Walks With Loki


“Walk and talk, Step-Gammy!”

I hear Loki’s gravelly, cheeky voice a lot these afternoons and evenings. She has had a sort of reawakening of late and we are making the absolute most of it.


“Are you talking about me?”

After several medicated baths we seem to have got her yeasty smell under control and for whatever reason that has made her feel pretty good.

Maybe her skin was bothering her.

Or maybe she just didn’t like how she smelled.


Our little trooper with her medicated bath.

She’s a tough cookie when it comes to being man-handled. She stands pretty well for me in the tub, even when I have to leave the medicated lather on her for 5 to 10 minutes. I just keep massaging her, trying to keep her warm, telling her how much we adore her.

She’s not a huge fan of the blow dryer but she takes that in stride as well.


Keeping Loki from “chibbering” while cheering her on with my T-shirt from our final Dog Days of Summer when she was the spokesmodel.

And she eventually walks off and does her back-scratch-roll-and-kick thing on the carpet and she snorts and sneezes and shakes so hard her back feet come off the ground and she tosses her food dish across the kitchen floor and I swear if she could put her paws on her hips she would!

(Video of said production at the end of the blog… with Gampy making an appearance…)

Her enjoyment of the great outdoors right now is wonderfully charming and I am enjoying the enjoyment.

Gampy is back in Bismarck so its just us and the barn kitties and I get my Walks With Loki.


Barn kitties, Jockey & Mouse

You might wonder what a 43 year-old Step-Gammy and her 14 year-old blind, hare-lipped, sassy-pants Step-Grand dog talk about.

The fact I just turned 43 is a topic we’ve covered.

It was a memorable birthday for a few reasons, the most significant being the publication of my second novel, The Dragons of Missing Lake.


My book! The sequel to Lost and Found in Missing Lake is finally out and ready to read!

Like with the first book I chose to self-publish. I didn’t try to find agents and editors this time because the story is strong and it picks up pretty close to where the first one left off.

It is also timely with school starting up again and this being another teen/middle grade piece of fiction.

It is available on Amazon and online outlets right now and I will hopefully have my shipment of books to distribute to book stores and retail outlets in a couple of weeks.


So I talk with Loki about that and how sales are already going online and how everyone seems to really like the cover.

I went with a graphic artist this time and I am so excited because it looks spectacular.

Ben Brick, the artist, is a family friend. His wife and in-laws have featured in the blog before and I shared pictures of his wedding on here as well. He totally got my concept and was eager to get on board with the project.


Loki and I have discussed how I would love to find an agent and editor now because there are more books to follow this one. Luke and Tabitha have so much more to share and wouldn’t it be grand if I had a publishing company behind me?

All of this is discussed while I hover near Loki while she wanders around the property.

She plays in the leaves and kicks them up with her back legs and rears up like a Lipizzaner stallion, then she runs off across the lawn.

And she demands, “Walk and talk, Step-Gammy!”


Front lawn where I get my Walks with Loki this time of year.

We talk about being 43 and what that signifies.

I have told her I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and she laughs.

“As long as I’m with you, Gammy, you can do anything you want,” she replied.

We have become pretty tight, Loki and I.


That face! (Before the bad eye got pretty bad)

She asks about my jewelry sales and how I’m doing with the company (www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe).

She knows I am running an online fundraiser for a dear friend who has brain cancer. She’s concerned because my friend has a Springer who is great friends with our Springer, Cleopatra.

Which we talk about.

Because ever since Loki had her seizure during our drive back home a few weeks ago I have been concerned that Loki may have brain cancer.

“I’m going to stick it to cancer, Gammy, just like Auntie Angie.”


Bling for Angie, online fundraiser with 100% of my commissions being donated at http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/tanyafyfe/f1f08c

As we navigate our way around the house, pin-balling occasionally on bushes but actually doing amazingly well despite her blindness, Loki asks me how the golf swing is going.

And I tell her its great! That its as if I finally pieced a few things together and practiced and played and watched and drove and putted and swung enough that right when the season is ready to end I can actually say I think I’m a golfer!


Enjoying a nearly-empty golf course. Ready to tee off on the 2nd hole under beautiful sunny skies a couple of days ago.

Loki tells me she doesn’t really like golf because it takes me and Gampy away from her.

Which is “bull chit.”

So we walk a bit more and she tries to get under the fence to see Zeus and she prances off towards the neighbor’s and she somehow leaps off to the side when she suspects dog poop that I haven’t picked up and she sniffs Mouse who is busy head-butting her and she piddles on the bear poop and she rolls and trots and snorts and farts and then she’ll suddenly stop and turn her head towards the sky and sniff with her scrunched-up little face that I love so much.


That face!

And I smile and maybe a tear or 2 comes to my eyes as I realize, at 43, that I am the happiest I have ever been and maybe one of the luckiest women in the world to live such a rich life.

And maybe that’s all I want to be when I grow up.


Then Loki snorts at me.

“Walk and talk, Step-Gammy. Walk and talk.”


Zeus and the pretty fall colors of Autumn on our wonderful ranch in Montana.


Sharing my sequel with my good friend, Lollie at the cutest café in the world, The Stray Bullet in Ovando, MT.


Me and my good friend, Angie and our Springers, Cleo and Kali at the very first Dog Days of Summer several years ago. Be strong, Ang! xo



Fall colors on our local golf course just off the 16th green

Its been a few weeks since I last blogged.

Its cool at night and the mountain world we live in is awash with crimson, gold and brilliant amber.

The smoke is gone and most of us aren’t living with the fear that the next lightning strike could be The One.


