Paws Can’t Dial 911

Sorry I missed my post last week. All the stuff with Logan just had me too upset and feeling guilty.

When he was stuck in that stupid hole, I was happy and safe in the house. It’s not that I’m favoured over him or he over me, just that T and Nollind like to leave us where we’re happiest when they go for the day or the evening. I’m happy in the house and, these days, Logan is happy out in the yard. So anyway, there I was, probably napping on the couch while he was struggling to get out of that hole. It’s not like I could have done anything, like call 911 or rush out and assist him, but still, I felt terrible I didn’t even know it was happening.

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Now I sometimes lie awake and worry.

On the positive side, what this experience has reminded me of, is that my long-time buddy and adopted brother is awesome. He’s been what seemed like down for the count on at least three occasions in the last year, and every time he has rallied. I thought this one for sure was going to be “the one” that would take him out. He couldn’t walk, or stand, or get to his feet without help. But then he could.

Despite his awesomeness, I know he won’t be around forever. He’s gone beyond the life expectancy for his breed and has a bushel of health issues. So far, he still wants to be here and continues to fight, every day, but I know that could change in a heartbeat. So I just savour every moment that we get to hang out, even if it’s horizontal time.

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Shared horizontal time.

Walks are becoming fewer and farther between, and continually shorter, but Logan still accompanies me on the gopher rounds in the yard and out to the barn most days, and he can keep up surprisingly well for all his stiff-and-soreness. Sometimes I wish he’d just walk so that he’ll hurt less afterward, but it’s just not in his DNA. Logan loves to run and will do so as long as his legs will carry him.

T and I have been walking the canal every couple of days and I love it down there. The birds, the swimming, the smells. But I hate leaving Logan behind, especially when he knows we’re going and follows us to the door, or worse, to the front of the yard. If they got me some kind of wagon he could ride in I’d be happy to pull it. That way we could explore all of our favourite places together. T has driven us to the canal a couple of times and we’ve walked just far enough for Logan to have a swim. He has difficulty climbing out afterward but she’s always right there to grab his harness and give him the old heave-ho onto the bank when needed. We haven’t been there since the hole incident but, with this hot weather, maybe tomorrow?

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Along the canal.

Logan also gets left behind on most field trips these days. He doesn’t travel well and can’t walk much when we get there so, I suppose, what’s the point. Last week, T and I had a little adventure in Prince’s Island Park. I wouldn’t want to live in the city but, man, I sure enjoy going there. Holy sights, sounds, and smells! Logan’s nose was all over me when I got home. His sniffer is still working just fine so he knew exactly where we’d been. Even knew about the little Dachshund that went for my throat!

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Calgary field trip.

I’m going to be an only dog one day in the not-too-distant future and, although I know this means more attention, my choice of beds, and no sharing table scraps, which sounds pretty much like heaven on earth to a guy like me, it also means no Logan. I’d trade a truck full of table scraps for another few months with my bud (especially because I know he’d share them with me!) ;o)

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Happy together.

 

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And the Verdict is…

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog posts for a time, I’m a digger. Specifically, I’m a den digger. I don’t just dig random holes, I dig large, me-sized holes under shrubbery, places to tuck in on a warm day. With my black coat, I’ve always found summer weather a bit challenging and my dens have brought relief.

On our trips south, particularly this last one, I dig dens at every stop and enjoy them daily. The one in the photo near Wickenburg was some of my best work and I spent a lot of time in that shallow den.

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My Wickenburg den under the mesquite tree.

Here at home, I have many dens, including a few large, deep ones that I’ve been working on for years. Two of these bigger dens are located inside my new Logie-Land enclosure but I haven’t used them much this season. They’re just too deep for me now. I’ve been concerned that if I go in I might not get out.

Turns out my concerns were well-founded. Last Wednesday it was hot in the afternoon so, late in the day, I decided to hunker down in my west den under the lilac. It was a great place for a nap but, when I decided it was time to climb out and get a drink of water, I hate to say it but, I couldn’t. Getting up after a long lie down is a bit challenging at the best of times these days and, with my legs folded into the side of a hole, I just couldn’t get them under me to get up. To make matters worse, my struggles resulted in me getting my back half turned upside down. I was stuck. On a normal day when Teresa or Nollind is home, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but they were gone for the evening to the sailing club.

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The hole. It doesn’t look like much without me in it but I wasn’t getting back in for a photo op.

When I tired of trying to get myself upright and out, I’d rest for a time before giving it another try. It got dark, which I don’t mind in and of itself, but it meant that I’d been in the hole for quite awhile.

Teresa and Nollind would have walked right past me when they came in the yard. My hearing isn’t so good and I was likely asleep. I heard Nollind’s whistle from the deck by the front door. Another whistle. A third. How I wanted to shout out “I’m over here! I need help!” But I couldn’t of course.

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Back on my feet after my ordeal. Unsteady but upright.

The whistling stopped. Nollind had gone back inside. I yelped. Nothing. I yelped again, a little louder. And then I heard the door and Teresa calling my name and there she was under the shrub pulling me out. I tried to stand and fell down. She helped me up and I fell down again as soon as I tried to move. And then she was crying, her tears spilling down into my fur. I wanted to get up and walk, for her, but I just couldn’t. I was so tired. She picked me up and carried me inside. I’m no lightweight at fifty-five pounds but that didn’t stop her from packing me up the stairs to the living room.

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I’ve been doing a lot of this since Wednesday night. Here I am hanging with our weekend visitors by their trailer.

I didn’t move all night, just slept there on my left side on the therapeutic mat Teresa had put down in the middle of the living room. When I did wake up the next morning, I was thirsty and started struggling to get up. Teresa was sleeping nearby and came to assist, giving me some support as I walked to the water bowl. She helped me outside and I tried to wander off to have a pee but my back left leg kept giving out and causing me to fall over. I was scared and I could tell she was too.

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A few days later and we’re all a lot happier.

When some water, some pills, and more rest didn’t improve matters, Teresa called the vet. I was scheduled to go down for my Legend shot anyway but Dr. Barrett said I should come early and they’d try giving me some fluids. This would help to rehydrate me and also flush the pain-causing toxins from my muscles. Well, I’m not a fan of vet clinics, and even less a fan of staying in one for hours, but after I’d spent the afternoon in a kennel with a needle in my arm, I have to say I was feeling a little better. I still needed help walking from the clinic to the car but I felt good enough that I tried to run.

The other thing they gave me at the vet clinic was a drug called Buprenorph Vetergesic, a powerful painkiller they hoped would help to deal with all of the pain I was feeling as a result of my long struggle to get up. Well, it certainly did. I couldn’t feel anything once that stuff kicked in.

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That Buprenorph was some crazy shit.

After sleeping the sleep of the dead for the next eight hours, I woke up at one o’clock and, much to my surprise, and Teresa’s, was able to get myself out of bed and walk. By seven o’clock I was feeling up to our morning trip to the barnyard to let the horses out on the grass. I was wobbly but I made it! Last night, after they blocked my dens, I was able to sleep outside again, which made me very happy, and this morning I managed a twenty-minute walk around the back pasture.

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Morning walk in the pasture.

As I wrote in my short post on Saturday, the vet told Teresa that a trauma like the one I’d experienced could be a setback for a dog of my age and condition, or a cliff. Well, I’m happy to say it’s been a setback. It’s possible I won’t recover completely from my ordeal, I’m fourteen and a half after all, but I’m hopeful I’ll be enjoying Logie-Land for a few more weeks or months. It’s all gravy at this point.

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Enjoying a sunny Monday afternoon in Logie-Land.

 

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.