Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Lazy. Hazy. Crazy. That about sums it up.

I’ve always liked a good nap, especially on a warm day, but this summer, my fifteenth, I am borderline lazy.  I have found more places to sleep in Logieland (isn’t that a great name?) than Nevada has spots. Just when I think I’ve got enough nap locations, I discover yet another shaded, grassy, idyllic piece of paradise.

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A great afternoon spot in the shade of the house. The downspout makes for very soft grass.

The hazy I speak of is due to the forest fires in our neighbouring province, British Columbia. It isn’t a big deal but it has caused my eyes to burn a little and my throat feels a bit raw. It would probably be a lot worse if I was actually doing anything other than sleeping most of the time. I guess being an old dog with arthritis and a heart condition has an upside!

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Smoky morning walk.

Which brings me to crazy. The crazy has nothing to do with a hectic pace, lots of outings, or full days. I wish. The crazy has been in my head. But, before you worry, it’s getting much better. The old brain has not given it up to dementia just yet.

It started at the end of our camping trip last month. Not only were my guts in turmoil but so was my brain. A call to the vet resulted in a round of antibiotics and other stomach settling meds that got the GI problems under control, but the crazies continued. Teresa was worried I’d slipped a cog and wasn’t coming back. So was I quite frankly.

But then, in true amateur vet/sleuth fashion, Teresa set about researching my conditions, my symptoms, my medications. My greatest advocate came to my rescue again. What she found was that two of the pills I’d been getting for quite some time don’t play well together. In fact, the combination of them can cause diarrhea, restlessness, and anxiety, all the things I’d been experiencing. She almost threw out all of my meds right then and there. Enough!

But, instead, we embarked on a path of medication reduction. One med of the pair that doesn’t play nicely was removed altogether and two others were reduced.  Can you say “withdrawal symptoms?” Holy DTs! I was a mess for the first week, even though the drugs were being tapered off slowly. I paced. I panted. I hardly slept. I was a wreck. Who knew Gabapentin was such an addictive beast?

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The first night of detox.

But, she got me through it. The crazies were worst in the evening and she sat with me every night. She’d watch TV while I lay at her feet on my favourite blanket. There was something about the ritual that was soothing. I’d start to feel anxious and she’d put the blanket on the floor, I’d lie down, she’d climb into the big chair, and we’d spend the next few hours that way. If I started to feel unsettled again, she’d give me a rub and I’d go back to sleep.

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The sweet spot.

It’s been almost a week since our last TV/blanket night. I’ve been feeling much better since then. I guess I’ve kicked it, or at least part of it. I’m still getting some of the medication but less than half of what I was. Admittedly, my stupid arthritic elbow is more painful than it was, but I’m not as wobbly and my mind is clearer and calmer. A fair trade I’d say. I even slept through the night the past few, which I know makes my light-sleeping dog-mom very happy.

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Walk along the canal.

Despite the increased elbow discomfort, I’m getting around okay. I still help out at the barn every day, patrol Logieland regularly, and get out for short walks. And, if I walk too far and don’t think I can make it back, I just call a taxi.

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Farm taxi. (His shirt says “do gooder)

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The Chase

I may be slow, with a wobbly hind end and a serious limp, but I managed to catch a gopher. I admit the little guy was cornered in the barn, but still, I caught it. Me.

Just to clarify, for those who aren’t familiar, the animals I’m referring to are technically Richardson Ground Squirrels, often called prairie dogs, but around here they’re just gophers. And, as cute as they are, they are farm vermin and will dig up your entire property, eat your garden, create a minefield for livestock, and attract much larger burrowing critters, like badgers who dig holes big enough to swallow a human leg up past the knee (just ask Teresa).07-logan-thechase-groundsquirrel

We spotted the gopher as we were headed out to the barn on Wednesday morning and chased it across the paddock, Chico in the lead, of course, but me not so far behind. When the gopher went under the barn door we knew we had him. There was no way he had an escape hole dug through the concrete floor.

We ran in, he cheeped to alert us of his location (which they always do for some reason), Chico went left, I went right, and there he was, cornered by the wall and a shelf unit. I haven’t had a gopher in my mouth in years but I jumped in and grabbed him. He was huge! He fought! I tried to give him the old shake of death but my wobbly back legs gave out and I plopped down onto the floor. Despite my unplanned, sprawling sit, I held on. His claws were flailing at my face—

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Jaws of death.

It was about then that Chico jumped in, grabbing him just as I let go. He finished him off, which was fine with me. I always enjoyed the thrill of the chase and the catch but the killing, not so much.

