What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As I mentioned last week in my mini blog post, I went on vacation, just me and my peeps. Yup. Me. All the attention. All the snacks. All the back seat. (But hey, Logan, buddy, pal, in case you’re reading this, we sure missed you!)

What I might not have told you before is that I can be a little, I hate to admit it, needy. I might come across as a cool dude in my posts but, on the inside, I have a lot of insecurities. Will there be enough food? Will there be enough attention? Will I have a comfy place to sleep? Canine concerns. And, when there are other animals around that draw attention and food and space, well, I can get a bit … well … whiny. Ack. Nobody likes a whiny dog.

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The three of us.

I heard them talking before the trip, wondering if travelling solo would push me even further along the “it’s all about me” scale. But, they needn’t have worried. Take away the cats, the horses, the work, and Logan, and I had more than enough food, attention, and comfort to keep me happy. For example, when T and N came back to the hotel after dinner the first night in Edmonton, the container of rib bits was mine all mine.

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Mine … all mine.

The first stop on our 10-day trip was Edmonton for N’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the party and give them my best (Congratulations Allan and Karen!), but I did have a visitor to the Dodge kennel. Thanks for coming to see me, Laurana!

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Visitor to the Dodge kennel.

After a very busy lead-up to our departure, the peeps decided that a day of rest and relaxation was in order so we stayed an additional day in Edmonton. Following breakfast at the hotel and a trip outside for me, they actually climbed back into bed and watched a movie, very unusual behaviour for them. Fortunately for me, they brought one of my bed cover-up sheets so I could join in. What was the movie? Hmm … I may have dozed off once or twice. Something about aliens and guys in black suits and, oh, there was a very cool talking dog.

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Movie time!

Fed and rested, we were off to a dog park along the North Saskatchewan River. On a Sunday morning it was a busy place and I have never met so many dogs in one spot. During the hour and a half at the park, I must have met forty dogs, and the guy in the photo below was my paws-down favourite. We met along the river and again on the way back to the parking lot. Man, did we play hard. He was bigger and younger than me so I was exhausted by the time we reached the truck.

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Me and my new bud.

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Pho Boy Vietnamese Restaurant

The dog park was followed by lunch at a place on Whyte Avenue, a restaurant that allows dogs on their patio. (Thanks, Pho Boy!) They brought me a dish of water and apparently the food was pretty awesome too. T and N ordered a spicy dish so I didn’t get much of a sample but they brought along some of my snacks for me.

I could have stayed in Edmonton all week going to dog parks, eating restaurant leftovers, and lounging in the hotel room but, on Monday morning, we were headed north to Charlie Lake where some of T’s family lives.

We’ve been to T’s mom’s place before, when T’s dad died and they held a memorial for him beside the lake. This trip was a happier occasion, T’s mom’s 90th birthday. 90. Wow. That’s almost as old as Logan (in dog years). And she’s a lot like him, slowing down but still going strong.

It was just us at first and, of course, Grandma Nora (can I call you that or maybe just G’ma?), and T’s oldest brother and wife who live just up the road. And then they started to arrive, the sister, the brothers, the nephews, the nieces, the great nieces and nephew. It was quite a crew by party time on Saturday. One of T’s four brothers hadn’t made it to a family gathering in about twenty years and it was a joyous reunion on Friday night and a big surprise for his mom.

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Hanging with my new friend, Kaden, T’s great nephew.

For the most part, T’s family isn’t what I’d call super dog-friendly, but there are some dog lovers, and I managed to seek them out, doing my best to stay out of the way of everyone else. My favourite part of each day was the morning walk, usually down to the Provincial Park boat launch. I only got in one swim, due to the blue-green algae that drifted in on day three, but the walking was great, and each day we were joined by one or more of T’s siblings.

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Smoky view from the boat launch.

