Flashback Fur-iday – In the Beginning…

This time of year brings up a lot of memories of autumns past, particularly the autumn of 2011 when we set out travelling by RV for the first time and started this blog. It was T’s idea for Logan and me to write a blog. She wanted to share the tales of our travels with friends and family back home but didn’t want it to be the standard “weather is here, wish you were beautiful” stuff. Wait a minute. What up, Jimmy? That’s not how you say it.

So, there we were, a couple of rescue hounds, writing a blog. Crazy, right? Logan took to it like a Lab to water, but it was a tougher learning curve for me. I just wanted to run and chase and run some more. Who had time to sit still and tell stories? I was a 3-year-old dog!

On the other side of that coin though, I was an excellent traveller, but Logan, well, not so much. He loved the new places but …

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 recognize 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.

November 2011 – Hi, My Name is Logan
Maybe if I close my eyes?

I mostly just slept, still do. What better way to pass the hours in a vehicle? But I could never convince Logan, at least not until the “magic cheese”…

I think I’m finally getting a bit more comfortable with truck time. Sa and Nollind think it’s due to the new treat they got for me that they call “magic cheese”, but it just says Havarti on the package, which I’ve had before. There is something special about it though because I feel really mellow about an hour after I eat some, and riding in the truck is pretty cool then, watching the world go by outside the window. I like sticking my head out and getting that rush of a thousand scents at once blasting in.

December 2011 – Murky Water and Magic Cheese
With magic cheese assist.

For two rescue-come-farm dogs, travelling for five months in the United States was quite the grand adventure—sand dunes, beaches, cool spiky plants, rocks the colour of a sunset, and Logan’s favourite …, dog parks.

Viva Las Vegas…or so the humans like to say. I wasn’t clear what all the fuss was about until we arrived. Once we’d settled in and done a bit of exploring, I found out why it’s such a hot destination — Las Vegas has the best dog park in the western USA, possibly in the whole country!

January 2012 – Viva Las Vegas
RV dog paradise – freedom!

But it wasn’t all fun and games on the road, especially for a sensitive guy like Logan. Some of those great things I mentioned above had a dark side…

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. Drinking from a watering hole in a dog park at Oceanside gave me a thorough understanding of the term “explosive diarrhea”. 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. I also had an eye infection that took many days of an antibiotic ointment to cure, and running in deep sand at the dunes tired out my hindquarters so much I had trouble getting up the stairs into the trailer when we got home.

February 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
It was a long way to the top.

We were away five months that first trip, a long time for a couple of dogs who’d rarely left home. Logan in particular, got a little homesick toward the end…

Yesterday we left Bisbee, the farthest point south we’ve travelled on this trip, and drove all day heading north. I hear we’re going home! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time, but I am a bit of a homebody and I’m looking forward to my farm, my bed, my doggie friends across the road, and leashes that hang on a hook in the porch. Oh, and friendlier plants.

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Montana’s high country on the way home.

There’s talk of a trip this winter, and Sid’s all cleaned up and ready to go. As excited as I am about the prospect of another winter in the desert, it sure won’t be the same without Logan. But then I’m pretty sure he’ll be there with us, exploring our favourite boondocking spots, enjoying the desert sunsets, and riding along easily without the aid of magic cheese.

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

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.