Final Days on the Road

Another RV snowbird trip, my sixth, has come to an end. And it finished on a definite high note.

When last I wrote, we’d just moved from the dispersed camping area near Valley of Fire north of Las Vegas, and that spot made fourteen and a half straight weeks of boondocking. The reason this is significant is that boondocking means water rationing, rocky campsites, monitoring battery levels, finding places to drop off garbage, and other such off-grid camping necessities. Don’t get me wrong, we all love being “out there” but the humans do miss the luxuries of home after a time, like non-military-style showers, and we usually break up the winter with short stints in RV parks or campgrounds.

Looking down into the gorge from up top. Nope. I didn’t hike those stairs.

Nevada state parks are all first come, first served, and when we reached Cathedral Gorge State Park at around eleven in the morning, the sites were all full, other than two tiny, van-sized spots we had no hope of getting into. After our second time around the loop, just to make sure, we crossed paths with the ranger coming in to do his rounds. A lucky break, as it turned out. He directed us to a large pull-through site that was one of two sites set up for disabled campers. Paved, level, garbage disposal right in camp, and showers just steps away (on a paved path) from the trailer. The peeps were pretty excited, especially when the ranger told us we could stay in the site as long as we wanted. And we did. A full week! (That’s our camp in the banner image.)

Happy campers.

I didn’t try the showers, but apparently they were well worth the one- or two-quarter cost. And the scenery and hiking were worth the nightly fee. I tend to be more of a scents than views guy, but Cathedral Gorge is a spectacular little corner of Nevada. And in addition to its cathedral-like spires and slot canyons, there are three very cool communities nearby and three more state parks, all of which we explored during our week in the area.

I’d noticed T was sometimes homesick after we left Lake Havasu, but that disappeared when we got to Cathedral Gorge. It breathed a whole new life into her and we were constantly out walking around the campground or exploring the caves and canyons. At least we were until … the WINDSTORM.

Happy travellers.

It was a windy winter in general, with at least one wind advisory in every place we stayed, and many other windy days that didn’t quite reach advisory strength. But the wind at Cathedral Gorge was on a whole new level, especially in the blowing dust category. Holy sandstorm! The canyon looks like it does because of all the sandstone cliffs, which means there’s a lot of loose sand everywhere, and it was everywhere, a bunch of it inside the trailer after two days.

See all that sand just waiting to be relocated?

But we endured and got in one more hike around Juniper Draw on our last day. Between the hill climbing at Valley of Fire dispersed and the many walks at Cathedral Gorge, I was feeling pretty fit by the end of the trip, so much so that I passed Nollind and my chariot at one point on the trail. If it hadn’t been sunny and warm, I probably wouldn’t have needed a ride at all and it’s a 5+ kilometre loop!

On your left!

We spent two nights in Cedar City getting Sid ready to store for the summer, and the temperatures at 5,800 feet were a bit of a shock to all of us. My ramp became a slide after some overnight rain! Last Fur-iday morning, we dropped Sid at a storage place north of Cedar City and were on our way, homeward bound. It was a good thing I’d gotten used to riding in the front seat because there was no room in the backseat for me. We were filled to the roof with everything that needed to travel home with us.

One final night around the fire at Cathedral Gorge SP.

After two days of driving and one night in a motel in Idaho Falls, we were across the Canada/US border and home. I didn’t leap out and zoom around as I’ve done on other arrivals home, but I was pretty excited in my old-dog way. There is truly no place like home, especially when you’ve spent some time wondering if you’re ever going to see it again, like I did when I was so ill back in December/January.

Hitting the road.

I am confused about one thing, though. How did our floors get so slippery while I was gone? Did someone polish them? But, more about that next time.

The Proof is in the Pooping

Back in 2017 and 2018, many of Logan’s posts were about his health. As much as he didn’t want to be, he was that old guy complaining about what hurt and how much, his failing health occupied a lot of his thoughts and energy. I vowed I’d never be that guy because I was going to stay healthy until the day I dropped. Well …

I wrote about my suspected Cushing’s Disease back in January, but other than that, I’ve pretty much avoided all things health in my blog posts. I wasn’t in denial exactly, but I was doing my best to ignore the changes to my physical being as the months and years passed by.

Feeling the heat, but hiking like a boss in the Cypress Hills in September.

And then I hit a wall. It happened in October when we were up north visiting T’s mom. With everything going on in the family, I didn’t want to add to the troubles, so I kept my not-feeling-so-well to myself … until I couldn’t. There’s just no hiding diarrhea when you’re on the end of a leash. And as much as I tried to disguise it, T and Nollind noticed my loss of energy and spark.

I started feeling tired for no reason.

T thought it was food related or possibly a reaction to one of the supplements I was on. There’d been a couple of new things added in the summer and also some diet changes. I’d feel a little better for a day or two and then not again. This carried on throughout our time at G-Ma’s and into the first weeks of being home. And then it got worse, a lot worse.

Even my ears are wonky!

Diarrhea in dogs is always a concern, but when it can’t be stopped and starts including blood, it’s time for a trip to the vet. So, off we went to the Strathmore Veterinary Clinic. My new vet is Dr. Alle and I think she’s just the dog’s butt (if “the cat’s ass” is a good thing, well…) Many animal health professionals say to fast a dog with diarrhea, but Alle thinks it just adds stress and pulls energy from an already challenged system. Her instructions were to feed me many small meals (five or six) each day. Since fasting hits the top spot of things I never want to do, Alle instantly became my FAVOURITE-VET-EVER, in spite of the rectal exam.

On the plus side … appetite still good.

