High Maintenance Mutt

I know I’ve not been the easiest dog to live with—anxieties, fussy eating habits, a fierce independent streak, and a bad leg—but now, I hate to admit it, I’ve officially become high maintenance. And, although I appreciate everything they do, I’m starting to feel a bit awkward about Teresa & Nollind planning the trip around me and my needs.

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A low-maintenance moment.

 

They’ve always been play-it-by-ear, go-where-the-road-takes-us kind of travellers … until this year. This year, every move we make has to be considered as follows:

  1. Is there room and ability to put out a ten-foot ramp? A camp spot on a slope, a camp spot with a bush in front of it, or a camp spot in a parking lot or RV park are just not options this year.

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    Room for my ramp. Check.

  2. Is there reasonable footing for me to walk on? I’ve always had issues with the rocky ground in parts of the desert but, until this year, they just put boots on me. Now, with my mobility issues, the boots add just enough weight and awkwardness to tire my arthritic leg more quickly.

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    Plomosa Road north of Quartzsite where we stayed just two nights. Quiet, plenty of space, but too many rocks for this old dog.

  3. Is there a vet nearby? I have intravenous injections every couple of weeks so we can’t wander too far from an available veterinarian. Although, I’d be quite happy to give up the regular stab in the neck.

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    My vet in Blythe, California,just a short drive from Quartzsite.

  4. Is it somewhere we can stay long term? My drugs are a huge help on moving days, but travel still takes it out of me. Teresa referred to me as a “noodle” after our latest travel day. Noodle… not something I aspire to.

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    After our latest travel day. I guess I kind of see the “noodle” thing.

  5. Is the temperature moderate? My black coat has always been an issue on hot, sunny days, but, as I get older, I have less and less ability to deal with temperature extremes. I wilt in the heat and shiver as soon as it’s a bit cool.
  6. Can I be off leash? I’m very good about staying in camp and I love to just lie on the mat or under the trailer but, in some places, it’s just not allowed. Other places, people and their dogs are too close and I’m constantly inclined to wander over and visit. And I’ve just never done very well with being tied. There’s that fiercely independent thing.

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    Enjoying my off-leash freedom at Plomosa Road.

Number six is part of the reason we’ve come here to Wickenburg for a couple of weeks. During the last half of January, Quartzsite fills with RVers. There are always a bunch of flea markets around Quartzsite, but during the last half of January are the rock & gem shows, a swap meet they call Sell-A-Rama, and a huge RV show. The town, the RV parks, and even the desert fills with people. The area at Dome Rock where we’d been staying had rigs rolling in every day.

So, here we are, camped on State Trust Land near Vulture Peak. We’ve been here before, and it’s a favourite for walking and, last year, became a favourite for riding. There are trails and mining roads all over the backcountry.

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Home for the next couple of weeks.

 

I won’t be exploring very far afield this year, but that’s okay, there are plenty of sandy trails near the trailer that have easy terrain for me. And this area has a lot more wildlife than Quartzsite so many interesting things to see and smell along the trails. We even hear coyotes singing at night sometimes.

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Sandy wash walk near our Wickenburg camp.

 

As for being high maintenance, I guess I’ll just have to get used to the idea and be thankful I have people who are willing to accommodate the new me. I have to admit, they don’t seem to be suffering.

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The faces of suffering? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

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A Good Kind of Different

This winter makes five that we’ve loaded up truck and trailer and headed south to the desert. The first was supposed to be a one and only, but it was just so much fun that we did it another four times and there seems to be no plan to stop anytime soon.

Works for this dog. I love the sun, I get cold when the temperatures drop much below freezing, and I hate wearing coats and boots. Being a snowbird suits me like spots.01-chico-different-spots

Every year is quite similar. We spend a few days getting out of winter, hang out in Las Vegas for anywhere from four to fourteen days, and then head into the deserts of Arizona and California. The first year we moved every three to five days but, in the trips since, it’s more like ten to fourteen, with a few shorter stays in RV parks or places that T and Nollind don’t take a shine to (like last year’s noisy Ocotillo Wells visit).

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One of the stops T & Nollind like to make in Las Vegas.

 

Our longest stay before this year’s trip was sixteen days at a place called Saddle Mountain a few trips ago. Since then the long stays have been in places like Borrego Springs, Wickenburg, Quartzsite, and Tucson. These seem to be the perennial favourites.

Tomorrow will be three weeks here in Quartzsite, a new record. We had to up anchor and go into town to dump the holding tanks and get more fresh water a week ago, but otherwise, Sid has been parked here in the same place since we arrived on December 16.

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Home sweet home for the past three weeks.

 

It was part of the plan before we left home, to move less and make things easier for Logan. I’m pretty easy about new places but it’s hard for him, the travelling itself and the settling into a new spot. For example, he’s made himself a den under a shrub and he’d have to start all over again at a new location.

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Logan’s den in the current camp.

 

It also means he can go to the same vet every two weeks for his Legend injections. New vets aren’t necessarily bad, but he prefers familiar places and people. They give him a bit of comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation.

So T and Nollind looked at all of the places they like to go and chose Quartzsite as a good place to hang out a bunch of this winter.  Why?

  1. We can camp close to town. There are a lot of dispersed camping (boondocking) areas in these parts, but very few that are this close to a town.
  2. There’s a strong music community here and T & Nollind love live music and like to play music with other people.

