It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to get an old dog to the desert. I’m living proof. Without the care and attention of a bunch of people, I wouldn’t be lying here in the Arizona sun, soaking up as many of those healing rays as I can. Nope. I’d either be struggling through the snow at home, having to wear the boots that have become tripping hazards for my old legs, or, even worse, I’d be buried under it, in one of my nests turned grave.


Soaking up the morning sun near Quartzsite, Arizona.


Sounds grim, I know, but it’s the truth. Back in the summer, and even more so in the fall, none of us were sure I was going to make it this far. At one of my fall appointments, the vet suggested that Teresa and Nollind check out the “Quality of Life” scale that’s available online, so they’d have a sense of when it was “time”. And that’s “time” with that final, ominous sound, not the way it’s said when it’s time for supper or a walk.

When we took our fall camping trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, I had kind of a rough go. I was feeling very tired and starting to cough. My arthritis was making it impossible for me to climb the steps into the trailer or navigate out again. And I couldn’t make it more than a few hours without having an accident in the house or even the truck. The planned winter trip to the desert was off. Teresa and Nollind would stay home to look after their ailing, aging dog.


Rest stop during a Cypress Hills walk in late September.


At least, that was, until they observed my increased stiffness with the cold weather and my struggle to walk on snow-covered or icy ground. That was when they started working on a plan to get me to the desert.

In early November, the cocktail of medications and supplements that Dr. Beth Barrett put me on really started to do their work. I was able to walk a little farther in the mornings without pain and I had more energy with no coughing. My appetite was back, putting a stop to the weight loss I’d been experiencing, and the shine returned to my coat. Another vet on Dr. Barrett’s team, Bronwyn, suggested that I be tested for a bladder infection and when the test came back positive and they put me on some aggressive antibiotics, my issues with incontinence were gone. I was back to my old “pee when I feel like it” self and a much more able travelling companion.

Beth & Muddy (1)

Dr. Beth Barrett with one of her four dogs.


Every two weeks, from August to December, vet tech Roxanne administered my Legend injection and, when she was packing up all of my winter meds, she included clear and thorough instructions for how the Legend was to be given by the vets we’d see during our travels. This information came in very handy at our first vet visit in Las Vegas when the vet wanted to inject my muscles instead of my veins.


My last visit to Roxanne before we left home.


My good friend, Laurana, loaned us her PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) machine that got me through the worst of the pain back in the fall and I think helped my heart and kidneys until Dr. Barrett’s diet changes and medications had a chance to do their good work.


Therapy time on the PEMF mat.


The trip down was a breeze, largely because of Dame Dixie’s magical meds that she gave me last year. It’s not a drug I couldn’t get from the vet I was seeing at the time, it just wasn’t something they suggested. It works perfectly for me, completely removes the anxiety from travelling.


Dixie. Walking the canal near the farm on one of her visits.


Dixie’s people, my good friends G and S, gave us a bunch of her things when, sadly, she passed on this spring, and part of that kit was a raised bowl stand. Thanks to their generosity, my meals have become more comfortable and I’m more inclined to finish them, “powering up” more easily for our walks. And Nollind used the double bowl holder as a prototype for the trailer-sized version below.12-logan-ontheroad-bowl

Nollind also built me a ten-foot ramp and covered it in carpet, so that I can safely get from the ground into the trailer and back out again. Not only has it saved my joints from hard landings and stair-climbing mishaps, but it’s given me back the independence that is central to my nature (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog posts for awhile).


The new ramp getting a workout.


And then there’s Teresa, of course, my greatest advocate, who orchestrated all of the above. The time, the cost, the trouble, all seem irrelevant when it comes to my well-being. (Although I think I pushed her pretty close to the edge with those middle-of-the-night trips outside and regular mop-ups before the bladder thing got resolved.)


Leaders of my village.


Later today I’ll add another person to the village, when we go to see the vet in Blythe, California, about a twenty-minute drive from our camp in Quartzsite. They’ll be giving me my Legend injections every couple of weeks during our time down here.

