Flashback Fur-iday — Logan’s Loop

It’s hard to say just how many miles Logan travelled in his lifetime. The tally started in the years before I knew him and included many an unsanctioned run across the prairie or through the woods as well as countless miles behind the hooves of a horse out on the trail.

Lunch break on the trail at Station Flats in 2011. (Read Tribute to a Trail Dog)

Our canal walk is about a 3-mile round trip, our loop to the big poplar grove to the west about the same, and there have been countless miles racked up in many parts of Western Canada as well as the deserts of Utah, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Suffice to say, Logan was a happy but high-mileage model by the end of his stay on this earth.

I love to get out and walk, and trot, and run, or just go at whatever pace my leash allows. 

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places, February 2015

Hiking at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg in 2015.

We spent nine days camped near Wickenburg and we hiked for two hours every day, and only once did we cover the same trail. Wanderlust doggie paradise!

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places – February 2015

One of many, many walks along the canal near home. See more canal photos!

In Logan’s final couple of years, the walks had to be reduced, due to his arthritis and his heart condition. At first, the limitation was set at “no more than an hour” but, in his last year, that hour was reduced to 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, and so on.

… just a couple of years ago I completed the two-hour Majestic Trail hike without a thought beyond enjoying the exercise and the day. This year, all I could think about was getting back to camp, having a big drink of water, and lying under the trailer in the shade. 

I’m As Good Once As I Ever Was – February 2017

Majestic Trail near Wickenburg, Arizona.

One of our favourite walks in that final year was what I like to call Logan’s Loop, a one-mile journey around the twenty acres we call home. It was a favourite because we were normally off-leash, and because of the old irrigation ditch and aspen groves that run down the middle of the hay field. Many different critters make this area their stomping grounds so it is a complete scent-fest for us dogs.

Water break on Logan’s Loop, Spring 2018

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).

Still Here, October 2017

Exploring the aspen grove on his loop. Spring 2018

Until T hurt her back last week, we hadn’t walked Logan’s Loop since June or so of last year when Logan could still do it. It was good for T to keep moving in those first days of recovery but not too far, so there we were, back on the loop, exploring our twenty acres and its groves of aspens. I felt Logan there, in the trees and in the hay field, walking alongside us, sharing the sights and smells of the winter afternoon.

Early summer walk, 2018.

It’s been four months since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge but, out on Logan’s Loop, I feel like he hasn’t left us at all.

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Home for the Holidays

It will be a different kind of Christmas this year … no desert … no Logan. The four of us spent the past two Christmases in and around Quartzsite, Arizona—exploring the desert, lying in the sun, lounging by the Little Red Fireplace. This year we’ll be here in Alberta, and just three of us, unless you count the horses and cats who bring our number up to ten.

Christmas Day last year at Dome Rock BLM (Logan in his favourite spot).

Logan was always the ringleader when it came to opening gifts, being a greater lover of toys than I am. Last year it was a little candy cane squeaky thing. Silly, but he loved it. No matter his age, he never lost the enjoyment of something that squeaked or grunted or otherwise made a sound between his teeth. I inherited a whole basket of the goofy things. I hope T and Nollind give me a bone for Christmas this year. I prefer quiet deliciousness to noisy tastelessness.

Logan with his Christmas toy.

We’ve been out walking in our winter wonderland every day since the snow came. T started out in boots when the snow cover was light, moved up to snowshoes after a dump, and now she’s back to just boots with all the Chinook melting that’s happened this past week or so. For me, it’s four paws all the time, although I wished I had some doggie snowshoes on those deep-snow days. On the plus side, I’m looking svelte, fitting up my near-ten-year-old body for the winter adventures to come.

I keep up just fine on the hard pack.

And by winter adventures I mean Canadian winter adventures, the kind with snow and sunshine and, yes, sometimes cold. T and Nollind had been planning to take us south in early December, then mid-December, then just after Christmas, and then early January, but they’ve decided we’re staying home entirely this year. Sounds like there are a few reasons why, not the least of which is the old horse, Nevada. He’s had some health issues since the end of summer and T wants to be here to care for him on a daily basis. She thinks he needs her right now, and she might be right. I see the way he looks at her every afternoon when she goes out to give him his extra feed and supplements, like she’s just saved his life yet again.

Home on the range

Logan almost kept us home last year but Nollind built him a ten-foot ramp and we were off to the south. Maybe he could do the same for Nevada? Instead of the Fang trailer behind Sid we could haul a horse trailer.

The ramp that made it all possible last winter.

But, since I don’t think that will happen, I’m settling in for a Canadian winter—putting energy into growing an extra layer of fur. I’ll be fine. I actually like snow, as you might remember from my I Love Snow post this spring. And, as much as I miss Logan, there are more frequent adventures and long walks in my days as a solo, easy-travelling dog. Life is good.

Making my version of a snow angel.

I’ve heard talk around the house that we might even head out for some winter camping to places like the Cypress Hills and Kananaskis. In our first trip south in 2011, we spent some time camping in the snow in Utah and northern Arizona. Playing in the snow during the day and tucking into a warm trailer at night? Sign me up!

Snow at Bryce Canyon in 2011

From my home to yours, or wherever you may be this holiday season, wishing you and your furry (and non-furry) family a very Merry Christmas!

An Exercise in Empathy

According to Oxford, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some of you are probably thinking that empathy is reserved for humans. I thought so too and was quite excited to be embarking (no pun intended but that’s kinda funny) on a new adventure in humanness.

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Working on my “I care” face (which looks surprisingly like my “have you got any treats” face.)

But when I read about the nature of empathy, I realized that I feel this regularly, every time one of my people is upset, or sad, or hurt. It’s written in my canine DNA to go to the aid of my humans when they are in trouble. They’ve even done studies on the topic, including this one entitled “Dogs feel empathy for human suffering.”

The good news for me in this discovery is that human-ness and canine-ness may not be as far apart as I thought.

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Soaking up the snowy day happy vibes from T.

What got me thinking about empathy is my week of spending time in Logan’s world, the world of veterinarians and medications and restrictions. I’ve been a very healthy guy—an easy keeper they call me. I’ll eat pretty much anything that’s put in front of me without issue or repercussions (often finding my own snacks), I’m happy with a short walk but always up for a long one, I sleep through the night and am usually the last one out of bed in the morning.

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You’d be amazed what an easy keeper like me can find under a picnic table.

This past week I had to take painkillers that made my stomach feel a bit off, my walks were a good length but limited to on-leash, and I had to sleep with a life preserver around my neck. I know, I know, small potatoes compared to what Logan dealt with his last year. I realize my experience was just a taste of what he went through.

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I admit to a few moments of feeling sorry for myself.

Don’t get me wrong, Logan wouldn’t have had it any other way. Some dogs may have opted for an early exit rather than have their activities continually curtailed and spend every second week in a vet’s office, but that wasn’t Logan. He was a fighter, with a zest for life that carried him through his health trials with spunk and dignity.

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Logan’s final canal adventure in mid-August. Spunk and dignity.

My time in Logan’s world is almost up, at least for now. I’m spending less time in the life preserver and my stitches come out on Monday. After that it’s all systems go, life returns to normal.

If the lump they removed from my leg had been a malignant fibrosarcoma, I’d be telling a different story, but, hooray!, my easy keeper streak continues. The lab tests confirmed it was just a benign fibroma. I’m in the clear!celebration time

I’ll wrap up my thoughts on empathy with some words I’m going to try to live by:

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird11-Chico-empathy-chinooksky