Half Lab Dog Turns Full Lap Dog

I’ve always been a cuddler, and often thought it would be great to be a small dog because I could comfortably curl up in a human lap. I tried it, but at fifty pounds, I was a lot of dog for more than a few minutes, and as a young dog I was too busy to want to stay very long in an awkward position. So, with the exception of the odd photo op here or there, I stayed on the floor for naps, or in my own chair around the campfire.

Who knew I’d be the perfect fit?

Those days of having my own chair were pretty sweet, but as I’ve grown older and less agile, I’m not comfortable with being up on furniture I can’t get down from on my own, at least not without crashing. And yes, there have been more than a few of those to learn from.

This is my first trip down south as an “old dog” and I’m finding there’s generally a lot more “handling” of me going on. I get lifted into and out of the truck. I get hoisted into the trailer and helped down the ramp. I get lifted into and out of my chariot. I get put on the bed in the evening if T and Nollind are watching a movie (I hate all the background noise and loud music that goes on in movies). And, I frequently get pulled up onto a lap for a cuddle or to keep warm around the fire.

Admittedly, I wasn’t sure about the lap thing at first, but once I gave myself over to the experience and settled in, I discovered the benefits.

  • When I’m lying on the floor, unless a person comes to sit down beside me, there’s no petting. When I’m on a lap, the human’s hands are perfectly situated for constant stroking.
  • Other than the couch, all the RV furniture, indoors and out, holds exactly one person. No room for a dog … unless I’m on top of the person.

  • Even on a dog bed around the fire, it can be chilly in the evening. A human lap comes with a built-in heater.
Staying cozy by the fire on T’s heated lap.

So, at the age of almost thirteen, I have become a lap dog. Sometimes it’s not the most comfortable place to be, like in the lounge chair with the plastic arms that can dig into my backside, but it’s always warm, always comforting, and always comes with soothing hands.

Not the best fit … but warm.

Super Duck to the Rescue!

Sorry to say, I haven’t been rescued by some duck in a cape, because that would be really cool. It was a duck in a can. I know, I’d prefer the caped version too. It would make for a great story, and no ducks would have died for the telling.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog these last few months, I have been having a terrible time with digestive problems. I’ve been to three vets, had bloodwork and urinalysis done, x-rays taken, two rounds of antibiotics prescribed, a special GI canned prescription diet, and numerous tries and fails of food types and ingredients. It’s been exhausting for all of us.

Me and T taking a much-needed couch nap.

For quite a while we thought white fish and pumpkin with some added psyllium was the answer. It wasn’t, but it got me through the worst of things back in Las Vegas and kept us from getting tossed out of the RV park for completely fouling the place. When we came down here to Quartzsite, Arizona, the peeps made many trips to a grocery store just across the border into California to buy fresh tilapia for me. Spoiled, right? I wish it was about spoiling instead of damage control.

Mornings are the worst.

Despite their efforts, things continued to get worse. I knew what T was thinking whenever tears formed at the corners of her eyes as she was petting me. The Big C our home vet only wanted to whisper was becoming a more likely culprit. But Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) was still in the running and, although also a big, incurable nasty, carried the potential to be managed with diet and CBD oil.

Low energy and weight loss … symptoms of cancer and IBD.

Somewhere along the way, when shopping for unique proteins, T picked up a can of a duck and potato limited ingredient food. When it comes to dogs, food changes should be incorporated slowly, but with nothing to lose, she fed me the can of food (in three or four small meals) along with some additional boiled potato. By the next morning, the improvement was already promising. But with no Natural Balance Duck & Potato food available in Quartzsite or Blythe, T went in search of an alternative, coming home with a whole frozen duck from the grocery store.

Problem #1: A whole frozen duck doesn’t fit into any of the pots we have in the RV.

Problem #2: I was out of food other than boiled potato.

This is when a different super hero came to my rescue. Nollind! Armed with a sharp knife and a bunch of determination, he shaved and hacked and shaved some more, and by dinnertime I had a meal of fresh-cooked duck and potato. Did you know that if you take away the fat and bone from a five-pound, foot-long duck, you get maybe two cups of meat? And did you know that a 50-pound dog will eat one to one and half cups of food every day?

Me and my hero.