They pulled some blood for testing and put me on some antibiotics and probiotics to deal with the nasty bacteria that had set up in my digestive system. I’ve been on this medication before, back in the desert when Logan drank from a puddle that should have had a warning sign reading “drink at your peril!” and, as before, it helped immediately. What a relief for all of us to not have the four-trip-outside-in-a-night thing happening. But, I still didn’t feel terrific and a few days after starting the medication, the diarrhea was back.

The antibiotic had me feeling a lot better almost immediately.

The bloodwork came back showing that I’m a very healthy guy for my age. Nothing of great concern. Which was terrific, but didn’t explain my digestive system in turmoil. So I was back at the clinic this past Wednesday for another blood draw, this time to be tested specifically for pancreatic issues. The symptoms fit, but we won’t know for sure until late next week.

The suspected disease is called Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) and impacts a dog’s ability to digest fats, carbohydrates, and proteins (aka everything I eat). The good news is that the addition of digestive enzymes should solve the problem. Alternately, the issue that could cause my symptoms is something even the vet says in a whisper because nobody, absolutely nobody, wants to say the “C” word.

Until the test results are in next week, T is doing what she can to manage my troubled GI-tract. It’s a delicate balance and online sources reveal a variety of solutions. Since I did well on a low-fat, raw diet from a Calgary company called Artisan until a change was made in midsummer, T’s gone back to that to see how I do, and has also been giving me a little tripe which is rich in natural enzymes.

The proof will be in the pooping. Full scatological report next time.

A Tale of Two Canines

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

This quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities pretty much sums up the first years of the lives of both Logan and me, just the other way around. The worst of times came first.

Logan never talked much about his life before coming to live with T and Nollind. He was a very sensitive guy and didn’t like to relive the trauma of those early days as a stray. But, from the little he said, it was definitely the worst of times for a young dog, out on the prairie alone. When he tried to get close to a farm he’d get chased by the resident dogs and out in the open he was at risk of being attacked by coyotes. And then there was the cold, the rain, some snow, and the lack of food. Those were definitely the worst of times for Logan.

By the time he was picked up by a small farm rescue, he was skinny and scared and wounded. When T called the woman about the “1-year-old Border Collie/Lab” she saw advertised in the Bargain Finder in January of 2005, she made the following notes (yes, she still has the piece of paper): he’d been a stray (aaww), the other dogs pick on him (poor Logie), he dislikes being tied and will bark (that never changed), he didn’t fear bite when his wounds were treated (always trusting), and he’d been an outside dog and therefore not housetrained (quickly rectified).

Kind dogs like Aspen and neighbour Kody helped with Logan’s fear of other canines.

As T tells it, when she saw the farmer carrying Logan on her shoulder through the throng of dogs in the yard, his eyes like saucers, her heart melted. He needed a home where he wouldn’t be afraid. Resident dog Aspen (an earlier adoptee) seemed to like him just fine, so in the backseat he went, sleeping all the way to his new home. The best of times had begun.

(You can read the whole story from Logan’s perspective in From Stray to Rescue to Family.)

Safe.

I didn’t have quite the hard-luck story of Logan. I wasn’t a stray. I had a home for the first two years of my life, along with a couple of other dogs and some horses. Sounds great, right? The man who owned us rode into town on his horse and let us run around the community while he had a few in the pub. Sounds even better, right? Good times for me and my buds.

The good times came to an end when the three of us got picked up by the bylaw officer and we found ourselves locked in pens at the pound. The worst of times came when our owner wouldn’t fork out the money for the fines and we were left at the mercy of the system. Lucky for us, the bylaw officer had a friend at a rescue organization and all three of us were transferred there.

First day in my “foster” home.

My spotted red coat was my next stroke of luck. T saw my photo and I reminded her so much of Nevada their Appaloosa horse that she contacted Misty Creek right away.

This past Monday was ten years since the day T and Nollind showed up at my somewhat crowded temporary foster home to see about being my longer-term foster home. I just needed to get along with Logan who’d been with them for six years by this time. Although not always the most popular pooch in the yard, I had plenty of experience getting along with other dogs, so was pretty sure I could pass the first test. I managed to not annoy Logan or cause trouble on a short neighbourhood walk so T and Nollind agreed to take me in. Times were getting better.

First walk on what would be become my home turf.

When we got “home” from Calgary, I knew I had to make myself a permanent resident. They lived on a farm surrounded by wide-open spaces. Dog heaven! Sadly, the two cats immediately took a dislike to me, hissing and spitting as they do, and then Logan challenged me to a peeing match in the hallway, which didn’t go over well at all. By the end of the first day, things weren’t looking good. I had to win over the four-legged family members, and quickly. Or so I thought…

I eventually won her over.

In the end, I only needed to win over one two-legged family member, T, and that was so-o-o easy. All I had to do was wait quietly in my kennel each morning (such a good doggie) and cuddle up to her on the couch on movie night—that head resting on thigh thing was a stroke of genius! Three days later, on the 28th of January, I was no longer a foster dog … I was officially adopted! The best of times was just beginning.

(More of my story in From Forgotten to Foster to Forever.)

She didn’t need to know that I was more lazy doggie than good doggie.

Logan and I were buds and companions for the nearly eight years we were together and we shared a bunch of adventures. We even started this blog together and called it “Chico’s and Logan’s Great Adventures!” I tried to be his rock when there was something scary happening, like thunder or a ride in the car, and he showed me how to be a good farm dog. I’m a happy guy these days and quite content to be an only dog, but those months and years with Logan at my side were definitely the best of times.

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)