First Fur-iday

It’s the first Fur-iday of December and it’s got me thinking about how this blog got started. In one word … Logan. It was his idea. He wrote the first post, gave the site its name, and signed me up to write every second post. It was tough for me because Logan had a sort of cynical way of seeing the world that made people laugh. I’m a bit of a clown in person, but in writing, I had a hard time living up to the standard he set. However, once we began posting weekly and wanted a regular day, I was the one who came up with Fur-iday. :o)

I miss Logan. And not just his physical presence in my days as a friend to explore the world of scents with, but his storytelling, his sense of humour, his every-second-week posts in the blog. I considered ending Chico’s and Logan’s Great Adventures when he died. How could it possibly go on without him? And then I hoped he’d find some way to send his stories from wherever it is he’s gone. But, so far, no word from beyond. Now that he’s left behind that old wreck of a body, he’s probably too busy doing this…

or this…

or maybe this…

This morning I took a tour through the early days of our blog and reread some of my favourite Logan moments. And then I thought of a way to include him in the blog and keep his spirit alive. On the first Fur-iday of each month (Fur-st Fur-iday?), I will dig back into the archives for Logan’s wisdom and humour, combine it with some previously-unpublished photos, and add in a little of my own commentary.

Welcome to the first First Fur-iday!

Me in November of 2011

On the 11th of November of 2011 (11-11-11), it all began with…

Hi, My Name is Logan. I’m probably not your typical blogger; although, admittedly, I haven’t read a lot of blogs. I’m a 7-year-old Border Collie/Lab cross. Yes…a dog.

Logan, November 11, 2011

The dog blog was born! We were just setting out on a big adventure, a 5-month RV tour in the United States, and Logan thought it would be a fun way to chronicle the journey and share our stories with friends and family. Just as T and Nollind had no idea that our original trip would turn into another four winters of travelling, Logan and I didn’t know the blog would become a weekly event over the next seven years (and counting).

Arriving at our first mini destination in Coldstream, BC.

In that very first Logan post, we got a taste of a subject that would come up again and again in our adventures, his travel anxiety. Me, I never understood it. A dog bed in the truck doesn’t feel a lot different than a dog bed in the house other than the gentle motion and noise that lulls me to sleep. But Logan didn’t see it that way …

The stops are filled with new sights, sounds and, most importantly and best of all…smells! It’s an absolute scent-fest every time we stop in a new place. Travelling between stops is a lot less appealing, or let’s make that more terrifying — hurtling down the highway at great speed with others doing the same thing in the other direction. Does no one else see the danger we’re in? Have they not read the newspapers or watched the nightly news? My people sit blissfully naive in front, seemingly enjoying the ride, regularly trying to reassure me of the safety and okay-ness of it all. But I’m not falling for it. I’m a Border Collie and we’re known for our intelligence. Some might say we’re obsessive…I prefer to think of it as focused.

Logan, November 11, 2011

Our first RV park dog run.

It would also be the beginning of Logan’s experimentation with various kinds of recreational herbs and medications…

The morning we left Canada, they slipped something into my food. It made me feel a bit sleepy, but I fought it and remained ever awake and vigilant all the way to Spokane. Somebody has to watch the road and remind them of the dangers.

Logan, November 2011

For all his wonderful qualities, and there were many, Logan was a terrible travelling companion, for humans and dogs alike. If he hadn’t been so easy and happy once we arrived somewhere (see earlier comments about sights and sounds) I’m sure T and Nollind would have left him in the care of someone at home and we probably wouldn’t have stayed away as long without him.

Our five trips south wouldn’t have been the same without Logie.

Luckily for me, Logan was a trooper, T and Nollind were patient, and we were able to tell many stories in the pages of Chico’s and Logan’s Great Adventures over the next seven years.

Check back on the first Fur-iday of January for more from the Logan archives!

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An Exercise in Empathy

According to Oxford, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some of you are probably thinking that empathy is reserved for humans. I thought so too and was quite excited to be embarking (no pun intended but that’s kinda funny) on a new adventure in humanness.

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Working on my “I care” face (which looks surprisingly like my “have you got any treats” face.)

But when I read about the nature of empathy, I realized that I feel this regularly, every time one of my people is upset, or sad, or hurt. It’s written in my canine DNA to go to the aid of my humans when they are in trouble. They’ve even done studies on the topic, including this one entitled “Dogs feel empathy for human suffering.”

The good news for me in this discovery is that human-ness and canine-ness may not be as far apart as I thought.

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Soaking up the snowy day happy vibes from T.

What got me thinking about empathy is my week of spending time in Logan’s world, the world of veterinarians and medications and restrictions. I’ve been a very healthy guy—an easy keeper they call me. I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of me without issue or repercussions (often finding my own snacks), I’m happy with a short walk but always up for a long one, I sleep through the night and am usually the last one out of bed in the morning.

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You’d be amazed what an easy keeper like me can find under a picnic table.

This past week I had to take painkillers that made my stomach feel a bit off, my walks were a good length but limited to on-leash, and I had to sleep with a life preserver around my neck. I know, I know, small potatoes compared to what Logan dealt with his last year. I realize my experience was just a taste of what he went through.

