Super Duck to the Rescue!

Sorry to say, I haven’t been rescued by some duck in a cape, because that would be really cool. It was a duck in a can. I know, I’d prefer the caped version too. It would make for a great story, and no ducks would have died for the telling.

As you know if you’ve been reading my blog these last few months, I have been having a terrible time with digestive problems. I’ve been to three vets, had bloodwork and urinalysis done, x-rays taken, two rounds of antibiotics prescribed, a special GI canned prescription diet, and numerous tries and fails of food types and ingredients. It’s been exhausting for all of us.

Me and T taking a much-needed couch nap.

For quite a while we thought white fish and pumpkin with some added psyllium was the answer. It wasn’t, but it got me through the worst of things back in Las Vegas and kept us from getting tossed out of the RV park for completely fouling the place. When we came down here to Quartzsite, Arizona, the peeps made many trips to a grocery store just across the border into California to buy fresh tilapia for me. Spoiled, right? I wish it was about spoiling instead of damage control.

Mornings are the worst.

Despite their efforts, things continued to get worse. I knew what T was thinking whenever tears formed at the corners of her eyes as she was petting me. The Big C our home vet only wanted to whisper was becoming a more likely culprit. But Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) was still in the running and, although also a big, incurable nasty, carried the potential to be managed with diet and CBD oil.

Low energy and weight loss … symptoms of cancer and IBD.

Somewhere along the way, when shopping for unique proteins, T picked up a can of a duck and potato limited ingredient food. When it comes to dogs, food changes should be incorporated slowly, but with nothing to lose, she fed me the can of food (in three or four small meals) along with some additional boiled potato. By the next morning, the improvement was already promising. But with no Natural Balance Duck & Potato food available in Quartzsite or Blythe, T went in search of an alternative, coming home with a whole frozen duck from the grocery store.

Problem #1: A whole frozen duck doesn’t fit into any of the pots we have in the RV.

Problem #2: I was out of food other than boiled potato.

This is when a different super hero came to my rescue. Nollind! Armed with a sharp knife and a bunch of determination, he shaved and hacked and shaved some more, and by dinnertime I had a meal of fresh-cooked duck and potato. Did you know that if you take away the fat and bone from a five-pound, foot-long duck, you get maybe two cups of meat? And did you know that a 50-pound dog will eat one to one and half cups of food every day?

Me and my hero.

With the only local supply of duck difficult to prepare, especially in an RV, we had to go further afield…to Yuma! An hour and a half drive away, Petsmart had my precious duck and potato blend. We emptied the shelf. T and Nollind also bought a bag of the kibble version of this food, but I haven’t been allowed to try it yet. When something is working, the peeps are reluctant to make any changes. One cautious step at a time.

Yum. Food that doesn’t launch a sneak attack one day later.

After three months of upset stomach, diarrhea, and low energy, this new food is like a miracle. I’m keeping up with the peeps if they don’t walk super fast and I’m able to go farther before needing my chariot. And I actually trotted out to meet a new dog neighbour a few days ago and loped through a small wash after T! These may sound like small accomplishments for the average dog, but if you’d seen my tortoise pace and lack of energy, you’d be impressed. And the other bit of good news … if diet can manage my condition, it’s probably not the big C.

I’d already walked a good stretch by this point.

I have to confess, I’m a little uncomfortable with a duck coming to my rescue. When I was younger, I had a very strong prey drive, and would chase and grab just about anything smaller than me that moved. I’m not proud of it, but one day along the canal, I grabbed a duck that came up out of the grass. T pulled me away and the duck seemed okay, but on our way back, the poor thing was lying dead, probably from the shock of my jaws wrapped around her neck. During a walk along the canal this past summer, I found a duck’s nest and ate one of the eggs before T could pull me away.

Dreaming of duck.

So, ducks don’t owe me anything, certainly not mercy. From here on, for however long I walk this earth, I promise to honour the duck and hold them sacred. They no longer have anything to fear from me … unless they come in a can or a bag of kibble. In that case, I will eat them, and be ever so grateful.

I Draw the Line at Socks (Okay … Just Beyond)

My first piece of clothing was a green Shedrow jacket that looked like a small horse blanket. I was okay with it. It fit with my farm dog life and was great during the minus twenty cold snaps. When my feet got cold to the point where I was hopping on as few as I could manage, they bought me Muttluks. I wasn’t sure about them at first, but it was a happy morning when I took them for a test run and discovered they kept the frost off my toes and the ice out of my pads.