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    Bluegrass jam at an RV park in Ehrenberg (another nearby community).

  3. Blythe, California is just twenty-five minutes away for the vet and for any shopping the stores of Quartzsite can’t accommodate. (Blythe also has a very good Mexican restaurant. At least it smelled good when they brought the go-box back to the truck.)
  4. There are tons of trails for walking and/or riding in Fang. (I’m still hanging out to get my turn. They’re worried I’ll be scared or uncomfortable but I’m pretty sure I won’t.) And the walking around our camp area is fairly old-dog friendly (although Logan would deny this being a required element).

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    Logan-friendly walk in the wash next to camp.

  5. Quartzsite has a place where T & Nollind can go dancing (the Quartzsite Yacht Club), a library with free wifi, more markets than you can shake a stick at, and an outdoor pub that YOU CAN TAKE A DOG TO. (I haven’t been there yet as you might have guessed.)

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    The outdoor pub I haven’t actually seen.

  6. And, last but not least, the camping is terrific. Quiet, privacy, starry nights, and off-leash time. It doesn’t get better than that.

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    Off-leash time!

So it will be a different kind of winter, spending most of our time in one area but, from this dog’s perspective, a good kind of different.

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Me, experiencing a good kind of different.

 

 

It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to get an old dog to the desert. I’m living proof. Without the care and attention of a bunch of people, I wouldn’t be lying here in the Arizona sun, soaking up as many of those healing rays as I can. Nope. I’d either be struggling through the snow at home, having to wear the boots that have become tripping hazards for my old legs, or, even worse, I’d be buried under it, in one of my nests turned grave.

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Soaking up the morning sun near Quartzsite, Arizona.

 

Sounds grim, I know, but it’s the truth. Back in the summer, and even more so in the fall, none of us were sure I was going to make it this far. At one of my fall appointments, the vet suggested that Teresa and Nollind check out the “Quality of Life” scale that’s available online, so they’d have a sense of when it was “time”. And that’s “time” with that final, ominous sound, not the way it’s said when it’s time for supper or a walk.

When we took our fall camping trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, I had kind of a rough go. I was feeling very tired and starting to cough. My arthritis was making it impossible for me to climb the steps into the trailer or navigate out again. And I couldn’t make it more than a few hours without having an accident in the house or even the truck. The planned winter trip to the desert was off. Teresa and Nollind would stay home to look after their ailing, aging dog.

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Rest stop during a Cypress Hills walk in late September.

 

At least, that was, until they observed my increased stiffness with the cold weather and my struggle to walk on snow-covered or icy ground. That was when they started working on a plan to get me to the desert.

In early November, the cocktail of medications and supplements that Dr. Beth Barrett put me on really started to do their work. I was able to walk a little farther in the mornings without pain and I had more energy with no coughing. My appetite was back, putting a stop to the weight loss I’d been experiencing, and the shine returned to my coat. Another vet on Dr. Barrett’s team, Bronwyn, suggested that I be tested for a bladder infection and when the test came back positive and they put me on some aggressive antibiotics, my issues with incontinence were gone. I was back to my old “pee when I feel like it” self and a much more able travelling companion.

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Dr. Beth Barrett with one of her four dogs.

 

Every two weeks, from August to December, vet tech Roxanne administered my Legend injection and, when she was packing up all of my winter meds, she included clear and thorough instructions for how the Legend was to be given by the vets we’d see during our travels. This information came in very handy at our first vet visit in Las Vegas when the vet wanted to inject my muscles instead of my veins.

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My last visit to Roxanne before we left home.

 

My good friend, Laurana, loaned us her PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) machine that got me through the worst of the pain back in the fall and I think helped my heart and kidneys until Dr. Barrett’s diet changes and medications had a chance to do their good work.

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Therapy time on the PEMF mat.

 

The trip down was a breeze, largely because of Dame Dixie’s magical meds that she gave me last year. It’s not a drug I couldn’t get from the vet I was seeing at the time, it just wasn’t something they suggested. It works perfectly for me, completely removes the anxiety from travelling.

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Dixie. Walking the canal near the farm on one of her visits.

 

Dixie’s people, my good friends G and S, gave us a bunch of her things when, sadly, she passed on this spring, and part of that kit was a raised bowl stand. Thanks to their generosity, my meals have become more comfortable and I’m more inclined to finish them, “powering up” more easily for our walks. And Nollind used the double bowl holder as a prototype for the trailer-sized version below.12-logan-ontheroad-bowl

Nollind also built me a ten-foot ramp and covered it in carpet, so that I can safely get from the ground into the trailer and back out again. Not only has it saved my joints from hard landings and stair-climbing mishaps, but it’s given me back the independence that is central to my nature (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog posts for awhile).

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The new ramp getting a workout.

 

And then there’s Teresa, of course, my greatest advocate, who orchestrated all of the above. The time, the cost, the trouble, all seem irrelevant when it comes to my well-being. (Although I think I pushed her pretty close to the edge with those middle-of-the-night trips outside and regular mop-ups before the bladder thing got resolved.)

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Leaders of my village.

 

Later today I’ll add another person to the village, when we go to see the vet in Blythe, California, about a twenty-minute drive from our camp in Quartzsite. They’ll be giving me my Legend injections every couple of weeks during our time down here.

And so, people of my village, these next three months, as I walk on warm, dry ground and nap in the sun, I’ll think of all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m certain of it.

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Desert time.