Just Another Day on the Prairie

Back in 2011, when Logan and I started the Chico’s & Logan’s Great Adventures blog, we were just setting out on a five-month trip with our peeps, travelling by truck and fifth wheel trailer. It was all so exciting. Keep in mind I was just two with a fairly narrow life experience to that point. That trip opened my eyes to what a big and wondrous place is the world.

From enormous sand dunes to rolling blue water that went farther than my eye could see. From palm trees to giant cactuses. From the noise and lights of Las Vegas to the quiet, starlit nights in the Arizona desert. It was a journey of contrasts, new experiences, and adventures. We never lacked for stories or fun photographs to share.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and sleep more these days, or it could be the pandemic that’s kept us home a lot and other people away, but life is just not feeling very blog-worthy lately. How is an old dog living on a farm in Alberta the stuff of exciting stories?

T tells me not to worry, that all writers go through periods of low inspiration, that I still have stories to tell. I sure hope so, because I’ve so enjoyed my life as a blogger, sharing my adventures with all of you. And I hope that it doesn’t come down to sleeping, eating, barking, walking, and pooping! Although, now that I consider this list, I think I’ve blogged about all of those things. :o)

The planned adventure to celebrate a big anniversary I mentioned in my blog post two weeks ago didn’t happen. So, when last Fur-iday came along and I was still just hanging out at home, I couldn’t muster up the energy to blog about anything. Why no anniversary adventure you might ask? Well, it snowed. In fact, April generally seemed to want to be winter this year, which is usually March’s gig.

I tried to get Storm to write something this week, but he’s spending all his time seeking out blades of green grass. The horses are a little crazy for the stuff at this point in the season after eating dehydrated food all winter. But he did send along this photo, since he promised a coat update when he blogged back in March and he’s committed to an update from the field next Fur-iday.

Storm’s end-of-April look. Tune in next month …

From what I hear, I’m not alone in my current lack of general enthusiasm. Between the pandemic and the weather, many are feeling weighed down. But I am ever optimistic that spring is here to stay, that the next adventure planned for just over a week from now will go ahead, and that very soon things will turn a corner on this pandemic. We all just need to hang in there a little longer.

In the meanwhile, on this Fur-iday morning on the last day of April, I think I’ll take a nap in that sunbeam over there.

The Jab

I took my humans in for their shots yesterday morning, something called AstraZeneca. I assumed it was for rabies or distemper, the usual stuff, but apparently it’s for the coronavirus—the one that’s been causing chaos this past year—which is good news. They seem pretty pleased about the situation, talking about it being the first step back to a normal life.

Sometimes I don’t feel so hot after I get my every-three-years jab, and I know the horses had a rough go last summer following the West Nile vaccine. I even had a small seizure episode when I was younger and, the next shot after that, spent the day at the clinic for monitoring. It hasn’t happened since. So I’m keeping a close eye on my two humans, making sure they’re okay. So far, so good, mostly just feeling a little tired.

Staying close last night around the fire.

The vaccine I get is for rabies. Even though the odds of my coming into contact with a rabid animal are very low, I’m required to have a current rabies vaccine to cross the border into the United States every winter. T likes to vaccinate me as little as possible since my seizure episode, so she was a bit miffed she had me done in the fall of 2018 in preparation for that winter’s trip south and we haven’t travelled a winter since. Who’d have guessed we’d be home three years running?

Looks like I’ll need a fresh jab before we head south this year, but that’s okay, I seem to be handling it just fine in my more mature years. The funny thing is, in five trips, the border agents have only once asked to see my vaccination certificate. I guess I have an honest face.

Cuddle time after my last vaccine. They worry.

Well, it’s supposed to be a beautiful day so I’m headed outdoors to help T with chores. I do love to help around the farm (aka sniff around the pasture while T picks up manure). The peeps are celebrating a big anniversary next week and I hear talk of an adventure. So, if you don’t hear from me next Fur-iday, imagine me lying in the sun somewhere in one of Alberta’s beautiful provincial parks.

It’ll look something like this . . .

Happy Humans, Happy Hound

It’s been a tough year for humankind. We dogs have been able to go about our lives as normal, sniffing each other’s butts and the like, but humans haven’t been able to hug their friends or otherwise be close to anyone outside their own home. When we go to the park, I can sniff noses (etcetera) with dogs I meet along the way, get a cuddle from humans we cross paths with, and nobody is put at risk. I don’t even have to wear a mask!

Greeting friends along the canal in Strathmore.

