Back in 2018, I wrote a blog post called “Tribute to a Trail Dog” in honour of our canine friend Logan. He was indeed a trail dog supreme. We logged a lot of miles with him at our heels.
Chico, on the other hand, was more of a trail dog disaster. He loved to come along, would go all day, but not always in the same direction as we horses and our riders. He’d chase squirrels, rabbits, deer, and anything else that moved (other than us) as far as he could maintain sight or scent. You can probably imagine this didn’t go over well with T and Nollind.
Chico joined the family in January of 2011, and that summer we did a few trail rides, each one with the same result, a lot of backtracking and calling and frustration. In late summer, we hauled out to Kananaskis for a week on the trails, and our second camp spot on that trip was Etherington Creek Equestrian. That’s where the final straw was tossed on the camel. At the end of a long, tiring ride, Chico spotted a deer and was gone, baying like a mad hound, taking Logan with him. We followed as far as we could, but turned back to camp when the trail ran out, listening to the sounds of barking dogs fade into the distant woods.
They came back. They always did. But never again did they get to follow us on the trails. Logan was getting a little arthritic anyway, so the timing wasn’t terrible for him. They continued to join us for rides from home, where the risk of dogs getting lost or coming across wildlife was much less. I had a hard time finding a photo of Chico with me or any of the other horses out on a ride because, although a heeler cross, he just wasn’t much of a heeler, always following his nose away from the group in one direction or another.
Aside from enjoying a jaunt through the fields around home, Chico and I had one very important, all-encompassing, life-giving thing in common. We both L-O-V-E-D food. He’d eat anything we dropped on the ground and would get his nose into our feed bins if we’d let him and he wasn’t caught by T. And he often stole carrots from the boarders’ bags if they left them at his height. I’m a little fussier than he was about what I’ll consume, vegetarian for starters, but I also will do just about anything for food. T has mistakenly called me Chico more than once when I’m mooching for treats.
Not sure if it was dedication or living in hope of scoring a snack, but Chico never missed feeding time … even when the weather was nasty. I know he regretted being out on more than one occasion, especially when there was nothing on offer other than hay. Good for sleeping in, but not much else.
Since last fall, when Chico developed digestive troubles, we haven’t seen much of him. And almost nothing since they returned from Arizona this spring. Horse feed didn’t make the very short list of things he could eat. Man, I felt for him. If suddenly I couldn’t eat the things I most enjoyed … well … horrors! My paddock-mate is not far from that, with her sensitivity to nature’s most beautiful food—green grass. Poor Rosa.
So, even though we’re not used to him mooching from our feed tubs anymore, or following us along the trail, we did see him coming and going with T every day, stopping to sniff noses now and then. And we miss the little Nevada mini-me a bunch. I hope he can eat anything he wants across that Rainbow Bridge, and that there are plenty of critters to chase.