Flashback Fur-iday: A Logan’s Elbow

I’ve been part of the van Bryce clan since the beginning of 2011 when I was two. Logan had just turned seven at the time, and although supposedly entering his senior years, he was not an easy guy to keep up to, even with an already lurking health issue.

A game of “kick the ball” back in 2011.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a time, since back in the days of Logan, you’ll know that he struggled with arthritis and lameness in the latter years of his life. In fact, without the lameness and the medications that made it manageable, he probably would have lived longer, might have even been here to celebrate his sixteenth birthday in January.

But that’s not the point of today’s post, because I know Logan wouldn’t want me rehashing his many health troubles or his ultimate demise.

How Logan would prefer to be remembered.

I’ve hurt myself twice in the past six months, both times resulting in a sore leg and a limp. The first time I just tripped and landed badly, the more recent one, just a few days ago, I tried to climb through a gate and, when I didn’t fit and pulled back, I wrenched something. Again, soreness and a limp. It will probably go away in a few days of lighter exercise and that will be the end of it.

Nobody knows what started Logan’s elbow troubles. It could have been any number of things, partly because he was so active—

I’ve had a hitch in my giddy-up for a long while now … years. Not sure just where it got its start–a bad landing jumping for a ball, playing a bit too rough with a friend, too many miles on the trail behind a horse, or some perfect storm of a combination.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
Beach run with a new buddy in California.

—and partly because his stoic nature made it near impossible for a vet to figure out where the pain was.

The first (vet) who checked out my limp gave up when I wouldn’t flinch and give her any clue as to what was hurting. She called it “typical Border Collie stoicism”. I just called it “not liking vets”. Ever since I was kicked in the face by a horse and had to spend a night at the vet hospital … alone … and have surgery the next day, I’ve not been a fan of vets.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
“This little skiff of snow? Nah, not a problem.”

Having always been such an active guy, Logan had a hard time admitting defeat as his arthritis worsened. I can understand that. Even though I am far from stoic, or so they tell me, I’ll limp along if it means the difference between going for a walk or not.

Admittedly, I find it hard to keep up with horses these days, even at a walk. Their walk is my jog and I just can’t jog for four or five hours straight anymore, in fact, a couple of hours across the prairie normally has me limping. So, as angry as I was with Chico for spoiling what was a great gig, he saved me from having to admit defeat and retire in disgrace.

June 2015 – Trailer Days
Logan logged a lot of trail miles over the years.

It frustrated the poor guy no end that one small joint in his body was keeping him from living the kind of life he most enjoyed.

Darn thing is like my Achilles’ heel. (Think there’s any chance a “Logan’s elbow” might become as famous as an Achilles’ heel?)

April 2017 – A Shot in the Arm

One of the best treatments for Logan turned out to be our winter trips to the desert, for a couple of reasons.

When we travel south for the winter, not sure if it’s the climate or the leash time, but my elbow hardly bothers me at all. Almost makes the many hours of terrifying interstate highway travel worthwhile.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
In the desert, leash time doesn’t mean boring.

T tried a bunch of treatments and remedies for Logan. You can read about them back through the years of the blog, but the one with the most dramatic result was a joint injection in the spring of 2017. Sadly, the treatment’s effect was very short-lived, and its temporary success had unexpected consequences.

You see, with my right leg no longer slowing me down, I’ve been a lot more active and am now discovering that some of the other parts of me are older than I thought they were. For example, my backend seems to be having some difficulty keeping up with the front, and it wobbles sometimes after I’ve exerted myself. I’m always tempted to look back there to see what the heck is going on, but I don’t of course. I forge on like nothing has happened, hoping nobody noticed but me.

2017 – The Domino Effect
“Anybody see that?”

I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine with a few days of lightened activity. After so many years of trying to help Logan, T’s pretty keen on not letting me develop a chronic problem. And, whenever I feel short-changed on a walk or upset about my outdoor time being curbed, I just remember the wise words of my old buddy…

So, to all my ‘nines out there (that’s peeps in the canine world), I know you can’t help yourselves, but try not to wear out any of your parts while you’re still young.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows

Flashback Fur-iday — Logan’s Loop

It’s hard to say just how many miles Logan travelled in his lifetime. The tally started in the years before I knew him and included many an unsanctioned run across the prairie or through the woods as well as countless miles behind the hooves of a horse out on the trail.

Lunch break on the trail at Station Flats in 2011. (Read Tribute to a Trail Dog)

Our canal walk is about a 3-mile round trip, our loop to the big poplar grove to the west about the same, and there have been countless miles racked up in many parts of Western Canada as well as the deserts of Utah, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Suffice to say, Logan was a happy but high-mileage model by the end of his stay on this earth.

I love to get out and walk, and trot, and run, or just go at whatever pace my leash allows. 

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places, February 2015

Hiking at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg in 2015.

We spent nine days camped near Wickenburg and we hiked for two hours every day, and only once did we cover the same trail. Wanderlust doggie paradise!

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places – February 2015

One of many, many walks along the canal near home. See more canal photos!

In Logan’s final couple of years, the walks had to be reduced, due to his arthritis and his heart condition. At first, the limitation was set at “no more than an hour” but, in his last year, that hour was reduced to 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, and so on.

