Good news, bad news

Posing at Badger Creek
Lucy poses at Badger Creek

Lucy’s bandage was removed about a week ago and we’ve been taking progressively longer walks all week. She even played at the dog park one day at lunch. As a reward to her for putting up with two years of surgeries, bandages and limited activity — also rewarding Fabi for understanding our need to keep Lucy healing — we took a road trip this weekend.

I drove the girls down to southern Colorado to check out some potential camping spots for later in the summer. We hit Cuchara, near the defunct ski resort in the San Isabel National Forest. As I expected, it was still a bit too muddy to drive all the way up to the Bear Lake campground, but the girls had fun playing in the river and snow. After a couple of hours we drove back north through Westcliffe and eventually to our friends’ house north of Cotopaxi. Both of my dogs love the property and spent the rest of the night and much of the next morning exploring the rocks and trees and hillsides.

Sunday morning Robert and I drove the dogs up to a park where the Badger Creek grows larger with the help of several springs. It meanders through a small valley before beginning a 20-mile-long drop down to the Arkansas river. There are boulders and pools and waterfalls. It’s a wonderful area, albeit relatively unknown. Fabi and Lucy ran and climbed and swam . It was nice watching both dogs acting naturally… no casts or bandages or boots on Lucy’s leg. She did very well.

On the way back to Denver we did a little more exploring east of Westcliffe. I took a road through the forest along Hardscrabble creek and stopped to let the dogs play in the water one more time. Lucy ran around for a bit then headed back to the truck, hopping on three legs. She was unwilling to place any weight on her front right leg (the same leg we’ve been treating these last two years). I checked her out: no thorns, no cuts, no abnormal swelling, no obvious fractures. I hoped that she had just strained her leg too much after so much inactivity and that a good night’s rest would help her feel better. When we made it home she still wouldn’t put any weight on the leg and I could tell by her actions and body language that it was causing her some pain. I had some rimadyl remaining from her surgery so I gave her a tablet before bed. She snuggled up next to me on the pillow to sleep, and that only happens when she doesn’t feel well.

The next morning Lucy was still hopping around and didn’t seem any better. She went out in the backyard to lie in the sun as she normally does. When I checked on her a little later she had been licking and nibbling at the top of her scar from the last surgery to a point where it was bleeding, which told me that there was something wrong. I phoned the animal hospital and loaded up the dogs. After her exam and x-rays, the emergency vet said he didn’t see any change in the x-rays compared to those taken last week. This was good news. He did give her some pain meds and a new bandage with a splint to help recover. He also said he would have our normal vet/surgeon call us when he came back on Tuesday.

Happy anniversary

I took the dogs up to Guanella pass today to hike around in the snow. I’ve been ill for a week so I needed to get out of the house and be active in the sunshine. The girls have suffered, too, since I’ve been a lot less active while sick. Additionally, Lucy is having a surgery to remove the titanium plate on Monday so this was her last “hurrah”. Both girls had a great time running in the snow.
Fabi found a bone

After the hike I drove up a few forest roads scouting out some camping sites for later in the year. One road was a single lane and had quite a bit of snow along the sides. I pulled over to let some oncoming traffic pass and got the truck stuck in about three feet of snow. The traffic passed me by without noticing that I was stuck, so I had to get my shovel and dig the wheels out myself. Luckily after about twenty minutes of digging and moving dirt and gravel under the tires I was able to move the truck out of the snow. Yay.

We made it home late in the afternoon and had a little nap. When I woke up I was thinking a little and realized it’s been ten years this month since the ex left me. That’s a long time to be single. Now that I have the dogs I’m not really alone but it still gets lonely from time to time. I decided to head out to a bar to be around some people. I like the place but I’d never been there on a Saturday night. I’m actually a little sweet on one of the waitresses and she’s normally very nice to me despite the fact that I’m older than her and ugly, but tonight she pretended she didn’t know me. I guess she has a rep to uphold with her cool customers. I don’t know.

Snowy nose

I had some beers and chicken wings and suddenly all of the televisions in the bar were showing a UFC match. Wow. You can call me a snob but WTF is appealing about this “sport”? I finished my beer and beat a path to the door. Back home, my dogs were happy to see me and I went to bed early. That seems to be my place in life.

The Three Amigos




The Three Amigos

Originally uploaded by bad9brad

A quick photo of Emily, Lucy and Fabi at the summit of Boreas Pass. Yes, Lucy was still wearing a soft cast at this point. About a week after this photo was taken, the vet removed Lucy’s bandage completely and so far everything looks good. She places the foot “correctly” now and does not appear to be rolling and slapping the bottom of her foot, which was the cause of the ulcers.

She’s still on “light activity” for a while as she learns to live with fused bones and a titanium plate in her leg.

First Swim of 2010


I took the doggies out o the North Platte river near Deckers, CO, for the first official swim of 2010. Lucy didn’t do any swimming last year due to her leg injury so I was curious to see how quickly she would take to the water.

After wading in a few times she finally got caught in the current and swam enough to get back to shore. After that she repeatedly waded out to the deeper water and drifted downstream with the current, and even went out in the river alone a few times.

Who wouldn't love Colorado?

