Logan’s Run

Some of you might remember from a previous blog post that I was named after the 70s Sci-Fi classic, Logan’s Run. It was a favourite of Teresa’s, back in the day, and when I pulled a horizon-job on them my first day off-leash, I earned the name Logan.

Fast forward thirteen years to a walk in the field this past Sunday. Chico caught the scent of coyote, I picked it up, and we were in “the cone”, zig-zagging back and forth. Teresa caught up to us but only had one leash and Chico had the misfortune of being closer to her than I was. He soon found himself attached to the end of a retractable cable.

As the cone narrowed, I started to run south, baying as I followed the scent. It was exhilarating. I was that young dog again, heading for the horizon, hot on the trail of my prey. A quarter mile … a half mile … a … whew … the horizon was a lot farther than I remembered.

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My usual jogging pace.

Teresa and Chico were still well behind me but starting to gain ground, Teresa on her phone calling for backup. They wouldn’t take me alive! Okay, a bit dramatic. I pretended to lose the scent so that I could slow down and circle back, trotting a back and forth pattern in the field. And then they were on me, they’d caught up, and Nollind was on his way in the Kubota with a second leash.

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A “drink” along the trail.

The rest of the walk was on-leash and much more sedate but I’d had my moment to shine. At least, that was, until I was back at the house and had slept a couple of hours. I woke up feeling like I was drowning. My heart condition causes fluid to build up in my lungs when I exercise. I have medication that manages it under normal circumstances, but it wasn’t designed for half-mile gallops across the prairie.

 

I coughed. I retched. I felt terrible. And then I ate grass, gulped it really, as much as I could sink my teeth into at this time of year. It helped but, as you might imagine, it presented a whole new set of problems the next day since we dogs don’t have the stomach enzymes to digest grass. Those long strands don’t change much between entering and exiting.

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If only Teresa had caught a photo of me during instead of after the run.

 

 

But anyway, enough poop talk. I recovered. It took an extra dose of my diuretic, some anti-inflammatories, and a rest day, but I don’t think I’m any worse for wear as a result of my unsanctioned run. And, I’ll do it again in a heartbeat (no pun intended) should the incentive and opportunity arise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Fun

Winter’s come early this year, and I’ve heard quite a bit of griping about it from the humans … it’s cold … it’s snowy … it’s slippery.  I say, it’s winter! It comes every year so I’m really not sure why they’re surprised or upset by it. Living where we do, it’s inevitable that it’s going to turn cold and snowy. Winter will arrive. No question. It’s just the when and how.

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A snowy start to November. This was on the 2nd.

In my opinion, just between you and me, my humans have gotten soft from their winters in the south. The first few inches of snow, the first day the thermometer drops to -10C (14F), they’re ready to head for the deserts of Arizona. They used to be a pretty hardy pair—skating in twenty below weather, skiing into backcountry huts, attending outdoor New Year’s Eve parties, rolling in the snow when hot-tubbing—all kinds of winter adventures. They’re still adventurous, just less so if it involves getting cold.

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One of many winter adventures.

And I hate to say it but my old pal Logan is getting that way too. Well, you read his blog last week, Point Me South. He’s gotten soft in his old age. We went out for a short walk today and he was trying to pull all four feet off the ground at once. It didn’t work, in case you’re wondering. I have to confess that I also pulled a paw out of snow today when it was hurting, but just for a few seconds, and just the one. I hope T didn’t see or she might put me in the dreaded boots. I hate those things.

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Look ma, all four feet on the ground.

I’m usually pretty much a “live life to the fullest” kind of guy, and winter is no exception. In fact, I find snow kind of magical. One day there’s dirt and rocks and grass, the next they’ve all disappeared and there’s this wonderful fluffy stuff to run and roll and play in. What’s not to like?

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Enjoying a winter walk.

 

And early snow means we’ve had a couple of ski days already. I don’t ski, of course, but T does and it means we go farther and faster and it’s all off-leash time for me. She tried the leash thing once but it was a bit of a disaster. I kept pulling her over. T’s been suffering with a nasty cold, but as soon as she’s better, we’ll be back out in the fields with the skis. Sadly, Logan can’t join us this year. The deep snow is just too hard for him.

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Skiing west of the farm.

