The Chase

I may be slow, with a wobbly hind end and a serious limp, but I managed to catch a gopher. I admit the little guy was cornered in the barn, but still, I caught it. Me.

Just to clarify, for those who aren’t familiar, the animals I’m referring to are technically Richardson Ground Squirrels, often called prairie dogs, but around here they’re just gophers. And, as cute as they are, they are farm vermin and will dig up your entire property, eat your garden, create a minefield for livestock, and attract much larger burrowing critters, like badgers who dig holes big enough to swallow a human leg up past the knee (just ask Teresa).07-logan-thechase-groundsquirrel

We spotted the gopher as we were headed out to the barn on Wednesday morning and chased it across the paddock, Chico in the lead, of course, but me not so far behind. When the gopher went under the barn door we knew we had him. There was no way he had an escape hole dug through the concrete floor.

We ran in, he cheeped to alert us of his location (which they always do for some reason), Chico went left, I went right, and there he was, cornered by the wall and a shelf unit. I haven’t had a gopher in my mouth in years but I jumped in and grabbed him. He was huge! He fought! I tried to give him the old shake of death but my wobbly back legs gave out and I plopped down onto the floor. Despite my unplanned, sprawling sit, I held on. His claws were flailing at my face—

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Jaws of death.

It was about then that Chico jumped in, grabbing him just as I let go. He finished him off, which was fine with me. I always enjoyed the thrill of the chase and the catch but the killing, not so much.

You may see the whole thing as rather barbaric, and I suppose it was, but I felt so alive in that moment, like I was four rather than fourteen, and I walked a couple of inches taller on my way back to the house.

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Jaws of death at rest.

There’s not a lot of excitement in my life these days, which I’m normally fine with, but every now and then, it’s good for the old canine soul to do something completely instinctual and dog-like. It used to be chasing coyotes, baying as I went, or running down a skunk or a porcupine and dealing with the consequences. I don’t recommend any of these activities but, at the time, they were pretty thrilling.

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Expressing our wolf-ness when we were both a lot younger.

These days, my hunting and chasing amounts to following Chico on his yard patrols, sometimes watching him catch something, always far behind and never in the thick of things. Wednesday was different. Wednesday I was a wolf.  Wednesday I forgot I was an old dog, just for a minute.

There’s a scoreboard on the fridge in the kitchen, a little friendly competition between Nollind and Chico. Well, this old dog is on the board.07-logan-thechase-scoreboard-190123

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Gone Camping!

I apologize if I scared anyone with my blog absence last Fur-iday. People do wonder about a guy my age when they don’t hear from me. It’s understandable. But … still here!

On Fur-iday last week I was in the land of no cell phones or internet. I was, get this, camping! None of us thought I was up for any camping this season. From my perspective, it seemed like a whole lot of effort just to be cold. From my peoples’ point of view, a few days in the hills wasn’t worth putting up with a pacing, pooping pooch in a small space.

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Who me? Camping?

The first change that made it possible was something we’ve all been waiting for for a dozen years. I have no explanation as to why but car/truck travel is seeming a lot less of a big deal recently. It’s still not my favourite activity, but no more morphing into a panting, pacing maniac that nobody wants to travel with. I’ve learned to ride it out.

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Drug-free travel.

The other thing is that I’ve been sleeping better at night, even in the house sometimes. Again, not sure how it’s come about but it’s such a relief for all of us. They still keep a light on for me and I appreciate it, but the night terrors have faded.

So, back to the camping trip. Our friends G and S were headed to Kananaskis Country and, in light of my recent normalness, Teresa and Nollind decided to hitch up Sid and join them. I can’t say I was thrilled initially. I’ve become quite comfy in my new dog yard. I’m working on my twentieth (or is it twenty-first?) den, I have the full spectrum of sunny versus shady places to nap, there’s a resident prairie dog to keep in check, and so much to observe in my half-acre paradise. But I try to be a team player, so did my best to look enthused about the journey and not get bogged down in the worries.

Worry #1, Travel Anxiety – Even though I’ve been travelling better recently, I’ve only been on short drives, so I wasn’t sure how a three-hour journey would be. But, I started the camping adventure off strong with the most relaxing drug-free vehicle travel I’ve ever experienced. So much for Worry #1.

