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
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Flashback Fur-iday – How Logan Saw the World

Yesterday made five months since Logan died.  In some ways, life without him has become normal but there’s still this empty place in our lives, the place he used to occupy.

That he left at the end of September was good planning on his part, if he had any kind of plan. Winter would have been a struggle, especially this past month of colder than normal temperatures. I imagine him somewhere warm and sunny with soft, green grass, plenty of shady spots, and loose soil easy for digging dens.

Sunny days.

One of the things I miss most about my old pal is his way of seeing the world around us, not always accurate but regularly entertaining.

Our first experience with an ocean beach was on the coast of California north of San Diego. Wide open space to run, plenty of other dogs, and …

Cold, noisy, salty water that chases you — not my idea of a good time. To me, the beach didn’t seem so different from the desert, except that there were more people and it was a lot noisier. These big waves were crashing in on the shore and the water would race right up at me! Very unsettling. 

Jan 2012 – Beach Boys

Staying well away from the waves.

We were still on the coast for New Year’s Eve that trip and the peeps took us for a walk on the beach, early to avoid the fireworks … or so they thought …

The sky lit up and started to explode in all directions with the loudest popping and banging I’ve ever heard! I tried to head for the houses that were all along the beach, thinking someone would take pity on a poor, frightened dog, but Teresa and Nollind kept pulling me back to them, out there in the open, exposed to the terror! It felt like the longest walk of my life and I was never happier to see our trailer. I don’t see how terrifying dogs is a good way to celebrate anything — I may never understand the human species.

Jan 2012 –  Beach Boys

Early morning walk when the beach was safe from explosions.

I love to lie in the sun (Nollind sometimes calls me Sunny D), soak it up through my red and white coat. But hot, sunny days were a different deal for my buddy Logan …

Have you ever tried wearing a black fur coat on a hot, sunny day? Yeah, well, I don’t recommend it. When I was young it seemed like a smart idea to be well-dressed for any occasion, but that was before we started spending winters in the south.

Feb 2015 – Horses, Hiking, and Hazardous Places

In the shade of a mesquite tree near Wickenburg in 2018.

Logan was pretty much impervious to snow for the first five years I knew him, but when he got older …

I’ve been stuck in the snow more than once so I mostly tend to stay on the road and driveway. I actually got stuck head first in the yard when I tried to get to one of my caragana dens. Teresa had to put her boots on and come pull me out. I used to love the snow, but that was before it became my enemy.

March 2018 – Made It

On top of the snow … for the moment.

But melted snow, now that was a different story…

There’s just something about getting my feet wet and drinking from a fresh body of water that is soothing to my canine soul.

March 2018 – Da Boys at Da Beach

Spring run-off.

I could go on and on with Logan’s view of the world but I’ll save some for another day. Next week I’ll tell you all about my recent adventures in that frozen white stuff!

Flashback Fur-iday — Logan’s Loop

It’s hard to say just how many miles Logan travelled in his lifetime. The tally started in the years before I knew him and included many an unsanctioned run across the prairie or through the woods as well as countless miles behind the hooves of a horse out on the trail.

Lunch break on the trail at Station Flats in 2011. (Read Tribute to a Trail Dog)

Our canal walk is about a 3-mile round trip, our loop to the big poplar grove to the west about the same, and there have been countless miles racked up in many parts of Western Canada as well as the deserts of Utah, Arizona, California, and New Mexico. Suffice to say, Logan was a happy but high-mileage model by the end of his stay on this earth.

I love to get out and walk, and trot, and run, or just go at whatever pace my leash allows. 

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places, February 2015

Hiking at Vulture Peak near Wickenburg in 2015.

We spent nine days camped near Wickenburg and we hiked for two hours every day, and only once did we cover the same trail. Wanderlust doggie paradise!

Hiking, Horses and Hazardous Places – February 2015

One of many, many walks along the canal near home. See more canal photos!

In Logan’s final couple of years, the walks had to be reduced, due to his arthritis and his heart condition. At first, the limitation was set at “no more than an hour” but, in his last year, that hour was reduced to 45 minutes, then 40, then 30, and so on.

… 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. 

I’m As Good Once As I Ever Was – February 2017

Majestic Trail near Wickenburg, Arizona.

One of our favourite walks in that final year was what I like to call Logan’s Loop, a one-mile journey around the twenty acres we call home. It was a favourite because we were normally off-leash, and because of the old irrigation ditch and aspen groves that run down the middle of the hay field. Many different critters make this area their stomping grounds so it is a complete scent-fest for us dogs.

Water break on Logan’s Loop, Spring 2018

As Teresa’s Aunt Manda used to say, “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken!” But I have weakened. For starters, my right front leg is just managing our one-mile morning walks (although I have to say, somewhat proudly, that I trot most of the way).

Still Here, October 2017

Exploring the aspen grove on his loop. Spring 2018

Until T hurt her back last week, we hadn’t walked Logan’s Loop since June or so of last year when Logan could still do it. It was good for T to keep moving in those first days of recovery but not too far, so there we were, back on the loop, exploring our twenty acres and its groves of aspens. I felt Logan there, in the trees and in the hay field, walking alongside us, sharing the sights and smells of the winter afternoon.

Early summer walk, 2018.

It’s been four months since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge but, out on Logan’s Loop, I feel like he hasn’t left us at all.