Just a Dog

It’s September and, one year ago today, I was hanging out in Logie-land with its namesake, my good buddy Logan. Little did I know that in just a few weeks we’d be saying goodbye … forever. Although the day he died was terrible, the permanence of his leaving took time to settle in, and that’s where I’m at now, I think all of us are, that stage where the pain is eased but the permanence is felt with each passing month. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the anniversary of his death on the 28th of September, but I know we’ll do it together, me, T and Nollind, Logan’s family.

September 3, 2018 – a little couch time with T

T told me a sad story from many years ago when she lost a young dog to a huge piece of ice that slid off the roof of the house and landed on him. Terrible, right? It’s been thirty-five years and she still tears up when she talks about Bo. But what makes this story even more tragic, and something T has never forgotten, is the response of one of her “friends” who asked that same evening over drinks, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.”

September 7, 2018 – nap time with a favourite toy

And therein lies the insult to injury that dog people often experience when they lose one of us canine family members. Even if it’s not stated outright, the message is there in the silence … It’s just a dog.

September 17, 2018 – autumn sun

When Logan died, the sympathy cards, condolence messages, and fuzzy blankets covered in paw prints were a great comfort to T (she still hasn’t put the cards away). They brought the message, “He wasn’t just a dog, he was a much-loved member of your family for fourteen years.”

September 25, 2018 – still up for a short walk.

A poem by Richard A. Biby…

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

September 28, 2018 – early morning

Thanks, Mr. Biby and thanks everyone else who understands that there’s no such thing as “just a dog”. I know I’d sure hate to be such a thing.

September 28, 2018
September 28, 2018
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Flashback Fur-iday – Shady, Secret Places

I realize it’s Saturday, not Fur-iday, and that I missed last Fur-iday altogether. I have no explanation beyond summer brain. You’ve heard of it, right? When the weather is warm, the evenings are long, and the mind just keeps sliding into vacation mode? All a guy wants to do is lie somewhere in a nice, shady spot with green leaves rustling overhead. Aaaahhhh….summer.

And the joy of summer and shady places has got me thinking about Logan, who had such a good final summer here on the farm, in his new yard that we dubbed Logie-land.

Surveying Logie-land from the shade of the apple tree.

To be honest, I thought the old guy had a slipped cog or two with his obsession for hiding in bushes and sleeping under trailers, some sort of canine paranoia that made him hide. “Why not just lie out in the open where someone might come by and pet you or drop food?” was always my question. Logan’s answer was …

For some of you sun lovers, that (30 degrees Celsius) may not sound terribly hot, but try wearing a black fur coat complete with leggings instead of shorts and flip flops. I guarantee you’ll have a different hot weather threshold.

March 2017 – Hot Times in the Desert 

Under the horse trailer in Kananaskis.
Under Sid the fifth wheel at Lake Mojave.

When the fence around the yard got built last spring, Logan was pretty disappointed that none of the trailers had been fenced in, so whenever he was outside the fenced area, he was under one. At least T always knew where to find him.

Inside the fence, he created a network of trails under the shrubs and through the tall grass, with little hidden, green nests all along his route.

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.

July 2018 – Gone Camping 

One of Logan’s favourite dens in Logie-land.

If you’d have asked Logan, “Why so many dens?” His answer would have been …

I like that hidden away feeling, but I never want to be too far from the people and the action.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

It was simple, he needed a den near each of the places his people hung out.

I turned ten in January and one of things I’m noticing is that I just don’t have much tolerance for heat. I used to love lying out in the sun. Still do on a cool day but, even then, it’s not long before I’m panting up a storm and seeking shade.

On our latest trip to BC it was pretty warm about half the days and I finally figured out that my old friend was onto something—namely shade and undisturbed rest. Here’s a tip for you youngsters out there—whether dog or human—listen to the old guys and gals, they may seem a little crazy or obsessive but they probably know something you don’t.

