Pop Goes the Pooch

Shhh…mum’s the word. If it gets back to Logan that I’ve written this post, I may have to enter the witness protection program and you’ll never hear from me again.

Shhhh_Shhh_Shhh - FunnyAnimalSite dot com

Shhh …  (photo compliments of funnyanimalsite.com)

Well, here goes …

The first time it happened was in the car last summer. We were headed to friends for dinner and suddenly, there it was, a turd on the seat, flattened because Logan had been sitting on it. He acted like he had no idea where it had come from but there were only two of us in the back seat and I knew it wasn’t mine. Some wet wipes and a hosing of the Soggy Dog seat cover later, all was well. I wrote it off to “shit happens”.

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The Soggy Dog Seat Cover has been a life saver.

But, then it happened in the truck on another outing and it was messier, not the dry-ish turd pancake of the previous time. Even before the smell drifted to the front seats (and smell travels quickly) I had alerted T and Nollind by whining and trying to climb up front with them. “Help! Help! He’s done it again!”

Since those two incidents, there have been many an emergency roadside stop and clean up. Remarkably, we made it all the way to Arizona last winter without a problem but weren’t so lucky during Logan’s every-second-week visits to the vet in Blythe. Afternoons seem to be the most dangerous time to travel. It’s like his digestive system is almost ready to push something through but not quite, at least not until his travel nerves kick into gear.

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Happy travellers … but always on alert.

It’s a bit like traveling with a jack-in-the-box. The little handle goes round and round, round and round, the creepy music plays, and you wait, and you cringe, and you wait some more, knowing what’s coming but not quite sure when. And then, all of a sudden, POP!, the vehicle fills with stink and T & Nollind go into emergency mode: finding the next spot to pull over, evacuating the vehicle, grabbing the clean-up kit. At these times, I just tuck myself into a corner as far from the offending deposit as I can until things are under control.

It’s happening all the time now, even in the house some nights. Crazy thing is, I don’t think he can do anything about it. Not sure if he’s lost sensation, control, or both but, as much as T and/or Nollind try to take him outside and give him as many opportunities as he needs before a trip or before bed at night, when he’s gotta go he just does. No bark, no whimper, no asking to go outside.

It’s put a bit of a damper on our excursions. In fact, he hasn’t been in the car since we came back from Arizona other than to go to the vet for his Legend injection every two weeks. There have been four such trips and, surprisingly, only one with incident. Despite my love of going along, I wasn’t sure I wanted to partake in his trips to the vet, but T has been kind enough to let me sit up front and stay out of the danger zone.

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Me in emergency-lock-down mode.

Lately, T has been taking me on some short outings, getting Logan used to the idea of being left home alone. She doesn’t want me to miss out because Logan is becoming more difficult to take places and not able to walk more than 20-30 minutes. I’m glad of that. I like my old buddy but I do enjoy a trip to town or to the dog park now and then. There’s even talk she and I might get out hiking beyond our little prairie neighbourhood now that the snow is gone and the weather warmer. Kananaskis, Drumheller, Cochrane, and Wyndham-Carseland are just a few of the destinations she’s mentioned.

It’ll be sad to go adventuring without Logan, because I know he hates to miss anything, but I guess that’s just the way it has to be. At least we’ll still have our morning explorations of the farm’s back twenty and evening wanders to the wetland.

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Morning walk around the farm.

Maybe by the time it’s my turn to write again I’ll have a tale to tell from one of our spring excursions. Until then …

 

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Rock, Cactus, Sunset

Unlike camping in an RV park or campground, out in the desert, there are no numbered spaces with set boundaries. It’s nice to have the freedom to put our house where we want, but it also means a lot of variables and choices. And, with our double-trailer rig, an old dog, and a woman who loves a view, you’ll see it can be quite a process to select a space.

Nollind gets first say on whether or not a spot works. Can we get in? And, the more important, can we get out? Even out here in the open desert, there are obstacles to manoeuvre around like trees, cactus, other campers, sudden elevation changes (aka washes and hills), and rocks. It’s not like one big parking lot out here. Well … in some places it’s actually quite a lot like a big parking lot.

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Our current camp spot at Dome Rock.

Once that’s settled, is the area level enough? The trailer can be easily adjusted front to back but side to side requires blocks on one side or digging on the other. Up at Wickenburg where the ground is softer, we dug down on the high side. Here at Quartzsite where everything is rock, we added our fancy red levellers. But, if a spot is too far off level, it just doesn’t work.

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I sleep so much better when the couch is level.

Next … Is there cell service? Because Teresa and Nollind still run a business, do contract work, and spend time volunteering for things back home, they do need to be available by phone and internet. And, of course, we dogs need to be able to post our blog every week. Wickenburg was borderline, but we made do for the two and half weeks.

Then we start getting into aesthetics. Noise. Is the space far enough from a road and further yet from a highway? Is the space far enough from other campers and do the neighbours have solar power or generators? Hondas and Yamahas are tolerable. Champion generators are to be avoided at all cost.

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Enjoying a quiet spot with lots of elbow room.

Dust. Is the camping spot upwind of where other campers will be travelling? Being on the south side of a dusty road around here is pretty much guaranteed to have you breathing dirt.

Surface. Is the ground friendly enough to build a patio on or is it filled with large or sharp rocks?

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Enjoying our Dome Rock patio.

