If You’re Reading This…

If anyone could blog from beyond the grave it would be my pal, Logan. I found this letter tucked in amongst his favourite toys…

Dear Friends & Family,

If you’re reading this then I guess I’ve moved on, to wherever it is we go when our time on this earth is complete. Maybe we come back, maybe we don’t. If I do come back, I think I’ll aim for a body with a longer lifespan, like a tortoise—nah, too slow—or maybe a parrot—but then some cat might get me. Perhaps best to stick with dog or cat or horse, some creature I’m familiar with, or hey, how about human?

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Definitely not a tortoise.

But enough musing about what the big, unknown future might hold for the soul of an old dog. That’s me, an old dog. I know I’ve been saying it for a couple of years, but now I really feel it, in my bones and to my core.  As you’ll know if you’ve been reading the blog of our adventures, I’m a fighter, a fighter with a tendency to rise from the mats on the count of nine. I’d like to say I’ve got one more in me, that I can bounce back from whatever it is I’ve felt creeping up on me this past couple of weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The medications don’t help like they used to, the trips to the vet for the Legend injection aren’t giving me their promised bounce, and the distance between the house and the barn just keeps growing.

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Who’d have thought I’d ever run out of bounce?

My hope is that they’ll let me go, not drag things out until I’ve become a burden, allowing the me they’ve known all these years to be replaced by someone they don’t recognize … or enjoy. It can happen. I saw it happen with Chelsey as she got older and crankier and so difficult for all of us to live with. To remember Chelsey with a smile on your face you have to go back a ways, to when she wasn’t old and sick. I want to go knowing I made them smile that very day. It’s the least I can do for all they’ve given me: a good home, enough freedom to keep an independent spirit happy, jobs to occupy my Border Collie half, a diet to appease a fussy eater, adventures galore, the best of care in my old age, and love, of course, plenty of that.

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Horse dog from the day I arrived.

 

To Chico … I admit I wasn’t sure about you at first, hackles up and peeing on a wall in my house, but you grew on me in the years that followed. I’m glad they found you and happy to have shared our many great adventures. Look after them all for me, the humans, the horses, the barn cats, and keep telling your stories on Fur-idays.

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Is he staying? (January 2011)

To Nollind … I know I was your first love when it comes to dogs, but I’m pretty sure I’m not your last (I’ve seen you hoist Chico up onto your lap when he’s cold). I’m glad I got to be the one to turn you into a dog guy, to convince you that dogs do belong on the furniture, show you that dog poop is not toxic (despite how it smells), and teach you there’s nothing quite like the love of a dog.

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A boy and his dog.

To Teresa … For finding me all those years ago in the Bargain Finder (and wasn’t I a bargain?), for taking me into your home and your heart, for catering to my whimsical appetite and need for freedom, and for all those hours and dollars you spent searching for the solutions to my physical challenges in my later years … thank you. I’m sorry for the decision you had to make for me at the end of my life but know that you were right, it was time to say goodbye. I told you you’d know.

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Even acupuncture couldn’t keep me from getting old.

To my snowbirding pack … I’m sorry I was such a rotten travelling companion. Thank you for always taking me along anyway. Despite my near deafness, I heard the recent chatter about staying home for the winter to look after me. So, what are you waiting for? Start packing! I’ll be right there with you for every stop along the road.

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Lunch and walk break early on in our first journey south.

And to all of you who have been following our adventures these past seven years, thank you for reading, for commenting, for caring, and for noticing when a Fur-iday goes by that you don’t hear from us. This is Logan signing off, unless of course there’s a way to communicate from the other side of what they call the “Rainbow Bridge”. In that case, I’ll be in touch.10-Logan-ifyour-logan

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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.

Farewell to The Dame

A week ago we got the news—Dame Dixie had taken her last walk around her neighbourhood in Calgary. And, true to her “life is good if you don’t weaken” philosophy, she would have extended that last excursion if her walker hadn’t needed to get to work.

She turned sixteen last month. Sixteen years is impressive on its own for a breed that has a life expectancy of ten to twelve. And then there was the cancer that she battled and conquered five years ago. They didn’t expect her to survive more than a year. She not only survived, she thrived, continued to walk three times a day, and gave her people the gift of many more years of her companionship.04-logan-dixie-closeup-1

We visited Dixie the weekend before she died. She seemed a little tired. They’d been on a trip to the west coast and she was feeling like it might have been her last long journey. She found the hours on the road more difficult than ever before, and not because she suffers from travel anxiety like me. It’s just tough for us old guys to adjust to changes in routine and sleeping arrangements.10-dixie-sleeping

The purpose of the trip was to pick up a new camping trailer and, as much as she loved the new home-away-from-home and the idea of summer adventures in the mountains, Dixie was concerned her humans would curtail their travel plans to suit her. And that didn’t suit her at all. She’d always been up for going anywhere Gord and Spring chose to venture. I think that’s why she decided it was time for that last walk. And trust me, she did decide.04-logan-dixie-canalnew-1

The photos in this post are all from Dixie’s visits to the farm last year. She loved it out here and we were sure happy to have her. We’ll miss her gentle presence, her clever mind, and her never-quit attitude toward walks.

Next time we visit Gord and Spring, it won’t be the same without Dixie there at the door to greet us when we arrive and say goodbye at the end of the night. But I’ll just curl up in the backyard den she let me use the last time we were there, and I’m certain her spirit will linger in that place.

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Rest in peace, Dame Dixie, and enjoy your walks beyond the rainbow bridge.

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.