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I admit to a few moments of feeling sorry for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Logan wouldn’t have had it any other way. Some dogs may have opted for an early exit rather than have their activities continually curtailed and spend every second week in a vet’s office, but that wasn’t Logan. He was a fighter, with a zest for life that carried him through his health trials with spunk and dignity.

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Logan’s final canal adventure in mid-August. Spunk and dignity.

My time in Logan’s world is almost up, at least for now. I’m spending less time in the life preserver and my stitches come out on Monday. After that it’s all systems go, life returns to normal.

If the lump they removed from my leg had been a malignant fibrosarcoma, I’d be telling a different story, but, hooray!, my easy keeper streak continues. The lab tests confirmed it was just a benign fibroma. I’m in the clear!celebration time

I’ll wrap up my thoughts on empathy with some words I’m going to try to live by:

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird11-Chico-empathy-chinooksky

 

 

Tribute to a Trail Dog

In nature, canine types are not friends of equine types, largely because they think we taste good. The whole horse-and-hound pairing was invented and popularized by humans. I’m a little less dog-friendly than many of my friends, maybe because I tend to be the smallest in most herds and therefore perceived as the easiest prey. Dogs who have proven themselves to be trustworthy are fine, but any newcomers best be prepared to be chased. I once put the run on a chocolate lab named Jonah who attempted to escape through a gate she didn’t fit through. T rescued her, which was good since I found out later she was a sweetheart and had no interest in gnawing on my legs. Although, she did like my hoof trimmings, but then they all do. It used to give me the creeps to see them chewing on what used to be attached to me but I’ve gotten over it. It’s really just excess, like the hair I shed in spring. They can have it.

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Logan keeping me company on my first ride out of the arena.

Which brings me to Logan. He was another of the good dogs, one of the best maybe. I came to the farm in the spring of 2004 and he came the following January. We spent a lot of years together. I initially greeted him like I do all unknown canines, with a lowered head and flattened ears, but he quickly proved himself a good-natured beast. He liked to nip at our heels occasionally, but not in an effort to have a taste but rather to move us around. His Border Collie herding instincts were strong and he was quick to jump in and assist whenever the humans were moving us from one place to another, like through a gate. His efforts once cost him five teeth when he tried to put the moves on a cantankerous mare named Willow. The rest of us would just lift a foot and flick an ear in his direction, a peaceful “bugger off”, but Willow added bite to her bark. Didn’t stop Logan though. He continued to herd until this year, when his reduced reflexes and stability kept him at a distance.

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He never nipped when we were being ridden.

Although an avid barn dog, where we horses really got in our Logan time was out on the trail. He was trail dog extraordinaire. We did some long treks back in the day, and he’d keep up and then some. His normal position was right behind the last horse in the ride, but he’d often wander off the trail to take a dip in a creek or explore an interesting smell, increasing his total mileage for the day. He had tender paws on more than one occasion after a particularly long day over rough terrain, but did he complain? Never. At the end of most trail days you’d find him curled up in the shade near the horse trailer or wrapped in a blanket on a cool, autumn day.

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End of ride on a hot day.

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End of ride on a cold day.

We horses were sorry to see the premature end of Logan’s days on the trail. In 2011, Chico joined the family and he was a terrible influence on reliable Logan. The two of them were off in the woods chasing all sorts of varmints sending T and Nollind backtracking and whistling and waiting. I remember Logan’s (and Chico’s) last trail day very clearly. The six of us set out on a big loop at Etherington Creek. The dogs were pretty good all day, until we were almost back at camp. Chico spotted a deer and was off and running with Logan hot on his heels. The baying of the hounds faded into the distance as we followed as far as we could on the trail. T and Nollind were angry but also worried when the boys were gone a long time. They eventually returned, as they always did, but that was the last trail ride for those two. In 2012, dogs were left in the front of the trailer when we went to the mountains. As it turned out, it was probably best for Logan anyway, given the arthritis that started developing in his right leg around that time.

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On the trail in Kananaskis Country.

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Always keen to participate in a little rule breaking. 

Logan continued to join us on prairie excursions close to home for the next couple of years but, by the fall of 2014, he had trouble keeping up and making it home. The last time he came with us, he was on three legs at the halfway-home mark so Nollind dismounted, thinking he’d have Rosa carry the poor guy home. We’ve all seen the pictures of the cowboy with the dog riding in the saddle with him, well that dog wasn’t Logan and that dog had probably learned to do it as a pup. And Rosa’s expression was a lot like Logan’s … “What the?!” Just imagine two sets of buggy, brown eyes and you’ll have an idea of how things went. Logan limped home on his own steam. The next time we rode out, the heartbreaking sound of a dog left behind echoed from inside the house.

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Having trouble keeping up to Gidget and Judy in the fall of 2014.

We’re missing him at the barn these days. It became his thing, what he could still do, this past summer. Whenever T was out feeding or grooming or riding, he was never far away, sniffing around or just lying there watching the happenings of the farm. I could see the changes this fall, in his energy, his mobility. We animals sense these things before humans. For a short time in September, we thought we were going to lose both of our old campaigners, Logan and Nevada. But Nevada’s near-death experience is a tale for another time.

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Family photo when we were all a lot younger.

As for Logan, farewell awesome trail dog and keen-if-not-effective herder. This pony won’t soon forget you.