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Friday, February 24, 2017

All Quiet in the Rockies

We just laid low yesterday. It was snowing like crazy, and all routes between town and home were closed so the Runner got stuck in town.

Shyla rested all day. On days when our steep mountain roads are closed, I just hope for no veterinary emergencies. My hopes were granted yesterday. Shyla had no more seizures, perhaps partly because I modified her pain medication regime. I suspected that one med might have made her more prone to seizures based on anecdotal evidence from others. I stopped that medicine, and she seemed to feel fine without it.

I went for a ride in the snow. It felt very odd not to spend outdoor time with either of our dogs!

After our crazy warm spell, the return of winter felt good. The trails were deserted again, unlike during our fake springtime. I love the quiet of winter - it's unlike any other time of year.

I feel sure that Shyla will be back to full speed leaping very soon! This photo was from before the latest snow. You can barely see that the forest still held some snow drifts but anyplace that got sun was dry. In fact, there had been a few smallish wildfires in the days before the snow.
When Shyla gets back to leaping, there may even be snow on the ground to cushion her landings!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Tooth Saga

Shyla spent yesterday at the hospital, having her molar extracted. Somehow, I let this event turn into a bigger deal than I should have. Based on my research, I didn't expect any options besides extraction. Then, there was suddenly the option of a root canal with a "cap". That option had the advantage of being less invasive and saving the tooth. The downside was that Shyla wouldn't be allowed to chew on bones or chew toys for the rest of her life for fear of breaking the tooth or the cap.

After much angst, we decided on the extraction.  While they did it, the vets realized that her upper and lower molars weren't correctly aligned. That might have been one reason underlying the broken tooth.

I don't know why I second-guessed our decision for the entire time that Shyla was in surgery but I did. I'm exhausted from all the second-guessing!

R will be very glad to have his little sister back home.

While Shyla was in the hospital, it was fascinating to see the change in R's behavior. Since Shyla joined our family years ago, R stopped alarm barking at visitors approaching the house. We've joked that he's "subcontracted the barking job" to Shyla. It seems to be true! While she was gone, he went back into watchdog mode for the first time in years.

Just R and I were home. His deep booming bark at anything moving in our clearing felt very protective. Thank you, R!
Unfortunately, when Shyla did get home, she had a seizure soon thereafter. We are hoping that the monster doesn't come back...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Few Words Wednesday - My Forest Friend

By getting out in the forest with my dog every morning, I get the honor of seeing all sorts of life.

Including this handsome guy.

I wonder if this was his arrival in our neck of the woods. I am not good at recognizing moose antlers but this guy's antlers look a little different so maybe not.

In any case, Shyla and I aren't having our normal morning outing this morning. She fractured a molar and is having it extracted. I miss her.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Rocky Mountain Traffic Jam

Have you ever been in a traffic jam that you liked? I have.

The elk move slowly across the road, often stopping to stare at the drivers.

They've been around a fair bit recently, and I enjoy watching these wild animals.

They seem to stare right back at me, all while chewing their cuds.

This cow elk did the same thing. She looked at me...

... and found me so boring that she started chewing her cud.

They usually let me watch for a while before they start to want to get away from me. I always stay in vehicle to watch them because elk are far less afraid of people in vehicles than out of them. As soon as they start to seem worried about me, I leave.

I think that our unseasonably warm weather is causing the elk to shed their coats early. I feel sure that we'll have more true winter weather so I hope that they hang onto some of their winter coats! And the moose too!
I'm still fighting the flu plus a migraine decided to join the fun and games today so I'm going to sign off now. I hope that you are all doing well.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Shyla's Nosework - Great Progress!

Shyla and I have continued our nosework training. Some of you may remember that I partly started this to help build her confidence.

Although I still get discouraged sometimes about her sensitivity, she has truly gained the confidence to work independently through nosework. One instructor suggested that I get rid of a leash for a while to build even more confidence.

Right now, we are working on "inaccessible hides" - which means that I put a small source of scent (a few q-tips in a container) in a place that prevents Shyla from getting her nose directly on the odor source.

She's doing great with these puzzles. I'm going to include a short video of her searching for: 1) A scent tube hidden above her reach on our rock chimney; 2) a scent hidden down below a big pile of wood so that she couldn't get down to the scent source; and 3) a scent hidden in a metal cage that was 2' wide.

