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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Shyla Saturday

Shyla is my morning snow biking partner. Since that big snowstorm, we've just started being able to bike on the trails again. This morning,. Shyla wanted to shout out her happiness about resuming biking to the whole world. Did you hear her where you are? I had trouble getting her to stop barking and howling this morning because her happiness seemed to overwhelm her.

Part of why we get up so early at this time of year is that I love the early morning light in the winter. It's the only time of year when the sun rises where there isn't a high ridge so we can enjoy its rays just as it rises.

Shyla seems immune to the frigid temperatures early in the morning - and she can even dose off in the snow. This red light was almost exactly at sunrise - it even made the snow glow slightly red.

Shyla makes me so happy - she is, quite simply - my best friend. We are so well matched in most ways - and I love sharing my life, including the early winter mornings, with her. I'm not sure that anyone else would be willing to share the cold mornings with me!
Happy Shyla Saturday.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Feline and Nature Friday - The Saga of a Bobcat Family

The bobcat family visited a favorite scent post all together on 9/27. The bigger kitten and mom played crazily. The Little Kitten seemed left out. In this photo, mom and the bigger kitten were playing in the foreground while the Little Kitten was under the downed tree on the left of the image.
They all departed together but my heart was preparing for what I thought was going to happen.

A couple of weeks later (10/9), one kitten was at the scent post alone for close to 6 minutes. It is very hard to tell if it's the Little Kitten but that was my guess. If you think otherwise after watching the video, please let me know!

The kitten rolled around for a while, and then he suddenly sat up. He remained in that position like a statue for about two whole minutes.
Then he departed.

I am sad to have to tell you that, on Oct 19, the bobcat family included only one kitten - the big kitten. My heart broke when I saw that the Little Kitten was gone, even though the writing was on the wall from Day One, when we saw that the Little Kitten had no eye shine in one eye. You see, a predator like a bobcat cannot catch prey without depth perception. I hoped for the best but it didn't happen.

RIP Little Kitten. I am glad that you got to live wild and free, if only for a short time.

The video includes footage only until 10/9 - when the lone kitten was at the scent post. I'll share the footage from the mom and the surviving kitten in another video.


I am linking to Feline Friday and Nature Friday.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For Beauty and Better Times

Our campsite at Shyla's Mesa has so many beautiful views.We saw the crescent moon setting behind beautiful rock spires.

And we saw the Milky Way above that same cliff.

Last, but certainly not least, we saw a canine howling on Shyla's Mesa. Perhaps she was howling at the moon and the stars.

I am so thankful for having wild places like this one to visit and to dream about. I am already looking forward to visiting there in the spring. When everyday life is causing me huge anxiety, I can forget about it when we are in awe-inspiring places.

2019 has not been an easy year but we are coming out of it stronger than we started it. We understand Hachi far better, and that has made life much less stressful and happier. And, my dad is doing better, perhaps primed for better times in 2020. I didn't dare hope for such a good end of the year for my dad during the dark times earlier this year. I am so thankful.

We are linking up with Brian's Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Wild Cats: Mountain Lions Courting - Part 2

Last week, I showed you footage of a pair mountain lions who were courting. At the time, I didn't know that they'd later passed a couple more of my cams.

The first one was on a north-facing slope where it was icy and snowy. In fact, ice was clinging to the front of my camera. But, you can see the pair walking almost side-by-side.

A few hours later, they were in a slightly less snowy spot where there was a "scrape" - a spot frequently marked by lions. They seemed to pose for a portrait. The female is on the left. The male, on the right, looks a bit grizzled, as if life hasn't been easy on him lately.

The next day, the pair passed the last cam that recorded them. First, the relatively thin and lithe female walked past.

The male paused near the cam. You can see that he has a big scratch on his neck.

And you can also see that he looks a bit beaten up from the front.
The territory near us has been up for grabs among male mountain lions over the past 10 months. I wonder if this guy had to survive a lot of battles to win it. I hope that the price hasn't been too high.

Later on the 13th, a single mountain lion who looked a lot like the female of this pair appeared by herself a few miles further along in the direction that they'd been traveling. I am betting that their time together was almost over when that daytime footage was recorded.

Please check out the video if you have time. Be sure to have your sound on - there's lots of talking between the pair.

I am linking up with:
Feline Friday 
Nature Friday

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had never seen so much snow from one storm before this one He wasn't so sure about frolicking in the unpacked snow at first. Look at those wide eyes.

Then, I subjected him to his sister to help him loosen up. She schooled him. She is not meek when playing.

The amazing part (to me) is that Hachi has never gotten upset about her crazy play.

After some chasing and wrestling with Shyla, Hachi started to loosen up and look happier about the snow.

He and Shyla stopped to observe something but I couldn't spot what it was.

Soon I spotted the giant.
That put an end to off-leash play but the pair was smiling with the fun that they'd just had.

Hachi had a really good week until the end of it. He was getting along beautifully with Shyla and never got upset with R. But then, he had a bad 24 hours (just like last week). He had an episode of resource guarding against R during which he launched himself at R during a snowshoe hike. No one was hurt. A couple of stressful things had happened earlier in the day (including 90 mph winds outside and people visiting the house) - and those stressors may have been part of set-up that led to the bad event.

Our counter-conditioning for wearing a coat and for handling his legs is going really well, and I'll share a video of it soon.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog has been in some pain recently so we thought that a big snow storm might not be a welcome change for him. We were wrong.

We had a huge dump of snow this week. It snowed and snowed and snowed. In the end, it seems that we were in the bull's eye of the storm and got more snow than most surrounding areas. Our total seemed to be about 32".

This was the view from our bedroom at dawn on the day after the storm.

