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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Weekend Debacle

We had a debacle of a weekend. Beforehand, it seemed like a slam dunk for a great weekend. A relative was getting married near Crested Butte, Colorado - one of the prettiest mountain places in the world. Our plan was that we'd camp near Crested Butte, attend the wedding, and enjoy a weekend in the mountains with a relative.

I'm don't think that you want to know every single thing that went wrong so I'll just give you the highlight for me. From my viewpoint, the icing on the cake was that I got the worst migraine that I've ever had. It involved intense GI issues that badly dehydrated me (plus the "usual" headache).

When the migraine reached its worst point, I collapsed in the middle of a forest road that is traveled regularly during the day. Fortunately, I collapsed on it at about 3AM. When I reopened my eyes, I wasn't sure where I was but there was a quarter dollar in front of my nose. I grabbed as a souvenir from a terrible night and crawled to the side of the road. The Runner was extremely upset that I was wandering around by myself (I didn't wake him up for that particular trip outside the Labmobile) so I've learned a lesson.

The migraine lasted for days, and I still don't feel like usual. I think that I'll pretend that the weekend never happened. I hate thinking about all the beauty that I missed.

I took this photo at "home" on the morning that we departed.
Those flowers finished blooming while we were gone so I'm glad I captured my Shyla galloping happily through them! I'm glad to be home and on the mend. I promise to have a more upbeat post tomorrow!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Silhouette Sunday

The sky continues not to disappoint us.

And the scents in the air as dusk falls grab Shyla's attention.

The only night that I was a bit disappointed was the evening of the "Strawberry Moon" on the solstice. A storm moved in a few hours before sunset, obliterating any chance of seeing the moon. However, the cloud-laden sky did become sort of strawberry colored as the sun barely peeked through from the west just before sunset. I'd never seen the sky that color - amazing!
 Happy Sunday to all my friends!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sunset Saturday

We had an awe-inspiring sunset a few days ago. As we hustled up toward our favorite sunset lookout point, I could tell that it was going to be special. You can barely see the Divide on the horizon in the lower left of the photo.

 When we scampered out beyond the trees, the view stunned us.

As we stood there for a while, the sunset darkened but became even more beautiful.

I still appreciate each day that R can walk up to see the sunset with us. On the way home, I like to photograph him with the wildflowers. I'm pining to get some photos of him running but I must be patient!
Happy Saturday!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Rocky Mountain Flower Beauty

Today is Flower Friday, inspired by Dory and her family.

At high elevation, the wildflowers all bloom at the same time. Shyla and I enjoy them in the National Forest every day at this time of year. She loves running through Golden Banner, a meadow flower, at this time of year.

When we look at the "lower story" of that meadow, we see these gems. I love their color and beauty.

In the "upper story", the chokecherry blossoms are incredible! They get pollinated within days of blooming. By late summer, each flower will be a berry that bears adore! The bears eat them so quickly that we rarely get to see the berries themselves!

In the wet parts of the meadows, the Shooting Stars are glorious. They are low to the ground in the green grass.

No flower post at this time of year would be complete without my favorite - the Colorado Columbine.

I hope that you enjoyed our tour of a few of our current wildflowers.
It's nirvana at our elevation right now!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thankful Thursday

At this time of year, I have to pinch myself to realize that my life isn't a dream. The flowers and our wild world are real. I get to play in this incredible world with Shyla every morning!

I also have made some really big breakthroughs in understanding how to best train and generally interact with Shyla. We are taking specific dog training classes for Nosework and Rally. However, the effects of our time spent using purely positive training every single day are permeating the rest of our lives in amazing ways.

Shyla has overcome her last few very bad habits, partly because I've learned not to get frustrated with her. When I used to get frustrated (and allow her to know it), it led her to avoid interacting with me. I've seen that so clearly in the past months that I have learned not to get frustrated over things like checking out dead animals. Instead, I use my positive training skills, and they work!

I am so thankful for the world that we live in and for this amazing dog with whom I get to share it!
Soon, R will be able to bound through those meadows too. I know how thankful I'll be on that day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Enjoy Life!

My friend used this quote today - "Enjoy Life. This is not a dress rehearsal." I think this photo sums it up!
Right now, life is a great big meadow of gold flowers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bear Den Footage After the Escape of the Cubs from the Den

Today, I am sharing a video of the days after the cubs "broke out of the den" for the first time on 4/10/16. They were quite uncoordinated at that time and spent hours trying to climb on tiny rocks and branches.

Then, a huge snowstorm hit on 4/16 and 4/17, dropping 4' of snow on our area. The den was completely buried, and the bears stayed under the snow for four days.  You might remember this photo of Shyla trying to gallop in the snow on 4/17.

Finally, on 4/21, the cubs dug their way to the surface of the snow. It was amazing to see how much coordination they'd gained in those days under the snow. After re-emerging, they could pull themselves up onto higher trees and even play with each other!

Here's the video. It is available here or at Youtube.


I hope that you enjoy the footage as much as I did. I had to pare it way down to make it a manageable length for you!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy Summer - Wildflowers and Bears!

