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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For the Bonds Among Us

I am so filled with gratitude for the relationships between our dogs. Hachi and Shyla love to play chase.

In the desert...

In the mountain snow...
Play makes both of them so happy. Their bond is strong.

As for Shyla and R, I cannot count how many times I've found these two snuggled together in the afternoon. The hard part is getting my camera out without disturbing them.

On sunny days, the snuggling is often in a sun puddle.
Our pack might not be perfect but there's joy in it for every one of us.

Wordless Wednesday

With winter weather bearing down on us, I want to look back at autumn in the desert.
Looking down toward the mouth of a canyon with brilliant autumn colors
Through a tunnel in a boulder
My girl

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mountain Lion Courtship

The mountain lions have been coming through our neck of the woods at a very fast rate. That's not too unusual for this time of year.

What is unusual is recording footage of courtship between two mountain lions. Our biggest Tom Cat was in a usual haunt where he marks his territory. But, he was not alone. A second cat was following him. She was smaller and seemed to pursue him.

She walked low to the ground and rubbed her body against his. He'd walk away, and she'd follow. She made cat snarling noises that I've never heard in our forest before. I believe that this is mountain lion courtship.

At the first site where I have footage of them together, she crawled under him. He almost stumbled as he tried to do his scent marking around her.

As he marked at another site, she laid down next to him.
I have a short video of the two of them. Be sure to have your sound ON. The noises made by them are priceless. This is some of the coolest footage that I've ever recorded.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle - Very Hopeful

This was Hachi's best week in a very long time. We stopped giving him doggy Prozac (fluoxetine) about 10 days ago. Soon thereafter, we started a low dose of a new med, Paxil. Almost immediately, his aggressive behaviors ceased. I really mean that there have been none in the past 10 days which is jaw-dropping to me.

He's acting very friendly toward Shyla. He has even solicited play with R while out on walks. He's asking to interact with some new people.

It feels as if it's the first real leap forward in a long time.
We are hopeful. We love our "little" guy.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog had some painful days in the desert. I guess that the slowing down comes with being twelve years old. Despite knowing that, it still hurts my heart when our Black Dog's usual sparkle is not at full strength.

One thing that brought us joy was to see R's absolute crazy happiness when he played with me and Shyla on Shyla's Mesa. We've played on that flat-topped high point many times over the years. When we first arrived at the nearby campsite, I thought that there was no chance that R would want to participate in play on the mesa. But I was wrong. I let him decide, and his choice was play!

He ran with all his heart as Shyla chased him.

His running was as beautiful as ever. My eyes filled with tears a few times. I love our Black Dog so much. I want him to be able to run forever.

At the end of one play session, I wanted to get a photo of the Duo. They decided to serenade me as I clicked the shutter.
It was a hilarious end to a fun morning on Shyla's Mesa!

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Shyla Saturday - Growing up into a Big Sister

When Hachi joined our pack, I never could have imagined the direction of this journey. I especially would not have imagined that Shyla would become his main playmate and guiding paw. Our most important criterion when we considered adding a puppy was that the puppy not be too domineering or pushy for Shyla. Shyla is still afraid of many dogs who have those characteristics.

Now, although Hachi is a strong-willed dog, Shyla is Hachi's best dog friend. She revels in playing with him.

I feel as if she keeps Hachi's stress levels down with their amazing play.

Tongue flicks, like they did in synchrony in this photo, are usually a sign of stress. Perhaps these two are so close because the world scares both of them to some extent.

But, they can both forget about their worries through play.

If you had told me this story seven years ago when Shyla was wracked with fear, I would not have believed it. But she is a different dog - one who has grown into being a big sister.
Life is so unpredictable. In this case, it has been unpredictable in a great way!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Full Moon Setting over Snowy Mountains - Nature Friday

We had a full moon this week. I have realized that I love seeing the full moon set to our west because it sets over the snowy mountains. The downside to this is that I have to wake up very early, when it's still pitch black outside. Then, I have to go out into the frigid winter air and pedal through the dark forest to get to a lookout point.

On the morning that the full moon set here, moose were seemingly everywhere in the forest. As I pedaled through a meadow, I heard some rustling. I pointed my head lamp toward the sound, and a bull moose was just waking up and getting to his feet. I was far enough away that I just pedaled harder to get past him safely.

When I arrived at the lookout point, I was overjoyed to see that the western horizon wasn't too cloudy. I've gone through this routine in past months only to find that the moon was totally obscured by clouds.

However, the moon was already closer falling behind the mountains than I expected because it was setting over a very tall mountain. I rushed to pull out my tripod and set up my camera.  I quickly took two exposures so that I could have both the mountains and the moon properly exposed.

It worked! It was such a glorious sight. The world was completely quiet, without even a whisper of the wind. And the one thin cloud near the horizon lit up gorgeously from the moonlight.
It was so worth running the "moose gauntlet" to see this sight.

It was over way too fast with the moon hidden below the mountains but its glow lingering.

I packed up my gear, and I headed home to pick up Shyla for a ride together. I spotted the brilliant purple hue coming from the east. When this color started appearing at dawn and dusk months ago, we learned that it was due to volcanic particles in the atmosphere, all the way from a volcano in Russia. I love the color.
It was well worth getting up so early and running that Moose Gauntlet.

Thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday Blog Hop!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thankful Thursday

Life has continued to have some unwelcome twists and turns, with my dad still struggling to recover from cancer treatment and surgery.

At times like these, I feel such gratitude for a friend like Shyla. She is such a sweet soul, so attuned to being loving toward the people around her. She is joyful about each day, trying to have as much fun and find as much contentment as she can.

Her joy is infectious. When I see her strike a pose like this one on a mesa in the desert, I have to smile along with her.
I don't know how I got so lucky as to have Shyla in my life. But, I do know that my gratitude is endless.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Autumn to Winter

From this in the Utah Desert:

To this at home:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Mountain Lion Family Checks out a Scent Post (9/29/19)

We have several mountain lion families passing through our neck of the woods regularly. Early one morning this fall, a mother cat led her two kittens along a forest path. They passed a spot where male mountain lions scent mark, and the kittens were transfixed.

Mom was less curious about the scent. It was likely from a cat who she knew. So, she guarded her kittens as they sniffed.

The family spent a fair bit of time at this spot but their actions, as recorded by my cam, were a bit confusing. All three of them exited left after the initial sniffing. Then, one came back but startled -and leaped straight up the hill on the far right of the photo, knocking a big ball of dirt down the hill. Then, another one came into the picture, and carefully sniffed that ball of dirt before following the first cat. While all that was going on, a kitten was walking up the hill in the background.

Whew, a busy family!

Then, a short time later, a single family member showed up a bit to the west. I'm guessing that the kittens had been left someplace to wait while mom headed off to scout for prey.

She stopped briefly to groom and then look toward my camera. She's a beauty.
I am forever astounded by the responsibilities of a mother mountain lion. She must kill enough prey to feed the entire family. With how big kittens become very fast, that's a tall order!

I made a short Video of the family's escapades. I hope that you enjoy it.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

The Hachi journey has had some ups and downs recently. Although many aspects of Hachi's life are positive - like his attitude toward us humans and even strangers - we think that his doggy prozac ("Reconcile" or generically known as "fluoxetine") was making him have more aggressive episodes toward R. It is dumbfounding that Hachi seems to get along with almost everyone pretty well, except for the being who we'd most like him to get along with - R.

So, we have a bump in the road as we take him off of Reconcile and then will start him on a new anti-anxiety med - Paxil. So far, the transition has indeed been difficult as Hachi seems unable to relax during the "wash-out" phase between meds. On the upside, he already seems more peaceful toward R as the old drug leaves his system. As always, it will be a slow transition.

Hachi has learned so many new behaviors with me, many of which make him a great photographic subject. I've taught him the game where he sprints past me so that I can capture his silhouette. (Our dusks and dawns were purplish in Utah!). He is a beautiful runner.

He absolutely adores having my full attention  so he puts every last ounce of energy into each game.

Another very positive thing is Hachi's relationship with Shyla. He loves kissing her.
Despite the drug transition, I am feeling pretty positive about the outlook. Every "failure" (like the Reconcile drug) is perhaps getting us closer to the one that will work. Plus, my love for Hachi grows every day. He's a sweetie.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - R and Me

R wasn't feeling great for part of our time in the desert. He seemed sore and wasn't enthusiastic about walking or running. But, when I spent some solo time with him at dusk, he insisted on doing tricks, like taking a bow.

He looked at me quizzically at times from the perch where multiple generations of our dogs have hung out. I wondered what he was thinking. Was he thinking of his sister K who loved lying there? Or was he wondering how to get the treats out of my pocket? I'm betting on thoughts of treats but R surprises me all the time. He's a sensitive dog.

As the dusk light became soft and reddish, he realized that it was tine for dinner. He looked at me to ask permission to go get his dinner inside the LabMobile.
In case you're concerned, he perked up later in the trip when we started giving him anti-inflammatory meds. We were thrilled to see the spring in his step again!

After he headed into the LabMobile for dinner, K's Rock glowed in the dusk light.
I cannot imagine a more perfect place to spend time with our Black Dog.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Shyla Saturday - A Slickrock Edition

Shyla and I have so much fun out on the slickrock. She seems to love running fast on the sandstone, and I love watching her amazing athleticism.

As we wandered the slickrock, we came upon a small boulder, and she seemed convinced that she needed to take a bow on top of it. It was almost sunset, and I loved seeing her shadow behind her.

We both love the quiet time of sunset. The sun falls silently toward the horizon. Just before it disappears, it feels as time stands still. The world glows reddish in the light of the setting sun. Shyla and I sit quietly, and I know how lucky I am to have her as my best friend.
The journey from fearful dog to almost-normal dog was long and difficult but it is one of the most rewarding journeys imaginable. I love this girl.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Nature Friday - A Second Autumn

One of my favorite things to do is to visit the desert just after our autumn at home has ended. We did that, and it was glorious, as Shyla is shouting into the purple sky.

Yellow flowers keep blooming until late in the desert, as you can see closest to the camera below. However, the cottonwood trees are even more spectacular. They are further away, at the base of the rock cliff.

It isn't easy to visit the cottonwoods on foot because it's bad to walk on the fragile desert floor. However, I found a few brilliant golden ones that I could get to easily.
By visiting the Utah desert, we can keep autumn going for a while longer.

Thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop.