His Last Run

We had to say goodbye to Logan yesterday. I knew it was coming, could smell it on him, the curious scent of soul preparing to leave body. It doesn’t seem to matter that you know it’s coming or for how long you know it’s coming, when the day arrives, you’re not prepared. It still rips your heart out and stomps on it (to quote T).

He didn’t go on his own, although I’m sure that’s what T and Nollind would have liked, for him to just slip away in the night. But that’s not the way with us dogs, we fight, we hang on, we survive, and the struggle can get ugly, and painful.

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Friday morning.

I wrote once about Logan’s stoic nature. It never changed. But in the past four or five days even he couldn’t hide how difficult it was getting to move from point A to B, or just get up off his bed. On Monday he managed a trek to the back of the pasture (with a Kubota ride home) where T was putting up temporary fencing, but by Thursday, when she took us for just a short tour around the front yard outside Logie-land, he had a hard time making it back to the house. His back legs just didn’t want to hold him up. His will was still strong but his body was giving up on him.

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Exploring the pasture.

When we came home from our BC trip at the end of August, T made some more adjustments to his medications and it really seemed to give him a boost for a few weeks. He was walking a little better, able to make some short journeys around the farm, and went along on nearly every trip to the barn with T when she was out there two or three times a day looking after Nevada. He loved that, being part of the horse activities, even though he was mostly just lying there watching.

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Helping to tuck the horses in on a wet, cold night.

I noticed the change about a week ago, the slow-down, the shift in his mental state. His heart condition and arthritis were progressing beyond the reach of his medication. They made one last change to his meds, hoping it would give him a lift, but it didn’t seem to work. The tiredness, the panting, the struggle, continued. Thursday afternoon he lay down on his bed and slept there until 10 o’clock when T and Nollind came home from an event in the city. And then he slept all night beside their bed, hardly moving. That may seem like normal and appropriate old-dog behaviour, but not for Logan. Only the turmoil in his digestive system finally got him out of bed the next morning.09-Chico-LastRun-bedtime

Despite his failing health, Logan made the trip to let the horses onto the pasture yesterday morning, slow and unsteady and probably painful but he made it … and back again. T or Nollind or sometimes both sat with him all day while he rested on one of his beds or on the deck for a while until he got chilly. The vet came mid-afternoon. It was quick, and quiet, and gentle, like he just went to sleep. Seems it didn’t take a lot to stop an old heart that was already running on fumes. The word euthanasia comes from Greek and means “good death”. I’d have to agree.

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A difficult and emotional day.

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A little deck time.

I’m doing my best to comfort them, fill the space I know they feel. But I can’t of course. Only time will do that. I’ll miss him too, my sniffing, running, snack-sharing buddy, and I’ll always be grateful to him for accepting me as part of his pack, since I know the decision was ultimately his.

Farewell, old friend. I’ll never forget you.

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A fitting resting place in Logie-land.

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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

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.