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.

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.

Day Camping Episode 3

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for any amount of time, you’ll know that we’ve spent a bunch of time camping in winter since 2011, most of it in a warmer climate south of the Canada/US border. We’ve camped in Canada in winter too, but this year, the peeps just weren’t into the issues that arise with staying in a trailer in freezing temps—no water in the system and condensation being the main two. But it didn’t stop us from getting out and day camping.

Camping in the Cypress Hills in March of 2019

The first day camp was in December at Dinosaur Provincial Park, the second in Kananaskis, and the third just last week down at Little Bow Provincial Park. Although the walking was more challenging and interesting at Dinosaur and Kananaskis, Little Bow wins hands-down for weather. It was the only one of three outings when I didn’t end up shaking like a leaf in a prairie wind!

Happy (day) campers

Little Bow is pretty much due south of the farm and, as we travelled Highway 24/23, the snow disappeared from the prairie. By the time we reached the park, there were only a few small patches in very shady places. The lake itself was still frozen, to be expected in March, but the picnic area was sunny, dry , and WARM. In fact, when we finished our walk, Ria and I were both warm enough to seek out some shade.

Nap time with her stick.

Some shared chew time, a nap in the sun, it was like the perfect dog afternoon. Well, at least for this dog. Ria enjoyed some fetch time as well, but I passed on that activity. I was only a fetch dog while I had Logan to compete with for the ball. After he was gone, I lost all interest in chasing balls. It seems so pointless. Now, if the ball was edible …

The only thing better than chew time is shared chew time.

Things did start to cool off as the sun went down but I had a jacket and a fire so the dreaded shivering never struck. This dog is definitely more of a fair-weather camper. I’m just glad spring is upon us because camping trips will only get warmer from here. And if the peeps want to go camping anytime between December and February in the future, whether it’s for the day or overnight, I’m hoping it’s in Arizona!

Jacket time but still cozy by the fire.