Flashback Fur-iday: A Logan’s Elbow

I’ve been part of the van Bryce clan since the beginning of 2011 when I was two. Logan had just turned seven at the time, and although supposedly entering his senior years, he was not an easy guy to keep up to, even with an already lurking health issue.

A game of “kick the ball” back in 2011.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a time, since back in the days of Logan, you’ll know that he struggled with arthritis and lameness in the latter years of his life. In fact, without the lameness and the medications that made it manageable, he probably would have lived longer, might have even been here to celebrate his sixteenth birthday in January.

But that’s not the point of today’s post, because I know Logan wouldn’t want me rehashing his many health troubles or his ultimate demise.

How Logan would prefer to be remembered.

I’ve hurt myself twice in the past six months, both times resulting in a sore leg and a limp. The first time I just tripped and landed badly, the more recent one, just a few days ago, I tried to climb through a gate and, when I didn’t fit and pulled back, I wrenched something. Again, soreness and a limp. It will probably go away in a few days of lighter exercise and that will be the end of it.

Nobody knows what started Logan’s elbow troubles. It could have been any number of things, partly because he was so active—

I’ve had a hitch in my giddy-up for a long while now … years. Not sure just where it got its start–a bad landing jumping for a ball, playing a bit too rough with a friend, too many miles on the trail behind a horse, or some perfect storm of a combination.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
Beach run with a new buddy in California.

—and partly because his stoic nature made it near impossible for a vet to figure out where the pain was.

The first (vet) who checked out my limp gave up when I wouldn’t flinch and give her any clue as to what was hurting. She called it “typical Border Collie stoicism”. I just called it “not liking vets”. Ever since I was kicked in the face by a horse and had to spend a night at the vet hospital … alone … and have surgery the next day, I’ve not been a fan of vets.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
“This little skiff of snow? Nah, not a problem.”

Having always been such an active guy, Logan had a hard time admitting defeat as his arthritis worsened. I can understand that. Even though I am far from stoic, or so they tell me, I’ll limp along if it means the difference between going for a walk or not.

Admittedly, I find it hard to keep up with horses these days, even at a walk. Their walk is my jog and I just can’t jog for four or five hours straight anymore, in fact, a couple of hours across the prairie normally has me limping. So, as angry as I was with Chico for spoiling what was a great gig, he saved me from having to admit defeat and retire in disgrace.

June 2015 – Trailer Days
Logan logged a lot of trail miles over the years.

It frustrated the poor guy no end that one small joint in his body was keeping him from living the kind of life he most enjoyed.

Darn thing is like my Achilles’ heel. (Think there’s any chance a “Logan’s elbow” might become as famous as an Achilles’ heel?)

April 2017 – A Shot in the Arm

One of the best treatments for Logan turned out to be our winter trips to the desert, for a couple of reasons.

When we travel south for the winter, not sure if it’s the climate or the leash time, but my elbow hardly bothers me at all. Almost makes the many hours of terrifying interstate highway travel worthwhile.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
In the desert, leash time doesn’t mean boring.

T tried a bunch of treatments and remedies for Logan. You can read about them back through the years of the blog, but the one with the most dramatic result was a joint injection in the spring of 2017. Sadly, the treatment’s effect was very short-lived, and its temporary success had unexpected consequences.

You see, with my right leg no longer slowing me down, I’ve been a lot more active and am now discovering that some of the other parts of me are older than I thought they were. For example, my backend seems to be having some difficulty keeping up with the front, and it wobbles sometimes after I’ve exerted myself. I’m always tempted to look back there to see what the heck is going on, but I don’t of course. I forge on like nothing has happened, hoping nobody noticed but me.

2017 – The Domino Effect
“Anybody see that?”

I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine with a few days of lightened activity. After so many years of trying to help Logan, T’s pretty keen on not letting me develop a chronic problem. And, whenever I feel short-changed on a walk or upset about my outdoor time being curbed, I just remember the wise words of my old buddy…

So, to all my ‘nines out there (that’s peeps in the canine world), I know you can’t help yourselves, but try not to wear out any of your parts while you’re still young.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows

Flashback Fur-iday – Home Is …

Since we first set out with our fifth wheel in 2011, we’ve spent more than a year and a half travelling and boondocking in the southwest United States, nineteen months broken into segments from two and half to five months each. It’s become like our second home with its familiar terrain and temperatures, our winter residence for all but three of the past eight winters.

Wupatki ruins in Northern Arizona with “Larry” in the background.

We’ve been back home in Canada since early March of 2018, the longest home stretch since we started RVing and, although I miss our desert time, it’s been good to be home for a while, reconnect with all things Alberta, and enjoy the great outdoors of our grand country.

Almost home in March of 2018.

Logan was really good at appreciating, and very attached to home. It might have been partly his dislike of vehicle travel but I think this prairie place was deep in his bones.

After a week in Tucson we spent a couple of days next to a lake in the far south of Arizona, Patagonia. Sandy soil, a lake to swim in, and grassy hills mostly without cactus, dog heaven! Well, almost. Dog heaven was actually the next stop just a few miles up the road near Sonoita at Xanadu Ranch. I felt like we’d come home — pastures, horses, wide open spaces — it was a sight for a travel-weary dog’s sore eyes.  

Sore Feed and Sore Eyes, March 2012
Near Sonoita in the high country of southern Arizona.

Generally, Logan was a “be happy where you are” kind of guy, always keen for the next adventure, eager to explore new places, but he did worry now and then about what was happening back home on the farm and he sometimes wrestled with bouts of homesickness.

Here I lie under the trailer but, unless there’s a breeze, it’s not nearly as cool as that basement I’m dreaming of. I think I’m starting to feel a little homesick, missing my farm and my daily routine there. I hope things haven’t gotten too out of control without me there to keep order. I hope my girlfriends across the road haven’t forgotten me. What am I saying? Of course they haven’t.

A Little Desert Weary, March 2015
A hot day at Stewart’s Point on Lake Mead.

But then he’d think about the alternative.

When I’m not happy, I’m just not that much fun to be around, or at least that’s the impression I get. They worry about me. They even started talking about it being better for me to maybe stay home next year. At first my response was, “Yay! What a terrific idea!” But it would mean months away from my people and, as annoying as he can sometimes be, my buddy Chico. I realized that “home” wouldn’t be “home” without them.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017

Wait a minute … Me? Annoying? Ah well, at least he called me his buddy.

Hiking in the Valley of Fire near Las Vegas.

One thing that Logan and I definitely agreed on was the following definition of home. I’ve been a lot of places in these past eight years, some good, some awesome, and a few not so great (at least not for dogs), but always there was this …

That was when I looked up “home” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and it turns out it’s more than one thing. The first three in the list were 1) one’s place of residence; 2) the social unit formed by a family living together; and 3) a familiar or usual setting. So, although I’d be in my place of residence (number 1) if I stayed “home”, I would be separate from my social unit, my pack (number 2). As for number 3, Sid is just about as familiar as the farm house after the many months we’ve spent living in here.

Home is Where the Hedgehog Is, January 2017
Logan making himself at home in Nollind’s home-away-from-home office (aka the ver”man”da)

We’d hoped to be heading down the road about now but family and business circumstances are keeping T and Nollind home in Alberta for another month. However, although it’s getting cold and snowy here in Canada and the desert is calling, it’s okay, because it’s where we live, we’re here together, and it’s familiar in that very good way.

Home in the barnyard with Storm.

Another Goodbye

I feel like I’ve had to say goodbye to too many of my favourite peeps and hounds these last couple of years and this one’s a toughie. Whether he was friend or family depends on how you view us four-legged additions to the household, but to me, he was my grandpa. Somewhere I have, or had, an actual grandfather, or grandsire as he’d be called in the dog world, but I likely never met him, don’t even recall meeting my father. Such is the way of life for dogs. We leave our birth families at a very young age and adopt a human family. They say they adopt us but we know it’s the other way around.

Nollind and his dad.

So my grandpa and friend, David, left us last weekend, quietly, peacefully. The struggle with disease started eight years ago but, in the end, his decline was mercifully rapid, allowing him to live right up until he died. Just a month ago, he hosted a Thanksgiving meal at his condo for the whole clan. And what a feast it was with all of the dishes of his childhood present and accounted for. As it turned out, it was somewhat of a farewell dinner. He was in hospital a week later. I didn’t get to visit him in the hospital but, from what I heard, he was still going for walks and maintaining his card-shark status during his stay.

Thanksgiving cuddles.

In the years I knew him, David was never anything but kind to me. He was at our place a lot one summer and fall, helping Nollind with a bunch of building projects and, when it was tea time, he always had one hand for his cup and one for me. I’d park myself beside his favourite stool in the kitchen and he’d stroke my head for as long as I stayed or until they went back to work.

Siding the hay shed.

And that one year was not the only time David was at the farm lending a hand. If you took a gander around our yard you’d be hard pressed to spot a thing that he hasn’t touched in some way. From helping T and Nollind paint the inside of the house way back when they bought the place, to rewiring the old barn, to straightening the old barn, to building the carport and the hay shed and the new outhouse, to replacing the awning on Sid, to planting the first garden. The list goes on and on. If we wanted to memorialize him with a sign on something he helped build, we’d pretty much just hang it on the gate at the entrance (come to think of it he helped with that too).

Working in the garden.

Even though David wasn’t technically a dog person, as in he never had a dog of his own beyond his childhood on the farm, whenever family events were hosted at his condo, we dogs were included. On Thanksgiving this year he even bought me a nice big, beef bone. When I pulled it out of the dish to go chew in a more private location, T and Nollind jumped up in a panic, but David just smiled without concern.

Hanging out bedside last Friday.

Last Friday, the whole family was called to spend the day with David at his condo. He was in bed and I could feel that he was leaving us. I curled up beside him and he reached out his hand to stroke me as he always did. He went to hospice that afternoon and died the next evening so the feel of my fur was one of his final experiences in this life. I hope it was a comfort.

I’ll sure miss him.

I don’t know where we go when we die but they say that pets cross the Rainbow Bridge. I think David would appreciate a bridge built from rainbows, and likely pitch in on any needed repairs. I hope he and Logan are over there enjoying it together.