Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Lazy. Hazy. Crazy. That about sums it up.

I’ve always liked a good nap, especially on a warm day, but this summer, my fifteenth, I am borderline lazy.  I have found more places to sleep in Logieland (isn’t that a great name?) than Nevada has spots. Just when I think I’ve got enough nap locations, I discover yet another shaded, grassy, idyllic piece of paradise.

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A great afternoon spot in the shade of the house. The downspout makes for very soft grass.

The hazy I speak of is due to the forest fires in our neighbouring province, British Columbia. It isn’t a big deal but it has caused my eyes to burn a little and my throat feels a bit raw. It would probably be a lot worse if I was actually doing anything other than sleeping most of the time. I guess being an old dog with arthritis and a heart condition has an upside!

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Smoky morning walk.

Which brings me to crazy. The crazy has nothing to do with a hectic pace, lots of outings, or full days. I wish. The crazy has been in my head. But, before you worry, it’s getting much better. The old brain has not given it up to dementia just yet.

It started at the end of our camping trip last month. Not only were my guts in turmoil but so was my brain. A call to the vet resulted in a round of antibiotics and other stomach settling meds that got the GI problems under control, but the crazies continued. Teresa was worried I’d slipped a cog and wasn’t coming back. So was I quite frankly.

But then, in true amateur vet/sleuth fashion, Teresa set about researching my conditions, my symptoms, my medications. My greatest advocate came to my rescue again. What she found was that two of the pills I’d been getting for quite some time don’t play well together. In fact, the combination of them can cause diarrhea, restlessness, and anxiety, all the things I’d been experiencing. She almost threw out all of my meds right then and there. Enough!

But, instead, we embarked on a path of medication reduction. One med of the pair that doesn’t play nicely was removed altogether and two others were reduced.  Can you say “withdrawal symptoms?” Holy DTs! I was a mess for the first week, even though the drugs were being tapered off slowly. I paced. I panted. I hardly slept. I was a wreck. Who knew Gabapentin was such an addictive beast?

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The first night of detox.

But, she got me through it. The crazies were worst in the evening and she sat with me every night. She’d watch TV while I lay at her feet on my favourite blanket. There was something about the ritual that was soothing. I’d start to feel anxious and she’d put the blanket on the floor, I’d lie down, she’d climb into the big chair, and we’d spend the next few hours that way. If I started to feel unsettled again, she’d give me a rub and I’d go back to sleep.

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The sweet spot.

It’s been almost a week since our last TV/blanket night. I’ve been feeling much better since then. I guess I’ve kicked it, or at least part of it. I’m still getting some of the medication but less than half of what I was. Admittedly, my stupid arthritic elbow is more painful than it was, but I’m not as wobbly and my mind is clearer and calmer. A fair trade I’d say. I even slept through the night the past few, which I know makes my light-sleeping dog-mom very happy.

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Walk along the canal.

Despite the increased elbow discomfort, I’m getting around okay. I still help out at the barn every day, patrol Logieland regularly, and get out for short walks. And, if I walk too far and don’t think I can make it back, I just call a taxi.

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Farm taxi. (His shirt says “do gooder)

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The Chase

I may be slow, with a wobbly hind end and a serious limp, but I managed to catch a gopher. I admit the little guy was cornered in the barn, but still, I caught it. Me.

Just to clarify, for those who aren’t familiar, the animals I’m referring to are technically Richardson Ground Squirrels, often called prairie dogs, but around here they’re just gophers. And, as cute as they are, they are farm vermin and will dig up your entire property, eat your garden, create a minefield for livestock, and attract much larger burrowing critters, like badgers who dig holes big enough to swallow a human leg up past the knee (just ask Teresa).07-logan-thechase-groundsquirrel

We spotted the gopher as we were headed out to the barn on Wednesday morning and chased it across the paddock, Chico in the lead, of course, but me not so far behind. When the gopher went under the barn door we knew we had him. There was no way he had an escape hole dug through the concrete floor.

We ran in, he cheeped to alert us of his location (which they always do for some reason), Chico went left, I went right, and there he was, cornered by the wall and a shelf unit. I haven’t had a gopher in my mouth in years but I jumped in and grabbed him. He was huge! He fought! I tried to give him the old shake of death but my wobbly back legs gave out and I plopped down onto the floor. Despite my unplanned, sprawling sit, I held on. His claws were flailing at my face—

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Jaws of death.

It was about then that Chico jumped in, grabbing him just as I let go. He finished him off, which was fine with me. I always enjoyed the thrill of the chase and the catch but the killing, not so much.

You may see the whole thing as rather barbaric, and I suppose it was, but I felt so alive in that moment, like I was four rather than fourteen, and I walked a couple of inches taller on my way back to the house.

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Jaws of death at rest.

There’s not a lot of excitement in my life these days, which I’m normally fine with, but every now and then, it’s good for the old canine soul to do something completely instinctual and dog-like. It used to be chasing coyotes, baying as I went, or running down a skunk or a porcupine and dealing with the consequences. I don’t recommend any of these activities but, at the time, they were pretty thrilling.

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Expressing our wolf-ness when we were both a lot younger.