Shyla and I have been loving our morning rides through wildflowers galore! However, I don't know what the look on her face in the next photo meant!

While it's still snowy and wintery up in the alpine zone, true early summer has arrived here with so many flowers that it blows my mind.

June is truly one of the best months here, if you're not bothered by the astronomical pollen counts. I get asthma and irritated eyes at this time of year but I wouldn't give up the flowers for anything.

It's also the time of year for bear "family breakup" when mother bears with yearling cubs send them away to live on their own. You might remember that we had a sow and two cubs in our neck of the woods last year. The little black cub got hurt, lost track of his family, and eventually was reunited with them in the fall. I assumed that he'd denned with them. Contrary to what I expected, every trail cam photo of that bear family shows that the black cub is not with the mother and the brown cub.

The mother is marking trees as if she's looking for a mate. It is possible that the black cub already left the family, following his instincts that it was time to go off on his own. However, the chocolate cub is staying close. Very soon, the mother will drive away the remaining cub when she meets a mate. That's the usual pattern, although this cub and mother seem extraordinarily bonded to me. Usually, by the cub's second spring, the cub and mother are not traveling so closely together.

Here's that mother marking a tree with her yearling cub standing behind her. This photo made me laugh.
I hope to have time to share the clips of video that I've captured of this pair this spring.

I love spring-summertime!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog, R, can now walk far enough for me to take photos of him in the nearby meadow.

He's happy about the loosening restrictions, and so are we!

The meadow is ablaze with yellow flowers, which go so well with R's fur.
His latest round of elbow exercises is quite complicated. I need to train him about how to do the exercises before we can really make progress with them. For example, in one exercise, he has to balance his hind feet on a big blue squishy disk. A smaller squishy disk is on a chair seat, and he has to balance his left front paw on that disk. Then, I have to hold his right front paw up so he does a one-armed pushup from this crazy position. I spent the first two days just teaching him how to get into position for me (using a clicker and treats). Finally, I succeeded in having him do 3 pushups today!

That gives you an idea of how difficult the new exercises are. That's just *one* example. Our vet gave us new ones on Thursday. I may wait 2 weeks before an update to give us time to master the exercises.

He continues to improve although we humans notice that he's at his best every morning and then his limp gets worse throughout the day. That observation leads us to wonder if we should cut back his rehab but I suspect that our vet would say "no". We'll keep an eye on the trend before asking her.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Happy Happy Saturday!

I am still glowing after yesterday's rescue. Bounder's owner says he is home, happy, and "eating and drinking tons".  Thanks for all of your kind comments yesterday!

Shyla and I had a celebration ride together this morning. Shyla has become crazy about that stump (in the photo) on Hug Hill. It was Angel K's favorite place to perch on Hug Hill but Shyla hasn't been interested in it until recently. If I recall her from the other side of it, she leaps on it on her way to me, just for fun!
These are the "good old days" for Shyla. She's at her peak, and she's loving it. I do wish she'd be more careful of her joints but I guess she feels invincible.

We both smiled all the way through our morning ride. Can you believe that this trail had snow on it just a month ago? It's like nirvana now with wildflowers lining it.

And, to top off our day, the first Columbines are blooming!!!

Prepare yourselves for a few weeks of Columbine overload. They are my favorite flowers!
Happy Saturday to all of you. I hope that you are smiling along with us.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Saving a little dog's life

Yesterday, I visited some trail cams that I don't check that often. I didn't check all the memory cards right away but the first one I looked at had photos of a small dog (without human accompaniment) on them. I know someone who has dogs that looked like the one on the cams so I zapped her an email with the photos. I jokingly said in my email that her pups had been taking "road trips".

This was the first photo a little after midnight on 6/14. I saw this one first (yesterday morning) and sent it to the owner.
Well, she didn't check her email for another 12 hours, and then she called me immediately. One of her dogs, an elderly epileptic male mini doxie named "Bounder", had been missing for days. In the fading light of dusk, the owner searched the area near my cams but found nothing.

After hearing that her dog was actually missing, I went through the thousands of photos on my memory cards with an eye to detail. Most of the thousands of photos were of this little dog walking back and forth over a half mile stretch over a 24 hour period on 6/14.

He walked that trail section all night until sunrise on 6/14.

Then, thank goodness, I think he laid low during the heat of the day, reappearing in the evening of 6/14.
He resumed his pacing back and forth until 10:29 on 6/14, when my trail cams got their last photo of him.

To be honest, I knew that a bobcat had come through around that time so I didn't think that the dog was alive. However, I'm not one to give up hope too quickly.

This morning, I asked the owner for a photo of her dog so I could spread the word via social media that he was missing. A close friend of mine saw my post, and she called with the idea that she and I go search for him today. The owner could not get out of work today.

By the time I was ready to go search (after R's 20 million exercises), it was hot, and my energy was lagging. But my friend's enthusiasm spurred me to go. She was on foot, and I was on my bike. We both did the same loop but in opposite directions. When we met in the middle, we agreed that she'd go home, and I'd search just a bit more in a new direction where I have no trail cams because no large wildlife goes there. We thought it was a failed search.