Outside of Lincoln, MT on my most-recent road trip.

My silence in the blogosphere wasn’t intended.

I just haven’t had time.

I went to Bismarck twice in September which is a ten or eleven-hour haul one-way.


Cruising through Great Falls, MT!

The first trip back was for a wedding in our old community of Watford City. The bride was radiant, the ceremony was lovely and the reception was fantastic.


Showgirls! The beautiful bride, Kira was in my Tiny Tot skating class back in 1997 and toured with Disney On Ice. I’m so proud she can blame me for this corruption!

A great part about the day was exploring highways, houses, ice rinks and medical clinics in towns we used to live in.

We reminisced together about people we knew and adventures we shared in Hazen, Beulah and Watford City.


Our former home in Hazen, ND


Alistair’s former clinic in Beulah, ND


Our ice rink (brrrrr!) in Hazen where Alistair drove the Zamboni, we co-coached high school hockey and I taught power and figure skating.

We joked during the drive about names and faces we may or may not remember. Who would be at the wedding and what their spouse’s name was. How the town of Watford City, the heartbeat of the oil patch, had changed and what incredible developments had taken place since we left in 1997. How so many license plates were not from North Dakota anymore.


Our former home in Watford City, ND. We couldn’t give it away when we moved!

When we first moved there in 1994, we were as foreign as it got being from Canada.

Now Watford City is a melting pot of cultures, colors and beliefs.

While so much within the town itself has changed, it was wonderful that our relationships with great friends had not.


Alistair & I with Corey, one of our Junior Gold hockey players from the late 90s!


Alistair and Gretchen (the mother of the bride) together again!

It was a beautiful day, a beautiful time, and now a beautiful memory.


The ice rink in Watford City doubling as rodeo grounds during the off-season.

Then it was back to Bismarck where my hair, teeth and garden were tended to and I was again amazed by the jobs that are out there.

I’ve said it before- that you have to be a fool to not be able to find work in Bismarck right now.


Jobs of all types for all skill levels exist on almost every road I drove on. Its a sea of neon signs offering why THIS is the place you should work!


There aren’t enough workers for the jobs so each business is trying to out-entice the other.


I think they actually spelled their name wrong… seriously, if you want to impress people you should know how to spell your company’s name!

Restaurants, delis, hotels, driving companies- you name it, they want YOU!


Most of the jobs are entry-level but that’s why the imbalance. The pay, while quite decent from the looks of things, is entry-level. Rent, sadly, is not.


Its an employee’s market right now. Why stay someplace where your demanding, asshole boss rides you about being online all day when you can work just about anywhere else in the city? Bosses are having to curtail their complaints!


The moral of all of this is that regardless of training, education and maybe even motivation, if you have a place to stay and you want to work and you don’t mind a bit of wind and you don’t care about oceans or mountains but you like pheasants and Labrador retrievers and wearing camo and driving your pick-up with its gun rack and you are totally cool with winter temps, Bismarck might be right for you right now!


(I joke about the camo and pickups… we have just as many in Montana and Bismarck is really a very nice city with universities, golf courses, fun restaurants, a nightlife and bustling airport.)


most of the herd in Bismarck

My most recent trip back was to help Alistair out for a planned surgery to scope his knee.


He came through with grace, his terrific sense of humor, less ratty cartilage in his right knee and a ridiculous need for greasy food.


Post op that afternoon. You have to love him!

I brought the 3 dogs with me on this trip. They did great and seemed to like “helping” their Daddy with his recovery.


UB making sure Daddy rested like the doctor told him to!

And everything was going well as I drove us home across highway 200 until little Loki reminded us all of the year we have been having and that she’s got some issues.

Loki had her first seizure.

In her crate in the back seat of the truck at a rest stop between Jordan and Lewistown.


Loki and step-gammy in Bismarck.

It lasted 20 to 30 seconds (which feels more like 2 to 3 minutes) but it ended and she got a bit of a walk before we felt like we should continue.

And Alistair and I pretended we weren’t medical professionals for a few minutes.

“What do you think caused that?” asked Mr.Fyfe.

“I don’t know,” Mrs.Fyfe replied.


Snoozing Loki loves being under the covers!

Pretending was fun but it didn’t last long.

We both know that epilepsy isn’t a disease for older animals or people. And we know that she is about 14 years old.

And we know she doesn’t leave our eyesight when she’s outside because of her own blindness and that we didn’t change her food and she had no access to toxins or medications and the other dogs were fine and that she has had her share of personality changes that we like to call quirks this year on top of some unusual infections that might mean her immune system is busy elsewhere.

Like maybe in her brain.


The same rest stop on a previous trip back to Bismarck.

But that’s all I want to say about that because she has been absolutely fine (albeit a bit yeasty… one of the new issues) since then.

Eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, playing, kicking up the grass, bonking into Chiddy Pats, snoring, begging for Chicken Mozarella and cuddling into us at night.

She is tolerating the various meds & shampoos I am trying to combat the yeasty smell (think wet tortilla) and we are loving her much as we can.


Loki’s winter gear.

And we’re heading towards her least favorite season but we will make it as special as we can for her.

So seasons change and houses sell and kids grow up and young adults get married and jobs are everywhere and dogs get old and some get tumors and knees get operated on and golf balls get hit and we try to enjoy every moment because sometimes our special old companions might not be with us.

And that, my friends, has been our happenings of late and why I haven’t blogged until now.


Our old property outside of Watford City, ND


One of the bride’s skating classmates, Zane from Tiny Tots all grown up!


My writing “assistant”.