Senior? Who, Me?

I went to the vet yesterday for a routine exam and the 3-year rabies vaccination that I need to cross into the United States. The bill read “Examination (Senior)” and said I’d received a “Canine Geriatric Profile”. Ack! When did that happen? With five years between Logan and me, I’ve always been the pup, the youngster, the kid. I guess I kind of lost track of time. I’m about to head into the double digits!

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Time sure flies.

On the plus side, I had a put-it-on-the-fridge-worthy blood panel result for a dog my age. Kidneys, heart, liver, thyroid, red & white blood cells, blood sugar, all solidly in the normal range. I’ve even lost just over a kilo since I was last in. But the senior thing has me a bit freaked out. I know I’m not quite the bundle of energy I used to be, but geriatric?

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Waiting to go for a walk in Kananaskis. And who’s the old guy?

I hope it’s true that you’re only as old as you feel because that would make me six or seven at best. Although I do feel a bit older than that hanging out with my new friend, Ria. She’s three and a half and, man, that girl has some energy. Ria is a new member of the G & S family so you’ll be seeing more of her on Fur-idays in the future. Maybe I can even persuade her to write a guest blog. (Everyone who’d like to hear from Ria, raise your paws!)

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Ria and me at the Chestermere off-leash.

I’ve long striven to become more human. In fact, I’m hoping that my only-doggedness will help me progress in my endeavour (good human word, don’t you think?) Without the constant presence of another dog to pull me into canine-type behaviour, I’m hoping I can fine tune my being-human skills. If I can manage it, do you think I’d live longer? I know I can’t expect the 70-80 years that a human lives (man, that sounds like a long time to a dog), but maybe 20?

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Me in 2011. I admit I’m looking a little more “frosted” these days.

If you don’t think it’s possible, just check out this list on Wikipedia. The Guinness record holder for the oldest dog was a guy named Bluey who, and this is the cool part, was an Australian Cattle Dog! Pretty sure that’s what I am, or half anyway. I know, I know, it’s the quality of the days rather than the quantity, but there’s no harm in setting the bar high, is there?

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Frosted but fresh!

There was one bit of bad news from Dr. Julie today. I have to go back to have a lump removed from my leg. It’s nothing scary at this point but she’s concerned that it could develop into something and I trust her completely. Best get it gone. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to medical procedures, but they tell me I’ll be sleeping so I’m not too concerned. The part that does concern me is the no food or water after midnight the previous day. No breakfast?! They won’t need to sedate me. I’ll pass out from starvation!

Well, I’m still a little tired from yesterday’s activities and T’s taking me for a walk in a little while so I think I’ll climb into my favourite bed for a nap. Oops, that sounded a bit geriatric, didn’t it?

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I’m not old, I’m just relaxed.

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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.

On the Road Again

Since Logan was more focused on how he handled the trip south (he knocked it out of the park!) than the actual journey, I thought I’d share a little from my point of view.

He mentioned it was good weather on the way down but, oh my, was it ever. We left home on Saturday around noon and it was probably at least 13 degrees Celsius. Now, you might think that would make us more inclined to stay home but, on the contrary, it is the perfect weather for loading up and heading out. Warm, dry, non-snowy weather makes things so much easier. And, even though I’m not really a big part of the packing up process, happy people means a happier me.

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Heading out at the crack of noon!

We got to Great Falls the first day and the good weather continued. It was warm all evening and through the night, meaning we could push out the big slide in the trailer, and Logan could have his couch. Even though having the couch doesn’t affect me directly, since he doesn’t usually share, a happier Logan means, well … you know the rest.

The good roads continued, but things got colder after Great Falls and T and Nollind just weren’t prepared to travel as far as was needed to get to somewhere warm. We drove to a little place just south of Salt Lake City, American Fork, on day two, and although the temperature wasn’t the -13 we’d driven through in central Montana, it did drop to -8 overnight and we had a very frosty walk on Sunday morning. It also meant that the big slide stayed in and my bed had to be moved to a new location. I was tired and, as you can see in the photo, climbed in before they had things arranged for the night.

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I consider myself a master at making do.

Las Vegas, as always, felt like we’d driven into another season. When you drop down out of the high country of Utah, the temperature increases as the elevation decreases, and by Vegas, it’s t-shirt weather (although I don’t wear t-shirts). We stayed at the Las Vegas RV Resort for five nights and spent a bunch of time in their little dog park. It’s pretty small for mid-sized dogs like us, but probably four times the size it was the last time we stayed there, and a great place for sniffing around and meeting the other RV dogs.

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Dog area at the Las Vegas RV Park.

When we left Las Vegas, I knew where we were headed. I could feel it. T and Nollind get a certain excited energy to them when we’re headed for … the desert. They love nothing more when we’re down here than parking out in what many people would consider “the middle of nowhere”. They filled the water tanks in Las Vegas, emptied the waste tanks, cleaned off the solar panels, and we were all set for a couple of weeks of boondocking.

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More desert prep. Long toenails are vulnerable on rock and hard ground.

It was late when we reached Quartzsite so there wasn’t time to find a proper campsite. Unlike an RV park, the BLM camping areas don’t have lights, individual campsites, or even proper roads, so it’s pretty hard to find a spot after dark.

Last year when we first arrived, we stayed at an area called Dome Rock and loved it, so Nollind rolled right through Quartzsite when we got there and continued west. After some discussion as to which “road” was best to leave the pavement via, we rolled into an open area and parked for the night, leaving everything hitched up so that we could move to a more permanent camp spot the next day.

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Heading out to move camp after our scouting walk.

There are three different parts to the Dome Rock BLM area and, in the morning, we walked the southernmost area, scouting for a good spot. In December, things aren’t very busy at Quartzsite so there were plenty to choose from.

We’ve been here since Monday morning in a camp spot near the end of the road and are settling into life in the desert. In case you’re wondering what that looks like, desert life is generally a happy mix of this …12-chico-memories-running

And this …12-chico-memories-chair

Until next time, Merry Christmas from the desert!