Logan’s Run

Some of you might remember from a previous blog post that I was named after the 70s Sci-Fi classic, Logan’s Run. It was a favourite of Teresa’s, back in the day, and when I pulled a horizon-job on them my first day off-leash, I earned the name Logan.

Fast forward thirteen years to a walk in the field this past Sunday. Chico caught the scent of coyote, I picked it up, and we were in “the cone”, zig-zagging back and forth. Teresa caught up to us but only had one leash and Chico had the misfortune of being closer to her than I was. He soon found himself attached to the end of a retractable cable.

As the cone narrowed, I started to run south, baying as I followed the scent. It was exhilarating. I was that young dog again, heading for the horizon, hot on the trail of my prey. A quarter mile … a half mile … a … whew … the horizon was a lot farther than I remembered.

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My usual jogging pace.

Teresa and Chico were still well behind me but starting to gain ground, Teresa on her phone calling for backup. They wouldn’t take me alive! Okay, a bit dramatic. I pretended to lose the scent so that I could slow down and circle back, trotting a back and forth pattern in the field. And then they were on me, they’d caught up, and Nollind was on his way in the Kubota with a second leash.

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A “drink” along the trail.

The rest of the walk was on-leash and much more sedate but I’d had my moment to shine. At least, that was, until I was back at the house and had slept a couple of hours. I woke up feeling like I was drowning. My heart condition causes fluid to build up in my lungs when I exercise. I have medication that manages it under normal circumstances, but it wasn’t designed for half-mile gallops across the prairie.

 

I coughed. I retched. I felt terrible. And then I ate grass, gulped it really, as much as I could sink my teeth into at this time of year. It helped but, as you might imagine, it presented a whole new set of problems the next day since we dogs don’t have the stomach enzymes to digest grass. Those long strands don’t change much between entering and exiting.

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If only Teresa had caught a photo of me during instead of after the run.

 

 

But anyway, enough poop talk. I recovered. It took an extra dose of my diuretic, some anti-inflammatories, and a rest day, but I don’t think I’m any worse for wear as a result of my unsanctioned run. And, I’ll do it again in a heartbeat (no pun intended) should the incentive and opportunity arise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Point Me South

Since I’m not a big fan of travelling, until now I didn’t quite understand the masses of people that drive south to places like Florida, Arizona and California in the winter. I mean, winter’s not that bad. I’ve always liked the snow. And it feels a bit like cheating. Not to mention, for us, with Sid in tow and dogs needing semi-regular breaks, it’s about 33 hours of truck time to get to Quartzsite, Arizona. That’s like driving to downtown Calgary and back 22 times! In a row!

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Truck time.

 

It’s also at least two overnights in the cold country which means the trailer slides stay in and I don’t have access to my couch. (Yes, I have my own couch.) We used to put the slides out, until a few years ago in Great Falls when it was -20 and the mechanism broke on the big slide. And, in addition to making do with a temporary bed on the floor, it’s cold! Sid is nice down in the desert, but really not built for the gauntlet of well-below-freezing temperatures we travel through to get there. The cold seeps in through every little gap.

And, it means four days of getting in and out of the truck multiple times, which I can no longer do unassisted, and I hate needing help. It means four days of not enough sleep. It means four days of being in fifteen square feet with Chico. It means four days of not being comfortable.

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Me travelling with Chico is a bit like an insomniac watching somebody sleep. 

 

When the talk first turned to whether or not we’d travel south this year, I was kind of hoping we’d stay home. It takes a lot out of me getting down there. And it’s so comfy at home. When my health was taking a turn back in early October, it sounded like we wouldn’t be going. I felt bad about messing with Teresa & Nollind’s travel plans, but I was kind of relieved.

And then I started to feel better and they started talking about travelling again. “Crap!” I thought. At least, that was, until winter arrived about ten days ago.

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Winter arrives on the farm.

 

Six years and four trips later, I think I get it. I understand why so many retired people, some of them quite elderly, make the journey south, despite having to run the winter gauntlet and endure many miles of travel.

Winter really sucks when you’re old. Your bones ache. You get the shivers easily. Navigating snow and ice is more challenging than it used to be. Winter is just not a friendly place for an old person … or dog.

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It’s been cold for November!

 

My feet always were a little more sensitive to the cold than Chico’s but this year it’s ridiculous. They’re cold as soon as we get outside! And the foot attached to my bad leg? It’s a bit like an ice cube in the house and hurts like the devil outside. Shaking it and biting at it don’t seem to help at all.

