If You’re Reading This…

If anyone could blog from beyond the grave it would be my pal, Logan. I found this letter tucked in amongst his favourite toys…

Dear Friends & Family,

If you’re reading this then I guess I’ve moved on, to wherever it is we go when our time on this earth is complete. Maybe we come back, maybe we don’t. If I do come back, I think I’ll aim for a body with a longer lifespan, like a tortoise—nah, too slow—or maybe a parrot—but then some cat might get me. Perhaps best to stick with dog or cat or horse, some creature I’m familiar with, or hey, how about human?

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Definitely not a tortoise.

But enough musing about what the big, unknown future might hold for the soul of an old dog. That’s me, an old dog. I know I’ve been saying it for a couple of years, but now I really feel it, in my bones and to my core.  As you’ll know if you’ve been reading the blog of our adventures, I’m a fighter, a fighter with a tendency to rise from the mats on the count of nine. I’d like to say I’ve got one more in me, that I can bounce back from whatever it is I’ve felt creeping up on me this past couple of weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The medications don’t help like they used to, the trips to the vet for the Legend injection aren’t giving me their promised bounce, and the distance between the house and the barn just keeps growing.

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Who’d have thought I’d ever run out of bounce?

My hope is that they’ll let me go, not drag things out until I’ve become a burden, allowing the me they’ve known all these years to be replaced by someone they don’t recognize … or enjoy. It can happen. I saw it happen with Chelsey as she got older and crankier and so difficult for all of us to live with. To remember Chelsey with a smile on your face you have to go back a ways, to when she wasn’t old and sick. I want to go knowing I made them smile that very day. It’s the least I can do for all they’ve given me: a good home, enough freedom to keep an independent spirit happy, jobs to occupy my Border Collie half, a diet to appease a fussy eater, adventures galore, the best of care in my old age, and love, of course, plenty of that.

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Horse dog from the day I arrived.

 

To Chico … I admit I wasn’t sure about you at first, hackles up and peeing on a wall in my house, but you grew on me in the years that followed. I’m glad they found you and happy to have shared our many great adventures. Look after them all for me, the humans, the horses, the barn cats, and keep telling your stories on Fur-idays.

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Is he staying? (January 2011)

To Nollind … I know I was your first love when it comes to dogs, but I’m pretty sure I’m not your last (I’ve seen you hoist Chico up onto your lap when he’s cold). I’m glad I got to be the one to turn you into a dog guy, to convince you that dogs do belong on the furniture, show you that dog poop is not toxic (despite how it smells), and teach you there’s nothing quite like the love of a dog.

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A boy and his dog.

To Teresa … For finding me all those years ago in the Bargain Finder (and wasn’t I a bargain?), for taking me into your home and your heart, for catering to my whimsical appetite and need for freedom, and for all those hours and dollars you spent searching for the solutions to my physical challenges in my later years … thank you. I’m sorry for the decision you had to make for me at the end of my life but know that you were right, it was time to say goodbye. I told you you’d know.

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Even acupuncture couldn’t keep me from getting old.

To my snowbirding pack … I’m sorry I was such a rotten travelling companion. Thank you for always taking me along anyway. Despite my near deafness, I heard the recent chatter about staying home for the winter to look after me. So, what are you waiting for? Start packing! I’ll be right there with you for every stop along the road.

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Lunch and walk break early on in our first journey south.

And to all of you who have been following our adventures these past seven years, thank you for reading, for commenting, for caring, and for noticing when a Fur-iday goes by that you don’t hear from us. This is Logan signing off, unless of course there’s a way to communicate from the other side of what they call the “Rainbow Bridge”. In that case, I’ll be in touch.10-Logan-ifyour-logan

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Made It!

It’s possible I was overly optimistic about the 3-day, desert-to-farm journey and my ability to “crush it” like I did the 3-day, farm-to-desert journey in December. In my defence, if you apply the 7-to-1, dog-to-human age ratio to the three months between the trip down and the trip home, I was almost two years older by the time we started north. The trip wasn’t terrible, it just might not go down as “crushing it” in the trip log.

On our other four winter trips, we haven’t returned until at least the 31st of March, and one year it wasn’t until the 3rd of May. So maybe I just wasn’t ready, you know, mentally prepared. I thought I had another three weeks to psyche myself up for three days of truck time. But, I made it in one piece with only one … what should I call it? … unfortunate incident. I’ll just leave it at that.

