Flashback Fur-iday – Desert Dog

It’s that time of year when my thoughts turn toward the deserts of the southwest, a place we’ve spent five winters since 2011. We’re staying home this year, and I’m good with that, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about sun, sand, and long walks among cactus. And all of these things make me think of Logan, my desert travelling companion on all five of our trips south.

New Mexico’s amazing white sand dunes.

He was actually kind of a homebody, in that he didn’t much like transiting from one place to another in a vehicle, but he loved to visit the new place at the end of a day’s journey. He’d go from “We’re all going to die!” in the truck to “Yippee! What a fabulous spot to explore!” the instant he hit the ground.

“I hope we’re going somewhere good.”

As much as he came to love the desert in later years, on that first trip in 2012, he was not convinced.

“I’m a pretty tough guy but, really, this desert dog stuff is pushing my limits. I drink from puddles at home all the time but whatever tiny critters live in the water down here do a number on my digestive system. Another normally innocuous part of my life on the farm, plants, also seem to be out to get me down here. I’ve had more thorns in my paws than I can count, one big ball of nasty stuck to the back of my leg, and a spiky branch that seemed to jump right off its host onto my thigh when I walked by.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Cactus encounter.

“I thought I’d covered all of the bases on desert hazards for dogs but then I discovered yet another — volcanic rock. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to you maybe, but it does a number on a dog’s pads after a few miles. In fact, at least in my case, it wears the surface right off making it extremely painful to walk on anything but a nice smooth surface. Luckily, I have very caring people, who bought me some boots to get around in until things were less sensitive. It was a bit embarrassing walking around camp and having people pointing and saying, “Oh, look at the doggie in the cute little boots!”

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Booted up for the rocky hills near Borrego Springs, California.

When T and Nollind discovered the world of boondocking was when Logan really started to experience the joys of desert life.

“We did 12 days in the desert near Quartzsite and then Bouse, boondocking, as they call it down here. It’s basically camping outside of an RV park or campground for no charge. Chico and I love boondocking — not enough water for baths, a lot more off-leash time, no being cabled to the RV whenever we’re outside, and lots of walking.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Hiking Q Mountain at Quartzsite.

On the last couple of trips south, Logan’s favourite spot was under the trailer on his mat. He would spend all day under there, alternating between sleeping and watching the world go by.

I miss the desert this year, but not being there probably makes Logan’s absence a little easier. A trip to the desert without Logan is hard to imagine. But what really concerns me is how the desert is doing without Logan to watch over it.

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Home for the Holidays

It will be a different kind of Christmas this year … no desert … no Logan. The four of us spent the past two Christmases in and around Quartzsite, Arizona—exploring the desert, lying in the sun, lounging by the Little Red Fireplace. This year we’ll be here in Alberta, and just three of us, unless you count the horses and cats who bring our number up to ten.

Christmas Day last year at Dome Rock BLM (Logan in his favourite spot).

Logan was always the ringleader when it came to opening gifts, being a greater lover of toys than I am. Last year it was a little candy cane squeaky thing. Silly, but he loved it. No matter his age, he never lost the enjoyment of something that squeaked or grunted or otherwise made a sound between his teeth. I inherited a whole basket of the goofy things. I hope T and Nollind give me a bone for Christmas this year. I prefer quiet deliciousness to noisy tastelessness.

Logan with his Christmas toy.

We’ve been out walking in our winter wonderland every day since the snow came. T started out in boots when the snow cover was light, moved up to snowshoes after a dump, and now she’s back to just boots with all the Chinook melting that’s happened this past week or so. For me, it’s four paws all the time, although I wished I had some doggie snowshoes on those deep-snow days. On the plus side, I’m looking svelte, fitting up my near-ten-year-old body for the winter adventures to come.

I keep up just fine on the hard pack.

And by winter adventures I mean Canadian winter adventures, the kind with snow and sunshine and, yes, sometimes cold. T and Nollind had been planning to take us south in early December, then mid-December, then just after Christmas, and then early January, but they’ve decided we’re staying home entirely this year. Sounds like there are a few reasons why, not the least of which is the old horse, Nevada. He’s had some health issues since the end of summer and T wants to be here to care for him on a daily basis. She thinks he needs her right now, and she might be right. I see the way he looks at her every afternoon when she goes out to give him his extra feed and supplements, like she’s just saved his life yet again.