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Following a horse trail makes the winter walking a bit easier.

 

Okay, so Teresa puts boots on me. Aaah … so much better. Except, this year, the damn things make me trip. I did a full face plant into a pile of snow along the road the other day when I got tripped up by my Muttluks. Sheesh.

I used to need a jacket on the really cold days, like -20 and colder, to avoid shivering. Now I wear one overnight (in the house!) to stay warm enough.

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Me after a walk in the snow.

 

And I don’t think I even need to talk about what it’s like to walk in deep snow or on ice with my increasingly wobbly legs. Just think about a dog wearing roller skates and you’ll be close.

Since winter arrived on the 1st of November, as I’ve been watching the V’s of Canada Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead, all I can think about is the desert. How 33 hours of truck time equals 100+ days of lying in the sun. How four days of getting in and out of the truck equals three and half months of walks on warm, dry ground. How four days of discomfort up front equals fewer aches, pains, and shivers for the rest of the winter.

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One of many desert walks last winter.

 

It’s still five weeks until our planned departure date and, as I’ve learned in the past few months, a lot can change in that amount of time. But, at this point, I’m in. Point me south and call me a snowbird!

 

 

Still Here

When Teresa’s dad was alive, whenever they’d talk on the phone and she’d ask him, at the outset, “How are you?”, his answer was always the same. “Still here.” It never failed to produce a chuckle. I think Ed’s motto was, or could have been, “might as well laugh about it.” Or, as he used to say, “Can’t dance and too fat to fly!” Although that may have been an entirely different response to an entirely different question. No one is sure.

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Teresa’s dad, Ed

 

“Still here” about sums up my situation recently. A few of you have commented that I’ve been a bit cryptic about what’s going on with my health. I probably have. I’ve always been a strong and independent kind of guy and it’s hard to admit being weak and needing help. As Teresa’s Aunt Manda used to say, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken!”

But I have weakened. For starters, my right front leg is just managing our one-mile morning walks (although I have to say, somewhat proudly, that I trot most of the way). Teresa tried to take us out to the big cottonwood grove that’s southwest of our property, the one that used to be our short walk, and I was struggling about halfway home. It’s not even a lot farther than our regular round-the-property route, but still too much.

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Out in our back 20

Because my stomach and kidneys weren’t managing the anti-inflammatory drugs anymore, that had to stop, but they’ve got me on a drug called Gabapentin and another new one, Amantadine. Both of these are pain management drugs and the Gabapentin, as a side benefit, seems to help with my travel anxiety. I also get bi-weekly injections of Legend (hyaluronic acid) and Cartrophen and I’m pretty sure they put some kind of joint supplement powder in my meals. Sounds like a lot I know, but it’s just barely keeping up with the osteoarthritis.

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My poor, hard-working left foot

And then there’s my heart. The vet noticed a murmur years ago, said it could be nothing or could worsen with time, said to watch for coughing or lethargy. Well, lethargy has never been a problem of mine but, last winter, I had my first experience with the coughing. When they had a listen and did some tests recently, things had progressed far enough to require medication. I’m on two different medications for my heart that are keeping it working better and providing a better blood supply to all of the other parts of my body, including my kidneys.

Which brings me to my third and potentially most threatening health issue … CKD, or chronic kidney disease. I’m a lot thirstier than normal and I just can’t hold it like I used to, both symptoms of CKD. They tried to feed me a special vet-formulated kidney-friendly diet. It tasted good at first but, after about a week, the bloom was off the rose, and it just tasted foul. Even the pill they were slipping me mid-afternoon, some kind of appetite stimulant, wasn’t helping. Teresa tried for a couple of weeks but when I kept walking away from my bowl she gave in and started cooking for me again.  :0)

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My new “yard” for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. I like to think of it as my “ensuite”.

This past week, my level of thirst and my inability to hang in between trips outside made it look like the disease was progressing very rapidly but, good news, the vet discovered I also have a bladder infection. Affliction number four … but one that can be cured with a few doses of a potent antibiotic. Maybe once it’s sorted they’ll put the living room rug back in place. It was my favourite place to lounge after our morning walk. I won’t go into any details about my week of embarrassing accidents (and Chico better keep it zipped!).

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My new morning lounge spot, complete with sunbeam

Old Ed, Teresa’s dad, passed away six years ago. He went in his own bed, in his own home, and on his own terms. I like that. And I think he had it about right … “still here” is sometimes as good as it gets and, most days, good enough.

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Blue sky day