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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog recently had a good eye doctor appointment. He has progressive glaucoma, which is why his left eye was removed almost exactly a year ago. His remaining eye is almost completely blind but, due to the Runner's twice daily application of eye drops, its internal pressure has stayed low. Low pressure means that it doesn't hurt so it doesn't need to be removed. That is great news. Just like human patients with glaucoma, R sees his ophthalmologist every few months to monitor the pressure in his eye.

His progressive blindness makes us sad but we are learning that R is very adaptable. Most of the time, you cannot tell that he is almost blind. He can do almost everything that he could do when he had full sight. He definitely doesn't mope about his blindness.

One thing that is noticeable is that he likes the soft light just before sunrise, just after sunset, and on cloudy days. I think that bright sunlight isn't comfortable for his eye.
Being in the wildflowers with him early in the morning was so sweet this summer. We were both content.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Shyla (The Super Dog) Saturday

Shyla is my right-hand dog. We share so many parts of life. Today, we searched for mountain lion scrapes (scent marks) together. She's amazing at finding them. I never taught her how to do it. Rather, with her keen sense of smell, she was curious about them from Day 1. Then, she observed my interest in them - and the rest is history. We make a great team. I know generally where to look, and she can pinpoint the locations of the scrapes.

There's another very useful behavior that I never formally taught her. As you know, she's my most frequent photo subject. These images are from that fantabulous mountainside of yellow flowers that we saw high in the Rockies just about two weeks ago. The sea of flowers was almost as tall as Shyla.

Often, when she's my subject, I call her to me for a galloping photo with her ears flying in the air.

Because she's Shyla the Super Dog, I don't have to physically lead her back to her starting place in order to try again (I never get it right the first time). Miraculously, over the years, she and I informally worked out a system where I say "go, go" after she runs to me. She knows that "go, go" means to go back to the same starting place and wait for instructions. She's incredible to work with, and I'm so spoiled by her.

Shyla and I have reached that sweet spot in life where we can almost read each other's minds. We can work together seamlessly, as long as we both have the same goal. I remember this phase of life with Angel K but, sadly, her life ended due to cancer soon after we reached it. I hope that Shyla and I have lots of years left together. She'll turn eight soon.
Happy Shyla Saturday. I love my girl.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Feline and Nature Friday

The bobcat family visited the same spot twice in a few days. They played, marked territory, and mom kept a close eye on the kittens.

The kittens love to play together  and do so in a friendly and fun way. One kitten is much smaller than the other. The smaller one loves to play as much as his sibling.

I did, however, spot one thing about the smaller one that gave me pause. That kitten's left eye doesn't shine in the invisible light of the camera. H'es the left one in the photo below, and you can see that his left eye looks black.
It's more obvious in the short video. I worry that it means that there's something wrong with that eye. Let's hope not.

I've been loving watching this family and I hope that they stay in the area for a while! I tend to see mother bobcats and their kittens well into the winter.

Check out the short video.

Many thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the nature blog hop and Comedy Plus for hosting the feline Friday blog hop!!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For good news, finally

Our family is thankful today because my Dad had a risky cancer surgery earlier this week. He came through it better than anyone expected. It may give him some more happy time on this Earth. He's a courageous and strong man to have chosen to have this surgery.

Hachi wants to shout our thanks from the mountaintop because we were all so very worried.
  Thanks to our friend Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wordless Wednesday

Just a few words today....

This image was from near the start of a long point-to-point ride at about 11,000' in the Colorado mountains. The trail disappeared into the distance beckoning me to hurry forward but I couldn't prevent myself from stopping to enjoy the view.

After pedaling for a couple of hours, I came out above treeline - my favorite place in the world.
Trails like this one mimic the wild and unpredictable journey of life. No one knows what is lurking around the next curve in the trail.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A Relaxed August Day for the Bear Family

One day in August, our bear family had a relaxed walk through the forest and then a swim. As they walked, Brownie climbed a tree. It was the same tree that Brownie earlier used as an ambush site to launch and landed on Blackie as he walked below it. It seems that Blackie learned from that ambush and did not walk below Brownie this time.

That evening, the family hit a local pond for a very mellow swim. Mom went in the water first.

Her peaceful swimming reminded me of a human taking a restorative swim at the end of a hot summer day.

As she exited the pond, you can see that Blackie had gone into the water with her. He was following at a big distance.

Here is Blackie just before he came out of the water.
It turned out that, around the second week of August, the family disappeared. (I still have lots of footage to share from before they departed). I believe that they headed to a different elevation on our mountain where they could find food. It's been a horrendous bear food year here - so many different forms of nutrition failed. Even the ants failed to produce enough larvae for the bears to even try to dig up ant hills.

I always feel a sense of disquiet when local bears decide to travel. There are roads and cars. There are homeowners who don't tolerate bears. There are so many risks that I can't list them all. I hope that we see this family again before they go into a den so that we can know that they are okay.

I compiled these clips into a short video. Enjoy!


Monday, September 16, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

This week was so much better for Hachi. We've returned to a routine that he knows and is comfortable with. We met with his behavioral vet. Over the next few weeks, we'll slowly adjust his meds - adding another short acting anti-anxiety drug and increasing his Prozac.

To be perfectly honest, I am getting a little tired of the "slow and gradual" approach but I understand why we must do it. Any drug that affects his brain can have paradoxical effects that are the opposite of what we are aiming for. So, slow and steady is the safest approach. I am trying to remain patient.

From when we first met Hachi, he's been leery of water. That's the complete opposite of our Labs who adore swimming like nothing else. During the first swimming outing that Hachi participated in, he got very carried away with the Labraduo's enthusiasm for leaping into the water. As Shyla took a leap, Hachi momentarily lost his mind and followed her.