At seven on Monday morning we were on our way home, with a stop in Dawson Creek for fuel and food. I’d been a good and easy travelling companion for the whole trip (proud me) and it was time for my reward … my very own Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a road trip?

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Yum.

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Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Lazy. Hazy. Crazy. That about sums it up.

I’ve always liked a good nap, especially on a warm day, but this summer, my fifteenth, I am borderline lazy.  I have found more places to sleep in Logieland (isn’t that a great name?) than Nevada has spots. Just when I think I’ve got enough nap locations, I discover yet another shaded, grassy, idyllic piece of paradise.

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A great afternoon spot in the shade of the house. The downspout makes for very soft grass.

The hazy I speak of is due to the forest fires in our neighbouring province, British Columbia. It isn’t a big deal but it has caused my eyes to burn a little and my throat feels a bit raw. It would probably be a lot worse if I was actually doing anything other than sleeping most of the time. I guess being an old dog with arthritis and a heart condition has an upside!

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Smoky morning walk.

Which brings me to crazy. The crazy has nothing to do with a hectic pace, lots of outings, or full days. I wish. The crazy has been in my head. But, before you worry, it’s getting much better. The old brain has not given it up to dementia just yet.

It started at the end of our camping trip last month. Not only were my guts in turmoil but so was my brain. A call to the vet resulted in a round of antibiotics and other stomach settling meds that got the GI problems under control, but the crazies continued. Teresa was worried I’d slipped a cog and wasn’t coming back. So was I quite frankly.

But then, in true amateur vet/sleuth fashion, Teresa set about researching my conditions, my symptoms, my medications. My greatest advocate came to my rescue again. What she found was that two of the pills I’d been getting for quite some time don’t play well together. In fact, the combination of them can cause diarrhea, restlessness, and anxiety, all the things I’d been experiencing. She almost threw out all of my meds right then and there. Enough!

But, instead, we embarked on a path of medication reduction. One med of the pair that doesn’t play nicely was removed altogether and two others were reduced.  Can you say “withdrawal symptoms?” Holy DTs! I was a mess for the first week, even though the drugs were being tapered off slowly. I paced. I panted. I hardly slept. I was a wreck. Who knew Gabapentin was such an addictive beast?

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The first night of detox.

But, she got me through it. The crazies were worst in the evening and she sat with me every night. She’d watch TV while I lay at her feet on my favourite blanket. There was something about the ritual that was soothing. I’d start to feel anxious and she’d put the blanket on the floor, I’d lie down, she’d climb into the big chair, and we’d spend the next few hours that way. If I started to feel unsettled again, she’d give me a rub and I’d go back to sleep.

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The sweet spot.

It’s been almost a week since our last TV/blanket night. I’ve been feeling much better since then. I guess I’ve kicked it, or at least part of it. I’m still getting some of the medication but less than half of what I was. Admittedly, my stupid arthritic elbow is more painful than it was, but I’m not as wobbly and my mind is clearer and calmer. A fair trade I’d say. I even slept through the night the past few, which I know makes my light-sleeping dog-mom very happy.

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Walk along the canal.

Despite the increased elbow discomfort, I’m getting around okay. I still help out at the barn every day, patrol Logieland regularly, and get out for short walks. And, if I walk too far and don’t think I can make it back, I just call a taxi.

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Farm taxi. (His shirt says “do gooder)

My Happy Place

It’s been three weeks already since we set out for the Okanagan with Sid in tow. I often hear humans talking about how quickly time goes by. You should try it from a dog’s point of view, where one human year equals about seven of ours. Seems like I was just a puppy last week!

So anyway, off we went to BC to visit with T’s family and go to her nephew’s wedding. T’s brother, Mark, joined us for the journey, which meant that T rode with us dogs in the back seat. I loved it—she makes a great head rest—but it made Logan even more restless than usual. I love the guy, and he’s a great companion most of the time, but I wish he could just figure out how to sit still in the truck. As easy going as I am, being stepped on, sat on, leaned into, and drooled on for hours does start to get on my nerves.

