Please Fence Me In

I never thought a freedom lover like me would be happy to be fenced in but, turns out, at this stage of my life, it’s a good thing. I’ve mentioned in other posts how old age has me wanting to be outside all the time. Problem is, where we live, outside is a very big place and not without hazards. Until recently, nobody was too concerned about me wandering off on my own a little. I was independent and capable. But now I don’t hear so well, I can’t run very fast, and I’m certainly not up to fighting a coyote or badger or other such wild creature I might run across.

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First day in the new dog yard.

 

Truth be told, I’m not really inclined to wander much these days and am quite happy to just hang in the yard so they really don’t need to worry about me. Problem is, thirteen years of sneaking off at the first opportunity has created a certain amount of distrust in my people. I get it. I probably wouldn’t trust me either if I said, “Hey, don’t worry, I’ll stay right here where I’m safe.” Uh huh.

In my youth, I could run for miles, and did, every chance I got. Now it doesn’t take a lot of space to keep me happy. A few good den locations, a bit of green grass to chew on and lie in, a shady spot, and I’m content. Oh, and a house. I do like my dog house.

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Daytime deck and nighttime house.

 

So this year, in my fourteenth turn around the sun, Teresa and Nollind built me a yard. I like to think of it as my retirement home. It means I don’t have to stay in the house when I don’t want to and I’m let alone to do as I please when I’m outdoors. The best part? I get to sleep outside under the stars at night (although I usually prefer my doghouse).

And, yes, it’s also safe, and although the safety part is mostly for the comfort of my people, I’m probably just as happy to not tangle with a coyote, or a Ford pickup. I actually had a close call with a skunk a couple of nights ago. It was outside my fenced area but close enough I needed a deodorizing bath.

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One of my under-shrub dens.

 

So how big is “Logie-land”? Well, they used about five hundred feet of fence wire to go around it so probably about a third of an acre or so. Not a big piece in terms of the whole property but big enough for this old dog, and so much bigger than the little temporary corral they put together for me last fall when I was needing trips outside in the middle of the night. This new area wraps the whole house which means I can come and go via either door and hang out on both decks. There are treed areas to explore, good places to hide bones from Chico, and I just generally feel like I have a domain to patrol and protect.

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The bone I managed to bury well enough to keep from Chico for three days.

 

When I first joined the van Bryce household, I could escape from a 6-foot-high chain-link dog run, until they put a top on it. My new fence is just four feet high and I can’t even imagine going out over the top. But, other than yet another reminder that I’m not as young as I used to be, I’m okay to stay on my side of the fence, soak up the sun, sleep in the shade, and enjoy my retirement.

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A shady, grassy bit of heaven.

 

 

 

 

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Pop Goes the Pooch

Shhh…mum’s the word. If it gets back to Logan that I’ve written this post, I may have to enter the witness protection program and you’ll never hear from me again.

Shhhh_Shhh_Shhh - FunnyAnimalSite dot com

Shhh …  (photo compliments of funnyanimalsite.com)

Well, here goes …

The first time it happened was in the car last summer. We were headed to friends for dinner and suddenly, there it was, a turd on the seat, flattened because Logan had been sitting on it. He acted like he had no idea where it had come from but there were only two of us in the back seat and I knew it wasn’t mine. Some wet wipes and a hosing of the Soggy Dog seat cover later, all was well. I wrote it off to “shit happens”.

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The Soggy Dog Seat Cover has been a life saver.

But, then it happened in the truck on another outing and it was messier, not the dry-ish turd pancake of the previous time. Even before the smell drifted to the front seats (and smell travels quickly) I had alerted T and Nollind by whining and trying to climb up front with them. “Help! Help! He’s done it again!”

Since those two incidents, there have been many an emergency roadside stop and clean up. Remarkably, we made it all the way to Arizona last winter without a problem but weren’t so lucky during Logan’s every-second-week visits to the vet in Blythe. Afternoons seem to be the most dangerous time to travel. It’s like his digestive system is almost ready to push something through but not quite, at least not until his travel nerves kick into gear.

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Happy travellers … but always on alert.

It’s a bit like traveling with a jack-in-the-box. The little handle goes round and round, round and round, the creepy music plays, and you wait, and you cringe, and you wait some more, knowing what’s coming but not quite sure when. And then, all of a sudden, POP!, the vehicle fills with stink and T & Nollind go into emergency mode: finding the next spot to pull over, evacuating the vehicle, grabbing the clean-up kit. At these times, I just tuck myself into a corner as far from the offending deposit as I can until things are under control.

It’s happening all the time now, even in the house some nights. Crazy thing is, I don’t think he can do anything about it. Not sure if he’s lost sensation, control, or both but, as much as T and/or Nollind try to take him outside and give him as many opportunities as he needs before a trip or before bed at night, when he’s gotta go he just does. No bark, no whimper, no asking to go outside.

It’s put a bit of a damper on our excursions. In fact, he hasn’t been in the car since we came back from Arizona other than to go to the vet for his Legend injection every two weeks. There have been four such trips and, surprisingly, only one with incident. Despite my love of going along, I wasn’t sure I wanted to partake in his trips to the vet, but T has been kind enough to let me sit up front and stay out of the danger zone.

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Me in emergency-lock-down mode.

Lately, T has been taking me on some short outings, getting Logan used to the idea of being left home alone. She doesn’t want me to miss out because Logan is becoming more difficult to take places and not able to walk more than 20-30 minutes. I’m glad of that. I like my old buddy but I do enjoy a trip to town or to the dog park now and then. There’s even talk she and I might get out hiking beyond our little prairie neighbourhood now that the snow is gone and the weather warmer. Kananaskis, Drumheller, Cochrane, and Wyndham-Carseland are just a few of the destinations she’s mentioned.

It’ll be sad to go adventuring without Logan, because I know he hates to miss anything, but I guess that’s just the way it has to be. At least we’ll still have our morning explorations of the farm’s back twenty and evening wanders to the wetland.

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Morning walk around the farm.

Maybe by the time it’s my turn to write again I’ll have a tale to tell from one of our spring excursions. Until then …

 

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.