Flashback Fur-iday: A Logan’s Elbow

I’ve been part of the van Bryce clan since the beginning of 2011 when I was two. Logan had just turned seven at the time, and although supposedly entering his senior years, he was not an easy guy to keep up to, even with an already lurking health issue.

A game of “kick the ball” back in 2011.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a time, since back in the days of Logan, you’ll know that he struggled with arthritis and lameness in the latter years of his life. In fact, without the lameness and the medications that made it manageable, he probably would have lived longer, might have even been here to celebrate his sixteenth birthday in January.

But that’s not the point of today’s post, because I know Logan wouldn’t want me rehashing his many health troubles or his ultimate demise.

How Logan would prefer to be remembered.

I’ve hurt myself twice in the past six months, both times resulting in a sore leg and a limp. The first time I just tripped and landed badly, the more recent one, just a few days ago, I tried to climb through a gate and, when I didn’t fit and pulled back, I wrenched something. Again, soreness and a limp. It will probably go away in a few days of lighter exercise and that will be the end of it.

Nobody knows what started Logan’s elbow troubles. It could have been any number of things, partly because he was so active—

I’ve had a hitch in my giddy-up for a long while now … years. Not sure just where it got its start–a bad landing jumping for a ball, playing a bit too rough with a friend, too many miles on the trail behind a horse, or some perfect storm of a combination.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
Beach run with a new buddy in California.

—and partly because his stoic nature made it near impossible for a vet to figure out where the pain was.

The first (vet) who checked out my limp gave up when I wouldn’t flinch and give her any clue as to what was hurting. She called it “typical Border Collie stoicism”. I just called it “not liking vets”. Ever since I was kicked in the face by a horse and had to spend a night at the vet hospital … alone … and have surgery the next day, I’ve not been a fan of vets.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
“This little skiff of snow? Nah, not a problem.”

Having always been such an active guy, Logan had a hard time admitting defeat as his arthritis worsened. I can understand that. Even though I am far from stoic, or so they tell me, I’ll limp along if it means the difference between going for a walk or not.

Admittedly, I find it hard to keep up with horses these days, even at a walk. Their walk is my jog and I just can’t jog for four or five hours straight anymore, in fact, a couple of hours across the prairie normally has me limping. So, as angry as I was with Chico for spoiling what was a great gig, he saved me from having to admit defeat and retire in disgrace.

June 2015 – Trailer Days
Logan logged a lot of trail miles over the years.

It frustrated the poor guy no end that one small joint in his body was keeping him from living the kind of life he most enjoyed.

Darn thing is like my Achilles’ heel. (Think there’s any chance a “Logan’s elbow” might become as famous as an Achilles’ heel?)

April 2017 – A Shot in the Arm

One of the best treatments for Logan turned out to be our winter trips to the desert, for a couple of reasons.

When we travel south for the winter, not sure if it’s the climate or the leash time, but my elbow hardly bothers me at all. Almost makes the many hours of terrifying interstate highway travel worthwhile.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows
In the desert, leash time doesn’t mean boring.

T tried a bunch of treatments and remedies for Logan. You can read about them back through the years of the blog, but the one with the most dramatic result was a joint injection in the spring of 2017. Sadly, the treatment’s effect was very short-lived, and its temporary success had unexpected consequences.

You see, with my right leg no longer slowing me down, I’ve been a lot more active and am now discovering that some of the other parts of me are older than I thought they were. For example, my backend seems to be having some difficulty keeping up with the front, and it wobbles sometimes after I’ve exerted myself. I’m always tempted to look back there to see what the heck is going on, but I don’t of course. I forge on like nothing has happened, hoping nobody noticed but me.

2017 – The Domino Effect
“Anybody see that?”

I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine with a few days of lightened activity. After so many years of trying to help Logan, T’s pretty keen on not letting me develop a chronic problem. And, whenever I feel short-changed on a walk or upset about my outdoor time being curbed, I just remember the wise words of my old buddy…

So, to all my ‘nines out there (that’s peeps in the canine world), I know you can’t help yourselves, but try not to wear out any of your parts while you’re still young.

April 2016 – The Trouble with Elbows

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.

09-Chico-LastRun-tireddog
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.

09-Chico-LastRun-fieldwalk
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.

09-Chico-LastRun-barndog2
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.

09-Chico-LastRun-sa
A difficult and emotional day.

09-Chico-LastRun-nollind
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.

09-Chico-LastRun-grave
A fitting resting place in Logie-land.

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