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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And the Verdict is…

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog posts for a time, I’m a digger. Specifically, I’m a den digger. I don’t just dig random holes, I dig large, me-sized holes under shrubbery, places to tuck in on a warm day. With my black coat, I’ve always found summer weather a bit challenging and my dens have brought relief.

On our trips south, particularly this last one, I dig dens at every stop and enjoy them daily. The one in the photo near Wickenburg was some of my best work and I spent a lot of time in that shallow den.

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My Wickenburg den under the mesquite tree.

Here at home, I have many dens, including a few large, deep ones that I’ve been working on for years. Two of these bigger dens are located inside my new Logie-Land enclosure but I haven’t used them much this season. They’re just too deep for me now. I’ve been concerned that if I go in I might not get out.

Turns out my concerns were well-founded. Last Wednesday it was hot in the afternoon so, late in the day, I decided to hunker down in my west den under the lilac. It was a great place for a nap but, when I decided it was time to climb out and get a drink of water, I hate to say it but, I couldn’t. Getting up after a long lie down is a bit challenging at the best of times these days and, with my legs folded into the side of a hole, I just couldn’t get them under me to get up. To make matters worse, my struggles resulted in me getting my back half turned upside down. I was stuck. On a normal day when Teresa or Nollind is home, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but they were gone for the evening to the sailing club.

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The hole. It doesn’t look like much without me in it but I wasn’t getting back in for a photo op.

When I tired of trying to get myself upright and out, I’d rest for a time before giving it another try. It got dark, which I don’t mind in and of itself, but it meant that I’d been in the hole for quite awhile.

Teresa and Nollind would have walked right past me when they came in the yard. My hearing isn’t so good and I was likely asleep. I heard Nollind’s whistle from the deck by the front door. Another whistle. A third. How I wanted to shout out “I’m over here! I need help!” But I couldn’t of course.

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Back on my feet after my ordeal. Unsteady but upright.

The whistling stopped. Nollind had gone back inside. I yelped. Nothing. I yelped again, a little louder. And then I heard the door and Teresa calling my name and there she was under the shrub pulling me out. I tried to stand and fell down. She helped me up and I fell down again as soon as I tried to move. And then she was crying, her tears spilling down into my fur. I wanted to get up and walk, for her, but I just couldn’t. I was so tired. She picked me up and carried me inside. I’m no lightweight at fifty-five pounds but that didn’t stop her from packing me up the stairs to the living room.

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I’ve been doing a lot of this since Wednesday night. Here I am hanging with our weekend visitors by their trailer.

I didn’t move all night, just slept there on my left side on the therapeutic mat Teresa had put down in the middle of the living room. When I did wake up the next morning, I was thirsty and started struggling to get up. Teresa was sleeping nearby and came to assist, giving me some support as I walked to the water bowl. She helped me outside and I tried to wander off to have a pee but my back left leg kept giving out and causing me to fall over. I was scared and I could tell she was too.

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A few days later and we’re all a lot happier.

When some water, some pills, and more rest didn’t improve matters, Teresa called the vet. I was scheduled to go down for my Legend shot anyway but Dr. Barrett said I should come early and they’d try giving me some fluids. This would help to rehydrate me and also flush the pain-causing toxins from my muscles. Well, I’m not a fan of vet clinics, and even less a fan of staying in one for hours, but after I’d spent the afternoon in a kennel with a needle in my arm, I have to say I was feeling a little better. I still needed help walking from the clinic to the car but I felt good enough that I tried to run.

The other thing they gave me at the vet clinic was a drug called Buprenorph Vetergesic, a powerful painkiller they hoped would help to deal with all of the pain I was feeling as a result of my long struggle to get up. Well, it certainly did. I couldn’t feel anything once that stuff kicked in.

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That Buprenorph was some crazy shit.

After sleeping the sleep of the dead for the next eight hours, I woke up at one o’clock and, much to my surprise, and Teresa’s, was able to get myself out of bed and walk. By seven o’clock I was feeling up to our morning trip to the barnyard to let the horses out on the grass. I was wobbly but I made it! Last night, after they blocked my dens, I was able to sleep outside again, which made me very happy, and this morning I managed a twenty-minute walk around the back pasture.

