Ten Steps Plus One Year

It’s been a year since I first visited Barrett Veterinary and started on my ten steps to healing. Considering my multiple health issues, my age, and that one year is like seven for a dog, I’d say I’ve done pretty well. And by pretty well I mean still on the top side of the grass.09 Logan - 10Steps- topside

The problem is that the same 10-step program that, a year ago, got me out in the field doing 1-hour walks, now just gets me to the barn and back, and our barn isn’t far from the house. It didn’t happen all at once, of course, it’s been gradual. My 1-hour walks became 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, then 20, and so on. It’s hard to believe I was still walking a mile every morning when we first came home from Arizona in March. When I look south to the neighbours’ place now, a half a mile away, it seems a formidable journey.

These days I go out to the barn to help with chores once or twice a day and make the trek to the end of the driveway with Nollind to close the gate at night, even if the gate is already closed. I like the routine, and I like to feel included in the happenings of the farm, like I still have a job.09 Logan - 10Steps- stalled

Helping with the herd used to be my thing. I’d rush right in to assist when Teresa was moving horses around. These days I hang back, far back. My Border Collie herding instinct still says, “Get in there,” but my survival instinct says “Are you nuts?” I swear those horses are a lot bigger than they used to be, or maybe I’m smaller.

My life is definitely a lot different than it was a few years ago, even a year ago, but it’s still life, and it’s still good most days. I enjoy different things at a different pace. I always did like lying on the deck or in the yard watching the world go by, so that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that I just let it go by, the world, rather than chasing after it.09 Logan - 10Steps- yardtime

I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here. Walking is getting tougher, the Legend isn’t helping much anymore, and some days it’s a challenge just to get up off my bed. Teresa got me some supplements that help settle my nighttime restlessness and my medications have been adjusted to levels that seem to keep me going as best they can but, when I look at my condition compared to a year ago, I know I don’t have another one in me. There’s only so much sliding downhill that can happen before the toboggan reaches the bottom and stops moving.

But, until then, I’ll be here, keeping the troops entertained. I figure as long as I have a skip in my step (in addition to a limp) and a light in my eye, I’ll be bargaining for a few more days.09 Logan - 10Steps- fieldwalk

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Working the System

Dog sitters are kind of like substitute teachers. You know how even the good kids might push on a substitute like they never would their regular teacher? Well, that’s what it’s like with a dog sitter. A guy can get away with just a little more.

In my case, I’m already pretty good at working my full-time people and they’re kind of easy but, bring on new recruits and I hit all-time highs. Take my pills, for instance. I know what’s “hiding” in those tasty treats they offer me three times a day. It’s cute how they think they’re being sneaky. But here’s the reality, I know the pills make me feel better but, if I make a fuss, I get better wrappers.

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Do I look like a guy who would take advantage?

It started with Greenies Pill Pockets, which are pretty tasty, and it took me a while to realize that I could up my game, get something better. All I had to do was stop eating Pill Pockets. It wasn’t easy, especially out walking. Teresa would pull a morsel out of the little treat bag that clips to her belt and, in my enthusiasm, I’d swallow it down before I realized it was Pill Pocket and not some other tasty tidbit.

Once I stopped eating the Pill Pocket altogether, they moved on to liverwurst. Yum. That stuff was so good, particularly the brand they found down in Arizona. I thought I’d reached the ultimate in pill coatings. But, after a few months I began to wonder, if I don’t eat the liverwurst, what else might they give me? I love chicken, but it’s hard to wrap a pill with a piece of chicken, same goes for steak, so I knew those were off the table. What the heck, I decided to gamble. I refused the liverwurst.

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Chico hasn’t figured out the system. He’d still be eating pill pockets.

You know what’s better than liverwurst? Liverwurst rolled in bacon bits. You know what’s better than liverwurst rolled in bacon bits? Liverwurst rolled in bacon bits with a dollop of bacon grease on top like icing.

Again I thought I’d surely reached the pinnacle of pill dressings. But, then again, maybe not. What if I was missing out on something better? It was tough, but I refused the liverwurst with bacon bits and grease. I couldn’t wait to see what they’d bring home from the store next trip into town. Any guesses? Have you ever tasted canned corned beef? Oh my. So delicious.

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Thinking about my next plate of corned beef balls.

I was content to stay with the corned beef for a bit, ride the wave so to speak, but then, bwa ha ha, the dog sitters came to stay. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up. After all, they weren’t going to be around long and might have new and better ideas about how to give pills to an old dog. They’d had one for a long while. Any of you remember Dame Dixie?