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Home at last.

 

The first night home, I was exhausted and slept like the dead but the next two were very restless. The house seemed so big and dark. I missed our cozy trailer and my low-rider couch that’s easy to climb up on. The furnace in the house makes a different noise than the one in Sid. Everything just seemed strange and spooky. I’ve settled in some now, but I’m still having trouble sleeping at night. Mind you, that was happening on the road some nights too. Funny thing is, the day after one of these restless episodes, I sleep like a puppy all day long. Although, Teresa isn’t really seeing the funny in it.

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Morning after the night before.

 

Here at home, there’s snow everywhere, lots of it, and as Chico mentioned in his last blog post, it’s not the nice been-melted-and-refrozen-on-top crusty kind I can walk on. I’ve been stuck more than once so I mostly tend to stay on the road and driveway. I actually got stuck head first in the yard when I tried to get to one of my caragana dens. Teresa had to put her boots on and come pull me out. I used to love the snow, but that was before it became my enemy.

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Um … why can I only see the tops of the fence posts?

 

It’s been chilly for March but that I don’t mind so much. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and I have acquired a few different jackets for various temps and conditions. No smoking jacket yet but I’m working on it. I was thinking silk might be nice. I prefer the natural fibres.

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The latest addition to my wardrobe, a nice little two-in-one number.

 

Well, it should be time for our morning walk soon. Teresa usually waits until the frostiest part of the morning has passed before we head out for our first jaunt of the day. After that, I think I’ll take a nap. I didn’t sleep so great last night.

Home Sweet Snowy Home

We saw the first snow not far outside Las Vegas, just a little, high on a mountain, but there it was, snow. In Utah there was lots of it up high, and even some lower down. By Idaho the snow had reached the road level in places. Montana was snow covered until we reached the far north where the Chinook winds had removed the snow from the fields in patches. Southern Alberta was similar, lots of melting.

Then, as we travelled those final miles from Lethbridge home, the world outside the truck windows grew steadily whiter, until it was just a sea of white under a bright, blue sky.

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Almost home.

There usually isn’t any snow on the ground when we return from the south. Partly because we’re three or more weeks later, but also because there was a huge amount of snow while we were gone this year, with most of it falling in the last month.  Records were broken. Luckily for us, we had some good friends looking after our farm and the snow had been cleared from the driveway and the walks. Thanks, Judy and John for making it possible for us to reach the house (and the couch)!

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Logan gets the couch in Sid but I get the one in the house (okay, only because he can’t climb up on it anymore)

Someone commented that it must have been a big shock to go from Arizona to Alberta in a few days. For me, it’s actually a series of small shocks throughout the journey. I go to sleep in the desert, I wake up in the trees. I go to sleep with dry land all around, I wake up to snow. I go to sleep in Utah, I wake up in Idaho. Surprise after surprise over two thousand kilometres.

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Rolling into the nicely plowed yard.

By the time we arrived home, I’d adjusted to the change of scenery and climate, and was ready for the snow. What I wasn’t prepared for was the amount and type of snow. With the frequent warm winds in southern Alberta in winter (called Chinooks) there’s usually enough melting and refreezing to create a thick enough crust on top of any deep snow to support my weight. This year it stayed colder and the crust is only thick enough to make me think I’m good before I break through into the dry, grainy stuff underneath. It’s a bit like trying to swim in thick, slippery water.

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Breaking through the crust.

T took me along when she went skiing on Monday. It was a beautiful day and I was so excited when we started out. But holy hell was it tough going. Three steps on top of the snow, four floundering, one step on top, two floundering, half a dozen on top (yay!) and then, just when I’d start to think I was home free, I’d break through again. We did half a mile like that. Well, I did. T skied along without a care. We finally reached a snowmobile track and, wow, did that make a difference. I could run! I’m not sure if they make snowshoes for dogs, but I’ll be surfing Amazon when I’m finished with this blog post.

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Ski day.

Out walking, we’ve been sticking to the road. There’s just too much snow everywhere else and if you think I have trouble you should see poor Logan. T’s had to yard him out of a snow bank a couple of times when he wandered off the side of the road to smell something and broke through into the deep stuff.

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Walking along Range Road 262 heading home.

The crazy thing is, it snowed again yesterday. I’m just hoping the warm weather we had on Tuesday and Wednesday was enough to put a better crust along the ski trail for the next time T straps on the boards.