Just Us Guys

Teresa’s been away for just over a week now and we three guys have got on just fine. We miss her, of course, but there’s something about guy time, something … primal maybe.

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She’s kind of like a mother, you know, caring for us, worrying about us—especially me in my senior years with my various health issues and anxieties. I appreciate it, of course I do, and I’m probably still running around because of it, but sometimes it’s nice to just chill.

For example, Teresa will buy an assortment of canned foods to add to my morning kibble to make it more palatable. Tasty, very nice, yes, but Nollind’s system of tossing in a glob of bacon fat works well too. I clean the bowl every day.

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Teresa is inclined to keep me on a leash during walks to keep me from overdoing it, even though I’m not inclined to run after coyotes much anymore. With Nollind, if I’m sore at the end of the day, he tosses me a bit of medication.

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Nollind goes to town more often than Teresa so trips to the dog park are more frequent, even though all that roughhousing can be a bit taxing on my old body.

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And then there’s that bacon fat on my breakfast.

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The biggest concern when Teresa’s away is … well … Nollind. A few years back when she was up visiting her mom in the fall, he jumped off a boat and badly sprained his ankle, bad enough for an ambulance ride and a cast. Last year, when Teresa was up north visiting her mom in October, he fell off a ladder and broke his arm, badly enough to require a plate and screws and months of rehab.

So, since she’s up visiting her mom again, she asked us to keep an eye on him while she’s away, keep him safe. It’s exhausting.

So far, so good, though, and I saw on his calendar that she’s coming home on Monday. If we can just keep him away from ladders and other dangerous places until then. He was sailing on Wednesday and that went okay. Thank God for light winds!

Well, gotta go. Nollind’s headed outside on a mission of some sort. I’m back on duty.

Camping with Humans

It seems an odd thing humans do. They leave behind a perfectly good house with food and beds and a fully functioning bathroom to go and stay in a much smaller, less comfortable accommodation with more limited amenities. They call it camping.

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Just a short stroll from our campsite, where Boulton Creek meets Lower Kananaskis Lake.

 

When travelling you have to stay somewhere so I get it when we spend weeks far from home and stay in Sid, the trailer.  But when we “camp”, we’re only two hours from home. We could enjoy a day in the mountains and still sleep in our own beds. However, last weekend, there we were, camping.

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Inspecting the roof of “Piper“, G & S’s new home away from home (or maybe just standing on a picnic table and drinking?)

 

Did I enjoy it? Well, sure, after I got through the unfortunate incident on the way out. I’m not usually a car-sick kind of guy but the combination of happy traveller drugs, Orijen kibble, and a bite of Teresa’s muffin just did not want to stay down. I tried to warn them, but it seems my “I’m going to vomit” retching sounds a lot like my “I have a heart murmur” retching.

But anyway, aside from camping not entirely making sense, what’s not to like about being outdoors all day and going for walks in new places. These are things I can wrap my canine head around. And, due to my senior status, my inclination to behave (in human terms), and an abhorrence for being tied, I was left free in the campsite whenever I was outdoors. Chico, on the other hand, with his inclination to run out to meet anyone and everyone walking by, chase squirrels, and indulge in other such shenanigans, was always attached to the picnic table with a cable. Maybe one day, I told him, trying not to sound too smug.

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Chico was freed from the cable when he stayed in his chair.

 

We camped at a place called Lower Lake Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is part of Kananaskis Country in the Rocky Mountains. Here I discovered the marvels of a pine forest and the enormous dog bed it creates. The prairie grass is nice but doesn’t have the pillow-top mattress feel of a forest floor with its many layers of detritus. Heaven. I used my manmade bed under the trailer at first but, once I discovered the giant mountain-made dog bed all around me, there was no going back. If only I could have brought some of it home to line my nests.

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Enjoying my pillow-top mattress.

 

So what does weekend camping entail? Well, when camping with friends G and S, a lot of human laughter, particularly when wearing Viking attire. Viking attire, you’re probably asking? And rightly so. It had something to do with a Monty Python skit and a Spam appetizer (spametizer) cooking contest. Humans entertain themselves in the strangest fashions. They were particularly tickled by Chico’s costume. (He … not so much.) On the plus side, despite Spam being the butt of many jokes and lending its name to unwanted email, we dogs found it quite tasty and were treated to leftovers for breakfast on Saturday morning.