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Enjoying my new travel pillow

This was my sixth trip through the Canadian Rockies and it never gets old. Admittedly, I miss a lot of the scenery. Okay, most of it. But, when I do look out the window I am always impressed with what I see. Such majesty! (Is that a descriptor that a human might use? Seems right.) We got out for a short jaunt and bathroom break at a rest area near Castle Mountain and the air in the mountains seemed just a little crisper than it did back on the prairie.

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Smelling the mountain flowers at Banff Park rest area

On the other side of the mountains, the temperature started to rise and by Revelstoke it was hot. I love the sun and heat but it was a bit warm even for me. By the time we reached Lumby and our first-night camp spot, it was starting to cool off, but the next day things were headed for 30 degrees again, and it only got hotter as we headed further south to Oyama where we set up camp in Gatzke Orchards, the location for the wedding.

Saturday morning we were up early and down to the lake for a swim. Wow. Lake swimming is awesome … when it’s calm. Sunday morning was windy and the lake was coming up the beach at us. The canal here at home moves but with a nice steady pace. I didn’t like the waves much and, when Logan tried to get a drink, he got a faceful of water. That was it for him. He didn’t go back.

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Peaceful Saturday morning dip in Wood Lake

I was hoping to get a role in the wedding, maybe flower dog or ring bearer, but it seems those roles got taken by the groom’s nieces and nephew. Although I’m human on the inside, my outer dogness does throw people off, and I’m regularly passed over when it comes to human activities. It’s okay. I’m used to it. I’m not bitter.

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Gatzke Orchards entrance

The day of the wedding was hot, hot, hot, close to 35°. I haven’t been in heat like that since Lake Mead back in March last year, and at Lake Mead the water was a lot closer to where we were parked for more regular swims. After the ceremony, T and Nollind took us for a little walk in the shade of the orchard, and we came across the bridal party taking photographs. The bride and her ladies were busy with the photographer (and we didn’t want to get her white dress all covered in red and black fur) so we got our photo taken with the groom, T’s nephew Michael. Good looking guy, eh? We didn’t get to go to the dinner and reception, humans only, but we hear it was in a vine-covered outdoor dining area with a big, grassy dance floor next to it. I would have liked to have seen that. Sigh … I wish I were a real boy.

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Photo op with the groom

We dogs don’t get married, even when we’re not fixed like Logan and me. Fixed. What an odd way to put it. It’s not like we were broken. In fact, as far as nature goes, we’re more broken now than we were before. But anyway, I was talking about marriage. T and Nollind have been married almost 19 years, a dozen years longer than I’ve been alive! I would have liked to go to their wedding. I bet they would have let me be the ring bearer. Maybe I can convince them to get married again. For now, I’ll have to be content with anniversary celebrations. We dogs are often included in the anniversaries because they like to celebrate by going camping or horseback riding or some other outdoor activity, I think because they got married outdoors.

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T and Nollind in Kananaskis on their wedding day

But, back to the trip. On Sunday, after a windy visit to the lake and a hike along the old railway tracks, we packed up and headed to Lumby to spend more time with T’s Aunt Frieda. We met her last spring when she was living in Coldstream. T took us for a wander along the creek after we were set up and, by the time we got back to the campground, there was a gathering of her family taking place! And this time, guess who got to go? You got it. Yours truly! I did have to go back to the trailer during the mealtime, T said because of the little kids with food held close to my level. What? Me? Steal food from children? Okay, I probably would have.

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Hangin’ with the family – That’s T on the left, her sister Susan, then Aunt Frieda, and then T’s mom, Nora

One more day of relaxing in Sid while T, Nollind and Mark visited with Frieda, and we were eastbound on the Trans-Canada, headed home.  I love the road and could have just kept on travelling, but I guess I’ll have to wait a couple of months for that.

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Travelling – my happy place