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Morning walk in the pasture.

As I wrote in my short post on Saturday, the vet told Teresa that a trauma like the one I’d experienced could be a setback for a dog of my age and condition, or a cliff. Well, I’m happy to say it’s been a setback. It’s possible I won’t recover completely from my ordeal, I’m fourteen and a half after all, but I’m hopeful I’ll be enjoying Logie-Land for a few more weeks or months. It’s all gravy at this point.

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Enjoying a sunny Monday afternoon in Logie-Land.

 

Close Encounter

It was a lovely morning for a walk as we set out last Sunday morning. Part of my routine is to circuit the barn on our way west, just to make sure all is as it should be. Well, on Sunday morning, it definitely wasn’t. A small, black and white, looked-like-a-cat was on the south side of the barn next to a freshly dug pile of dirt. You can’t just move into our yard without so much as a hello so I ran over to check out the newcomer. That was when I discovered it wasn’t a cat, but a very unsociable, straight-from-hell, toxic-gas-spraying beast!

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The face of a happy dog looking forward to a morning walk.

 

It turned as I ran toward it—I assumed to run away—and I was looking forward to a good chase when the animal’s tail went straight in the air and a nasty, yellow stream hit the left side of my face. The smell was bad but the burning in my left eye was excruciating. I ran back toward T who’d just come around the corner of the barn to see what was happening. I thought she might go after the creature that had attacked me but she just clipped the leash on my collar and we were running toward the house, away from the dispersing cloud of gas.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it was a skunk that I encountered. It was my first experience with one so I had no idea. Logan thought it was hilarious, having had his run-ins with them more than once as a young dog. One time it happened when they were out camping with the horses and he had to ride home in the front part of the horse trailer where the tack usually goes. The tack got to ride in the truck. I guess I was lucky it happened at home where they had stuff on hand to help me.

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Logan’s still laughing.

 

So, anyway, once we reached the yard, T called for Nollind to come and help and then took me to a grassy area away from the house. I rubbed my face on the grass again and again, so many times that my lip was bleeding, but it just kept burning. I was sure relieved to see Nollind coming with a bucket full of remedies. I knew I could count on my people to know what to do.

The first thing they did was rinse my eye a few times with saline and that helped a bunch. The burning subsided. The direct hit to the face meant the spray was fairly localized, but it also meant it was hard to clean off without hurting me. They first tried a store-bought deskunking solution with written instructions to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth. They applied it as carefully and as thoroughly as they could and let it dry. I was hopeful.

It helped some, but the smell was still pretty bad and I wasn’t allowed in the house. T did some research on products that could be used on my face and tomato juice was at the top of the list. It was nicer than the skunk product but I’m not a big fan of tomato. Too bad bacon grease didn’t take out skunk odor! When they rinsed it off I smelled kind of like a skunk in a tomato patch.

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It’s a little redder than the rest of me but I think it makes me look younger. What do you think?

 

The third and final solution was what they’d used on Logan all those years ago, once they got him home from the campground. It’s also not recommended for use on the face but we were desperate by this point. They were very careful, I did my best to keep my eyes and mouth closed, and we got the job done. A quick eye rinse after and I was just fine. It burned less than the skunk spray. The magic concoction? A mix of peroxide, baking soda, and a little bit of dish soap. If ever you need to get rid of skunk smell, here’s the recipe.

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I think all the peroxide bleached my face. I’m sure it wasn’t this white on Saturday.

 

I don’t notice it much anymore but, apparently, I still smell at close range or when I get wet and I’m told this could last for a month or more. As long as I’m allowed in the house and people still pet me, I’m okay with being a little stinky.

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I thought a swim in the canal would help but the water just brings out the smell.

 

As for the skunk, that pile of dirt was what he’d dug out from under the barn to make a den for himself … or herself. And, yes, he/she is still there. T and Nollind have tried a number of things in and around the den that are supposed to repel skunks but, so far, it keeps returning. They’re wondering if there might be babies in the den. I hope not, because as long as the skunk is there, Logan and I don’t get to go anywhere near the barn. They’re being silly, really, because it’s not like I’d do that again. No way. Next time I’d grab him before he had a chance to turn around and lift that tail!

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