Flashback Fur-iday – In the Beginning…

This time of year brings up a lot of memories of autumns past, particularly the autumn of 2011 when we set out travelling by RV for the first time and started this blog. It was T’s idea for Logan and me to write a blog. She wanted to share the tales of our travels with friends and family back home but didn’t want it to be the standard “weather is here, wish you were beautiful” stuff. Wait a minute. What up, Jimmy? That’s not how you say it.

So, there we were, a couple of rescue hounds, writing a blog. Crazy, right? Logan took to it like a Lab to water, but it was a tougher learning curve for me. I just wanted to run and chase and run some more. Who had time to sit still and tell stories? I was a 3-year-old dog!

On the other side of that coin though, I was an excellent traveller, but Logan, well, not so much. He loved the new places but …

The stops are filled with new sights, sounds and, most importantly and best of all…smells! It’s an absolute scent-fest every time we stop in a new place. Travelling between stops is a lot less appealing, or let’s make that more terrifying — hurtling down the highway at great speed with others doing the same thing in the other direction. Does no one else recognize the danger we’re in? Have they not read the newspapers or watched the nightly news? My people sit blissfully naive in front, seemingly enjoying the ride, regularly trying to reassure me of the safety and okay-ness of it all. But I’m not falling for it.

November 2011 – Hi, My Name is Logan
Maybe if I close my eyes?

I mostly just slept, still do. What better way to pass the hours in a vehicle? But I could never convince Logan, at least not until the “magic cheese”…

I think I’m finally getting a bit more comfortable with truck time. Sa and Nollind think it’s due to the new treat they got for me that they call “magic cheese”, but it just says Havarti on the package, which I’ve had before. There is something special about it though because I feel really mellow about an hour after I eat some, and riding in the truck is pretty cool then, watching the world go by outside the window. I like sticking my head out and getting that rush of a thousand scents at once blasting in.

December 2011 – Murky Water and Magic Cheese
With magic cheese assist.

For two rescue-come-farm dogs, travelling for five months in the United States was quite the grand adventure—sand dunes, beaches, cool spiky plants, rocks the colour of a sunset, and Logan’s favourite …, dog parks.

Viva Las Vegas…or so the humans like to say. I wasn’t clear what all the fuss was about until we arrived. Once we’d settled in and done a bit of exploring, I found out why it’s such a hot destination — Las Vegas has the best dog park in the western USA, possibly in the whole country!

January 2012 – Viva Las Vegas
RV dog paradise – freedom!

But it wasn’t all fun and games on the road, especially for a sensitive guy like Logan. Some of those great things I mentioned above had a dark side…

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. Drinking from a watering hole in a dog park at Oceanside gave me a thorough understanding of the term “explosive diarrhea”. 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. I also had an eye infection that took many days of an antibiotic ointment to cure, and running in deep sand at the dunes tired out my hindquarters so much I had trouble getting up the stairs into the trailer when we got home.

February 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
It was a long way to the top.

We were away five months that first trip, a long time for a couple of dogs who’d rarely left home. Logan in particular, got a little homesick toward the end…

Yesterday we left Bisbee, the farthest point south we’ve travelled on this trip, and drove all day heading north. I hear we’re going home! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time, but I am a bit of a homebody and I’m looking forward to my farm, my bed, my doggie friends across the road, and leashes that hang on a hook in the porch. Oh, and friendlier plants.

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Montana’s high country on the way home.

There’s talk of a trip this winter, and Sid’s all cleaned up and ready to go. As excited as I am about the prospect of another winter in the desert, it sure won’t be the same without Logan. But then I’m pretty sure he’ll be there with us, exploring our favourite boondocking spots, enjoying the desert sunsets, and riding along easily without the aid of magic cheese.

Just a Dog

It’s September and, one year ago today, I was hanging out in Logie-land with its namesake, my good buddy Logan. Little did I know that in just a few weeks we’d be saying goodbye … forever. Although the day he died was terrible, the permanence of his leaving took time to settle in, and that’s where I’m at now, I think all of us are, that stage where the pain is eased but the permanence is felt with each passing month. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the anniversary of his death on the 28th of September, but I know we’ll do it together, me, T and Nollind, Logan’s family.

September 3, 2018 – a little couch time with T

T told me a sad story from many years ago when she lost a young dog to a huge piece of ice that slid off the roof of the house and landed on him. Terrible, right? It’s been thirty-five years and she still tears up when she talks about Bo. But what makes this story even more tragic, and something T has never forgotten, is the response of one of her “friends” who asked that same evening over drinks, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.”

