Home for the Holidays

It will be a different kind of Christmas this year … no desert … no Logan. The four of us spent the past two Christmases in and around Quartzsite, Arizona—exploring the desert, lying in the sun, lounging by the Little Red Fireplace. This year we’ll be here in Alberta, and just three of us, unless you count the horses and cats who bring our number up to ten.

Christmas Day last year at Dome Rock BLM (Logan in his favourite spot).

Logan was always the ringleader when it came to opening gifts, being a greater lover of toys than I am. Last year it was a little candy cane squeaky thing. Silly, but he loved it. No matter his age, he never lost the enjoyment of something that squeaked or grunted or otherwise made a sound between his teeth. I inherited a whole basket of the goofy things. I hope T and Nollind give me a bone for Christmas this year. I prefer quiet deliciousness to noisy tastelessness.

Logan with his Christmas toy.

We’ve been out walking in our winter wonderland every day since the snow came. T started out in boots when the snow cover was light, moved up to snowshoes after a dump, and now she’s back to just boots with all the Chinook melting that’s happened this past week or so. For me, it’s four paws all the time, although I wished I had some doggie snowshoes on those deep-snow days. On the plus side, I’m looking svelte, fitting up my near-ten-year-old body for the winter adventures to come.

I keep up just fine on the hard pack.

And by winter adventures I mean Canadian winter adventures, the kind with snow and sunshine and, yes, sometimes cold. T and Nollind had been planning to take us south in early December, then mid-December, then just after Christmas, and then early January, but they’ve decided we’re staying home entirely this year. Sounds like there are a few reasons why, not the least of which is the old horse, Nevada. He’s had some health issues since the end of summer and T wants to be here to care for him on a daily basis. She thinks he needs her right now, and she might be right. I see the way he looks at her every afternoon when she goes out to give him his extra feed and supplements, like she’s just saved his life yet again.

Home on the range

Logan almost kept us home last year but Nollind built him a ten-foot ramp and we were off to the south. Maybe he could do the same for Nevada? Instead of the Fang trailer behind Sid we could haul a horse trailer.

The ramp that made it all possible last winter.

But, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m settling in for a Canadian winter—putting energy into growing an extra layer of fur. I’ll be fine. I actually like snow, as you might remember from my I Love Snow post this spring. And, as much as I miss Logan, there are more frequent adventures and long walks in my days as a solo, easy-travelling dog. Life is good.

Making my version of a snow angel.

I’ve heard talk around the house that we might even head out for some winter camping to places like the Cypress Hills and Kananaskis. In our first trip south in 2011, we spent some time camping in the snow in Utah and northern Arizona. Playing in the snow during the day and tucking into a warm trailer at night? Sign me up!

Snow at Bryce Canyon in 2011

From my home to yours, or wherever you may be this holiday season, wishing you and your furry (and non-furry) family a very Merry Christmas!

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Gone Camping!

I apologize if I scared anyone with my blog absence last Fur-iday. People do wonder about a guy my age when they don’t hear from me. It’s understandable. But … still here!

On Fur-iday last week I was in the land of no cell phones or internet. I was, get this, camping! None of us thought I was up for any camping this season. From my perspective, it seemed like a whole lot of effort just to be cold. From my peoples’ point of view, a few days in the hills wasn’t worth putting up with a pacing, pooping pooch in a small space.

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Who me? Camping?

The first change that made it possible was something we’ve all been waiting for for a dozen years. I have no explanation as to why but car/truck travel is seeming a lot less of a big deal recently. It’s still not my favourite activity, but no more morphing into a panting, pacing maniac that nobody wants to travel with. I’ve learned to ride it out.

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Drug-free travel.

The other thing is that I’ve been sleeping better at night, even in the house sometimes. Again, not sure how it’s come about but it’s such a relief for all of us. They still keep a light on for me and I appreciate it, but the night terrors have faded.

So, back to the camping trip. Our friends G and S were headed to Kananaskis Country and, in light of my recent normalness, Teresa and Nollind decided to hitch up Sid and join them. I can’t say I was thrilled initially. I’ve become quite comfy in my new dog yard. 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. But I try to be a team player, so did my best to look enthused about the journey and not get bogged down in the worries.

Worry #1, Travel Anxiety – Even though I’ve been travelling better recently, I’ve only been on short drives, so I wasn’t sure how a three-hour journey would be. But, I started the camping adventure off strong with the most relaxing drug-free vehicle travel I’ve ever experienced. So much for Worry #1.

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Matching Chico’s cool. Panting only because it was a hot day.

Worry #2, Being Cold – The first evening at dinner, I was treated to a padded bed, a pillow, and an afghan. This good fortune and pampering continued through the weekend. Nix Worry #2.

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Afghan hound.

Worry #3, Being Trapped in Sid All Night – I had my couch, I had a jacket, the light was on. What more could an old dog want? Forget Worry #3.

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Tucked into my couch for the night.

Worry #4, Missing Out on the Hiking – Okay, this one actually happened, and it was a bit of a drag. Chico came back to camp telling stories of his lake walks and, although I’d enjoyed my nap time, I did feel left out. Worry #4 realized.

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Hiking without me. Smiling through their pain.

But, one out of four is not bad on the worry metre. I was a pretty contented canine … until Saturday night.

They thought it was Saturday morning’s pancake breakfast, but I knew different. I am just not a food sensitive kind of guy and I wasn’t going to be taken out by a flapjack. It was something else, something evil, that sent my digestive system into chaos. We’re just not sure what it was yet, or is. We’re still working it out.

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Yum yum. Pancakes!

So my camping adventure didn’t end as strong as it started, but I have no regrets. Mountain air, campfire time, pancakes with a little butter and syrup, and good friends. A word from the wise … when every thing and every time could be your last, savour every bite.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Wrapping up a great day.