Flashback Fur-iday – Desert Dog

It’s that time of year when my thoughts turn toward the deserts of the southwest, a place we’ve spent five winters since 2011. We’re staying home this year, and I’m good with that, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about sun, sand, and long walks among cactus. And all of these things make me think of Logan, my desert travelling companion on all five of our trips south.

New Mexico’s amazing white sand dunes.

He was actually kind of a homebody, in that he didn’t much like transiting from one place to another in a vehicle, but he loved to visit the new place at the end of a day’s journey. He’d go from “We’re all going to die!” in the truck to “Yippee! What a fabulous spot to explore!” the instant he hit the ground.

“I hope we’re going somewhere good.”

As much as he came to love the desert in later years, on that first trip in 2012, he was not convinced.

“I’m a pretty tough guy but, really, this desert dog stuff is pushing my limits. I drink from puddles at home all the time but whatever tiny critters live in the water down here do a number on my digestive system. Another normally innocuous part of my life on the farm, plants, also seem to be out to get me down here. I’ve had more thorns in my paws than I can count, one big ball of nasty stuck to the back of my leg, and a spiky branch that seemed to jump right off its host onto my thigh when I walked by.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Cactus encounter.

“I thought I’d covered all of the bases on desert hazards for dogs but then I discovered yet another — volcanic rock. Doesn’t sound like a big deal to you maybe, but it does a number on a dog’s pads after a few miles. In fact, at least in my case, it wears the surface right off making it extremely painful to walk on anything but a nice smooth surface. Luckily, I have very caring people, who bought me some boots to get around in until things were less sensitive. It was a bit embarrassing walking around camp and having people pointing and saying, “Oh, look at the doggie in the cute little boots!”

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Booted up for the rocky hills near Borrego Springs, California.

When T and Nollind discovered the world of boondocking was when Logan really started to experience the joys of desert life.

“We did 12 days in the desert near Quartzsite and then Bouse, boondocking, as they call it down here. It’s basically camping outside of an RV park or campground for no charge. Chico and I love boondocking — not enough water for baths, a lot more off-leash time, no being cabled to the RV whenever we’re outside, and lots of walking.”

Feb 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
Hiking Q Mountain at Quartzsite.

On the last couple of trips south, Logan’s favourite spot was under the trailer on his mat. He would spend all day under there, alternating between sleeping and watching the world go by.

I miss the desert this year, but not being there probably makes Logan’s absence a little easier. A trip to the desert without Logan is hard to imagine. But what really concerns me is how the desert is doing without Logan to watch over it.

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First Fur-iday

It’s the first Fur-iday of December and it’s got me thinking about how this blog got started. In one word … Logan. It was his idea. He wrote the first post, gave the site its name, and signed me up to write every second post. It was tough for me because Logan had a sort of cynical way of seeing the world that made people laugh. I’m a bit of a clown in person, but in writing, I had a hard time living up to the standard he set. However, once we began posting weekly and wanted a regular day, I was the one who came up with Fur-iday. :o)

I miss Logan. And not just his physical presence in my days as a friend to explore the world of scents with, but his storytelling, his sense of humour, his every-second-week posts in the blog. I considered ending Chico’s and Logan’s Great Adventures when he died. How could it possibly go on without him? And then I hoped he’d find some way to send his stories from wherever it is he’s gone. But, so far, no word from beyond. Now that he’s left behind that old wreck of a body, he’s probably too busy doing this…

or this…

or maybe this…

This morning I took a tour through the early days of our blog and reread some of my favourite Logan moments. And then I thought of a way to include him in the blog and keep his spirit alive. On the first Fur-iday of each month (Fur-st Fur-iday?), I will dig back into the archives for Logan’s wisdom and humour, combine it with some previously-unpublished photos, and add in a little of my own commentary.

Welcome to the first First Fur-iday!

Me in November of 2011

On the 11th of November of 2011 (11-11-11), it all began with…

Hi, My Name is Logan. I’m probably not your typical blogger; although, admittedly, I haven’t read a lot of blogs. I’m a 7-year-old Border Collie/Lab cross. Yes…a dog.

Logan, November 11, 2011

The dog blog was born! We were just setting out on a big adventure, a 5-month RV tour in the United States, and Logan thought it would be a fun way to chronicle the journey and share our stories with friends and family. Just as T and Nollind had no idea that our original trip would turn into another four winters of travelling, Logan and I didn’t know the blog would become a weekly event over the next seven years (and counting).

Arriving at our first mini destination in Coldstream, BC.

