Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

I used to enjoy the end of the day, the prairie or desert sky coloured by the dying sun, going for a walk in stealth mode in my black coat. But that was before … before the dark became scary.

A few years back, Teresa and Nollind moved their bedroom downstairs and we loved it, Chico and I, because we had our own couch right there in the bedroom with our peeps. The pack could sleep together and still have plenty of space each.

04-Logan-sundowners-couchtime

Our futon couch in the downstairs bedroom. Canine cushiness.

Then, one night when the light went out, I just couldn’t stay in the room. I slept outside the bedroom door where there was a night light. It became a bit of a joke. They’d turn out the light and say, “Bye, Logan,” because they knew I’d leave. Teresa made me a bed between the door and the basement stairs and I’d sleep there, or go upstairs sometimes, where there were more night lights.

Last fall, the night lights weren’t doing it. I was pretty much sleeping on the main floor by then, because the stairs were a challenge, and I started getting nervous at bedtime. Some nights I was able to tuck in and go to sleep, others I’d pace, back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. They tried taking me downstairs with them but that was even worse.

04-Logan-sundowners-daytimenap

Looks so easy.

When we set out on the road in December I found being in the more confined space of Sid quite comforting and I slept great for the first month. I had my couch and my pillow, and my peeps sleeping just twenty or so feet away. Then, one night, I just needed to get out of there. I went to the door, banged into it to get someone’s attention. Nothing. I went back to my couch and tried to settle. Nope. Back to the door. Bang. Back to the couch. Repeat.

04-Logan-sundowners-sidbed

RV time was a great remedy for my nighttime restlessness … for awhile.

It didn’t happen every night, the restlessness, but often enough that Teresa and Nollind started putting a chair in the way so that I couldn’t bang into the screen door and wake them up. When I figured out how to get in behind it, they put a second chair beside the first. When they started leaving a light on for me it seemed to help for a time but then it didn’t. I was back wandering the trailer and, by the end of the trip, it was almost every night.

04-Logan-sundowners-company

Someone to keep me company is helpful when the “evening crazies” set in.

I hoped, and I’m sure Teresa the light sleeper did too, that I’d settle in once we were home again. Uh-uh. It was worse at home. So much space, so many shadows, so many now unfamiliar noises. I was a wreck that first week. I’ve always been kind of a nervous guy but this was exceptional, even for me. The vet was consulted, and she thought it might be something called Sundowners, a syndrome that affects people with dementia and old dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (a fancy way to say senility). I tell you, it was not a good day when I heard my mind could be going down the same degenerative road as my body.

04-Logan-sundowners-yoga

I can sleep almost anywhere during the daylight hours.

I was prescribed something called Selegiline, a human Parkinson’s medication that helps some dogs with cognitive issues. We were told it might or might not help and we’d know in a month or two if it was working. After only one dose, my nighttime restlessness increased, after two, the restlessness was spreading into the daytime hours, and the third had me vomiting. Teresa did some online research and found that Selegiline shouldn’t be given with Tramadol, a pain med prescribed by the vet down in Arizona. It could cause confusion, increased restlessness, and, you can probably guess, vomiting. I hit the trifecta of potential side effects. Teresa tried to take me off the Tramadol but I got too sore on my right leg so the Selegiline trial was abandoned. I doubt it would have helped anyway, since I’m a far cry from senile. I’m just sensitive, and getting more so with age.

04-Logan-sundowners-daytimenap2

Daytime naps are the best.

This all happened when we first returned home in mid-March and things have improved since then. The vet increased my dose of Gabapentin, a drug for my arthritis that also has a calming effect, and I now take it right at bedtime along with some melatonin. It doesn’t work every night, but things are much better than they were.

The ultimate solution would be to let me sleep outside. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but inside where there’s likely not something lurking in the shadows is much scarier than outside, where there could be something lurking in the shadows. I can’t explain why but I calm right down out there. Problem is, it’s been too cold at night for my old bod. I get the shivers in the house overnight if I’m not wearing my fleece jacket. But, as soon as the weather warms up, come bedtime they can just kick me outside in my yard and we can all get a good night’s sleep.

