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 …

 

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High Maintenance Mutt

I know I’ve not been the easiest dog to live with—anxieties, fussy eating habits, a fierce independent streak, and a bad leg—but now, I hate to admit it, I’ve officially become high maintenance. And, although I appreciate everything they do, I’m starting to feel a bit awkward about Teresa & Nollind planning the trip around me and my needs.

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A low-maintenance moment.

 

They’ve always been play-it-by-ear, go-where-the-road-takes-us kind of travellers … until this year. This year, every move we make has to be considered as follows:

  1. Is there room and ability to put out a ten-foot ramp? A camp spot on a slope, a camp spot with a bush in front of it, or a camp spot in a parking lot or RV park are just not options this year.

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    Room for my ramp. Check.

  2. Is there reasonable footing for me to walk on? I’ve always had issues with the rocky ground in parts of the desert but, until this year, they just put boots on me. Now, with my mobility issues, the boots add just enough weight and awkwardness to tire my arthritic leg more quickly.

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    Plomosa Road north of Quartzsite where we stayed just two nights. Quiet, plenty of space, but too many rocks for this old dog.

  3. Is there a vet nearby? I have intravenous injections every couple of weeks so we can’t wander too far from an available veterinarian. Although, I’d be quite happy to give up the regular stab in the neck.

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    My vet in Blythe, California,just a short drive from Quartzsite.

  4. Is it somewhere we can stay long term? My drugs are a huge help on moving days, but travel still takes it out of me. Teresa referred to me as a “noodle” after our latest travel day. Noodle… not something I aspire to.

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    After our latest travel day. I guess I kind of see the “noodle” thing.

  5. Is the temperature moderate? My black coat has always been an issue on hot, sunny days, but, as I get older, I have less and less ability to deal with temperature extremes. I wilt in the heat and shiver as soon as it’s a bit cool.
  6. Can I be off leash? I’m very good about staying in camp and I love to just lie on the mat or under the trailer but, in some places, it’s just not allowed. Other places, people and their dogs are too close and I’m constantly inclined to wander over and visit. And I’ve just never done very well with being tied. There’s that fiercely independent thing.

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    Enjoying my off-leash freedom at Plomosa Road.

Number six is part of the reason we’ve come here to Wickenburg for a couple of weeks. During the last half of January, Quartzsite fills with RVers. There are always a bunch of flea markets around Quartzsite, but during the last half of January are the rock & gem shows, a swap meet they call Sell-A-Rama, and a huge RV show. The town, the RV parks, and even the desert fills with people. The area at Dome Rock where we’d been staying had rigs rolling in every day.

So, here we are, camped on State Trust Land near Vulture Peak. We’ve been here before, and it’s a favourite for walking and, last year, became a favourite for riding. There are trails and mining roads all over the backcountry.

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Home for the next couple of weeks.

 

I won’t be exploring very far afield this year, but that’s okay, there are plenty of sandy trails near the trailer that have easy terrain for me. And this area has a lot more wildlife than Quartzsite so many interesting things to see and smell along the trails. We even hear coyotes singing at night sometimes.

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Sandy wash walk near our Wickenburg camp.

 

As for being high maintenance, I guess I’ll just have to get used to the idea and be thankful I have people who are willing to accommodate the new me. I have to admit, they don’t seem to be suffering.

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The faces of suffering? I don’t think so.

 

 

 

It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to get an old dog to the desert. I’m living proof. Without the care and attention of a bunch of people, I wouldn’t be lying here in the Arizona sun, soaking up as many of those healing rays as I can. Nope. I’d either be struggling through the snow at home, having to wear the boots that have become tripping hazards for my old legs, or, even worse, I’d be buried under it, in one of my nests turned grave.

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Soaking up the morning sun near Quartzsite, Arizona.

 

Sounds grim, I know, but it’s the truth. Back in the summer, and even more so in the fall, none of us were sure I was going to make it this far. At one of my fall appointments, the vet suggested that Teresa and Nollind check out the “Quality of Life” scale that’s available online, so they’d have a sense of when it was “time”. And that’s “time” with that final, ominous sound, not the way it’s said when it’s time for supper or a walk.

When we took our fall camping trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, I had kind of a rough go. I was feeling very tired and starting to cough. My arthritis was making it impossible for me to climb the steps into the trailer or navigate out again. And I couldn’t make it more than a few hours without having an accident in the house or even the truck. The planned winter trip to the desert was off. Teresa and Nollind would stay home to look after their ailing, aging dog.

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Rest stop during a Cypress Hills walk in late September.

 

At least, that was, until they observed my increased stiffness with the cold weather and my struggle to walk on snow-covered or icy ground. That was when they started working on a plan to get me to the desert.

In early November, the cocktail of medications and supplements that Dr. Beth Barrett put me on really started to do their work. I was able to walk a little farther in the mornings without pain and I had more energy with no coughing. My appetite was back, putting a stop to the weight loss I’d been experiencing, and the shine returned to my coat. Another vet on Dr. Barrett’s team, Bronwyn, suggested that I be tested for a bladder infection and when the test came back positive and they put me on some aggressive antibiotics, my issues with incontinence were gone. I was back to my old “pee when I feel like it” self and a much more able travelling companion.

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Dr. Beth Barrett with one of her four dogs.

 

Every two weeks, from August to December, vet tech Roxanne administered my Legend injection and, when she was packing up all of my winter meds, she included clear and thorough instructions for how the Legend was to be given by the vets we’d see during our travels. This information came in very handy at our first vet visit in Las Vegas when the vet wanted to inject my muscles instead of my veins.

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My last visit to Roxanne before we left home.

 

My good friend, Laurana, loaned us her PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) machine that got me through the worst of the pain back in the fall and I think helped my heart and kidneys until Dr. Barrett’s diet changes and medications had a chance to do their good work.

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Therapy time on the PEMF mat.

 

The trip down was a breeze, largely because of Dame Dixie’s magical meds that she gave me last year. It’s not a drug I couldn’t get from the vet I was seeing at the time, it just wasn’t something they suggested. It works perfectly for me, completely removes the anxiety from travelling.

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Dixie. Walking the canal near the farm on one of her visits.

 

Dixie’s people, my good friends G and S, gave us a bunch of her things when, sadly, she passed on this spring, and part of that kit was a raised bowl stand. Thanks to their generosity, my meals have become more comfortable and I’m more inclined to finish them, “powering up” more easily for our walks. And Nollind used the double bowl holder as a prototype for the trailer-sized version below.12-logan-ontheroad-bowl

Nollind also built me a ten-foot ramp and covered it in carpet, so that I can safely get from the ground into the trailer and back out again. Not only has it saved my joints from hard landings and stair-climbing mishaps, but it’s given me back the independence that is central to my nature (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog posts for awhile).

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The new ramp getting a workout.

 

And then there’s Teresa, of course, my greatest advocate, who orchestrated all of the above. The time, the cost, the trouble, all seem irrelevant when it comes to my well-being. (Although I think I pushed her pretty close to the edge with those middle-of-the-night trips outside and regular mop-ups before the bladder thing got resolved.)

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Leaders of my village.

 

Later today I’ll add another person to the village, when we go to see the vet in Blythe, California, about a twenty-minute drive from our camp in Quartzsite. They’ll be giving me my Legend injections every couple of weeks during our time down here.

And so, people of my village, these next three months, as I walk on warm, dry ground and nap in the sun, I’ll think of all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m certain of it.

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Desert time.