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 – Shady, Secret Places

I realize it’s Saturday, not Fur-iday, and that I missed last Fur-iday altogether. I have no explanation beyond summer brain. You’ve heard of it, right? When the weather is warm, the evenings are long, and the mind just keeps sliding into vacation mode? All a guy wants to do is lie somewhere in a nice, shady spot with green leaves rustling overhead. Aaaahhhh….summer.

And the joy of summer and shady places has got me thinking about Logan, who had such a good final summer here on the farm, in his new yard that we dubbed Logie-land.

Surveying Logie-land from the shade of the apple tree.

To be honest, I thought the old guy had a slipped cog or two with his obsession for hiding in bushes and sleeping under trailers, some sort of canine paranoia that made him hide. “Why not just lie out in the open where someone might come by and pet you or drop food?” was always my question. Logan’s answer was …

For some of you sun lovers, that (30 degrees Celsius) may not sound terribly hot, but try wearing a black fur coat complete with leggings instead of shorts and flip flops. I guarantee you’ll have a different hot weather threshold.

March 2017 – Hot Times in the Desert 

Under the horse trailer in Kananaskis.
Under Sid the fifth wheel at Lake Mojave.

When the fence around the yard got built last spring, Logan was pretty disappointed that none of the trailers had been fenced in, so whenever he was outside the fenced area, he was under one. At least T always knew where to find him.

Inside the fence, he created a network of trails under the shrubs and through the tall grass, with little hidden, green nests all along his route.

I’m working on my twentieth (or is it twenty-first?) den, I have the full spectrum of sunny versus shady places to nap, there’s a resident prairie dog to keep in check, and so much to observe in my half-acre paradise.

July 2018 – Gone Camping 

One of Logan’s favourite dens in Logie-land.

If you’d have asked Logan, “Why so many dens?” His answer would have been …

I like that hidden away feeling, but I never want to be too far from the people and the action.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

It was simple, he needed a den near each of the places his people hung out.

I turned ten in January and one of things I’m noticing is that I just don’t have much tolerance for heat. I used to love lying out in the sun. Still do on a cool day but, even then, it’s not long before I’m panting up a storm and seeking shade.

On our latest trip to BC it was pretty warm about half the days and I finally figured out that my old friend was onto something—namely shade and undisturbed rest. Here’s a tip for you youngsters out there—whether dog or human—listen to the old guys and gals, they may seem a little crazy or obsessive but they probably know something you don’t.

Learning from the old and wise.

From Logan I learned that under the trailer is the coolest place in a campsite—cool earth, shade at all times of day, and open to all sides so any breeze blows right through.

Napping under Simon at Premier Lake.

But, if you’re more inclined to filtered sun and some privacy, well, camping out in a shrub is pretty darn close to heaven.

Shrub time at Premier Lake.

Logan was a master at finding the shady, shrubby, resting places everywhere he went, even in places where shrubs are hard to come by.

Since I’m never sure how long we’re going to stay in any one location (and neither are my people) I got to work right away underneath the trailer of the Wolverine. It was shady and a good vantage point for keeping an eye on things. Unfortunately, it lacked the brushy cover that I prefer.

March 2017 – It’s Not Only Birds that Nest 

Shrub time in a Kananaskis horse camp.
Not a lot of leaf on this shrub at Vulture Peak but he made it work.

You won’t find Logan in any of the many shady spots in Logie-land this summer, but you can do what I plan to do … lie under a shrub or a tree listening to the sound of the breeze rustling through the green leaves and remember a very clever black and white dog who liked nothing better than a shady, secret place to nap.

Mutt on the Move

Last Fur-iday, I was going to write about my camping adventure in the Columbia Valley, but then, there we were, on the road again. I am one mobile mutt! If I were a suitcase, I’d be covered in stickers!

Always going somewhere these days.

So now I have two trips to cover in one blog, but I’ll try to be concise.

First up, our trip to the Columbia Valley with the new trailer, Simon. Simon, you might be wondering? Yes, Simon, short for Simple Simon, who is almost half the length of Sid, three feet lower, and has zero slides to Sid’s three. Simple. And able to fit pretty much anywhere we might want to go. Small sites and overhanging branches will no longer keep us out! But, not to worry, Sid is still parked in the yard, awaiting our next desert snowbird adventure.

Simon at Redstreak (me on the right).

So anyway, after picking up Simon from the used RV lot, we were off to Redstreak Campground in Kootenay National Park. What a place! I could happily live there. Paths running every direction, deer at every turn, and great nearby places to explore. Dog, and human, heaven. And it was warm and dry in contrast to the wet, cold weather on our side of the Rockies.

One of the many resident Kootenay Park critters.

To make things even better, on day two, G and S arrived with their dog, my buddy, Ria. I’m a little old for Ria’s level of energy, but she and I have some great “follow our noses” adventures and both enjoy a good lounge around camp.

Camp time version 1.
Camp time version 2.

We stayed four days at Redstreak, reluctantly heading home on Tuesday around noon. Sigh… But we did get in one last picnic along the Kootenay River (see banner image). On Friday morning, just as I was settling in to write about our camping adventure, T starts packing a suitcase. Oh oh, I thought, she’s flying away on me. But nope, the suitcase went in the trunk of the car right next to my bed, my food, a book bag, and a guitar. Road trip for two!

On the road with T.

We spent two days getting here to Charlie Lake in the North Peace area of British Columbia, with walk stops at Sylvan and Sturgeon Lakes and an overnight at a dog-friendly hotel in Whitecourt along the way. It’s different travelling without a trailer but hotel time is kind of fun. The front desk staff like to pass out biscuits, some of the guests enjoy giving me a cuddle, and there was room for my mat right up there with T on the king-sized bed.

Trying out the swing in the hotel courtyard.

Lake time has been very relaxing, as it should be. The weather was terrific for the first four days and I do love to sunbathe with the sound of water lapping on the shore.

Deck time at Charlie Lake.

I was also included in a mom-and-sisters road trip to Williston Lake for driftwood collecting and Hudson’s Hope for a picnic lunch. The past couple of days, it’s been breezy, cool, and a little damp but it hasn’t stopped us from our daily walks at one of Charlie Lake‘s two provincial parks.

The big beach at Williston Lake.

Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, and Charlie — the four-lake tour! Then again, maybe I can get T to stop at a couple of new ones on the trip home. I’ll check the map.

A dip in Charlie Lake.