I see the toll it’s all taking on my peeps. They’re a sturdy pair and have shouldered the changes to life quite admirably, but now and then, it gets to them. For T it’s more because of the way people treat and talk to one another these days than any fear or consequence of the pandemic. For Nollind, it’s the recurring uncertainty of the coming sailing season, the many Glenmore Sailing Club programs he’s put in place, and the people eager to participate.

They think I don’t notice, going about my day—eating, napping, walking, sniffing—but I feel it when they’re unhappy or grumpy or discouraged. We dogs are a very sensitive species.

Here I am adding a little cheer by nearly stepping on T’s head.

I’ve taken it upon myself this past year to carry some of the burden, get them out of their funks and back into the world when necessary, cheer them up. I’m not young enough to scoot around in circles with my tail tucked anymore (those of you with young dogs will know what this looks like), but I do have other tools at my disposal, like telepathy.

Yup, you read that right, I use my powers of non-verbal communication to plant ideas in their heads, ideas they think are theirs. And I’m totally fine with not getting the credit. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Happy humans, happy hound, I like to say.

It goes something like this: I notice that T is not as enthusiastic about going outdoors (her favourite place), spending time with the horses, or is watching more TV than usual. Chico to the rescue! Without actually saying it, because I can’t speak, I suggest an outing, transferring the thought directly to her right neocortex. Next thing I know, plans are in the works for day camping, road tripping, or an outdoor get-together with friends. Pleased with my success, I take a nap.

Always paying attention to what’s happening with the humans.

In the past week, I’ve had to rescue the humans twice. My first solution was getting G, S & R an invite to the farm for a walk, bbq, and outdoor visit. I have to say, one of my better ideas. It’s tough to get T and Nollind to go anywhere on a weekend (too many people), especially a long weekend, so bringing the party to them was my solution. Clever canine, right?

We took a walk along the canal, which is something we do almost every day, but not with Ria entertaining the troops with her water antics or the wide-roaming conversation that happens when the four bi-peds hang out.

Me along the canal.
Ria along the canal

The walk was followed by some glorious time on the deck in the sun for the humans and some even more glorious bone-chewing time for us dogs. More food followed for everyone. A few beverages were imbibed. The new gas fire pit was put through its first paces. It felt like the “good old spring days” of 2019. The smiles said it all. Ria and I shared a little front-paw high five on her way out. Mission accomplished.

If you zoom in, you’ll see Ria’s “knowing” expression.

That was just last Saturday, Easter weekend. Normally I can coast for a week or two before I have to step in and rearrange their day-to-day, but I was called to action in just two days. It’s a busy time for dogs right now. This time it was some stuff that T read online that had her down in the dumps again in very short order. (I keep telling her to stay away from Facebook!) So, I suggested an outing, an excursion, a close-to-home road trip.

How it works is that I plant the general idea but then leave it up to the peeps to nail down the specifics. They have more knowledge of locations and conditions. I am the seed planter.

T needed some new boots for around the farm so we started off at Irvine’s Western Wear near Crossfield where she tried on multiple styles and sizes before finding her Goldilocks pair. From there we drove west to Water Valley, a completely new place to me, and visited William J. Bagnall Wilderness Park, a completely new place to all of us. (A quick shout out here to our neighbour—THANKS!—who posted about a recent hike and inspired the destination of Wednesday’s excursion.)

The stairs at Skunk Hollow—just two more flights to go!

Given its location in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, it wasn’t a big surprise we found some snow and ice still on the trail, but I managed to get the humans around the loop without incident. If I slip and fall, which has happened numerous times, no biggie, but they go down hard from farther up. It’s a scary thing to watch happen. Anyway, Skunk Hollow in the William J. Bagnall Wilderness Park. Great place. Can’t wait to go back in the green-grass, free-flowing river season.

An icy patch on the trail.

After Skunk Hollow, we ventured through the community of Water Valley and north, to the Water Valley Campground. It’s closed for camping until May but the day use area was open for a picnic beside the river. As I watched T sipping her peppermint tea and looking up at the evergreens swaying in the breeze, I knew my plan had succeeded, another seed had sprouted and borne fruit.

I was content to call it a win and head home at that point but there was another stop and another walk in our day, this one at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park between Cochrane and Calgary. If a little nature could bring the cheer back to my peeps, a little more might get them through the next bump on the Covid road. Count me in!

Tiger Lily Trail at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Yesterday I was exhausted. T had to come downstairs and get me out of bed for breakfast in the morning. What?! But it was worth every sore muscle brought on by what felt like hundreds of stairs at Skunk Hollow and a near ninety-degree hill climb at Glenbow Ranch. I am such a trooper.

The big hill at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

All is quiet on the home front for now, peeps content, but I’m ready to jump back into action when duty next calls.