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Chico in his Viking attire (me exiting right, heading under the trailer to hide).

 

Other camping activities included campfire sitting or, in my case, lying nearby in the trees, and walking, my personal favourite. On Saturday we walked to the Boulton Creek Trading Post and had ice cream. Lucky for me, ours came packed solidly into the bottom of a cup so Chico wasn’t able to pull the Hoover trick he can manage with a Dairy Queen cone.

On Sunday we took a longer walk, to a neighbouring campsite called Mount Sarrail. The best parts of this trail were the snowbanks spaced at convenient time-to-cool-off intervals and an area where the resident grizzly bears had been rooting along the trail. I’d never smelled bears before. There was no sign of the bears on Sunday, but G and S had spotted them by the lake early on Saturday morning.

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Heading back to camp on Saturday afternoon.

For us, it was a short Sid trip, maybe the shortest yet. I would have been quite happy to stay a few more days, lying in the shade of the pines, breathing in that cool, mountain air. And I think the humans would have been on board with that idea had they not needed to get back to their jobs and such. On parting, at the sani-dump station on Sunday afternoon, I heard the comment, “The season’s young. We’ll do it again.” I guess I’m a camping convert because, I sure hope so.

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End of the day in Kananaskis Country.

 

 

 

 

The Domino Effect

I’ve had a few messages asking how my leg is doing one month post-injection. Well, it’s doing just great. I haven’t needed any painkillers since the first few days after the procedure. It took some time for the medicines that were injected to do their good work but, once they did, I was off and running.

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Pain-free and drug-free trot through the pasture.

There is one problem though, a sort of domino effect, and it’s been rearing its head this past couple of weeks. You see, with my right leg no longer slowing me down, I’ve been a lot more active and am now discovering that some of the other parts of me are older than I thought they were. For example, my backend seems to be having some difficulty keeping up with the front, and it wobbles sometimes after I’ve exerted myself. I’m always tempted to look back there to see what the heck is going on, but I don’t of course. I forge on like nothing has happened, hoping nobody noticed but me.

On the plus side, I’m keeping up with Chico when we chase after the ball, I’ve got two good front legs to dig out my nests around the yard, and I’ve been back on my morning reconnaissance missions to the neighbours’ place. Until last year, I was making regular trips over to Kerry and Debbie’s acreage, just to check things out, make sure all was well. Pretty sure they’re relieved to have me back on duty.

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My favourite nest … a little deeper this year.

I’m also back outside helping with chores and hanging out while Teresa does horsey stuff. By last summer I was pretty much spending the rest of my day indoors after our morning walk.

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Hanging out under Sid while Teresa does chores.

But what to do about this hind end wobbliness? I make a point to climb in and out of the canal when we’re walking to try to build strength. Some spots on the canal have a rather steep drop into the water so it can be touch and go when my front end is on the shore and my backend still in the water. I have to will those back legs to take that big step up. I know Teresa is right there to grab the handle on my harness if I need a boost but God forbid it comes to that again like it did on one walk last fall. How humiliating.

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Come on legs … you can do it!

I also work the ditches when we walk on the road. Those to the south are fairly steep and provide a decent workout. And our walks generally include at least one long, gradual slope. We’re not exactly in hill country out here but we do have some rolling landscape in every direction but east.

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Working the south ditches.

I’ve been trying to eat a little more in the mornings and I think that’s helping too. As they used to say to Dixie before her walks, “Power up!” It seemed to work for her so I’m game to give it a try. A few days ago I noticed that my portion had grown some, but I powered through, got it all down, and had plenty of energy for our canal walk later that day. But I’ll not to get too carried away. Every time I go to the vet they comment what great shape I’m in and how it assists with keeping my arthritis in check.

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Staying svelte.

As good as I feel, I still have a bit of a hitch in my giddy-up from the right elbow and I’m not sure it will ever go away entirely. It doesn’t really hurt but I think the calcification from years of inflammation has decreased its range of motion. I’d say more massage could help with that. Anyone got a spare hand for a little leg massage? Teresa? Nollind?

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Ready for my post-walk massage.