot, but it is for T when it comes to cold-weather, snowy-ground riding.

Winter ride.

She’s going away for a couple of months and, although that guarantees I won’t have to work, it also means I’ll be watching from the sidelines whenever Nevada and Gidget get out for some food and attention. Judy’s great about giving me a snack or two, but it’s not the same as having my own person around … even when that person does put me to work.