He did an amazingly high leap.

He landed in the water, and he swam back to shore with Shyla watching over him. He swam more smoothly than any of our previous puppies on their first swims.
The problem was that he scared himself badly. The water must have totally shocked him. After that, he was terrified of the water. He never jumped into the water, swam, or even waded again all summer long! I feel badly for the little guy - he is so prone to fear that he can cannot enjoy a cool swim.

I've become completely convinced that 99% of his issues are caused by fear. He is afraid of so many things - and he often deals with his fear by behaving aggressively toward the Duo. We saw many examples of that while we were in the high mountains. If, for example, a stranger went by us who behaved in a way that scared Hachi, he responded with a cheap snarl at one of the other dogs. Seeing that time and time again told me that addressing his fears may solve his other issues.

I really hope that we can help him with his fear.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

I love my solo time with our Black Dog. This summer, I've tended to take him to the wildflowers to enjoy the summer glory with him.

Even at his age, he's a quirky high energy dog most of the time. During our time alone quietly in the flowers, something calms in him - his quirky habits stop and he is peaceful. He looks at me with a steadfast gaze, and I smile.
Those are the moments that I live for with each of our dogs - but it was our Black Dog who taught me about the preciousness of time with him alone.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Shyla Saturday - She Struts her Talent

Shyla has been my shining beacon this summer. She has come so very far, and it makes me smile to see her be confident. She can make me smile when almost nothing else can.

She is the undisputed pack leader when it comes to all things athletic. She is absolutely crazy about swimming and retrieving from water. She knows that she's the best at it, and she struts her talent.
When I first met her, I could not imagine Shyla ever being confident about anything. That's why it's so gratifying and astonishing to watch her retrieving from water. Her first owner thought that Shyla was "useless" when it came to retrieving, which is part of why Shyla was the forgotten puppy who languished, not even learning to be house trained by the time she was 9 months old.

It's hard to believe that this is the same dog. Just look at her fly through the air with full focus on the ball that she's retrieving.

I love our Shyla more than words can express. Thanks for the smiles when I need them most, Shyla.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tiny the Black Bear is Back

You may remember that Tiny the Biggest Black Bear was ailing last spring. He hurt his right hind leg in the summer of 2018, and then he re-injured it soon after coming out of his den in 2019. He quit mating season early and headed someplace else to fatten up. Here was the last sighting of him in early summer.

I get emotionally attached to animals like him who I've followed for so many years. I didn't say it here but I feared that we'd never see him again. I was wrong. He showed up back in his stomping grounds about a month ago.

He marked a tree while sitting down, just like he was doing back in the spring. He's as tall as "normal" bears even when sitting on his rump. By sitting, he doesn't have to weight his bad limb as he marks a tree. I love his tree-marking dance moves, even when he's sitting.
Back in June I felt that he'd have a decent chance of recovering over this coming winter if he survived the summer and fall. The greatest danger to him now is going close to human houses to get "easy" food since he probably doesn't want to walk too far.

Let's all hope that he makes it into a den safely. Then, we may see a healed Tiny next spring. I will be thinking of him... and hoping that maybe we'll see him once more before he goes into a den. However, over the years, he's tended to disappear for the winter in August so we may not see him again this year.

Check out the short video of him.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For the beauty along the path of life

I love mountain trails. I love pedaling my mountain bike along them and soaking up the beauty along them.

I tend to think of those trails as a metaphor for every single person's life. We know where our life path will end - because it ends the same for everyone. But, there's stunning beauty along the way, and, to be happy, I need to take the time to revel in that beauty.

In this photo, a huge storm was sitting on the horizon, complete with dark clouds, rumbles of thunder, and hail (which pummeled me later). However, I still noticed the brilliant yellow flowers lining the trail. I knew that I'd face the storm ahead sooner or later but I stopped to enjoy the flowers along the way.
I think that reveling in the flowers despite the looming storm is a metaphor for my life that will guide me for a long time.

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the beauty of life.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Our Bobcat Family

You might remember the bobcat family who we glimpsed earlier this summer as the mother moved the kittens from one den to another. Now, the kittens are out and about with mom all the time.

The family visited a dried up water hole. Although we got tons of moisture in the winter and early in the summer, it still dried up very early, probably because it will take more than one year to recover from our drought.

Mom did something that confused me at first. It looked like she was eating grass but, as far as I know, cats don't do that. Then, I realized that she might be licking water droplets from the tall grass. That makes sense, especially if she came to this water hole hoping for a drink.

The kittens seemed curious about what she was doing and crowded next to her.

I put the trail camera clips together into a short video. I hope that you enjoy it!

The Hachi Chronicle

It hasn't been smooth sailing with Hachi recently. He seems to be becoming more fearful, which leads him to behave badly. We've heard snarls and growls from him, directed toward the Labraduo. It's been an unsettled phase in terms of our pack, including lots of time in the LabMobile in the high mountains (more about our management strategies for that in a future post) and my dad's cancer. I have no doubt that our worries about my dad affect Hachi so I'm trying not to focus too much on the setbacks.

In contrast to his behavior toward the Labraduo, Hachi seems even warmer and more affectionate with us humans. He wags his whole body when one of us returns home. And (drum roll, please), he finally lets us put a harness on him without acting terrified. We've been using counterconditioning to teach him not to be afraid of his harness. Hachi is finally over that fear.
The yellow flowers were blooming wildly on mountainsides in the high mountains. Believe it or not, snowfields were still melting there, and spring flowers sprouted in their wake, even though it was August. What a display!

You can see the sweetness in his eyes. That shows me that we have lots of reasons to hope for more progress.