When Chico came along, I got a new jacket and he got the hand-me-down green one. The new one has a fleecy collar that looks a bit dorky if it’s standing up but the jacket is otherwise comfortable and warm and looks a bit like a Carhartt coat so still country rugged. It’s softer than the old one, therefore comfortable for sleeping in, like when we first started out on the trip this year and my bed under the table was chilly. I think my new jacket actually came from the market in Quartzsite. Kind of funny, considering I never need it once we get this far south.

dogs in coats
Wearing my coat and Muttluks on a cold winter day

Our first year of desert travel, my feet got sore when we were hiking at Picacho Peak. The rock there is volcanic and rough and after a day on the trails, I could barely make it off the trailer mat to water a bush. We hadn’t brought my Muttluks, thinking they wouldn’t be needed, so Teresa & Nollind drove to the nearest city and bought me another set. They helped a bunch, but by the end of the winter, the soft leather soles were already wearing through. Moccasins are not built for rock and coarse sand.

Washes, like this one by our campsite, are often quite sandy but everywhere else is rock. 

Now I have Ruffwear boots, kind of like a hiking boot for dogs and, until this year, they’ve been terrific. I felt like they put me in 4-wheel-drive when they went on. I could go anywhere! But this year, by halfway through the first walk, the right one was rubbing on my toes and, although I tried to maintain my usual level of stoic, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from biting at it like some crazed beaver. They tried adjusting it a couple of times but the front ones continued to hurt and I preferred to pick my way over the rocks than wear them. Until this morning’s walk …

Four-wheelin’ in my boots at Quartzsite.

Chico told you his toenail story. Well, to protect the damaged nail while we’re out walking, Teresa & Nollind bought him some little kid socks, a 3-pack from the dollar store, and one goes on his injured foot with a Velcro strap to hold it in place. This morning, they put a pair of his socks on my front feet before the boots went on. My thoughts as I looked at the cute little sports socks with 12-24 months written in grippy letters on the bottom? “You’ve got to be kidding me! Socks?! And toddler socks at that?”

My new sports socks.

I’d like to say I’m just humouring the humans because they are well-intentioned, but I have to admit the socks make the boots more comfortable. I went the entire hour walk without wanting to bite them off my feet and didn’t feel obsessed with licking at my toes when the boots came off back at the trailer. I am back in 4-wheel-drive!

Relaxing under the trailer with my happy feet.

So, here it is … I’ll admit to not being as tough as I once was when it comes to rocky terrain or the cold. I’ll wear the socks under my Vibram-soled boots. I’ll wear the Muttluks at home when the weather is frigid. I’ll wear the jacket rather than shiver all night long. But … that’s where I draw the line! They try to come near me with some doggie t-shirt, a Santa hat, or one of those ridiculous Halloween costumes, and I am getting on the phone to the humane society. I have drawn my line in the sand, people!

We’re still here at Quartzsite, possibly heading out in the next few days. I heard Nollind say we’re here until we leave. Seems to be the nature of this year’s trip…following our noses. 

Home sweet home … for now.

Guest Blogger – Dixie!

Hi, I’m Dixie the 15-yr-old Goldie!

Hey everyone! It’s Dixie here in Calgary. My pals Chico and Logan have been bragging about their blog for a while now and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. They’re staying with me and my people, Gord and Spring, for a few days while their people go to a conference, so it seems a good opportunity to check it out.

At first, I was feeling a bit nervous about using the computer. Thankfully Logan said he would give me a few lessons on whatever that “web” thing is and Chico seems to be a pro at using the keyboard (long toes). Even Gord has trouble sometimes when he is poking away at those little black buttons. Good thing Chico and Logan are with us for a few days to troubleshoot.

Over the weekend, we’ve been testing out a new game called “The Maypole“. Spring says it’s a bit like the dance she remembers from elementary school, except we use our leashes instead of the colourful ribbons. It’s quite hilarious to watch, all of us weaving this way and that way, around and around, until everyone is all tangled up and laughing like crazy. Some of the other dogs in the neighbourhood seem envious so I think we’re on to something big! Last night, after dark, we tried it in the back alley but – sheesh, even with the help of the flashlight, it was tricky to untangle the leashes.

Chico has been teasing me about being a city slicker. I must admit, I envy the freedom those lads have, never mind the endless supply of tasty horse-generated treats! Logan says he can’t believe how spry I am for fifteen, even after all those trips to the vet, back when I had lymphoma a few years ago. Just wait until I visit them on the farm, I bet they will both high-five me after they see me galloping through those grassy fields.

Gord the treat dispenser
Luckily, I don’t mind sharing the snacks.

That reminds me, yesterday Gord decided we should all pile into the car and head over to Bowmont Park. Logan was happy that it was only a short car ride and Chico was pleased because we all get to run off-leash over there. As you can see from the snapshot, Gord looks a bit like the Pied Piper, with his pocket full of treats and the three of us drooling at his feet.

After all that exercise, it seemed like the perfect time for a weekend nap. I was surprised that the boys didn’t need any encouragement to jump up on the bed like I often did back in the day. It turns out Chico is quite a bed hog and so, by the time Logan stretched out, I was just as happy to curl up on my comfy cushion beside the bed. With a sigh of contentment, I drifted off to sleep, thinking how truly lucky we are to have good friends to share days like these.