04-Logan-sundowners-doghouse

Love my dog house at any time of day.

Advertisements

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.

01-logan-highmaintenance-lowmaintenance

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.

    01-logan-highmaintenance-campspot

    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.

    01-logan-highmaintenance-plomosa

    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.

    01-logan-highmaintenance-vet

    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.

    01-logan-highmaintenance-noodle

    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.

    01-logan-highmaintenance-shade

    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.

01-logan-highmaintenance-wickenburg

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.

01-logan-highmaintenance-washwalk

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.

01-logan-highmaintenance-desertbar

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

 

 

 

Still Here

When Teresa’s dad was alive, whenever they’d talk on the phone and she’d ask him, at the outset, “How are you?”, his answer was always the same. “Still here.” It never failed to produce a chuckle. I think Ed’s motto was, or could have been, “might as well laugh about it.” Or, as he used to say, “Can’t dance and too fat to fly!” Although that may have been an entirely different response to an entirely different question. No one is sure.

10-logan-stillhere-ed

Teresa’s dad, Ed

 

“Still here” about sums up my situation recently. A few of you have commented that I’ve been a bit cryptic about what’s going on with my health. I probably have. I’ve always been a strong and independent kind of guy and it’s hard to admit being weak and needing help. 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). Teresa tried to take us out to the big cottonwood grove that’s southwest of our property, the one that used to be our short walk, and I was struggling about halfway home. It’s not even a lot farther than our regular round-the-property route, but still too much.

10-logan-stillhere-walkroute

Out in our back 20

Because my stomach and kidneys weren’t managing the anti-inflammatory drugs anymore, that had to stop, but they’ve got me on a drug called Gabapentin and another new one, Amantadine. Both of these are pain management drugs and the Gabapentin, as a side benefit, seems to help with my travel anxiety. I also get bi-weekly injections of Legend (hyaluronic acid) and Cartrophen and I’m pretty sure they put some kind of joint supplement powder in my meals. Sounds like a lot I know, but it’s just barely keeping up with the osteoarthritis.

10-logan-stillhere-4feet

My poor, hard-working left foot

And then there’s my heart. The vet noticed a murmur years ago, said it could be nothing or could worsen with time, said to watch for coughing or lethargy. Well, lethargy has never been a problem of mine but, last winter, I had my first experience with the coughing. When they had a listen and did some tests recently, things had progressed far enough to require medication. I’m on two different medications for my heart that are keeping it working better and providing a better blood supply to all of the other parts of my body, including my kidneys.

Which brings me to my third and potentially most threatening health issue … CKD, or chronic kidney disease. I’m a lot thirstier than normal and I just can’t hold it like I used to, both symptoms of CKD. They tried to feed me a special vet-formulated kidney-friendly diet. It tasted good at first but, after about a week, the bloom was off the rose, and it just tasted foul. Even the pill they were slipping me mid-afternoon, some kind of appetite stimulant, wasn’t helping. Teresa tried for a couple of weeks but when I kept walking away from my bowl she gave in and started cooking for me again.  :0)

10-logan-stillhere-yard

My new “yard” for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. I like to think of it as my “ensuite”.

This past week, my level of thirst and my inability to hang in between trips outside made it look like the disease was progressing very rapidly but, good news, the vet discovered I also have a bladder infection. Affliction number four … but one that can be cured with a few doses of a potent antibiotic. Maybe once it’s sorted they’ll put the living room rug back in place. It was my favourite place to lounge after our morning walk. I won’t go into any details about my week of embarrassing accidents (and Chico better keep it zipped!).

10-logan-stillhere-bed

My new morning lounge spot, complete with sunbeam

Old Ed, Teresa’s dad, passed away six years ago. He went in his own bed, in his own home, and on his own terms. I like that. And I think he had it about right … “still here” is sometimes as good as it gets and, most days, good enough.

10-logan-stillhere-selfie

Blue sky day