Was It something I Said?

Was it something I said? Or, more likely, did?

T has gone away again. She packed a suitcase on Tuesday night and left on Wednesday with her sister­. I wouldn’t normally think it was my doing but I’ve been a little distracted lately, by the gophers that seem to everywhere around the farm, and the coyotes that have been coming close. And, when I’m distracted, I don’t always listen very well. Okay. When I’m distracted, I don’t listen at all. It’s like my ears just stop working.06-Chico-Sa-us-1One day recently, during a walk in the hay field, I ran off after a coyote. Apparently, T heard sounds that she thought were me calling for help and she came running. By the time I found my way back to her she dropped to the ground and burst into tears. I’m not sure if she was happy or sad or just out of breath but I sure got a big hug.

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My ears work much better in a dog park.

So anyway, she left on Wednesday and then yesterday was her birthday, and I didn’t even get to tell her Happy Birthday. I hope she knew I was thinking about her … and missing her. And, because I was missing her, I got looking through some photos. So this Foto Fur-iday, the theme is “Me and T”.

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She loves to do selfies with me.

 

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After a bath, she gives me extra towelling because she knows how much I like it.

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She’s always there with a hug, even when we’re not posing for a photo.

 

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And sometimes we just hang out in the same space.

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She takes me places, like to the Strathmore UFA in this picture…

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And horseback riding in this one.

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Even though I know I’m too big, she lets me sit on her lap…

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No matter the weather.

 

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And even at times when she prefers her solitude, she still lets me be close.

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I hope she comes home soon. I promise to be good. Well … as good as I can with these faulty ears.

The Domino Effect

I’ve had a few messages asking how my leg is doing one month post-injection. Well, it’s doing just great. I haven’t needed any painkillers since the first few days after the procedure. It took some time for the medicines that were injected to do their good work but, once they did, I was off and running.

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Pain-free and drug-free trot through the pasture.

There is one problem though, a sort of domino effect, and it’s been rearing its head this past couple of weeks. 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.

On the plus side, I’m keeping up with Chico when we chase after the ball, I’ve got two good front legs to dig out my nests around the yard, and I’ve been back on my morning reconnaissance missions to the neighbours’ place. Until last year, I was making regular trips over to Kerry and Debbie’s acreage, just to check things out, make sure all was well. Pretty sure they’re relieved to have me back on duty.

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My favourite nest … a little deeper this year.

I’m also back outside helping with chores and hanging out while Teresa does horsey stuff. By last summer I was pretty much spending the rest of my day indoors after our morning walk.

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Hanging out under Sid while Teresa does chores.

But what to do about this hind end wobbliness? I make a point to climb in and out of the canal when we’re walking to try to build strength. Some spots on the canal have a rather steep drop into the water so it can be touch and go when my front end is on the shore and my backend still in the water. I have to will those back legs to take that big step up. I know Teresa is right there to grab the handle on my harness if I need a boost but God forbid it comes to that again like it did on one walk last fall. How humiliating.

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Come on legs … you can do it!

I also work the ditches when we walk on the road. Those to the south are fairly steep and provide a decent workout. And our walks generally include at least one long, gradual slope. We’re not exactly in hill country out here but we do have some rolling landscape in every direction but east.

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Working the south ditches.

I’ve been trying to eat a little more in the mornings and I think that’s helping too. As they used to say to Dixie before her walks, “Power up!” It seemed to work for her so I’m game to give it a try. A few days ago I noticed that my portion had grown some, but I powered through, got it all down, and had plenty of energy for our canal walk later that day. But I’ll not to get too carried away. Every time I go to the vet they comment what great shape I’m in and how it assists with keeping my arthritis in check.

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Staying svelte.

As good as I feel, I still have a bit of a hitch in my giddy-up from the right elbow and I’m not sure it will ever go away entirely. It doesn’t really hurt but I think the calcification from years of inflammation has decreased its range of motion. I’d say more massage could help with that. Anyone got a spare hand for a little leg massage? Teresa? Nollind?

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Ready for my post-walk massage.

I’m As Good Once As I Ever Was

You’ve probably heard the song by Toby Keith, the one with the line “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.” Well, I’m starting to relate.

Last month I turned thirteen. Thirteen! I’m a fit thirteen, and most people are surprised by my age, but still, I’m a teenager. I have the satisfaction of those we meet thinking that Chico is the old guy because of his white face, but when it comes down to stamina, I’m afraid the little dude has me beat. Damn it.

We’ve been out walking a lot since we got to Vulture Peak near Wickenburg. There are trails heading out in every direction, most of them with sandy footing and fairly gentle ups and downs. But, early last week, we set out on Majestic Trail, a ridge walk to the southeast of camp. We did this same hike when we camped here two years ago and I don’t recall it being quite as steep or long.

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The first climb on Majestic Trail

Just over halfway through, I was starting to tire and look for shade. It was a warm, sunny morning, granted, but no more so than two years ago. And then I picked up a branch from a thorny shrub on the back of a leg. Just got that pulled out and I had a cluster of cactus thorn in a back paw. I’m known for my stoic nature so I just kept on walking for a bit, but Teresa was behind me and noticed that I was trying to walk on the backs of my legs rather than my feet. On top of all that, the trail was rocky and my feet were getting sore. But I carried on. As Toby says so well in his song, “My body says you can’t do this boy, but my pride says, oh yes I can!”

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View from the top.

In my prime, I kept up with horses all day on the trail on a regular basis. And just a couple of years ago I completed the two-hour Majestic Trail hike without a thought beyond enjoying the exercise and the day. This year, all I could think about was getting back to camp, having a big drink of water, and lying under the trailer in the shade. The trail seemed to go on forever. Thankfully, Teresa & Nollind do bring water along for us, but when I’m walking I never quite drink my fill.

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Water stop along the trail.

At last, we were down in Cemetery Wash (I had a sudden understanding of how it might have earned its name) and then onto the main road to camp. Almost home. I was going to make it. My legs were tired, my feet were sore, my tongue was almost on the road, but I was going to make it. I could tell Teresa was worried about me. I think if I didn’t weigh sixty pounds I would have been carried back to camp. Thank God! How embarrassing would that have been?

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Almost home!

Half an hour later, I was lying on the bed with Nollind, resting from the morning’s exercise, and I felt a heaviness in my chest. I coughed. I coughed again. And a third time. It sounded a bit like Nat trying to cough up a hairball. And then I remembered what the vet said the last time I was in, that I had a heart murmur and the beginnings of heart disease. Sure, whatever, was my thinking at the time. I felt fine. But one of the symptoms of the progression of heart disease is a dry cough after exertion. Oh.

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Just before the coughing started.

But don’t worry, I’m okay now. We’ve been on some one-hour walks since Majestic and I managed them without issue. The good news is, dogs don’t normally have heart attacks, so it’s not like I’m going to be running after a ball one day and just hit the dirt. Then again, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing for a guy like me, going out at a dead run.

By the way, in case you were wondering about my security duties, it started raining overnight so the horse camp rolled out this morning. It was like a mass exodus of trucks, trailers, and motorhomes, one after another all morning long.

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Rigs rolling out of the horse camp.

We’re enjoying a rain day. I don’t mind the break from our morning walk routine since, these days, I take every opportunity I can to rest up for the next outing, just in case it’s uphill and hours long. I’m not as good as I once was, but …

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Rain day.