The “Eyes” Have It

By now, you’re probably expecting to see a photo of a palm tree or cactus in my post. Well … me too. But it all came down to a vote this year, and the eyes have it.

I may be a dog but I know the correct expression is “the ayes have it” but, thing is, they don’t this year. There were three ayes and just one eye but the eye won. Confused yet?

No palm trees for days.

Since the fall, it’s been an on-again-off-again, sooner-then-later trip planning process. When David, Nollind’s dad, was doing so great around Thanksgiving, we started planning our departure for the early part of winter, prepared to return if things changed. As you know from my November 15th blog post, David didn’t continue to do well and, sadly, left us on the 9th of November.

Other than the emotional part, it’s a simple affair when a dog dies. We don’t own property, have bank accounts, or pay taxes. A collar, a few toys, and in Logan’s case, some leftover medications are all that remain in the physical sense. It’s a very different deal with humans, I’ve learned, and Nollind has spent a bucket load of time the past few months wrapping up the many details of his father’s life. And the process didn’t proceed without a hitch, or two, or three, resulting in planned departure dates being regularly scrubbed for new ones.

In late January, the pieces finally came together in the estate resolution process and we set a new date, February 6, just a week away, if the weather cooperated. The very next day, on the 31st, we were walking in the Strathmore Dog Park when T’s eye started to bother her. By the time we were on our way home in the dark after visiting Friday night’s Chinese buffet, she said she was seeing flashes of light to the south. I saw nothing.

They dropped me at home and headed out again, an odd thing it seemed, and didn’t come home until the wee hours of the morning. Even more strange. Turns out they’d been at the hospital, getting T’s eye checked out. She’d experienced a PVD, or posterior vitreous detachment (big words for a dog, right?), in her left eye. It’s not a big deal on its own and her visual symptoms will diminish in time, but the risk for the four to six weeks following the PVD is that it will pull on the retina and cause a tear or complete detachment. I didn’t know what a retina was until all this happened but, turns out, it’s a key component in being able to see.

So, the travel insurance company won’t cover treatment of the eye in the United States if something happens, and we’d be too far from Canada to get her home quickly enough for the surgery. Although it’s unlikely that T’s PVD will cause anything more than what she calls annoying floaters, they decided it was too risky and we’d stay home.

Of course, staying home doesn’t mean staying at home. Less than a week after T’s eye event, we were on the road to Fort Macleod in southern Alberta for what they referred to as a consolation concert. I didn’t see the concert in the historic opera house, but I got to walk in some new places and sleep on a motel bed.

River Valley Wilderness Park at Fort Macleod

Although I’m disappointed we won’t be visiting Lake Mohave, the Valley of Fire, Lake Havasu, Palm Springs, Sue’s place in Sacramento, and all the other great spots on the trip list, I hear there are some alternative close-to-home adventures in the planning. There won’t be palm trees or cactus, but I’m betting on snow-covered mountains, snowy walks under blue skies, time with friends, and plenty more ski days.

Walking at Chestermere Lake with G, S and R.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! 🐾 💖 Thanks for reading!

Flashback Fur-iday – In the Beginning…

This time of year brings up a lot of memories of autumns past, particularly the autumn of 2011 when we set out travelling by RV for the first time and started this blog. It was T’s idea for Logan and me to write a blog. She wanted to share the tales of our travels with friends and family back home but didn’t want it to be the standard “weather is here, wish you were beautiful” stuff. Wait a minute. What up, Jimmy? That’s not how you say it.

So, there we were, a couple of rescue hounds, writing a blog. Crazy, right? Logan took to it like a Lab to water, but it was a tougher learning curve for me. I just wanted to run and chase and run some more. Who had time to sit still and tell stories? I was a 3-year-old dog!

On the other side of that coin though, I was an excellent traveller, but Logan, well, not so much. He loved the new places but …

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 recognize 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.

November 2011 – Hi, My Name is Logan
Maybe if I close my eyes?

I mostly just slept, still do. What better way to pass the hours in a vehicle? But I could never convince Logan, at least not until the “magic cheese”…

I think I’m finally getting a bit more comfortable with truck time. Sa and Nollind think it’s due to the new treat they got for me that they call “magic cheese”, but it just says Havarti on the package, which I’ve had before. There is something special about it though because I feel really mellow about an hour after I eat some, and riding in the truck is pretty cool then, watching the world go by outside the window. I like sticking my head out and getting that rush of a thousand scents at once blasting in.

December 2011 – Murky Water and Magic Cheese
With magic cheese assist.

For two rescue-come-farm dogs, travelling for five months in the United States was quite the grand adventure—sand dunes, beaches, cool spiky plants, rocks the colour of a sunset, and Logan’s favourite …, dog parks.

Viva Las Vegas…or so the humans like to say. I wasn’t clear what all the fuss was about until we arrived. Once we’d settled in and done a bit of exploring, I found out why it’s such a hot destination — Las Vegas has the best dog park in the western USA, possibly in the whole country!

January 2012 – Viva Las Vegas
RV dog paradise – freedom!