And so, people of my village, these next three months, as I walk on warm, dry ground and nap in the sun, I’ll think of all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m certain of it.


Desert time.










Time to Go!

We dogs thought our departure for the south was scheduled for December 15 so I’ve been pretty relaxed about getting ready. Plenty of time. But the past couple of days there have been signs around the house and the farm that our departure is imminent. Horse sitters and house sitters coming by for their instructions, final visits with friends, boxes and bins appearing in every room.


Farewell dinner with G and S.

With this terrific weather we’ve been having, the snow has all melted, we’ve been out walking in the fields to the west, and I thought the peeps might want to stick around for awhile.  But, not so much. I think they’re seeing it as a good weather window to get south, before the snow and cold returns. I heard T say that the roads are clear all the way to Arizona!


Winter is taking a break.

Yesterday afternoon was the biggest sign yet, Sid got hitched to the truck and pulled closer to the house. Yikes!

So, last night, I quickly packed everything crucial.


Priorities packed.

It’s Friday now and we don’t seem to be going anywhere just yet so I think there’s time to pull out my take-along list from last year. I was so much more organized. I guess that’s what happens when the date gets moved up by a week.

Anyway, best get to it. When T and Nollind are on a roll, things happen quickly, especially when the weather is cooperating. Talk to you from the road!


Full moon on the prairie.

Writer’s Block

11-chico-halfdogI think that’s what you call this … writer’s block. Merriam-Webster says that writer’s block is “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” That sounds about right.

I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out what to write. Logan’s got it easy these days. Every couple of weeks he’s got at least one new ailment or condition to tell you about. Okay, maybe easy isn’t exactly the right word for what he’s got going on, but he’s definitely got things to write about.

I thought of writing about the arrival of winter, but that sounds a lot like what I wrote last time when I talked about having four seasons in one. But, just to update you, the cat house (aka Meowi) has been plugged in which signals the official start of winter on the farm.11-chico-meowi2

And then I considered writing about how I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out near Logan, supporting him … but then this thing happened yesterday. I got a little rambunctious at the beginning of our walk in the afternoon and knocked him right off his feet when I ran into him. Oops. I went down too if it’s any consolation.11-chico-deckdogs

I also thought it might be time to start talking about our upcoming journey to the desert. Things are a little up in the air because of Logan’s health, but we’re planning to head out with Sid in tow in the middle of December. (I hope. I hope.) But that can wait. It’s still weeks away.

My dog park tales might have made a good blog post, but there just wasn’t enough to tell you about my two trips to the park. I met a few dogs, had some great play sessions, tired myself out to the point I was having trouble keeping my hind end upright but, other than that, not much to tell. Oh, and I just love small dogs.11-chico-dogpark

I could have told you about Logan’s great new bed they made for him right in the middle of the house. It’s near the heater, it has multiple layers, and it is just the comfiest thing on the planet. It’s awesome. He gets to sleep on it all night so I figure I should be able to spend some of the day there. Now that he’s feeling better, T and Nollind are less inclined to boot me off.11-chico-logansbed

It’s not much of a story, but I went along on Logan’s latest trip to the vet, and afterward, we ran some errands in Strathmore. I’m really happy for Logan that he’s travelling better, but his getting comfortable in the car seems to be taking up a lot more space than when he was nervous and wouldn’t lie down.11-chico-car

And then I considered writing a post on my recent role as trail dog when T took Storm out for a field ride. It is a super-important job and I think I did pretty well. It turned out there weren’t any partridges or deer to flush out, but, if there had been, I was on it. Don’t want them spooking the horse when he’s right on top of them. Although I have to confess, I did get distracted once and ended up being just the thing that spooked Storm when I came bolting out of the deep grass. I’ll do better next time.11-chico-horseride

So, here I am, still stuck. Maybe I’ll think of something to tell you about in a couple of weeks.