View. Is there a view to the sunset and, preferably, the sunrise? Are there hills or mountains nearby? I don’t care much about this stuff but it’s important to Teresa.

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Wickenburg sunrise.

Vegetation. Are there saguaro, ocotillo, or palo verde trees? These are the good ones. Are there cholla cactus? These are the not-so-good ones that are known to attack the feet and legs of unfortunate dogs (and people sometimes too … Sue).

And this year there’s a whole other level of site choosing. Me! They’ve always considered us dogs but, this year, with my ramp and my bum leg and my enjoyment of lying around outside, I’ve moved way up the priority list. This spot we’re in right now at Dome Rock? Chosen largely because of me.

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I can’t walk very far anymore, but I sure enjoy my time outdoors.

 

It’s tough to find a spot around Quartzsite that isn’t rocky, and it’s tough for me to walk on rocks this year, so quite a lot of effort and driving of dusty roads went into finding a good spot. In the end, we came back to Dome Rock, but in a different location. This time we set up next to a big, wide, sandy wash with multiple roads and trails through it. Perfect.

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Walking the wash near camp.

The times it’s easiest to select a spot is when someone else does it for you, but this is a rare occurrence. It happened once last year and once again this trip and both times were orchestrated by the same people — Sue and Leon. Last year it was this terrific spot at Ogilby Road down near Yuma, and this year they invited us to camp next to them at Scaddan Wash by Quartzsite. All we had to do was roll in, manoeuvre until we were mostly level, throw down the anchor, and join in the festivities. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I can’t believe I just said that. I’ve been spending too much time with Chico.

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Me, smack in the middle of the morning visit. That’s Sue, Keith, and Leon on the far side.

We’re here at Dome Rock for at least a few more days, maybe a week, maybe closer to two. Once we dig ourselves into a spot, it can be hard to get us out.

Point Me South

Since I’m not a big fan of travelling, until now I didn’t quite understand the masses of people that drive south to places like Florida, Arizona and California in the winter. I mean, winter’s not that bad. I’ve always liked the snow. And it feels a bit like cheating. Not to mention, for us, with Sid in tow and dogs needing semi-regular breaks, it’s about 33 hours of truck time to get to Quartzsite, Arizona. That’s like driving to downtown Calgary and back 22 times! In a row!

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Truck time.

 

It’s also at least two overnights in the cold country which means the trailer slides stay in and I don’t have access to my couch. (Yes, I have my own couch.) We used to put the slides out, until a few years ago in Great Falls when it was -20 and the mechanism broke on the big slide. And, in addition to making do with a temporary bed on the floor, it’s cold! Sid is nice down in the desert, but really not built for the gauntlet of well-below-freezing temperatures we travel through to get there. The cold seeps in through every little gap.

And, it means four days of getting in and out of the truck multiple times, which I can no longer do unassisted, and I hate needing help. It means four days of not enough sleep. It means four days of being in fifteen square feet with Chico. It means four days of not being comfortable.

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Me travelling with Chico is a bit like an insomniac watching somebody sleep. 

 

When the talk first turned to whether or not we’d travel south this year, I was kind of hoping we’d stay home. It takes a lot out of me getting down there. And it’s so comfy at home. When my health was taking a turn back in early October, it sounded like we wouldn’t be going. I felt bad about messing with Teresa & Nollind’s travel plans, but I was kind of relieved.

And then I started to feel better and they started talking about travelling again. “Crap!” I thought. At least, that was, until winter arrived about ten days ago.

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Winter arrives on the farm.

 

Six years and four trips later, I think I get it. I understand why so many retired people, some of them quite elderly, make the journey south, despite having to run the winter gauntlet and endure many miles of travel.

Winter really sucks when you’re old. Your bones ache. You get the shivers easily. Navigating snow and ice is more challenging than it used to be. Winter is just not a friendly place for an old person … or dog.

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It’s been cold for November!

 

My feet always were a little more sensitive to the cold than Chico’s but this year it’s ridiculous. They’re cold as soon as we get outside! And the foot attached to my bad leg? It’s a bit like an ice cube in the house and hurts like the devil outside. Shaking it and biting at it don’t seem to help at all.

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Following a horse trail makes the winter walking a bit easier.

 

Okay, so Teresa puts boots on me. Aaah … so much better. Except, this year, the damn things make me trip. I did a full face plant into a pile of snow along the road the other day when I got tripped up by my Muttluks. Sheesh.

I used to need a jacket on the really cold days, like -20 and colder, to avoid shivering. Now I wear one overnight (in the house!) to stay warm enough.

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Me after a walk in the snow.

 

And I don’t think I even need to talk about what it’s like to walk in deep snow or on ice with my increasingly wobbly legs. Just think about a dog wearing roller skates and you’ll be close.

Since winter arrived on the 1st of November, as I’ve been watching the V’s of Canada Geese and Snow Geese fly overhead, all I can think about is the desert. How 33 hours of truck time equals 100+ days of lying in the sun. How four days of getting in and out of the truck equals three and half months of walks on warm, dry ground. How four days of discomfort up front equals fewer aches, pains, and shivers for the rest of the winter.

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One of many desert walks last winter.

 

It’s still five weeks until our planned departure date and, as I’ve learned in the past few months, a lot can change in that amount of time. But, at this point, I’m in. Point me south and call me a snowbird!