I’m Alright

Geez … and now Chico is writing sad, poor Logan, blog posts. Two Minus One. How tragic was that? Teresa even got a message from a blog reader who saw the title but couldn’t get into the post. He wanted to make sure I was okay.

That’s it! No more! Enough! I won’t have it! I refuse to be like that old guy everyone avoids because they know he’s going to rattle on for hours about how his back aches when the weather changes, his gout gives him grief when he drinks anything that tastes good, and his arthritis keeps him up at night!


Weather changes can be refreshing.

Our blog is starting to feel like watching a drunk guy driving a snowmobile. We all know there’s going to be a wreck it’s just a matter of when and how bad it’s going to be. (I may have borrowed this analogy from one of Teresa’s life experiences.)

So, for those of you hanging on to see what’s going to happen, I’ll just skip right to the end. I’m not getting out of this alive! But you knew that already. None of us do. It’s just likely, but not written in stone, that I’m going to check out ahead of most of you.


But I still look awesome. Right?

The upside of all of the recent doom and gloom about my health is that, according to averages, my life account was drained a year ago. The Border Collie lives an average of 13.5 years, the Labrador Retriever 12.5, which puts a mix like me right at 13 years as a life expectancy. So, the way I see it, everything after 13 is gravy (yum). Well, happy birthday to me, I turn 14 in a few days—or possibly yesterday, or it could have been last week. Somewhere around now anyway.


Advantages of my age – no longer expected to stand for my bath. Aaaahhhh….

I won’t ignore the topic altogether. Like, for example, I’ll tell you about any new meds that are particularly fun, like my latest painkiller that I’d probably get rolled for if I walked down the wrong city street.

I’ll generally keep you updated on my progress through the gravy days of my life. And, I’ll be sure to let you know if I’ve spotted a bridge with a big rainbow over it, or possibly a bright light I’m feeling pulled toward. But, other than that, I’m changing my theme tune.


The only bright light I’m headed toward these days … the sun reflecting off of Sid.

Goodbye Mozart …

hello Kenny Loggins!


Two Minus One (Sometimes)

I knew it would come to this eventually. There have been hints for months now. A trip to the Strathmore Dog Park without Logan, an extra walk for just me here and there, but now it’s becoming the norm, doing things without my long-time buddy.

I don’t mind being an only dog on outings, I even got to sit in the front seat on one trip into Quartzsite, but I miss my wingman.  He’s been a good friend these past seven years, best dog friend I’ve ever had, maybe ever will.


Heading into Quartzsite.


The first solo adventure was just over to Q Mountain in Quartzsite. It’s not a long hike, but it gets pretty steep, much tougher than Logan’s legs could manage. We were there together a few years ago and there was a 13-year-old dog doing the climb that we were all impressed with. At the time, I figured Logan would be matching that, and probably beating it! But I was wrong. His mountain climbing days are all but over.


On top of Q Mountain.


The second solo outing was to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. There’s a rock spiral that someone has created in the desert, what’s considered by some to be “desert graffiti”. I thought T and I were going to have to walk the entire labyrinth to get to the centre, but it had rained the day before so, when we got to the rings with mud, we cut across to the middle. If he’d been there, Logan wouldn’t have waited for the muddy part, he would have cut right to the centre with Nollind.


A little further up the same road is the trailhead for Palm Canyon. From the parking lot, it’s about a half mile uphill walk into the canyon where you can see the palms growing. Fan palms are the only palm tree variety that is native to Arizona and you don’t see them growing naturally in a lot of places. This was another hike we did a few years ago when Logan was just eleven. He aced it back then, was hardly tired by the end. A lot has changed in three years.


Water stop on the Palm Canyon Trail.


Here at Wickenburg, there is a bunch of great hiking right from camp and in all directions. With Logan’s weakened condition, I was a little worried I wouldn’t get out to do much exploring but, every second day, after the morning’s half-hour walk with Logan, we drop him off at the trailer and continue on in another direction. The first day it was just a long walk through some washes. The second was a trip across the road to the gun range and up over the hill that’s there. And yesterday was the best yet. We climbed the hills to the east of us and could see the whole Wickenburg valley down below. Can’t wait to see where we might go tomorrow.


Looking toward Wickenburg.


What’s good is that Logan doesn’t seem to mind too much. He’s tired by the time we get back from our first walk, ready for some couch time. He’s probably doing a little inner dance of joy when the trailer door closes with him on the comfortable side of it.

But it won’t be the same. T and Nollind are great but they miss the best part of our excursions … the smells! I’ll look up at them like, “Hey, check this out!” but they just carry on up the trail without even a making an effort to pick up the scent. Logan would have had his nose pushed right in there beside mine.