These days, my hunting and chasing amounts to following Chico on his yard patrols, sometimes watching him catch something, always far behind and never in the thick of things. Wednesday was different. Wednesday I was a wolf.  Wednesday I forgot I was an old dog, just for a minute.

There’s a scoreboard on the fridge in the kitchen, a little friendly competition between Nollind and Chico. Well, this old dog is on the board.07-logan-thechase-scoreboard-190123

And the Verdict is…

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog posts for a time, I’m a digger. Specifically, I’m a den digger. I don’t just dig random holes, I dig large, me-sized holes under shrubbery, places to tuck in on a warm day. With my black coat, I’ve always found summer weather a bit challenging and my dens have brought relief.

On our trips south, particularly this last one, I dig dens at every stop and enjoy them daily. The one in the photo near Wickenburg was some of my best work and I spent a lot of time in that shallow den.

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My Wickenburg den under the mesquite tree.

Here at home, I have many dens, including a few large, deep ones that I’ve been working on for years. Two of these bigger dens are located inside my new Logie-Land enclosure but I haven’t used them much this season. They’re just too deep for me now. I’ve been concerned that if I go in I might not get out.

Turns out my concerns were well-founded. Last Wednesday it was hot in the afternoon so, late in the day, I decided to hunker down in my west den under the lilac. It was a great place for a nap but, when I decided it was time to climb out and get a drink of water, I hate to say it but, I couldn’t. Getting up after a long lie down is a bit challenging at the best of times these days and, with my legs folded into the side of a hole, I just couldn’t get them under me to get up. To make matters worse, my struggles resulted in me getting my back half turned upside down. I was stuck. On a normal day when Teresa or Nollind is home, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but they were gone for the evening to the sailing club.

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The hole. It doesn’t look like much without me in it but I wasn’t getting back in for a photo op.

When I tired of trying to get myself upright and out, I’d rest for a time before giving it another try. It got dark, which I don’t mind in and of itself, but it meant that I’d been in the hole for quite awhile.

Teresa and Nollind would have walked right past me when they came in the yard. My hearing isn’t so good and I was likely asleep. I heard Nollind’s whistle from the deck by the front door. Another whistle. A third. How I wanted to shout out “I’m over here! I need help!” But I couldn’t of course.

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Back on my feet after my ordeal. Unsteady but upright.

The whistling stopped. Nollind had gone back inside. I yelped. Nothing. I yelped again, a little louder. And then I heard the door and Teresa calling my name and there she was under the shrub pulling me out. I tried to stand and fell down. She helped me up and I fell down again as soon as I tried to move. And then she was crying, her tears spilling down into my fur. I wanted to get up and walk, for her, but I just couldn’t. I was so tired. She picked me up and carried me inside. I’m no lightweight at fifty-five pounds but that didn’t stop her from packing me up the stairs to the living room.

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I’ve been doing a lot of this since Wednesday night. Here I am hanging with our weekend visitors by their trailer.

I didn’t move all night, just slept there on my left side on the therapeutic mat Teresa had put down in the middle of the living room. When I did wake up the next morning, I was thirsty and started struggling to get up. Teresa was sleeping nearby and came to assist, giving me some support as I walked to the water bowl. She helped me outside and I tried to wander off to have a pee but my back left leg kept giving out and causing me to fall over. I was scared and I could tell she was too.

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A few days later and we’re all a lot happier.

When some water, some pills, and more rest didn’t improve matters, Teresa called the vet. I was scheduled to go down for my Legend shot anyway but Dr. Barrett said I should come early and they’d try giving me some fluids. This would help to rehydrate me and also flush the pain-causing toxins from my muscles. Well, I’m not a fan of vet clinics, and even less a fan of staying in one for hours, but after I’d spent the afternoon in a kennel with a needle in my arm, I have to say I was feeling a little better. I still needed help walking from the clinic to the car but I felt good enough that I tried to run.

The other thing they gave me at the vet clinic was a drug called Buprenorph Vetergesic, a powerful painkiller they hoped would help to deal with all of the pain I was feeling as a result of my long struggle to get up. Well, it certainly did. I couldn’t feel anything once that stuff kicked in.

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That Buprenorph was some crazy shit.

After sleeping the sleep of the dead for the next eight hours, I woke up at one o’clock and, much to my surprise, and Teresa’s, was able to get myself out of bed and walk. By seven o’clock I was feeling up to our morning trip to the barnyard to let the horses out on the grass. I was wobbly but I made it! Last night, after they blocked my dens, I was able to sleep outside again, which made me very happy, and this morning I managed a twenty-minute walk around the back pasture.

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Morning walk in the pasture.

As I wrote in my short post on Saturday, the vet told Teresa that a trauma like the one I’d experienced could be a setback for a dog of my age and condition, or a cliff. Well, I’m happy to say it’s been a setback. It’s possible I won’t recover completely from my ordeal, I’m fourteen and a half after all, but I’m hopeful I’ll be enjoying Logie-Land for a few more weeks or months. It’s all gravy at this point.

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Enjoying a sunny Monday afternoon in Logie-Land.