Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

I used to enjoy the end of the day, the prairie or desert sky coloured by the dying sun, going for a walk in stealth mode in my black coat. But that was before … before the dark became scary.

A few years back, Teresa and Nollind moved their bedroom downstairs and we loved it, Chico and I, because we had our own couch right there in the bedroom with our peeps. The pack could sleep together and still have plenty of space each.

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Our futon couch in the downstairs bedroom. Canine cushiness.

Then, one night when the light went out, I just couldn’t stay in the room. I slept outside the bedroom door where there was a night light. It became a bit of a joke. They’d turn out the light and say, “Bye, Logan,” because they knew I’d leave. Teresa made me a bed between the door and the basement stairs and I’d sleep there, or go upstairs sometimes, where there were more night lights.

Last fall, the night lights weren’t doing it. I was pretty much sleeping on the main floor by then, because the stairs were a challenge, and I started getting nervous at bedtime. Some nights I was able to tuck in and go to sleep, others I’d pace, back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. They tried taking me downstairs with them but that was even worse.

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Looks so easy.

When we set out on the road in December I found being in the more confined space of Sid quite comforting and I slept great for the first month. I had my couch and my pillow, and my peeps sleeping just twenty or so feet away. Then, one night, I just needed to get out of there. I went to the door, banged into it to get someone’s attention. Nothing. I went back to my couch and tried to settle. Nope. Back to the door. Bang. Back to the couch. Repeat.

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RV time was a great remedy for my nighttime restlessness … for awhile.

It didn’t happen every night, the restlessness, but often enough that Teresa and Nollind started putting a chair in the way so that I couldn’t bang into the screen door and wake them up. When I figured out how to get in behind it, they put a second chair beside the first. When they started leaving a light on for me it seemed to help for a time but then it didn’t. I was back wandering the trailer and, by the end of the trip, it was almost every night.

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Someone to keep me company is helpful when the “evening crazies” set in.

I hoped, and I’m sure Teresa the light sleeper did too, that I’d settle in once we were home again. Uh-uh. It was worse at home. So much space, so many shadows, so many now unfamiliar noises. I was a wreck that first week. I’ve always been kind of a nervous guy but this was exceptional, even for me. The vet was consulted, and she thought it might be something called Sundowners, a syndrome that affects people with dementia and old dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (a fancy way to say senility). I tell you, it was not a good day when I heard my mind could be going down the same degenerative road as my body.

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I can sleep almost anywhere during the daylight hours.

I was prescribed something called Selegiline, a human Parkinson’s medication that helps some dogs with cognitive issues. We were told it might or might not help and we’d know in a month or two if it was working. After only one dose, my nighttime restlessness increased, after two, the restlessness was spreading into the daytime hours, and the third had me vomiting. Teresa did some online research and found that Selegiline shouldn’t be given with Tramadol, a pain med prescribed by the vet down in Arizona. It could cause confusion, increased restlessness, and, you can probably guess, vomiting. I hit the trifecta of potential side effects. Teresa tried to take me off the Tramadol but I got too sore on my right leg so the Selegiline trial was abandoned. I doubt it would have helped anyway, since I’m a far cry from senile. I’m just sensitive, and getting more so with age.

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Daytime naps are the best.

This all happened when we first returned home in mid-March and things have improved since then. The vet increased my dose of Gabapentin, a drug for my arthritis that also has a calming effect, and I now take it right at bedtime along with some melatonin. It doesn’t work every night, but things are much better than they were.

The ultimate solution would be to let me sleep outside. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but inside where there’s likely not something lurking in the shadows is much scarier than outside, where there could be something lurking in the shadows. I can’t explain why but I calm right down out there. Problem is, it’s been too cold at night for my old bod. I get the shivers in the house overnight if I’m not wearing my fleece jacket. But, as soon as the weather warms up, come bedtime they can just kick me outside in my yard and we can all get a good night’s sleep.

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Love my dog house at any time of day.

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I’m Alright

Geez … and now Chico is writing sad, poor Logan, blog posts. Two Minus One. How tragic was that? Teresa even got a message from a blog reader who saw the title but couldn’t get into the post. He wanted to make sure I was okay.

That’s it! No more! Enough! I won’t have it! I refuse to be like that old guy everyone avoids because they know he’s going to rattle on for hours about how his back aches when the weather changes, his gout gives him grief when he drinks anything that tastes good, and his arthritis keeps him up at night!

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Weather changes can be refreshing.

Our blog is starting to feel like watching a drunk guy driving a snowmobile. We all know there’s going to be a wreck it’s just a matter of when and how bad it’s going to be. (I may have borrowed this analogy from one of Teresa’s life experiences.)