In these "inaccessible hides", she needs to somehow point out where the scent source is without being able to touch it. For a high hide, she goes up on her hind legs and jumps toward it. For the wood pile hide, she acts excited with her nose above where the source is on the ground below the wood pile. For the metal cage, she "brackets" the hide, meaning that she goes back and forth with her nose, getting as close as she can from more than one side to show me where the hide is.

All of these "indications" have evolved naturally as she's done more and more of these inaccessible scent puzzles.

Here's the video. I hope that you enjoy it!

PS We've been dealing with the flu here. So far, my case is fairly mild but I'm still not at my normal energy level. I hope to get around to my favorite blogs soon! Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Silhouette Sunday

Yesterday's bad day was due to a very sick visitor who was diagnosed with a severe case of the flu. Today, I'm not feeling so good. I did get a flu vaccine last autumn but the doc said it doesn't completely cover the kind of flu that our visitor has.

So, let's enjoy a couple of Shyla Silhouettes and try to forget our worries. One with the moon...

And one aimed lower so that we can see the colorful clouds!
Have a good Sunday!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Daydream

We are not having a good day so I find myself wishing that I were in the desert - anywhere but right here. Being camped next to K's Rock would be a dream come true.

The world would be peaceful, quiet, and wonderful.

The red rock world around me would glow with the red of sunset.

If only we could leave right now, we'd be there in time for sunset.

And we'd see the stars spin around the North Star.
Well that was a wonderful dream. Now back to reality...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sensitive Shyla

Over the years that I've known Shyla, I keep thinking that she's going to become "normal" and be able to show her trusting and loving side to other people. She's now five years old, and that hasn't quite happened.

She has chosen a few people outside our family who she thinks are very trustworthy. She showers them with affection when she sees them. They can't believe that she's not so outgoing with everyone.

But, she demonstrated to me multiple times today that she operates from a state of assuming that strangers are scary until they prove otherwise. I won't lie - it makes me sad to see it. I guess that whatever happens to a puppy when they're very young isn't easily overridden. We didn't know Shyla until she was almost an adult.
But I'll just focus on who Shyla is with me, the Runner, and her chosen friends. She simply can't contain her affection when she sees those people. The other morning, she woke me up to a shower of kisses and the drumbeat of her tail pounding on the bed.

That's a happy dog.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Thankful Thursday

Today I feel thankful for our Labraduo. They add so much fun and warmth to our life.

I'm quite sure that I wouldn't get out in the forest as often if I didn't have eager companions. This leap was at sunrise. Somebody was full of energy!

This was after our morning mountain bike ride. Seeing them so cozy in a sun puddle made my heart sing.

And this outing was at sunset, with a recall race to spice things up.
Whether we're having fun with running, biking, snoozing, or training, I know that these two dogs make our life richer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Labraduo at Sunset

A few words - I remember many years ago when we had a different generation of dogs that I learned about the "golden hour" by taking photos of our Labratrio in this spot at sunset on Valentine's Day. So, I decided to recreate that with our current Labraduo.

I love seeing them together!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Moose are Everywhere!

In the past three years, we've gone from never having seen a moose in our neck of the woods to seeing them regularly.

As some of you remember, a moose literally charged into my world. When moose first arrived in our area, I was charged on three occasions. Other people were also charged, usually by a mother moose with a calf in tow.

The great news is that both the humans and the moose seem to have learned about each other. The moose seem to know where they're likely to see us humans and to avoid those spots. And, if they're in a "high traffic" trail area, they are wary but usually let people pass.

The local people, including me, have also learned how to coexist with moose. My "moose radar" is almost always active. When I'm with Shyla, I watch her body language closely because it is usually the first hint of a moose in the area. They like to stand perfectly still among the trees, and it's very hard for the human eye to pick them out.

This photo was from about a week ago when Shyla froze in her tracks, leading me to scan the area. I would have never picked out this moose and her calf without Shyla "telling me" that they were there.
Indeed, on one occasion when I was charged by a mother moose a few years ago, I never saw the moose before she started charging. I was pedaling along with Shyla nearby, and a moose came crashing out of the forest. Shyla hid behind me, and I yelled and screamed, scaring away the moose. I'm so glad that I've gotten a bit better, with Shyla's help, at knowing where they are and giving them a wide berth.

A trail camera caught a group of moose coming into our area recently. I believe that this was the mother moose.

I think that this was a young male moose, probably not her most recent calf.

And, this was her calf.

These three lingered in our area for a while, with the male sometimes near the mother-calf pair and sometimes not. When I saw them most recently, only the mother and calf were together. Mom is on the left and the calf is on the right. I was using a very long lens.