Home on the range

Logan almost kept us home last year but Nollind built him a ten-foot ramp and we were off to the south. Maybe he could do the same for Nevada? Instead of the Fang trailer behind Sid we could haul a horse trailer.

The ramp that made it all possible last winter.

But, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m settling in for a Canadian winter—putting energy into growing an extra layer of fur. I’ll be fine. I actually like snow, as you might remember from my I Love Snow post this spring. And, as much as I miss Logan, there are more frequent adventures and long walks in my days as a solo, easy-travelling dog. Life is good.

Making my version of a snow angel.

I’ve heard talk around the house that we might even head out for some winter camping to places like the Cypress Hills and Kananaskis. In our first trip south in 2011, we spent some time camping in the snow in Utah and northern Arizona. Playing in the snow during the day and tucking into a warm trailer at night? Sign me up!

Snow at Bryce Canyon in 2011

From my home to yours, or wherever you may be this holiday season, wishing you and your furry (and non-furry) family a very Merry Christmas!

We’ve Been Boarded!

It was bound to happen. When you’re always parked out in nature, sooner or later nature is going to move in. And, on top of that, here at Craggy Wash, a lot of people don’t seem to be following the golden rule of camping — pack it in, pack it out — which leads to more critters being attracted to the camping area.

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Craggy Wash campsite.

I’m a pretty good hunter, caught fifteen gophers last year, so I’m embarrassed to admit I slept right through the intruder. I noticed the strange smell in the trailer on Wednesday morning but I assumed it was something blowing in off the desert.

3d Pirate mouse with cutlassAnyway, there it was all over the counter and in the drawers … the evidence. Aaarrr … we had been boarded. A rodent had been in our house, sampling from the fruit bowl, walking around in the dishes, leaving a trail of droppings as it went. It was probably just a mouse, but a big one based on the size of the pellets it left behind. For his sake, I hope the little pirate has moved on as Nollind has laid out a trifecta of rodent repellent and killer.

Me, I slept with one eye open on Wednesday night and, as a result, was a bit tired for our long walk day yesterday. Long walk day comes every second day when T and Nollind take Logan and me for our usual morning walk and then take me for a second, longer adventure.

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Keeping watch.

 

For yesterday morning’s long walk we drove to a place called Castle Rock at the north end of Lake Havasu and hiked along the cliffs above the marshy area where Lake Havasu becomes the Colorado River. I was dragging by the time we reached the top of the first sandy hill, envying Logan who was no doubt lying on his couch back at camp. But, after a rest stop to enjoy the view, I got my second wind and led the hike the rest of the way.

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Getting my second wind.

We came up here to Lake Havasu City when we left Quartzsite last Friday. I would have been happy to stay on and continue to explore the washes of Dome Rock BLM but our fourteen days were almost up and it was time to move on.

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Dome Rock wash walk.

Sadly, I didn’t get my trip to Beer Belly’s. T and Nollind did go one more time, but it was at the end of a ride to Dripping Spring that would have been too long and hot for me. I’m okay with it. There will be other dog-friendly bars and patios, and I’m sure we’ll be back at Q one day.

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Apparently, the chairs inside are smaller, but this one would be perfect for me (with a boost). No more spilling out!

The weather has turned cooler which has meant a little less time hanging outside at this camp. In fact, one day T and Nollind didn’t leave the trailer other than to take us for a walk. If you ask me, they’ve gotten soft, and I’m a little worried how they’re going to fare back home in Alberta. Okay, mostly I’m worried I’ll never get outdoors! But, they have more clothes there, warm clothes, so that should help. I might even willingly don a jacket (yes, you read that right) if the temps are still below freezing. I’ve shed my warm undercoat over the course of the winter.

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Chilly morning walk at Craggy Wash.

Anyway, I’ve gotten way off track from the pirate story. So I’ll just wrap this up with a, “Yo ho ho, ye landlubbers and scallywags! This son of a biscuit eater’s got to get back to the poop deck and give that freebooter the old heave-ho! Aaaarrrr!”