Ten Steps Plus One Year

It’s been a year since I first visited Barrett Veterinary and started on my ten steps to healing. Considering my multiple health issues, my age, and that one year is like seven for a dog, I’d say I’ve done pretty well. And by pretty well I mean still on the top side of the grass.09 Logan - 10Steps- topside

The problem is that the same 10-step program that, a year ago, got me out in the field doing 1-hour walks, now just gets me to the barn and back, and our barn isn’t far from the house. It didn’t happen all at once, of course, it’s been gradual. My 1-hour walks became 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, then 20, and so on. It’s hard to believe I was still walking a mile every morning when we first came home from Arizona in March. When I look south to the neighbours’ place now, a half a mile away, it seems a formidable journey.

These days I go out to the barn to help with chores once or twice a day and make the trek to the end of the driveway with Nollind to close the gate at night, even if the gate is already closed. I like the routine, and I like to feel included in the happenings of the farm, like I still have a job.09 Logan - 10Steps- stalled

Helping with the herd used to be my thing. I’d rush right in to assist when Teresa was moving horses around. These days I hang back, far back. My Border Collie herding instinct still says, “Get in there,” but my survival instinct says “Are you nuts?” I swear those horses are a lot bigger than they used to be, or maybe I’m smaller.

My life is definitely a lot different than it was a few years ago, even a year ago, but it’s still life, and it’s still good most days. I enjoy different things at a different pace. I always did like lying on the deck or in the yard watching the world go by, so that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that I just let it go by, the world, rather than chasing after it.09 Logan - 10Steps- yardtime

I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here. Walking is getting tougher, the Legend isn’t helping much anymore, and some days it’s a challenge just to get up off my bed. Teresa got me some supplements that help settle my nighttime restlessness and my medications have been adjusted to levels that seem to keep me going as best they can but, when I look at my condition compared to a year ago, I know I don’t have another one in me. There’s only so much sliding downhill that can happen before the toboggan reaches the bottom and stops moving.

But, until then, I’ll be here, keeping the troops entertained. I figure as long as I have a skip in my step (in addition to a limp) and a light in my eye, I’ll be bargaining for a few more days.09 Logan - 10Steps- fieldwalk

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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.

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)