Learning from the old and wise.

From Logan I learned that under the trailer is the coolest place in a campsite—cool earth, shade at all times of day, and open to all sides so any breeze blows right through.

Napping under Simon at Premier Lake.

But, if you’re more inclined to filtered sun and some privacy, well, camping out in a shrub is pretty darn close to heaven.

Shrub time at Premier Lake.

Logan was a master at finding the shady, shrubby, resting places everywhere he went, even in places where shrubs are hard to come by.

Since I’m never sure how long we’re going to stay in any one location (and neither are my people) I got to work right away underneath the trailer of the Wolverine. It was shady and a good vantage point for keeping an eye on things. Unfortunately, it lacked the brushy cover that I prefer.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

Shrub time in a Kananaskis horse camp.
Not a lot of leaf on this shrub at Vulture Peak but he made it work.

You won’t find Logan in any of the many shady spots in Logie-land this summer, but you can do what I plan to do … lie under a shrub or a tree listening to the sound of the breeze rustling through the green leaves and remember a very clever black and white dog who liked nothing better than a shady, secret place to nap.

Flashback Fur-iday – How Logan Saw the World

Yesterday made five months since Logan died.  In some ways, life without him has become normal but there’s still this empty place in our lives, the place he used to occupy.

That he left at the end of September was good planning on his part, if he had any kind of plan. Winter would have been a struggle, especially this past month of colder than normal temperatures. I imagine him somewhere warm and sunny with soft, green grass, plenty of shady spots, and loose soil easy for digging dens.

Sunny days.

One of the things I miss most about my old pal is his way of seeing the world around us, not always accurate but regularly entertaining.

Our first experience with an ocean beach was on the coast of California north of San Diego. Wide open space to run, plenty of other dogs, and …

Cold, noisy, salty water that chases you — not my idea of a good time. To me, the beach didn’t seem so different from the desert, except that there were more people and it was a lot noisier. These big waves were crashing in on the shore and the water would race right up at me! Very unsettling. 

Jan 2012 – Beach Boys

Staying well away from the waves.

We were still on the coast for New Year’s Eve that trip and the peeps took us for a walk on the beach, early to avoid the fireworks … or so they thought …

The sky lit up and started to explode in all directions with the loudest popping and banging I’ve ever heard! I tried to head for the houses that were all along the beach, thinking someone would take pity on a poor, frightened dog, but Teresa and Nollind kept pulling me back to them, out there in the open, exposed to the terror! It felt like the longest walk of my life and I was never happier to see our trailer. I don’t see how terrifying dogs is a good way to celebrate anything — I may never understand the human species.

Jan 2012 –  Beach Boys

Early morning walk when the beach was safe from explosions.

I love to lie in the sun (Nollind sometimes calls me Sunny D), soak it up through my red and white coat. But hot, sunny days were a different deal for my buddy Logan …

Have you ever tried wearing a black fur coat on a hot, sunny day? Yeah, well, I don’t recommend it. When I was young it seemed like a smart idea to be well-dressed for any occasion, but that was before we started spending winters in the south.

Feb 2015 – Horses, Hiking, and Hazardous Places

In the shade of a mesquite tree near Wickenburg in 2018.

Logan was pretty much impervious to snow for the first five years I knew him, but when he got older …

I’ve been stuck in the snow more than once so I mostly tend to stay on the road and driveway. I actually got stuck head first in the yard when I tried to get to one of my caragana dens. Teresa had to put her boots on and come pull me out. I used to love the snow, but that was before it became my enemy.

March 2018 – Made It

On top of the snow … for the moment.

But melted snow, now that was a different story…

There’s just something about getting my feet wet and drinking from a fresh body of water that is soothing to my canine soul.

March 2018 – Da Boys at Da Beach

Spring run-off.

I could go on and on with Logan’s view of the world but I’ll save some for another day. Next week I’ll tell you all about my recent adventures in that frozen white stuff!