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Matching Chico’s cool. Panting only because it was a hot day.

Worry #2, Being Cold – The first evening at dinner, I was treated to a padded bed, a pillow, and an afghan. This good fortune and pampering continued through the weekend. Nix Worry #2.

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Afghan hound.

Worry #3, Being Trapped in Sid All Night – I had my couch, I had a jacket, the light was on. What more could an old dog want? Forget Worry #3.

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Tucked into my couch for the night.

Worry #4, Missing Out on the Hiking – Okay, this one actually happened, and it was a bit of a drag. Chico came back to camp telling stories of his lake walks and, although I’d enjoyed my nap time, I did feel left out. Worry #4 realized.

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Hiking without me. Smiling through their pain.

But, one out of four is not bad on the worry metre. I was a pretty contented canine … until Saturday night.

They thought it was Saturday morning’s pancake breakfast, but I knew different. I am just not a food sensitive kind of guy and I wasn’t going to be taken out by a flapjack. It was something else, something evil, that sent my digestive system into chaos. We’re just not sure what it was yet, or is. We’re still working it out.

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Yum yum. Pancakes!

So my camping adventure didn’t end as strong as it started, but I have no regrets. Mountain air, campfire time, pancakes with a little butter and syrup, and good friends. A word from the wise … when every thing and every time could be your last, savour every bite.

Paws Can’t Dial 911

Sorry I missed my post last week. All the stuff with Logan just had me too upset and feeling guilty.

When he was stuck in that stupid hole, I was happy and safe in the house. It’s not that I’m favoured over him or he over me, just that T and Nollind like to leave us where we’re happiest when they go for the day or the evening. I’m happy in the house and, these days, Logan is happy out in the yard. So anyway, there I was, probably napping on the couch while he was struggling to get out of that hole. It’s not like I could have done anything, like call 911 or rush out and assist him, but still, I felt terrible I didn’t even know it was happening.

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Now I sometimes lie awake and worry.

On the positive side, what this experience has reminded me of, is that my long-time buddy and adopted brother is awesome. He’s been what seemed like down for the count on at least three occasions in the last year, and every time he has rallied. I thought this one for sure was going to be “the one” that would take him out. He couldn’t walk, or stand, or get to his feet without help. But then he could.

Despite his awesomeness, I know he won’t be around forever. He’s gone beyond the life expectancy for his breed and has a bushel of health issues. So far, he still wants to be here and continues to fight, every day, but I know that could change in a heartbeat. So I just savour every moment that we get to hang out, even if it’s horizontal time.

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Shared horizontal time.

Walks are becoming fewer and farther between, and continually shorter, but Logan still accompanies me on the gopher rounds in the yard and out to the barn most days, and he can keep up surprisingly well for all his stiff-and-soreness. Sometimes I wish he’d just walk so that he’ll hurt less afterward, but it’s just not in his DNA. Logan loves to run and will do so as long as his legs will carry him.

T and I have been walking the canal every couple of days and I love it down there. The birds, the swimming, the smells. But I hate leaving Logan behind, especially when he knows we’re going and follows us to the door, or worse, to the front of the yard. If they got me some kind of wagon he could ride in I’d be happy to pull it. That way we could explore all of our favourite places together. T has driven us to the canal a couple of times and we’ve walked just far enough for Logan to have a swim. He has difficulty climbing out afterward but she’s always right there to grab his harness and give him the old heave-ho onto the bank when needed. We haven’t been there since the hole incident but, with this hot weather, maybe tomorrow?

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Along the canal.

Logan also gets left behind on most field trips these days. He doesn’t travel well and can’t walk much when we get there so, I suppose, what’s the point. Last week, T and I had a little adventure in Prince’s Island Park. I wouldn’t want to live in the city but, man, I sure enjoy going there. Holy sights, sounds, and smells! Logan’s nose was all over me when I got home. His sniffer is still working just fine so he knew exactly where we’d been. Even knew about the little Dachshund that went for my throat!

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Calgary field trip.

I’m going to be an only dog one day in the not-too-distant future and, although I know this means more attention, my choice of beds, and no sharing table scraps, which sounds pretty much like heaven on earth to a guy like me, it also means no Logan. I’d trade a truck full of table scraps for another few months with my bud (especially because I know he’d share them with me!) ;o)

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Happy together.