But it wasn’t all fun and games on the road, especially for a sensitive guy like Logan. Some of those great things I mentioned above had a dark side…

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. Drinking from a watering hole in a dog park at Oceanside gave me a thorough understanding of the term “explosive diarrhea”. 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. I also had an eye infection that took many days of an antibiotic ointment to cure, and running in deep sand at the dunes tired out my hindquarters so much I had trouble getting up the stairs into the trailer when we got home.

February 2012 – How Do Dogs Live Down Here?
It was a long way to the top.

We were away five months that first trip, a long time for a couple of dogs who’d rarely left home. Logan in particular, got a little homesick toward the end…

Yesterday we left Bisbee, the farthest point south we’ve travelled on this trip, and drove all day heading north. I hear we’re going home! Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time, but I am a bit of a homebody and I’m looking forward to my farm, my bed, my doggie friends across the road, and leashes that hang on a hook in the porch. Oh, and friendlier plants.

March 2012 – Sore Feet and Sore Eyes
Montana’s high country on the way home.

There’s talk of a trip this winter, and Sid’s all cleaned up and ready to go. As excited as I am about the prospect of another winter in the desert, it sure won’t be the same without Logan. But then I’m pretty sure he’ll be there with us, exploring our favourite boondocking spots, enjoying the desert sunsets, and riding along easily without the aid of magic cheese.

Bluegrass and the Beach

Twice when we travelled south in the winter, we attended a festival called “Bluegrass on the Beach” in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It’s a great event and, just like the name says, right on the beach of Lake Havasu. We dogs never attended the actual show (too much sun for Logan), but there were swimming opportunities multiple times a day and we could hear the music from the camping area.

Sunset time at Bluegrass on the Beach.

This past weekend, we attended the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival in Stony Plain, Alberta. We were there once before, in 2013, but I didn’t remember it that well. I’d forgotten that they’re pretty strict about dogs in the concert area (Havasu has a dog-friendly seating area off to one side) and … :o( … there’s nowhere to swim. The exhibition park has a storm pond but the signage says to not let dogs go swimming.

So, on the downside, I spent quite a lot of trailer time while T and Nollind were off listening to music, but, on the upside, I had the bed to myself all day!

I was happy to share my space when they dropped in for a visit.

Another downside was the ferocious thunderstorm that rolled through on Friday afternoon and scared the absolute bejeezus out of me. Logan would have turned completely inside out with terror if he’d been with us in the trailer—thunder, lightning, gale-force wind, and huge hailstones that made quite a racket hitting the roof of the trailer. It was pretty scary. But, we came out of it unscathed other than a dozen or so little dents on the truck.

Despite the lack of concert-going and swimming, I did get out and about quite a lot including a walk to Tim Horton’s for Saturday morning breakfast. I love Timbits! And I was happy to assist T and Nollind with whatever portion of their breakfast wraps they were willing to part with. The bonus on this particular excursion? Across the street from Tim Horton’s was a Pet Valu store. I do enjoy a good shop and sniff … with the occasional lick thrown in when nobody is looking.

I did get to go along to this jam tent that was outside the main concert area.

The festival wrapped up on Sunday night and the next morning we were on our way south. Home I assumed, but then we turned west before we reached Red Deer and set up camp at Gull Lake. It was hot as heck on Monday, so I questioned the sanity of my peeps as we set out for an afternoon walk. But hey, we were at a lake, how far could it be to the beach?

Gull Lake campsite.

Right. Turned out, the many trails leading from the main trail to the refreshing waters of Gull Lake had one of these heartbreaking signs posted in the middle of it.

We kept walking. I was melting. My tongue was nearly on the ground. And then, at long last, we reached … the boat launch. Oh, heavenly water! I’m usually an in-and-out kind of swimmer so T and Nollind laughed at me for just standing in the water but it felt s-o-o-o-o good. (By the way, Gull brings my 2019 lake count to twenty—Sylvan, Sturgeon, Williston, Charlie, Little, Saskatoon, Crimson, Twin, Chinook, Alces, Whiteswan, Premier, Cat’s Eye, Turtle, Canuck, Yankee, Columbia, Windermere, Two-Jack, and Gull!)

Cooling my heels, etc.

I spent the rest of Monday afternoon lounging under the trailer while T and Nollind sipped on iced tea and chatted about the bluegrass festival. A little storm chased us indoors early in the evening but we were back out for some campfire time before bed.

Best spot in camp.

Tuesday’s plan was more walking and another swim before we headed home but it was raining at Gull Lake, a lot, all morning and into the early afternoon, so we took a couple of short jaunts around the campground, watched some downloaded Netflix, and packed things up.

It wasn’t quite the experience of Bluegrass on the Beach with its daily swims and general dog friendliness, but there was bluegrass, we did find a beach, and time spent camping with my peeps is time well spent.

Lake Havasu swim with my buddy Logan.

On a side note, you may have noticed that I haven’t been a very dedicated blogger this summer, and I expect I’ll miss a few more Fur-idays before this busy season is over, but I will do my best to keep you up to date on my many adventures and I’ll get Storm back at the keyboard. Until then, some wise words for all you bipeds from C.J. Frick

“Be the person your dog thinks you are.”