A couple of days before the storm, our Black Dog had started a new NSAID to help with the pain in his elbow and spine. However, we still thought that he might not want to play in the snow. I tentatively took him outside, planning to let him do what he wanted - which I expected might be standing around for a little while.

I was joyfully wrong! He wanted to run through the almost bottomless snow. I whooped.

When I encouraged him to take it easy, he ran instead. He dove into the snow a couple of times, ending up with snow stuck on his face.

Then, I told him that it was time to go inside. He tried to hide in the snow.
He has felt good all week since starting the new med. It makes us both so happy to see the bounce in his step and the sparkle in his eye.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Shyla Saturday - She's a Snow Dog

What a big snow storm we had. It made riding my fat bike on the trails behind our house impossible for now. But Shyla and I have gone snowshoeing every day.

We've had so much fun playing in the snow.

Shyla wildly loves the snow. She doesn't mind going completely under the snow and then popping back up for air.

Galloping through such deep snow looks like exhaustingly hard work. Shyla stops for a breather in the middle of the snow.

She waves goodbye to all of you for this week's Shyla Saturday.
Happy Shyla Saturday!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving and a Birthday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, again, I want to give thanks for Shyla. She just turned 8 years old. Happy Birthday my sweet girl.

She is my inspiration. She is courageous and lives every day with abandon. She is so loving, and she's become the glue that holds together the canine part of our family.

I'm greedy - I want many more years with her.
I am filled with gratitude for the time that we've had together so far.

Happy Birthday sweet Shyla.

And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I love doing this blog, and it is because of you

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Contrasts

From the warm and earthy tones of the desert...

To the really big snowstorm of yesterday...
Contrasts keep life interesting!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Mountain Lion Family with THREE big kittens

My trail camera recorded an astounding sight - a mother mountain lion with three kittens almost as big as her (October 2, 2019).
I had to pause and take a deep breath when I first saw this large family. That's a lot of cat, and they were out in the forest only slightly after we were out on our sunset hike. We weren't far from them. Wow. Thank goodness that they stick with non-human and non-dog prey.

I'm going to guess that these kittens are a year old or so. That mother has had to do so much hunting and very hard work to bring all three of them to the cusp of adulthood. She has to kill lots of prey every week to feed all of them. And, she has to somehow keep all those kittens in line - that's a lot of "cat herding". She is incredible! 

I thought that I might only glimpse that family once. But I was wrong. They visited a water hole a couple of weeks later. Around the water hole, the ground is always wet. In the video, it's hilarious to see the big and powerful cats shaking off their paws as if water is scary - I guess that getting wet wasn't on the agenda.

Check out the video if you have time. It's rare to get to see so many mountain lions together.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi has had, overall, a great week. He's been relatively mellow and friendly. Most days, the reduction in his anxiety since he started Paxil is obvious. Most importantly (ha, ha), he's become really good at waving to me!

The only not-so-good part of the week was that on Saturday evening, I could feel Hachi's anxiety ramping up. I don't know why he was stressed but his sharp uncontrollable barking was undeniably anxiety-related. We thought that he was more relaxed Sunday morning but then he went after R during a run. He might have been resource guarding something edible on the forest floor but it was hard to be sure. They were both on leash so Hachi was quickly pulled off of R. That scuffle sure was deflating to me.

Now he's back to being a mellow and nice dog. I wish that I knew why things changed for about 18 hours.


While we're waiting for his new meds to stabilize,  I've been working on simple counter-conditioning goals with Hachi  - teaching him to tolerate a coat and teaching him to be comfortable with us touching his front limbs (and eventually paws). I've spent the most time so far on the coat. He started out scared of even seeing the coat 6 weeks ago, and  he's now wearing it for very short time periods indoors without seeming scared. He's a dog who hates having things like coats or harnesses touching his body. We still have a distance to go with the coat but it feels like he may someday be capable of wearing one without being terrified.

That's good since it's sometimes very cold, even during our desert trips.

So, the vast majority of the past week was good. I'll chalk up the difficult 18 hours to him adapting to the new meds. It's hard being patient but this "little" guy is worth it.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - Adapting

Our Black Dog ran like the wind in the desert but only while playing with Shyla. It was an absolute joy to see.

Since we've been home, he's been perplexingly variable in whether he wants to run or even walk. He seems to be improving now but the odd part is that his ups and downs are not correlated with whether he's taking an NSAID or not. We are puzzled.

In the meantime, I've restarted nosework with him to brighten up the days when he doesn't want to run around outside. It's been amazingly fun. Although he hasn't done nosework with me in years, R remembers it! We are starting with basic nosework games to help him to sharpen his skills with easy stuff. Also, he needs to learn how to play the game with little or no vision (he could see back when we did nosework in the past).

I'm going to show a video of R doing nosework. We are doing a game where I have several boxes. Only one of them contains the target scent (birch). R needs to "alert" on that one by keeping his nose on it for long enough to tell me that it's the target box.

As you watch, the box with a piece of masking tape on top is the target box. Excuse my silly clothing - I'd just come inside from a snowy and cold bike ride! Here's the video.

You can see R's enthusiasm. He loves this game. I am so happy that I've found something that he loves to do even on days when his body hurts too much for running.

We are adapting and finding ways to keep R happy. Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Shyla Saturday

In everything that Shyla does, she puts her whole heart into it. When she howls, she arches her neck way back and puts all her energy into her howl.
Her enthusiasm is one of her traits that makes me love her even more. Back when she was consumed by fear, she sometimes couldn't shake her tendency to be meek. That's rare now - as you can see from her howling with all of her heart. Most of the time now, she lives with gusto and joy.

Happy Shyla Saturday.