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?

10-Logan-ifyour-run

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.

10-Logan-ifyour-horsedog

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.

10-Logan-IfYou-staying

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.

10-Logan-IfYou-hand

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.

10-Logan-ifyour-settingout

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

Advertisements

Best. Day. Ever.

I know it’s not the first time you’ve heard me say so, but last Fur-iday was truly the best day ever! While Logan was home enjoying Logie-Land, I got to go along on an awesome road trip.

As Logan mentioned in his post last week, it was T’s birthday and, luckily for me, she chose to celebrate in a way that included a dog. I like to think I was part of the reason for her choice.

The day started off with a short Logan walk and swim at the canal. In hindsight, I think it was a guilt walk. Logan wasn’t coming along for the rest of the day.

06-chico-bestdayever-canal

The “guilt walk”.

When we got back to the house and everyone was rushing around putting things in bags and packing a cooler, I assumed I’d had my walk and would be spending the day at home. Sigh… But, just as I was about to settle in for a long nap, I saw some of my things being added to one of the bags. Could it be so? When my food and bowl went in another bag I knew it was going to be a good day. One, I was going along and, two, we wouldn’t be back for dinner.

The first stop was the T.Pot, one of T and Nollind’s favourite restaurants on the north side of the city. Now I didn’t get to go in for dim sum, but I did get a Timbit from the Tim Horton’s stop right after. I do love Timbits. From there we headed west toward the mountains. I’d never gone to the Rockies without horses or Sid in tow so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Was I in for a treat!

Stop two was the Kananaskis Visitor Centre to find out what the trails were like. I had a chance to get out and stretch my legs and check out the “what to do in the event of a cougar encounter” sign. Don’t run?! Who are they kidding? If that image was life-sized, that is one cat I do not want to tangle with. I’d even take the stinky, black and white devil from a few weeks ago over a cougar.06-bestdayever-cougar

Map in hand and some recommendations from the staff at the Visitor Centre, it was a short drive to the Stoney parking lot and trailhead. My first mountain day hike! Despite the scary cougar signs, I was excited and set out at the front of the group. It was a pretty easy walk with nice footing and trees for shade.

06-chico-bestdayever-thetrail

Setting out on the trail.

Soon after we turned off the main trail I could hear a roar that grew louder and louder as we walked. The sound reminded me of the weir along the canal but times fifty. We reached a creek that tumbled over rocks on its way out of the mountains but I knew right away the friendly stream where I had a dip and a drink couldn’t be the source of the noise.

06-chico-bestdayever-stream

Cooling off.

Just a little farther along the trail we reached Troll Falls. Wow. So much water pouring over the cliff and crashing into the pool below. I was happy I’d done my swimming where the stream was less violent. There was no way I was going into the pool at the base of the waterfall. Even the air was filled with water.

06-chico-bestdayever-GandS

Me and my girls at Troll Falls.

Some oohing and aahing and a few photos later, we were on our way back via a different, and slightly longer route. The afternoon was getting hot but, since I’d had a swim, I was fine. The peeps really should have come in with me and I’m sure they realized their mistake about halfway up the big climb on the return trip. Maybe next time they’ll follow my lead.

Next stop was Kananaskis Village for one of my most favoritest things … ice cream! And, although I didn’t get my own, I did get to sample three different flavours and eat all of Susan’s cone.

06-chico-bestdayever-icecream.jpg

Score! Susan doesn’t like the cone part.

After ice cream came a walk to the spot where T and Nollind got married many years ago. I wasn’t at the wedding, of course, wasn’t even a glint in my daddy’s eye that long ago, but I could feel what a special place it was. I sure wish I’d been there on that day. Do you think they’d do it again for me? I could be the ring bearer. Or would I be a ring dogger? If I can convince them to get married again, you’re all invited.

06-chico-bestdayever-weddingspot

The wedding spot in the Kananaskis Valley

Back in the car, retracing the route we’d taken, I figured we were headed home. It had been a good day. But wait … I still had dinner in the trunk of the car. They wouldn’t have packed it if we were going to be home by dinner. Sure enough, before we reached the main highway, we turned off on a gravel road, and twenty minutes later pulled into the campground at Sibbald Lake. I was confused. We hadn’t brought Sid. Where was everyone going to sleep? I had a great spot stretched out on the back seat with Susan for a pillow, but what about the rest of them?

06-chico-bestdayever-sleeping

Travelling in style … and comfort.

Turned out it was a dinner stop, and was I ever surprised and delighted to find our good friends G and S set up in the B-loop. Friends, food, fire, more food … it was the perfect wrap-up to a perfect birthday. And I think T enjoyed it too.

06-chico-bestdayever-camp

Wrapping up a great day.

 

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.

12-logan-village-sunbathing

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.

12-logan-village-resting

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.

12-logan-village-roxanne

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.

12-logan-village-therapy

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.

04-logan-dixie-canal2-1

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).

12-logan-village-ramp

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.)

12-logan-village-villagers

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.

12-logan-village-walking

Desert time.