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Hike interrupted, again

I took the girls up to Guanella Pass again today after last weekend’s aborted attempt.  I had read enough articles and the CDOT road condition web site to know that the access from the north at Georgetown was still closed due to an impending rock slide, so we took the southern route up 285 through Connifer and Bailey.  It’s a nice drive, but there were quite a few others who had the same idea today.
I like to head all the way to the summit of Guanella Pass where you’re above the tree line and only a few miles of moderate climbing from Mt. Bierstadt.  We arrived later than we should have, but the weather was still fine, if a bit blustery.

The dogs were annoyed that they had to stay on-leash in the car park and the first 500 meters of the trail, but when I let them loose they ran as fast as they could through the scrub brush and over rocks for about twenty minutes straight.  I only knew where they were by watching the brush shake as they ran through it, like tiny sasquatches running through a miniature forest.

Lucy and Fabi at Guanella Pass

Once they had that out of their system, we headed up the trail to Mt. Bierstadt.  I wasn’t sure how far Lucy would be able to make it so I kept a close eye on her.  The girls eventually found Duck Lake and the lake’s nasty bog-mud soon covered them.  Think hundreds of years of leaves and other organic material mixed with mud… sticky and difficult to get off of dog fur.  Lucy discovered how the lake acquired its name and chased several duck families from their bedding spots.  I eventually called her back to the trail since we were technically in a wilderness area and harassing the wildlife is frowned upon.

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I was surprised by how green and wet it was, even way up where it is traditionally windy and dusty.  The stream we had to cross was roaring in comparison to the last time I saw it.  In fact, I nearly fell in the pool of water at the trail crossing as the stream was splashing up on the boulders and making them extremely slippery.

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Once we crossed the stream, we headed another mile or so up the trail and began encountering a ton of people headed back down to the car park.  I was confused a little but since we arrived a little later than normal I assumed they had summited and were headed back… but I soon discovered why everyone was coming down from the peak:  a thunderstorm was developing overhead (literally overhead when you’re at 12,000+ feet / 3600+ m).  When you see lightening or hear thunder at that altitude, you immediately head for lower ground and shelter.

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The GPS receiver said we did about 4.5 miles total on the round trip, which is pretty good considering Lucy cannot feel her foot and still doesn’t have the stamina to run and climb at this altitude for long periods of time.  Fabi, of course, was not the least bit tired and whined all the way back down the hill to the highway from the back seat, but Lucy laid her head down and took a snoring nap. She ran and climbed and attempted to keep up with Fabi but all of that effort had finally caught up with her.

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Once we made it back home, I gave Lucy a bath to remove some of that stinky mud.  Fabi is deathly afraid of the bathtub so we went out in the front yard and I sprayed her down with the garden hose, which she loves.  She is one crazy dog sometimes.

Update: It appears that Lucy broke off part of one of her claws today.  The quick had ruptured and was bleeding after her bath tonight.  It saddens me when I think that she cannot feel much (anything?) in her foot and a seemingly innocent hike today could have really caused a lot of damage.

The hike that almost wasn’t

We had grand plans today.  After we stopped to fill up with fuel, the dogs and I headed up to Guanella Pass to hike back to Silver Dollar Lake.  It was forecast to be very hot in Denver today, so a little respite in the mountains seemed like a good idea.
Just before the turn off for the pass, a message sign informed me that Guanella Pass is closed on this side — I recall that way back in April they were prepping for reconstruction of part of the road, and apparently it’s still closed for that work.  Yes, I should have checked online at CDOT’s road condition web site first, but I was still bummed.

Seeking to make a little lemonade after driving this far, I decided to take the girls to their swimming spot on Clear Creek, which was just a few miles away.  Our swimming spot on the river is basically a big empty lot with easy parking and access to the water.  There’s been a sign there for at least two years promising that “Clear Creak White Water Park” (a rafting and kayak shop, I presume) is coming soon, but they apparently really really mean it now.  The lot was roped off and heavy earth-moving equipment was already in place.  Now what do I do?

I decided to loop back east and exit on the back side of Evergreen so I could cut over to the Maxwell Falls Trail.  We were just up there last Sunday but it’s a nice hike and there’s plenty of running water for the dogs.  Lucy made it farther than I expected, but she was showing signs of fatigue about 2 miles down the trail so we headed back to the trailhead.  She’s much too heavy for me to carry back out, especially on a mountain trail.  There was much running up and down the sides of the mountain and many chipmunks to chase.  Even the constant questions from every group we passed about Lucy’s injury didn’t bother me today.  All three of us had a wonderful time.

Once we were back in the car, both dogs were content to lie in the back seat with the windows open and the mountain air blowing over them.  They didn’t even get excited when I stopped in Kitridge at Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand to grab a late lunch… until they figured out I bought a hot dog for them to share.  At that point, they had all of the energy in the world while they waited for me to tear the treat in half and let them have it.

In my book, this turned out to be a pretty good day for all of us.

Update:  It appears that Guanella Pass was closed due to rock slippage, not construction:

Guanella Pass Road(County Road 381) closed due to rock instability. No through traffic. Restriction began August 21st, 2009 at 5:00pm.

The road has only been closed since yesterday afternoon.

Fabi and her pack

Chasin' chipmunks

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