With the only local supply of duck difficult to prepare, especially in an RV, we had to go further afield…to Yuma! An hour and a half drive away, Petsmart had my precious duck and potato blend. We emptied the shelf. T and Nollind also bought a bag of the kibble version of this food, but I haven’t been allowed to try it yet. When something is working, the peeps are reluctant to make any changes. One cautious step at a time.

Yum. Food that doesn’t launch a sneak attack one day later.

After three months of upset stomach, diarrhea, and low energy, this new food is like a miracle. I’m keeping up with the peeps if they don’t walk super fast and I’m able to go farther before needing my chariot. And I actually trotted out to meet a new dog neighbour a few days ago and loped through a small wash after T! These may sound like small accomplishments for the average dog, but if you’d seen my tortoise pace and lack of energy, you’d be impressed. And the other bit of good news … if diet can manage my condition, it’s probably not the big C.

I’d already walked a good stretch by this point.

I have to confess, I’m a little uncomfortable with a duck coming to my rescue. When I was younger, I had a very strong prey drive, and would chase and grab just about anything smaller than me that moved. I’m not proud of it, but one day along the canal, I grabbed a duck that came up out of the grass. T pulled me away and the duck seemed okay, but on our way back, the poor thing was lying dead, probably from the shock of my jaws wrapped around her neck. During a walk along the canal this past summer, I found a duck’s nest and ate one of the eggs before T could pull me away.

Dreaming of duck.

So, ducks don’t owe me anything, certainly not mercy. From here on, for however long I walk this earth, I promise to honour the duck and hold them sacred. They no longer have anything to fear from me … unless they come in a can or a bag of kibble. In that case, I will eat them, and be ever so grateful.

Boondocking Time!

And it couldn’t have come at a better time for this canine. Leaving Alberta did not leave behind my digestive issues, and let’s just say my bathroom needs do not fit well with asphalt and the many close neighbours of the RV parks in St George and Las Vegas (pics below).

Out here in the desert, the world is my bathroom, at any time of night or day. Nollind likes it better too. As my main man when it comes to getting outside overnight, he doesn’t have to worry about what he’s wearing, or isn’t, out here in the boondocks.

For those unfamiliar with the term, boondocking, according to Wiktionary, is “to stay in a recreational vehicle in a remote location, without connections to water, power, or sewer services.” I’d say the term has expanded to include places that aren’t remote at all, like the parking lots of casinos and Walmarts, but the no connections is a standard.

Rolling into Dome Rock BLM camping area.

We’re currently boondocking in an area called Dome Rock, the same place we spent about five weeks during Logan’s last journey to the desert. Gee, I hope that’s not a sign. But, at my age, with less-than-awesome health lately, I will enjoy this winter like it is my last. Good practise at any point in life, really.

Living the life.

Our camp spot here at Dome Rock isn’t exactly where we stayed last trip, but it’s just down the road from our first spot that year and across the wash from our second. Out here there aren’t any posts or painted numbers or lines to stay inside, just a general rule to camp a respectful distance from the next rig. If you’re wondering how we know what that distance is, well, it depends on how many campers are in the area when we arrive.

The neighbour in that sunrise is a nice distance away.

At this time of year, things are pretty quiet around Quartzsite, so we’re about 250 feet from our closest neighbour and he’s 250 feet from the next, and so on. If we wanted, we could find a spot that stretches that out to two or three or ten times the distance in this Dome Rock area, but we don’t mind other people nearby to chat with on walks and such. Once mid-January rolls around and all the Quartzsite shows start—the rock & gem shows, the RV show—that 250 feet will shrink to 100 or 50 or even less depending on where you are.

Our closest neighbour … until they left a few days ago.

If you like pavement and hook-ups and swimming pools, boondocking won’t be your thing. But if you enjoy a little elbow room, dark skies, and open desert, well, you’ve come to the right place. After staying in campgrounds back home the past few years, it felt a little weird when we first arrived, just parking and setting up camp wherever we wanted, but once we settled in, well, it was pretty familiar, and made all those rules, and lines, and numbers seem a real nuisance. Boondocking is freedom.

Look Ma, no leash!

Four years ago, we spent Christmas here at Dome Rock, and the year before that at Hi Jolly, another public land area near Quartzsite. So this feels a little like coming home for Christmas, our desert home. We’ll venture on at some point in the new year, but for now we’ll bask in being here, because there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Home sweet boondocking home.

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you find yourself somewhere homey and happy this year. I know I have.