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

So, It Has Come to This

This … started out as needing a boost getting in and out of the truck. It happened when Teresa and Nollind got a new truck that was higher than the old one, so I wrote it off as being just that, a taller truck.

This … is a wooden step being added to the bottom of the fifth wheel stairs. They raised the fifth wheel axle last year, to better match the truck when overnighting without unhitching, so, again, I chalked it up to equipment changes, not aging.

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Partway through last winter in the desert, this … was a small staircase added to the bedroom so I could get up on the bed and, more importantly, have an alternative to jumping down.

This … is the plethora of pills and supplements that I get fed on a regular basis to keep things working. Two medications for my arthritis, three for the heart condition, Legend and Cartrophen injected every couple of weeks, and a joint supplement tablet as big as my foot that I really don’t like the taste of. Hide that in a pill pocket! And then there’s the renal diet. Yes, you read that correctly. A low protein diet, for me, a dyed-in-the-wool meat lover!

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This … is being assisted up and down the basement stairs and being blocked at night from going on my own. How embarrassing.

This … is missing most of the day because I’m sleeping all but a couple of hours.

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This … is being left behind when Teresa goes to town or for a walk and takes Chico along.

This … is not hearing them leave.

This … is having my walks cut to 45 minutes, then 30, and now sometimes just 20. I rarely leave the property anymore.

This … is being lifted out of the fifth wheel (actually carried down the stairs!) during our latest Sid trip.

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This … is words like prognosis and life expectancy popping up in conversations with the vet.

You could say this kinda sucks. But I’m adjusting, it’s what we dogs do, live in the moment, take life as it comes. We don’t dwell on what was, only enjoy what is.

This is just life, this dog’s life, this dog’s getting older, this dog’s journey. So …

This … is a walk around the back forty on a warm, fall day.

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This is playing with my favourite toys (and tiring myself out).

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This is cuddle time with my people on my magnetic therapy mat.

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This is spending time with friends.

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This is a tasty treat (even tastier now that they’ve added an appetite stimulant to my pharmaceutical cocktail).

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This is that rush I get when I stick my head out the car window while driving.

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And best of all, this … is a free pass, a get out of jail free card if you will, a license to do just about anything I please. Want a breath of fresh air at 2 am? Just make a little noise. We old guys can’t hold it like we used to, especially when you give us a diuretic for our heart condition. Best let me out. Feel like some quiet time alone in the yard?  Just give them that look from wherever I’m lying, the one that says, “Are you really going to make me come in? Hard to say how much longer I’ll be able to do this.” Don’t feel like eating dog food? “Gee, my stomach doesn’t feel so good but I could probably force down a bit of that chicken you’re eating.”

As with everything in life, this is all in how you look at it.

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