The humans miss so much.


Back at the trailer, things are a lot like they always have been. Me and Loges, barking at intruders (like the two dogs that showed up in camp this morning), playing with squeaky toys, doing tricks for treats, hanging by the evening campfire, and napping on the floor.  And for that, I’m grateful. I see what’s happening, and I know I can’t stop it, so I’ll just savour every moment, every day, that we get to walk, or nap, side by side.


Shared nap space.


It Takes a Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it also takes a village to get an old dog to the desert. I’m living proof. Without the care and attention of a bunch of people, I wouldn’t be lying here in the Arizona sun, soaking up as many of those healing rays as I can. Nope. I’d either be struggling through the snow at home, having to wear the boots that have become tripping hazards for my old legs, or, even worse, I’d be buried under it, in one of my nests turned grave.


Soaking up the morning sun near Quartzsite, Arizona.


Sounds grim, I know, but it’s the truth. Back in the summer, and even more so in the fall, none of us were sure I was going to make it this far. At one of my fall appointments, the vet suggested that Teresa and Nollind check out the “Quality of Life” scale that’s available online, so they’d have a sense of when it was “time”. And that’s “time” with that final, ominous sound, not the way it’s said when it’s time for supper or a walk.

When we took our fall camping trip to Cypress Hills Provincial Park, I had kind of a rough go. I was feeling very tired and starting to cough. My arthritis was making it impossible for me to climb the steps into the trailer or navigate out again. And I couldn’t make it more than a few hours without having an accident in the house or even the truck. The planned winter trip to the desert was off. Teresa and Nollind would stay home to look after their ailing, aging dog.


Rest stop during a Cypress Hills walk in late September.


At least, that was, until they observed my increased stiffness with the cold weather and my struggle to walk on snow-covered or icy ground. That was when they started working on a plan to get me to the desert.

In early November, the cocktail of medications and supplements that Dr. Beth Barrett put me on really started to do their work. I was able to walk a little farther in the mornings without pain and I had more energy with no coughing. My appetite was back, putting a stop to the weight loss I’d been experiencing, and the shine returned to my coat. Another vet on Dr. Barrett’s team, Bronwyn, suggested that I be tested for a bladder infection and when the test came back positive and they put me on some aggressive antibiotics, my issues with incontinence were gone. I was back to my old “pee when I feel like it” self and a much more able travelling companion.

Beth & Muddy (1)

Dr. Beth Barrett with one of her four dogs.


Every two weeks, from August to December, vet tech Roxanne administered my Legend injection and, when she was packing up all of my winter meds, she included clear and thorough instructions for how the Legend was to be given by the vets we’d see during our travels. This information came in very handy at our first vet visit in Las Vegas when the vet wanted to inject my muscles instead of my veins.


My last visit to Roxanne before we left home.


My good friend, Laurana, loaned us her PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) machine that got me through the worst of the pain back in the fall and I think helped my heart and kidneys until Dr. Barrett’s diet changes and medications had a chance to do their good work.


Therapy time on the PEMF mat.


The trip down was a breeze, largely because of Dame Dixie’s magical meds that she gave me last year. It’s not a drug I couldn’t get from the vet I was seeing at the time, it just wasn’t something they suggested. It works perfectly for me, completely removes the anxiety from travelling.


Dixie. Walking the canal near the farm on one of her visits.


Dixie’s people, my good friends G and S, gave us a bunch of her things when, sadly, she passed on this spring, and part of that kit was a raised bowl stand. Thanks to their generosity, my meals have become more comfortable and I’m more inclined to finish them, “powering up” more easily for our walks. And Nollind used the double bowl holder as a prototype for the trailer-sized version below.12-logan-ontheroad-bowl

Nollind also built me a ten-foot ramp and covered it in carpet, so that I can safely get from the ground into the trailer and back out again. Not only has it saved my joints from hard landings and stair-climbing mishaps, but it’s given me back the independence that is central to my nature (as you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blog posts for awhile).


The new ramp getting a workout.


And then there’s Teresa, of course, my greatest advocate, who orchestrated all of the above. The time, the cost, the trouble, all seem irrelevant when it comes to my well-being. (Although I think I pushed her pretty close to the edge with those middle-of-the-night trips outside and regular mop-ups before the bladder thing got resolved.)


Leaders of my village.


Later today I’ll add another person to the village, when we go to see the vet in Blythe, California, about a twenty-minute drive from our camp in Quartzsite. They’ll be giving me my Legend injections every couple of weeks during our time down here.

And so, people of my village, these next three months, as I walk on warm, dry ground and nap in the sun, I’ll think of all of you. I wouldn’t be here without you. I’m certain of it.


Desert time.