After we parted, I rode only 1/2 mile in the new direction when I came upon the dog lying in the middle of the trail. He was not moving, initially didn't register my presence, and was covered in flies. I was sure he was dead and said "Oh, Bounder" really sadly. He heard me, and his eyes flicked toward me. I freaked out - he was ALIVE!

I'll be honest - I had a minor panic/surprise/upset attack before I did anything useful for him. When I'd pulled myself together, I went over, talking to him, and noticed that he even smelled like death. I swatted all the flies off of him, and I got water on my fingers. He licked them thirstily. We did that for a while, and then he lifted his head. I made a cup out of my hands and let him drink more water from my hands. He was SO thirsty.

I lost all track of time so I don't know how long the two of us sat in the middle of the trail. I checked my cell phone which had the lovely words "no service". I gathered myself, lifted up the fairly small dog under my arm, and pushed my bike with the other arm. I stopped every 5 minutes or so looking for cell service because my spine was not going to allow me to carry the dog all the way to civilization.

Finally, I had cell service and texted my friend. As I sat there waiting to see if it went through, I took a photo of the dog standing for the 1st time! He'd been lost in the woods where there are NO water sources for 5 days. And, he's an elderly epileptic who hadn't had his anti-seizure meds for all that time, yet he was spunky enough to stand.

My friend came running after she got my text. Thank goodness because my spine was giving out. And, the little dog couldn't or wouldn't walk. My spine was screaming so thank goodness for my friend. My friend had a backpack to carry this little guy up to her truck. We both felt like things were fairly touch-and-go until we sat in the shade giving him water while we called his owners. That was when he really showed us that he was ready to fight for his life.
The owners weren't nearby but gave us permission to get the dog vet care. Then we realized that neither of us had any money or credit cards. So, my friend drove him to the vet while I sprinted home on my bike to call the vet with my credit card info so they'd start his care until the owner could get there.

The vet thinks he's going to be fine after lots of liquids, rest, and the resumption of his epilepsy med. I get a lump in my throat every time I realize that I helped save a life today, the life of a precious little dog who has an incredibly spunky heart.

Yes, there are miracles!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

First cub sightings at den!

Today, I am sharing a video from the first day that the cubs came out of the den. At first, their mom kept pulling them back in. But, by 4 PM that afternoon, both cubs were out. It was 4/10/16!

Notice how much snow there was on that date! You can watch the video here or at Youtube.

They stayed at the den until 5/21 so there was a lot of play outside the den that I can share later!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Desert Finale

Ready for takeoff


Up, up and away!

Shyla gallops across "Shyla's Mesa"

R works the cavalettis - Doesn't every campsite have cavalettis?

Workout done, R was back on duty guarding camp.

Shyla and some "Prince's Plumes"

A stalk of Prince's Plume Blossoms

A single flower on a Prince's Plume

Sunset Light on my Girl


Final evening in a rugged campsite

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Our Black Lab's Recovery from CUE Surgery - Week 8

Today is our Week 8 update on R's recovery from CUE surgery. In general, he's getting better and better. He's allowed to be off-leash in the house when we're not expecting anything exciting to happen like the UPS man driving down to the house or one of us getting home.

He's also allowed to go for 25 minute walks 2-3X per day, and he's allowed 5 minutes off-leash outdoors per day. That's a wildcard that makes us nervous. Yesterday, he really sprinted during those 5 minutes and made himself a bit sore. However, the x-rays taken last week show that the hardware is strongly fixed in the bones of his elbow so he can't destroy his "new elbow" by running too hard.

R galloping 2 years ago
I've made a video of his gait to show what he looks like now. The hardest part is that he's no longer focused on walking. He feels good enough that he's looking for squirrels and bunnies so he rarely walks at a steady pace or straight! I found a couple of clips when he was walking straight to show you.

I also show his new exercises in the video. He's still doing many from last week but there are new ones now (woe is me!!!). The hardest one is doing a sit-stand-sit transition on the squishy blue disk. It took us about 4 days before he could even sit on it. Then another few days passed before he could stand at all (yesterday was his first "stand"). It's incredibly hard for him but he doesn't give up. I've tried it with Shyla, and she can do it easily so R's difficulties with it are due to his surgery.

Finally, he got a new toy, a giant "peanut", that he puts his front paws on and does various exercises. You'll see in the video that we're not very good at those yet. Apparently, before too long, he won't need me to stabilize the peanut while he works. However, that is VERY hard to believe right now!

If you look in the background of the video while we are working on the peanut, you'll see a GIANT print of R on the wall (the same photo as I showed above). I gave it to the Runner as a gift - but now it's like an inspiration as we toil away at his exercises. Our goal is to have him run like that again!

Here is the video, which you can watch here or at Youtube.

Thanks for watching!!! And, if any of you have experience with teaching a dog how to use a peanut and have hints for me, I'd love to hear them!!! Thank you.