Ski Dog!

I’m sure many of you will agree that February was a cold, cold month. At least it sure was on the west side of the continent. Even the low elevation parts of Arizona, the places we normally spend the winter, had cold and snow. And February’s cold extended into March and is just now, finally, looking like it’s going to let us be.

Going for walk on one of the really cold days.

The cold weather did ground us a few times, when the wind-chill was just too nasty. We’d go out for a little while to tend to horses but then come right back to the house instead of heading out for a walk or a snowshoe.

The snowshoe tracks make the snow a little easier to stay on top of.

But, sprinkled very sparingly into the long cold stretch, were a few days that sneaked into the single digit temperatures (still below zero Celsius, of course.) On those days, we went skiing!

I’ve skied with T many times across the prairie. When there’s enough snow to cover the rocks and stubble, it’s her favourite way to get around in winter. Logan used to come too, back when he was better able to manage the deep snow, and T would sometimes attach one of us or other to a strap around her waist so that we’d stay close. Now that was entertaining! I may be a Heeler but I’m not much for heeling.

Our first interaction with oncoming skiers. I’m ready!

Anyway, the skiing this year hasn’t been on the flat of the prairie but out in the foothills of the Rockies. The biggest difference? Man, do they go fast as soon as there’s even a slight downhill section of the trail. I can’t remember the last time I did so much running. Lucky for me, the peeps aren’t in great skiing shape so we didn’t tackle any steep or lengthy trails, but I was still exhausted by the end.

Doing my best to keep up! (Stay until the end for when the cameraman almost falls.)

The first ski day, a couple of weeks ago, was my big test. They told me if I didn’t wander off the trail, bother other skiers, or cause any wipeouts, they’d bring me again. I almost blew it early on, trotted across the trail in front of T when I smelled something in the woods. If we’d been on a flat section it would have been fine but we were on a downhill and she was going pretty fast. It was more of a side-swipe than a dead hit so we both stayed on our feet, and I learned my lesson. Don’t cross in front of the skier. In the end, I passed with flying colours, got a bunch of praise and treats. It was a good day.

It was a good day.

We went out to the Bragg Creek Trails again this past Tuesday. The trail was a little tougher, more work going up for all of us, and I had to really hustle on the downhill section. What makes it possible for me to keep up is that the trails are all very well packed so it’s almost like running on bare earth. In the deep snow I’d be done for.

Ski Day #2 – Working on my gold star!

Again, I stayed on the trail, out of the way, and with the skiers. Another gold-star day! This is a good thing because I hear we’re headed out for a bigger ski trip next week, to the Cypress Hills, and I don’t want to be left behind in the trailer or the truck every day.

I’ll try to report in from the road!

Tuckered out at the end of the trail.
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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!

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.