First day out I turned down the corned beef and I was prepared to refuse any attempts to dress it up with bacon bits. I was holding out for something new. It took a couple of days of trying different things, things I’d refused before, but then G and S pulled out all the stops, offering up steak tartare (sans capers) topped with crumbled chicken breast au jus. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

I’ve had to back things up a bit now that Teresa and Nollind are home and I’m settling for raw ground beef as a wrapper, no chicken crumbles au jus. But, it’s been ten days, probably about time for an upgrade. Don’t you think?

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You bet I’m smiling.

 

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As I mentioned last week in my mini blog post, I went on vacation, just me and my peeps. Yup. Me. All the attention. All the snacks. All the back seat. (But hey, Logan, buddy, pal, in case you’re reading this, we sure missed you!)

What I might not have told you before is that I can be a little, I hate to admit it, needy. I might come across as a cool dude in my posts but, on the inside, I have a lot of insecurities. Will there be enough food? Will there be enough attention? Will I have a comfy place to sleep? Canine concerns. And, when there are other animals around that draw attention and food and space, well, I can get a bit … well … whiny. Ack. Nobody likes a whiny dog.

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The three of us.

I heard them talking before the trip, wondering if travelling solo would push me even further along the “it’s all about me” scale. But, they needn’t have worried. Take away the cats, the horses, the work, and Logan, and I had more than enough food, attention, and comfort to keep me happy. For example, when T and N came back to the hotel after dinner the first night in Edmonton, the container of rib bits was mine all mine.

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Mine … all mine.

The first stop on our 10-day trip was Edmonton for N’s aunt and uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. Sadly, I didn’t get to attend the party and give them my best (Congratulations Allan and Karen!), but I did have a visitor to the Dodge kennel. Thanks for coming to see me, Laurana!

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Visitor to the Dodge kennel.

After a very busy lead-up to our departure, the peeps decided that a day of rest and relaxation was in order so we stayed an additional day in Edmonton. Following breakfast at the hotel and a trip outside for me, they actually climbed back into bed and watched a movie, very unusual behaviour for them. Fortunately for me, they brought one of my bed cover-up sheets so I could join in. What was the movie? Hmm … I may have dozed off once or twice. Something about aliens and guys in black suits and, oh, there was a very cool talking dog.

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Movie time!

Fed and rested, we were off to a dog park along the North Saskatchewan River. On a Sunday morning it was a busy place and I have never met so many dogs in one spot. During the hour and a half at the park, I must have met forty dogs, and the guy in the photo below was my paws-down favourite. We met along the river and again on the way back to the parking lot. Man, did we play hard. He was bigger and younger than me so I was exhausted by the time we reached the truck.

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Me and my new bud.

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Pho Boy Vietnamese Restaurant

The dog park was followed by lunch at a place on Whyte Avenue, a restaurant that allows dogs on their patio. (Thanks, Pho Boy!) They brought me a dish of water and apparently the food was pretty awesome too. T and N ordered a spicy dish so I didn’t get much of a sample but they brought along some of my snacks for me.

I could have stayed in Edmonton all week going to dog parks, eating restaurant leftovers, and lounging in the hotel room but, on Monday morning, we were headed north to Charlie Lake where some of T’s family lives.

We’ve been to T’s mom’s place before, when T’s dad died and they held a memorial for him beside the lake. This trip was a happier occasion, T’s mom’s 90th birthday. 90. Wow. That’s almost as old as Logan (in dog years). And she’s a lot like him, slowing down but still going strong.

It was just us at first and, of course, Grandma Nora (can I call you that or maybe just G’ma?), and T’s oldest brother and wife who live just up the road. And then they started to arrive, the sister, the brothers, the nephews, the nieces, the great nieces and nephew. It was quite a crew by party time on Saturday. One of T’s four brothers hadn’t made it to a family gathering in about twenty years and it was a joyous reunion on Friday night and a big surprise for his mom.

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Hanging with my new friend, Kaden, T’s great nephew.

For the most part, T’s family isn’t what I’d call super dog-friendly, but there are some dog lovers, and I managed to seek them out, doing my best to stay out of the way of everyone else. My favourite part of each day was the morning walk, usually down to the Provincial Park boat launch. I only got in one swim, due to the blue-green algae that drifted in on day three, but the walking was great, and each day we were joined by one or more of T’s siblings.

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Smoky view from the boat launch.

At seven on Monday morning we were on our way home, with a stop in Dawson Creek for fuel and food. I’d been a good and easy travelling companion for the whole trip (proud me) and it was time for my reward … my very own Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a road trip?

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Yum.