… just a couple of years ago I completed the two-hour Majestic Trail hike without a thought beyond enjoying the exercise and the day. This year, all I could think about was getting back to camp, having a big drink of water, and lying under the trailer in the shade. 

I’m As Good Once As I Ever Was – February 2017

Majestic Trail near Wickenburg, Arizona.

One of our favourite walks in that final year was what I like to call Logan’s Loop, a one-mile journey around the twenty acres we call home. It was a favourite because we were normally off-leash, and because of the old irrigation ditch and aspen groves that run down the middle of the hay field. Many different critters make this area their stomping grounds so it is a complete scent-fest for us dogs.

Water break on Logan’s Loop, Spring 2018

As Teresa’s Aunt Manda used to say, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken!” But I have weakened. For starters, my right front leg is just managing our one-mile morning walks (although I have to say, somewhat proudly, that I trot most of the way).

Still Here, October 2017

Exploring the aspen grove on his loop. Spring 2018

Until T hurt her back last week, we hadn’t walked Logan’s Loop since June or so of last year when Logan could still do it. It was good for T to keep moving in those first days of recovery but not too far, so there we were, back on the loop, exploring our twenty acres and its groves of aspens. I felt Logan there, in the trees and in the hay field, walking alongside us, sharing the sights and smells of the winter afternoon.

Early summer walk, 2018.

It’s been four months since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge but, out on Logan’s Loop, I feel like he hasn’t left us at all.

If You’re Reading This…

If anyone could blog from beyond the grave it would be my pal, Logan. I found this letter tucked in amongst his favourite toys…

Dear Friends & Family,

If you’re reading this then I guess I’ve moved on, to wherever it is we go when our time on this earth is complete. Maybe we come back, maybe we don’t. If I do come back, I think I’ll aim for a body with a longer lifespan, like a tortoise—nah, too slow—or maybe a parrot—but then some cat might get me. Perhaps best to stick with dog or cat or horse, some creature I’m familiar with, or hey, how about human?

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Definitely not a tortoise.

But enough musing about what the big, unknown future might hold for the soul of an old dog. That’s me, an old dog. I know I’ve been saying it for a couple of years, but now I really feel it, in my bones and to my core.  As you’ll know if you’ve been reading the blog of our adventures, I’m a fighter, a fighter with a tendency to rise from the mats on the count of nine. I’d like to say I’ve got one more in me, that I can bounce back from whatever it is I’ve felt creeping up on me this past couple of weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The medications don’t help like they used to, the trips to the vet for the Legend injection aren’t giving me their promised bounce, and the distance between the house and the barn just keeps growing.

10-Logan-ifyour-bounce
Who’d have thought I’d ever run out of bounce?

My hope is that they’ll let me go, not drag things out until I’ve become a burden, allowing the me they’ve known all these years to be replaced by someone they don’t recognize … or enjoy. It can happen. I saw it happen with Chelsey as she got older and crankier and so difficult for all of us to live with. To remember Chelsey with a smile on your face you have to go back a ways, to when she wasn’t old and sick. I want to go knowing I made them smile that very day. It’s the least I can do for all they’ve given me: a good home, enough freedom to keep an independent spirit happy, jobs to occupy my Border Collie half, a diet to appease a fussy eater, adventures galore, the best of care in my old age, and love, of course, plenty of that.

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Horse dog from the day I arrived.

To Chico … I admit I wasn’t sure about you at first, hackles up and peeing on a wall in my house, but you grew on me in the years that followed. I’m glad they found you and happy to have shared our many great adventures. Look after them all for me, the humans, the horses, the barn cats, and keep telling your stories on Fur-idays.

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Is he staying? (January 2011)

To Nollind … I know I was your first love when it comes to dogs, but I’m pretty sure I’m not your last (I’ve seen you hoist Chico up onto your lap when he’s cold). I’m glad I got to be the one to turn you into a dog guy, to convince you that dogs do belong on the furniture, show you that dog poop is not toxic (despite how it smells), and teach you there’s nothing quite like the love of a dog.

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A boy and his dog.

To Teresa … For finding me all those years ago in the Bargain Finder (and wasn’t I a bargain?), for taking me into your home and your heart, for catering to my whimsical appetite and need for freedom, and for all those hours and dollars you spent searching for the solutions to my physical challenges in my later years … thank you. I’m sorry for the decision you had to make for me at the end of my life but know that you were right, it was time to say goodbye. I told you you’d know.

10-Logan-IfYou-accupuncture
Even acupuncture couldn’t keep me from getting old.

To my snowbirding pack … I’m sorry I was such a rotten travelling companion. Thank you for always taking me along anyway. Despite my near deafness, I heard the recent chatter about staying home for the winter to look after me. So, what are you waiting for? Start packing! I’ll be right there with you for every stop along the road.

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Lunch and walk break early on in our first journey south.

And to all of you who have been following our adventures these past seven years, thank you for reading, for commenting, for caring, and for noticing when a Fur-iday goes by that you don’t hear from us. This is Logan signing off, unless of course there’s a way to communicate from the other side of what they call the “Rainbow Bridge”. In that case, I’ll be in touch.10-Logan-ifyour-logan