You may see the whole thing as rather barbaric, and I suppose it was, but I felt so alive in that moment, like I was four rather than fourteen, and I walked a couple of inches taller on my way back to the house.

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Jaws of death at rest.

There’s not a lot of excitement in my life these days, which I’m normally fine with, but every now and then, it’s good for the old canine soul to do something completely instinctual and dog-like. It used to be chasing coyotes, baying as I went, or running down a skunk or a porcupine and dealing with the consequences. I don’t recommend any of these activities but, at the time, they were pretty thrilling.

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Expressing our wolf-ness when we were both a lot younger.

These days, my hunting and chasing amounts to following Chico on his yard patrols, sometimes watching him catch something, always far behind and never in the thick of things. Wednesday was different. Wednesday I was a wolf.  Wednesday I forgot I was an old dog, just for a minute.

There’s a scoreboard on the fridge in the kitchen, a little friendly competition between Nollind and Chico. Well, this old dog is on the board.07-logan-thechase-scoreboard-190123

Close Encounter

It was a lovely morning for a walk as we set out last Sunday morning. Part of my routine is to circuit the barn on our way west, just to make sure all is as it should be. Well, on Sunday morning, it definitely wasn’t. A small, black and white, looked-like-a-cat was on the south side of the barn next to a freshly dug pile of dirt. You can’t just move into our yard without so much as a hello so I ran over to check out the newcomer. That was when I discovered it wasn’t a cat, but a very unsociable, straight-from-hell, toxic-gas-spraying beast!

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The face of a happy dog looking forward to a morning walk.

 

It turned as I ran toward it—I assumed to run away—and I was looking forward to a good chase when the animal’s tail went straight in the air and a nasty, yellow stream hit the left side of my face. The smell was bad but the burning in my left eye was excruciating. I ran back toward T who’d just come around the corner of the barn to see what was happening. I thought she might go after the creature that had attacked me but she just clipped the leash on my collar and we were running toward the house, away from the dispersing cloud of gas.

I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that it was a skunk that I encountered. It was my first experience with one so I had no idea. Logan thought it was hilarious, having had his run-ins with them more than once as a young dog. One time it happened when they were out camping with the horses and he had to ride home in the front part of the horse trailer where the tack usually goes. The tack got to ride in the truck. I guess I was lucky it happened at home where they had stuff on hand to help me.

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Logan’s still laughing.

 

So, anyway, once we reached the yard, T called for Nollind to come and help and then took me to a grassy area away from the house. I rubbed my face on the grass again and again, so many times that my lip was bleeding, but it just kept burning. I was sure relieved to see Nollind coming with a bucket full of remedies. I knew I could count on my people to know what to do.

The first thing they did was rinse my eye a few times with saline and that helped a bunch. The burning subsided. The direct hit to the face meant the spray was fairly localized, but it also meant it was hard to clean off without hurting me. They first tried a store-bought deskunking solution with written instructions to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth. They applied it as carefully and as thoroughly as they could and let it dry. I was hopeful.

It helped some, but the smell was still pretty bad and I wasn’t allowed in the house. T did some research on products that could be used on my face and tomato juice was at the top of the list. It was nicer than the skunk product but I’m not a big fan of tomato. Too bad bacon grease didn’t take out skunk odor! When they rinsed it off I smelled kind of like a skunk in a tomato patch.

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It’s a little redder than the rest of me but I think it makes me look younger. What do you think?

 

The third and final solution was what they’d used on Logan all those years ago, once they got him home from the campground. It’s also not recommended for use on the face but we were desperate by this point. They were very careful, I did my best to keep my eyes and mouth closed, and we got the job done. A quick eye rinse after and I was just fine. It burned less than the skunk spray. The magic concoction? A mix of peroxide, baking soda, and a little bit of dish soap. If ever you need to get rid of skunk smell, here’s the recipe.

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I think all the peroxide bleached my face. I’m sure it wasn’t this white on Saturday.

 

I don’t notice it much anymore but, apparently, I still smell at close range or when I get wet and I’m told this could last for a month or more. As long as I’m allowed in the house and people still pet me, I’m okay with being a little stinky.

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I thought a swim in the canal would help but the water just brings out the smell.

 

As for the skunk, that pile of dirt was what he’d dug out from under the barn to make a den for himself … or herself. And, yes, he/she is still there. T and Nollind have tried a number of things in and around the den that are supposed to repel skunks but, so far, it keeps returning. They’re wondering if there might be babies in the den. I hope not, because as long as the skunk is there, Logan and I don’t get to go anywhere near the barn. They’re being silly, really, because it’s not like I’d do that again. No way. Next time I’d grab him before he had a chance to turn around and lift that tail!

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