That’s the part of winter I’m not liking, watching my buddy struggle. We went out with T and Nollind to take down the horses’ temporary fall pasture fence. I went off exploring the south end of the pasture into the deep snow and Logan followed me. It was tough going because there was soft snow covered with a crust with more soft snow on top of that. He actually got stuck, marooned in this big expanse of deep snow. They had to go and rescue him with the Kubota. I’ll be more careful where I lead him next time.

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Staying on the path made by the Kubota.

Merriam-Webster defines winter as three things:

  1. The season between autumn and spring comprising in the northern hemisphere usually the months of December, January, and February or as reckoned astronomically extending from the December solstice to the March equinox.
  2. The colder half of the year.
  3. A period of inactivity or decay.

Number 1 is technically correct, Number 2 is closer to the truth in Canada, but Number 3 makes no sense at all. Inactivity? Winter is definitely not a period of inactivity, or it certainly doesn’t have to be. Let’s go play in the snow!11-chico-winterfun-chico

Point Me South

Since I’m not a big fan of travelling, until now I didn’t quite understand the masses of people that drive south to places like Florida, Arizona and California in the winter. I mean, winter’s not that bad. I’ve always liked the snow. And it feels a bit like cheating. Not to mention, for us, with Sid in tow and dogs needing semi-regular breaks, it’s about 33 hours of truck time to get to Quartzsite, Arizona. That’s like driving to downtown Calgary and back 22 times! In a row!

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Truck time.

 

It’s also at least two overnights in the cold country which means the trailer slides stay in and I don’t have access to my couch. (Yes, I have my own couch.) We used to put the slides out, until a few years ago in Great Falls when it was -20 and the mechanism broke on the big slide. And, in addition to making do with a temporary bed on the floor, it’s cold! Sid is nice down in the desert, but really not built for the gauntlet of well-below-freezing temperatures we travel through to get there. The cold seeps in through every little gap.

And, it means four days of getting in and out of the truck multiple times, which I can no longer do unassisted, and I hate needing help. It means four days of not enough sleep. It means four days of being in fifteen square feet with Chico. It means four days of not being comfortable.

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Me travelling with Chico is a bit like an insomniac watching somebody sleep. 

 

When the talk first turned to whether or not we’d travel south this year, I was kind of hoping we’d stay home. It takes a lot out of me getting down there. And it’s so comfy at home. When my health was taking a turn back in early October, it sounded like we wouldn’t be going. I felt bad about messing with Teresa & Nollind’s travel plans, but I was kind of relieved.

And then I started to feel better and they started talking about travelling again. “Crap!” I thought. At least, that was, until winter arrived about ten days ago.

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Winter arrives on the farm.

 

Six years and four trips later, I think I get it. I understand why so many retired people, some of them quite elderly, make the journey south, despite having to run the winter gauntlet and endure many miles of travel.

Winter really sucks when you’re old. Your bones ache. You get the shivers easily. Navigating snow and ice is more challenging than it used to be. Winter is just not a friendly place for an old person … or dog.

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It’s been cold for November!

 

My feet always were a little more sensitive to the cold than Chico’s but this year it’s ridiculous. They’re cold as soon as we get outside! And the foot attached to my bad leg? It’s a bit like an ice cube in the house and hurts like the devil outside. Shaking it and biting at it don’t seem to help at all.

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Following a horse trail makes the winter walking a bit easier.

 

Okay, so Teresa puts boots on me. Aaah … so much better. Except, this year, the damn things make me trip. I did a full face plant into a pile of snow along the road the other day when I got tripped up by my Muttluks. Sheesh.

I used to need a jacket on the really cold days, like -20 and colder, to avoid shivering. Now I wear one overnight (in the house!) to stay warm enough.

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Me after a walk in the snow.

 

And I don’t think I even need to talk about what it’s like to walk in deep snow or on ice with my increasingly wobbly legs. Just think about a dog wearing roller skates and you’ll be close.

Since winter arrived on the 1st of November, as I’ve been watching the V’s of Canada Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead, all I can think about is the desert. How 33 hours of truck time equals 100+ days of lying in the sun. How four days of getting in and out of the truck equals three and half months of walks on warm, dry ground. How four days of discomfort up front equals fewer aches, pains, and shivers for the rest of the winter.

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One of many desert walks last winter.

 

It’s still five weeks until our planned departure date and, as I’ve learned in the past few months, a lot can change in that amount of time. But, at this point, I’m in. Point me south and call me a snowbird!