September 7, 2018 – nap time with a favourite toy

And therein lies the insult to injury that dog people often experience when they lose one of us canine family members. Even if it’s not stated outright, the message is there in the silence … It’s just a dog.

September 17, 2018 – autumn sun

When Logan died, the sympathy cards, condolence messages, and fuzzy blankets covered in paw prints were a great comfort to T (she still hasn’t put the cards away). They brought the message, “He wasn’t just a dog, he was a much-loved member of your family for fourteen years.”

September 25, 2018 – still up for a short walk.

A poem by Richard A. Biby…

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

September 28, 2018 – early morning

Thanks, Mr. Biby and thanks everyone else who understands that there’s no such thing as “just a dog”. I know I’d sure hate to be such a thing.

September 28, 2018
September 28, 2018

Flashback Fur-iday – Shady, Secret Places

I realize it’s Saturday, not Fur-iday, and that I missed last Fur-iday altogether. I have no explanation beyond summer brain. You’ve heard of it, right? When the weather is warm, the evenings are long, and the mind just keeps sliding into vacation mode? All a guy wants to do is lie somewhere in a nice, shady spot with green leaves rustling overhead. Aaaahhhh….summer.

And the joy of summer and shady places has got me thinking about Logan, who had such a good final summer here on the farm, in his new yard that we dubbed Logie-land.

Surveying Logie-land from the shade of the apple tree.

To be honest, I thought the old guy had a slipped cog or two with his obsession for hiding in bushes and sleeping under trailers, some sort of canine paranoia that made him hide. “Why not just lie out in the open where someone might come by and pet you or drop food?” was always my question. Logan’s answer was …

For some of you sun lovers, that (30 degrees Celsius) may not sound terribly hot, but try wearing a black fur coat complete with leggings instead of shorts and flip flops. I guarantee you’ll have a different hot weather threshold.

March 2017 – Hot Times in the Desert 

Under the horse trailer in Kananaskis.
Under Sid the fifth wheel at Lake Mojave.

When the fence around the yard got built last spring, Logan was pretty disappointed that none of the trailers had been fenced in, so whenever he was outside the fenced area, he was under one. At least T always knew where to find him.

Inside the fence, he created a network of trails under the shrubs and through the tall grass, with little hidden, green nests all along his route.

I’m working on my twentieth (or is it twenty-first?) den, I have the full spectrum of sunny versus shady places to nap, there’s a resident prairie dog to keep in check, and so much to observe in my half-acre paradise.

July 2018 – Gone Camping 

One of Logan’s favourite dens in Logie-land.

If you’d have asked Logan, “Why so many dens?” His answer would have been …

I like that hidden away feeling, but I never want to be too far from the people and the action.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

It was simple, he needed a den near each of the places his people hung out.

I turned ten in January and one of things I’m noticing is that I just don’t have much tolerance for heat. I used to love lying out in the sun. Still do on a cool day but, even then, it’s not long before I’m panting up a storm and seeking shade.

On our latest trip to BC it was pretty warm about half the days and I finally figured out that my old friend was onto something—namely shade and undisturbed rest. Here’s a tip for you youngsters out there—whether dog or human—listen to the old guys and gals, they may seem a little crazy or obsessive but they probably know something you don’t.

Learning from the old and wise.

From Logan I learned that under the trailer is the coolest place in a campsite—cool earth, shade at all times of day, and open to all sides so any breeze blows right through.

Napping under Simon at Premier Lake.

But, if you’re more inclined to filtered sun and some privacy, well, camping out in a shrub is pretty darn close to heaven.

Shrub time at Premier Lake.

Logan was a master at finding the shady, shrubby, resting places everywhere he went, even in places where shrubs are hard to come by.

Since I’m never sure how long we’re going to stay in any one location (and neither are my people) I got to work right away underneath the trailer of the Wolverine. It was shady and a good vantage point for keeping an eye on things. Unfortunately, it lacked the brushy cover that I prefer.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

Shrub time in a Kananaskis horse camp.
Not a lot of leaf on this shrub at Vulture Peak but he made it work.

You won’t find Logan in any of the many shady spots in Logie-land this summer, but you can do what I plan to do … lie under a shrub or a tree listening to the sound of the breeze rustling through the green leaves and remember a very clever black and white dog who liked nothing better than a shady, secret place to nap.