Despite my presence, the mother went to lie down a few steps away.

And her calf just stood around while I was present.

I went on my way, heading out to do a loop on my bike. Unfortunately, this mother-calf pair were occupying a trail intersection that I had to pass through to get home at the end of my ride. I hoped that maybe they'd moved before my homeward journey but they hadn't.

On my way home, I first saw the calf, lying in the snow.

Then, I spotted mom. Something about her face made me head off into the woods making a huge arc around them. She scared me with that look.
I think that it was her focus on me that scared me. In any case, I waded through knee-deep snow while pushing my bike to get out of her range, and I passed the pair unscathed.

It's become a pattern in our neighborhood that we tell all our local friends where we spotted moose so that they can be extra careful in that area. I'm not sure how useful it is because these animals can travel a long way quite fast when they want to!

For the moment, it seems that we humans and the moose have reached a state of coexistence. However, I truly believe that our wildlife officials should have educated the locals when the moose started moving into our area. They are an "introduced' species, meaning that they were never naturally here until some were transplanted from other states. It seems inevitable to me that the local people would not know how unpredictable moose are when they first ran into them in the forest or in their own yard.
Moose certainly have changed the forest. They are the only wildlife that don't flee from humans which sets up some interesting situations. Last week, a mother and calf decided to settle in on our driveway. They moved on before it became an issue. However, a neighbor had to hitchhike rather than use her own car because it was being licked by two moose!

Now that's an interesting excuse for being late to an appointment.

Monday, February 13, 2017

An Astounding Animal Athlete

This dog may look contemplative sometimes but she's happiest when she's in action. She and I share that trait. We both love the forest and enjoy a quiet moment of sitting still. However, ultimately, we both love to move through the forest as gracefully as we can.

After I decided to keep her away from all things that she could take flying leaps from to prevent injury, I discovered that there are far more leaping takeoff boards in the forest than I thought. She finds them and surprises me - like in this moment of flight. I believe that she didn't want to run through the bushes at the bottom of the photo so she flew over them.

This moment was during a recall. It looks innocuous enough but there were some shrubs that she didn't want to run through so she took off!

And she flew.
She is, quite simply, the most athletic dog who I've ever had the honor of riding with in the forest. The only reason why I can keep up with her is that she slows down for me!

I've been worrying about her joints because several of her close relatives have ruptured both of their ACL's. I'd hazard a guess that there's a hereditary factor in those injuries. So, I'm trying to slow Shyla down when it comes to flying leaps, and I'm researching how to strengthen her leg muscles to prevent such an injury. After teaching R all his rehab exercises, I feel ready to teach Shyla her very own strength program!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Black Dog Sunday

I had the honor of having both halves of the Labraduo on a bike ride with me yesterday. Unfortunately, neither the snow biking nor the photography conditions were ideal.

For the second half of last week, we suddenly had very high winds (gusts up to 95 mph) and extremely warm weather. That means that some places have lost their snow but the majority of our trail system is covered in a thick layer of mushy slush. It's almost impossible to ride a bike on that stuff so the Labraduo and I didn't make it very far during our trail ride.

During our ride, the sun didn't rise above the cloud bank to the east until quite late. Then, it popped in and out, depending on where the scattered clouds were. Sadly, that made photography tough too!

Last, but certainly not least, I almost couldn't write this post at all because I lost access to my photo library for a few hours due to a corrupted file. You probably can imagine my panic.  However, after reading about a million Lightroom advice web pages, I found a solution. (I do have backups of everything but none were solving the issue because a corrupted system file was the culprit). Thank goodness I solved it!

After all of that, I'm glad to have any photos to show you! Here's the Duo this morning in an area that lost all its snow in the past few days. I love seeing them run together! If it were May, I'd be rejoicing that we could see the ground and some green. However, this is so weird in February that I'm not happy about it at all. It's supposed to be winter in February!

R looked magnificent galloping on dry land! There was a time when we thought that we'd never see him run like this again. He looks so good that people keep asking if he's a puppy!

He's so funny - he has no respect for my personal space so he basically barrels me over as I photograph him on a recall. This was a last quick photo before I barely dodged him! What crazy ears he has!
I get such joy out of sharing a bike ride with our Black Dog that the Runner and I have occasionally been "switching dogs" for our forest outings. It's been really fun for all of us. I love spending time with our Black Dog and getting to see the fruits of all the time we've spent rehabbing his elbow!