Say What?!

I’m eleven now, long past middle age for a dog, and some parts of me are aging better than others. If anything, my sense of smell has become even more acute than before, which is saying something, but it’s possible my nose is compensating for my ears. They’re cute, they’re floppy, they’re nice to rub, but they don’t work so great anymore.

Floppy but not functional.

I thought it was kinda funny when Logan started to lose his hearing. He stopped noticing when someone drove in the yard, which really bugged his vigilant nature. I’d watch him wake up and see that a strange vehicle was in the yard and he’d start barking frantically with something like, “Where the hell did they come from? Bark! Bark! Who let them in? Bark! Bark!” So funny. And he could easily be sneaked up on or away from by me or the humans. Also a good game.

And then it happened to me.

I now understand Logan’s ability to sleep through anything.

The troublesome thing is, Logan’s hearing loss didn’t start until he was about thirteen or fourteen and mine around nine. Which means I’m no longer hard of hearing but mostly deaf and will likely lose what little hearing I have left. I hear sneezes, which scare the crap out of me, especially when I’m sleeping. I hear loud coughs, which have a similar effect to sneezes. I hear loud, sharp sounds like Nollind’s whistle. And, damn it, I still hear thunder when it’s big.

Nose is still working great.

On the plus side, I don’t hear the run-of-the-mill thunderstorms, that frightening beeping sound the stove makes after a power outage, the popping of a wood campfire, and I can sleep through most any action movie or television show. Life has become rather peaceful for a guy who appreciates a good nap and inherited some of Logan’s noise sensitivity.

Just hanging by the quiet campfire.

But I miss the sound of my people’s voices. I see their mouths moving but no sound comes out unless they speak very low or high, and very loud. Sometimes T will lift up my ear flap and talk right into the ear and I can make out some of the words then, like my name and good dog. Those are the ones I miss the most.

Sleeping in the middle of a busy kitchen.

Other than ears, things are in pretty fine shape for a guy my age. Gravel feels a little lumpier under aging paws, hills a bit steeper, and the couch seems higher than it used to be, but generally I’m still able to do all the stuff I love best: walking, eating, chewing, sleeping, cuddling, and, thank God for my nose, smelling.

It’s Our Anni-fur-sary!

Nothing makes me happier than finding another word to insert fur into. Actually, I like to insert fur just about anywhere—car seats, clothing, furniture.  Did you hear it? Fur-niture? I didn’t even have to mess with that one.

Anyway, this weekend is the 9th anni-fur-sary of me becoming part of T and Nollind’s fur-family. Nine years! Can you believe it? Nine years of snuggles, snacks, and adventures. It was a lucky day when T spotted my photo on the Misty Creek Dog Rescue website and thought it would be fun for Nevada to have a mini-me. I started off as a foster dog, but I think it was more of a try-before-you-buy situation and, after quickly wedging myself into their hearts, I was adopted.

Not sure if it was my good looks or my ability to make them laugh that clinched the deal.

At the time, the rescue said I was two years old. So, January 26 is also the closest thing I have to a known birthday. On Sunday I turn eleven.

Hanging in my “foster” home in 2011.

In the world of dogs, eleven puts me well into my senior years, but I really don’t feel old. I’m more inclined to trot than run full out these days and I can’t jump up on the bed anymore but, other than that, not much has changed. I never was much of a jumper so I’d really rather be lifted anyway.

I can still get on the couch. :o)

Logan was the opposite. In his younger days, he could jump like a deer, and he continued to jump into and onto things far beyond his ability. T or Nollind used to block his way when the truck door opened so that he wouldn’t crash. I make a good senior as I’m happy to have assistance. And, I can still hop up on the couch. All is good.

Logan had slowed down a little by the time this pic was taken in 2012. He was eight.

I’m not sure how we’ll celebrate my combined birthday/anni-fur-sary. Extra treats are always a good option. A walk somewhere new or different would be fun. An afternoon nap maybe (and probably one or two in the morning and another two or three in the evening). And cuddles of course. I do love to cuddle.

A winter afternoon nap and cuddle. (I’m not the only one getting a frosty face.)

When we were out walking yesterday, T and Nollind were talking about the upcoming occasion, and that my arrival in their lives also marked the first year of their RV adventures. I think I can pretty much take credit for five winters of southbound trailer trips and a bunch of Canadian camping. My adventurous spirit inspired them to travel (and in a fashion that suited the inclusion of dogs).

Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah in 2011

If Logan were here, he might try to claim some responsibility but, we all know that his travel anxiety never inspired anyone to hit the road. We just dragged him along because we liked him so much.

So, nine years in my fur-ever home and eleven years on this planet later, life is good for this colourful canine. If it weren’t for my face fading to a lighter shade of pale, nobody would be the wiser when it comes to my age. Maybe I can get a dye job? Then again, I remember the tomato-face experience. I think I’ll stick with my frosty look.

Not quite the right shade of red.

Just a Dog

It’s September and, one year ago today, I was hanging out in Logie-land with its namesake, my good buddy Logan. Little did I know that in just a few weeks we’d be saying goodbye … forever. Although the day he died was terrible, the permanence of his leaving took time to settle in, and that’s where I’m at now, I think all of us are, that stage where the pain is eased but the permanence is felt with each passing month. I’m not sure what we’ll do on the anniversary of his death on the 28th of September, but I know we’ll do it together, me, T and Nollind, Logan’s family.

September 3, 2018 – a little couch time with T

T told me a sad story from many years ago when she lost a young dog to a huge piece of ice that slid off the roof of the house and landed on him. Terrible, right? It’s been thirty-five years and she still tears up when she talks about Bo. But what makes this story even more tragic, and something T has never forgotten, is the response of one of her “friends” who asked that same evening over drinks, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a dog.”

September 7, 2018 – nap time with a favourite toy

And therein lies the insult to injury that dog people often experience when they lose one of us canine family members. Even if it’s not stated outright, the message is there in the silence … It’s just a dog.

September 17, 2018 – autumn sun

When Logan died, the sympathy cards, condolence messages, and fuzzy blankets covered in paw prints were a great comfort to T (she still hasn’t put the cards away). They brought the message, “He wasn’t just a dog, he was a much-loved member of your family for fourteen years.”

September 25, 2018 – still up for a short walk.

A poem by Richard A. Biby…

From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a woman.” So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog,” just smile–because they “just don’t understand.”

September 28, 2018 – early morning

Thanks, Mr. Biby and thanks everyone else who understands that there’s no such thing as “just a dog”. I know I’d sure hate to be such a thing.

September 28, 2018
September 28, 2018