In that very first Logan post, we got a taste of a subject that would come up again and again in our adventures, his travel anxiety. Me, I never understood it. A dog bed in the truck doesn’t feel a lot different than a dog bed in the house other than the gentle motion and noise that lulls me to sleep. But Logan didn’t see it that way …

The stops are filled with new sights, sounds and, most importantly and best of all…smells! It’s an absolute scent-fest every time we stop in a new place. Travelling between stops is a lot less appealing, or let’s make that more terrifying — hurtling down the highway at great speed with others doing the same thing in the other direction. Does no one else see the danger we’re in? Have they not read the newspapers or watched the nightly news? My people sit blissfully naive in front, seemingly enjoying the ride, regularly trying to reassure me of the safety and okay-ness of it all. But I’m not falling for it. I’m a Border Collie and we’re known for our intelligence. Some might say we’re obsessive…I prefer to think of it as focused.

Logan, November 11, 2011

Our first RV park dog run.

It would also be the beginning of Logan’s experimentation with various kinds of recreational herbs and medications…

The morning we left Canada, they slipped something into my food. It made me feel a bit sleepy, but I fought it and remained ever awake and vigilant all the way to Spokane. Somebody has to watch the road and remind them of the dangers.

Logan, November 2011

For all his wonderful qualities, and there were many, Logan was a terrible travelling companion, for humans and dogs alike. If he hadn’t been so easy and happy once we arrived somewhere (see earlier comments about sights and sounds) I’m sure T and Nollind would have left him in the care of someone at home and we probably wouldn’t have stayed away as long without him.

Our five trips south wouldn’t have been the same without Logie.

Luckily for me, Logan was a trooper, T and Nollind were patient, and we were able to tell many stories in the pages of Chico’s and Logan’s Great Adventures over the next seven years.

Check back on the first Fur-iday of January for more from the Logan archives!

Survivor’s Guilt

I think I have survivor’s guilt, or some version of it. I don’t feel guilty for being alive exactly, which I know is technically what survivor’s guilt is all about. It’s not like Logan and I experienced some catastrophic event and I somehow escaped death and he didn’t. I’m just five years younger than he was and, therefore, always expected to outlive him.

10-Logan-2ofus
When we were both a lot younger.

And I don’t feel guilty for enjoying a walk, or a sunny day, or a sniff around the barn while T is feeding. These are all things Logan would enjoy with me if he was here, things we enjoyed together over our seven years as partners, brothers, and friends (T has this Nitty Gritty Dirt Band thing.) I actually experienced more guilt going for a walk and having to leave him behind in recent months than I do now that he’s not here to leave behind.

Where the guilt comes in is when I enjoy something I might not have had the chance to do with Logan here, I see where my life has changed for the better. It sounds even worse when I put it into words on the page. But, let me explain.

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Me as hotel dog in Red Deer for the horse sale.

Logan wasn’t a good traveller, he was noise sensitive, he didn’t like crowds, he got hot easily with his black coat, didn’t like being tied, and all these things added up to being left at home when it wasn’t a specifically dog-related activity because he was generally happier there. I, on the other hand, am a good traveller, am not bothered by most noises (except gunshots and thunder which are terrifying), love people (the more the merrier), have no issue with being attached to an immovable object by cable or leash, and stay quite comfortable on a hot day as long as I have water. But, to keep Logan company and, I think, to not create a double standard, I was most often left home with him.

I have been to Calgary, Strathmore, and other sundry locations more times in the past four weeks than probably the previous year, or even two. I know time of year has something to do with it, the weather is cool enough to leave a dog in a car, but I also know it’s because Logan is no longer here to stand at the door and watch me go somewhere while he stays behind. Funny thing about Logan was, no matter how many shaking, panting, over-heated, noisy excursions he went on, he’d still show up at the door, just in case it was something good, something dog-friendly, something fun. 10-Chico-guilt-ontheroad

Showing off my awesome travelling skills.

I love to be with my people, no matter the circumstances, and being an only dog, and a dog who is quite portable, has opened doors for me, doors that used to have Logan standing in them. Ouch, there it is again, the stab of guilt. Am I terrible?

I miss him, of course, we all do, every single day. T cries at least once a day, usually when she runs across another of his things—a toy, his desert walking boots, the blue and grey fleece jacket he wore most of last winter, his food bowl on stand that our friends gave him. And then there are the photos, oh so many of them, and he was such a photogenic guy.

10-Chico-guilt-nameinsnow
He joins us in spirit on every walk.

I’m bouncing between missing my friend and enjoying the freedom that’s come with his absence. Maybe I should talk to someone. Anyone know a good dog psychologist? Then again, if Logan was here he’d just say, “Don’t be an idiot, Red. Get out there and enjoy yourself without an anxiety-prone old cripple with a heart condition holding you back. It’s what I’d do.” And that was the truth, Logan never missed an opportunity to do what he enjoyed, even at someone else’s expense (usually T’s or Nollind’s), and never suffered guilt.

10-Chico-guilt-okotoks
Tagging along on a book event day in Okotoks.

So, my old and dear friend, in your honour, in your memory, I will uphold your credo, enjoy each day to the fullest, and live my best, guilt-free life.

~ ~ ~

On a whole other topic … Happy Fur-iday Birthday, Auntie Susan!  Celebrate by cuddling at least one dog today!10-Chico-guilt-sus