So, for those of you hanging on to see what’s going to happen, I’ll just skip right to the end. I’m not getting out of this alive! But you knew that already. None of us do. It’s just likely, but not written in stone, that I’m going to check out ahead of most of you.

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But I still look awesome. Right?

The upside of all of the recent doom and gloom about my health is that, according to averages, my life account was drained a year ago. The Border Collie lives an average of 13.5 years, the Labrador Retriever 12.5, which puts a mix like me right at 13 years as a life expectancy. So, the way I see it, everything after 13 is gravy (yum). Well, happy birthday to me, I turn 14 in a few days—or possibly yesterday, or it could have been last week. Somewhere around now anyway.

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Advantages of my age – no longer expected to stand for my bath. Aaaahhhh….

I won’t ignore the topic altogether. Like, for example, I’ll tell you about any new meds that are particularly fun, like my latest painkiller that I’d probably get rolled for if I walked down the wrong city street.

I’ll generally keep you updated on my progress through the gravy days of my life. And, I’ll be sure to let you know if I’ve spotted a bridge with a big rainbow over it, or possibly a bright light I’m feeling pulled toward. But, other than that, I’m changing my theme tune.

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The only bright light I’m headed toward these days … the sun reflecting off of Sid.

Goodbye Mozart …

hello Kenny Loggins!

Definition of Stoic: Logan

I’m writing my blog in secret this week because Logan would stop me if he knew what I was writing about. He’s sleeping a lot during this heat wave we’ve been having so it’s given me an opportunity to get on the computer this afternoon without him noticing.

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Ssshhhh … don’t wake him.

The dictionary says that stoic is “a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining”. That sounds about right. Just add “or dog” after the word “person” to make it complete.

Border Collies are known for their stoic nature, and Logan definitely leans toward the Border Collie side of his Borador breeding. For example, he’s more herder than retriever, he’s more nervous than laid back, he’s more picky eater than chow hound, he doesn’t really like to swim … and … he’s stoic.

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See how dry he is? He’s a wader, not a swimmer.

Because of his stoic nature, I know he won’t tell you about what’s been going on, but you’re his friends and I think you should know. In May he had his right elbow injected to deal with the osteoarthritis that has set up there and he blogged about how well it had worked. Well, it did, but only for a short time. It was supposed to last six to ten months, it lasted just four weeks. At first, it was a mild limp that returned, but now it’s progressed quite dramatically.

T is worried that his condition might have been worsened by the injection, once the positive effects wore off, but the vet says he’s probably just been more stoic all this time than anyone suspected. I guess he can’t hide it anymore. It’s why he seems to have suddenly grown old in the last six months. It’s been happening gradually but he just soldiered on without telling anyone.

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He’s been hiding his grey hair in his white markings.

He was so excited during those four weeks when his elbow felt better, running, jumping, playing more, visiting the neighbours. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s what really did it in.

They tried a new drug called Tramadol. Apparently, it’s a narcotic, an opioid. Now I’m not too sure just what those terms mean, other than it’s some pretty serious shit, the stuff you have to sign for when you pick it up, the stuff that’s controlled. The warning from the vet was that it might make him weird. Well, you know, I didn’t notice anything. He may have had some psychedelic party going on in his brain, but on the outside, he was the same old Logie. Stoic. If he were human, he’d be that completely snockered guy that attempts to make it across the bar to the bathroom without giving away the fact that he can barely stand.

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“See? I’m totally fine.”  – Logan

But did the Tramadol work? Well, he did seem pretty happy that week, but he was still limping, and still almost three-legged when he got up from his bed, and still needing his Meloxicam every day. He was only on it for a week as a trial and, because it didn’t produce the result they hoped for and it can be hard on the kidneys, T and Nollind are trying another approach, another natural one.

That’s our T, always looking for a natural way to fix something rather than going with the standard pharmaceutical approach. She was researching Tramadol, to see if it had any side effects the vet hadn’t mentioned, and this natural alternative kept coming up, something called FlexPet. It just arrived in the mail yesterday morning from Florida so it will be a few weeks, maybe a month, before we know if it’s working. That’s one of the differences with the more natural treatments, they have fewer side effects but they take longer to kick in.

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I’d love to walk farther, but it’s time to turn back.

In the meanwhile, I won’t complain when our walks are shorter than they used to be, and I’ll hang out with Logan when he’s prescribed rest time indoors. I don’t mind. He’s my bud, my partner in grime, my wingman (even though he’s a really terrible hunter), and my brotha-from-anotha-motha. I’ll let you know this time next month how the new treatment has worked. Here’s hoping. Toes crossed.

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Partners, brothers, and friends.