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 – Desert Dog

It’s that time of year when my thoughts turn toward the deserts of the southwest, a place we’ve spent five winters since 2011. We’re staying home this year, and I’m good with that, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about sun, sand, and long walks among cactus. And all of these things make me think of Logan, my desert travelling companion on all five of our trips south.

New Mexico’s amazing white sand dunes.

He was actually kind of a homebody, in that he didn’t much like transiting from one place to another in a vehicle, but he loved to visit the new place at the end of a day’s journey. He’d go from “We’re all going to die!” in the truck to “Yippee! What a fabulous spot to explore!” the instant he hit the ground.

“I hope we’re going somewhere good.”

As much as he came to love the desert in later years, on that first trip in 2012, he was not convinced.

“I’m a pretty tough guy but, really, this desert dog stuff is pushing my limits. I drink from puddles at home all the time but whatever tiny critters live in the water down here do a number on my digestive system. Another normally innocuous part of my life on the farm, plants, also seem to be out to get me down here. I’ve had more thorns in my paws than I can count, one big ball of nasty stuck to the back of my leg, and a spiky branch that seemed to jump right off its host onto my thigh when I walked by.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Cactus encounter.

“I thought I’d covered all of the bases on desert hazards for dogs but then I discovered yet another — volcanic rock. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to you maybe, but it does a number on a dog’s pads after a few miles. In fact, at least in my case, it wears the surface right off making it extremely painful to walk on anything but a nice smooth surface. Luckily, I have very caring people, who bought me some boots to get around in until things were less sensitive. It was a bit embarrassing walking around camp and having people pointing and saying, “Oh, look at the doggie in the cute little boots!”

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Booted up for the rocky hills near Borrego Springs, California.

When T and Nollind discovered the world of boondocking was when Logan really started to experience the joys of desert life.

“We did 12 days in the desert near Quartzsite and then Bouse, boondocking, as they call it down here. It’s basically camping outside of an RV park or campground for no charge. Chico and I love boondocking — not enough water for baths, a lot more off-leash time, no being cabled to the RV whenever we’re outside, and lots of walking.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Hiking Q Mountain at Quartzsite.

On the last couple of trips south, Logan’s favourite spot was under the trailer on his mat. He would spend all day under there, alternating between sleeping and watching the world go by.

I miss the desert this year, but not being there probably makes Logan’s absence a little easier. A trip to the desert without Logan is hard to imagine. But what really concerns me is how the desert is doing without Logan to watch over it.

Comfort and Joy

I don’t know if it’s because I’m the only dog to carry the weight of dog duties and activities over the Christmas season, or if it’s my age, but boy oh boy, am I tired. Trips to Strathmore, city excursions, visiting with family, presents to open, dishes to clean, and the list goes on. Being home for the holidays is a lot different than our quiet desert Christmases.

A couple of my Christmas biscuits from friends.

On the plus side, I was included in almost every activity this past week, which isn’t always the case. Some places just aren’t dog-friendly. I get it. Well … sort of.

Luckily for me, her Christmas mug tells the truth!

The week started off with a family visit at Nollind’s dad’s house and, even though he lives on the fifth floor of a downtown condo complex, I was invited, and pretty stoked about it. I had to stay behind when they went across the street to a restaurant for dinner but (insert happy dance) my cousin H didn’t like the meatballs that came on her pasta and was happy to feed them to me when she returned. I showed my gratitude by taking them from her as gently as I could manage. My meatball appetizer was followed by a beef chew that was part of my Christmas gift. Spoiled? Nah, just well treated.

I even got my own monogrammed gift bag from Nollind’s mom!

Two days later we were back in Calgary for some shopping and other errands. I did have to spend some truck time, but there was a late-morning walk in the community of Banff Trail, I got to try sushi for the first time, and we wrapped up the day with a sunset walk in Sandy Beach Park with Cousin H and Uncle C. (I know they’re not really my relations but I figure that, since I was adopted by T and Nollind, their family has become my family.)

Sandy Beach off-leash park.

Christmas Day we were on the road again, this time just to the mailbox to pick up Christmas cards (thanks everyone!) and to Strathmore for a walk around Kinsmen Park. The streets were mostly quiet and empty but the park was a popular spot for dog walking so I had a chance to make a few new friends.

Christmas Day selfie.

Yesterday was the busiest day yet when my cousins H and A came to spend the day with us here on the farm. Was I that energetic when I was a pup? Probably. It seems like a long time ago. There was horse visiting and feeding, cat cuddling, Kubota riding, campfire cooking, and that was just until lunch! Which was awesome by the way … lunch. Kids love to feed dogs and they also have a tendency to drop bits of food. The kitchen floor was like a buffet!

Winter fun and games.

After lunch was some craziness with a big saucer behind the Yamaha Wolverine (aka Fang) that I didn’t partake in. Some things are best left to the bipeds. As the sun started to fall toward the horizon, it was time to head indoors again where there was cheesy pasta and cuddles and more biscuits. It was a good day.

Cuddle time.

I’m tired today, went back to bed right after breakfast. Tomorrow Ria’s coming to visit, bringing her dog parents G and S. I’ve got six years on Ria and I hear she had a restful Christmas so I’d better get plenty of sleep until then!

Couch time.

Storm’ll be taking the reins of the blog next week, something about a big equine birthday celebration?