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Monday, May 10, 2021

A menagerie walks through a pine forest clearing

At our old place, I spent a couple of decades learning the special places in the forests where the animals routinely visit. 

One such place is on the south side of a ridge where mountain lions usually scrape and leave their scent. For much of this winter and spring, no lions visited but many other species did. Bobcats dominated. They made me laugh when they obsessed over the tip-top of a bush that was suddenly within reach due to very deep snow. You'll see the bobcat rolling on that bush. 

The snow depth fluctuated so much that it's hard to tell that it's all the same view from the same cam but it is. Watch to the end for a puffy ending!

Check out the video!

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi's behavior this week has been all over the map. He seems super happy on our hikes. He's overjoyed to run like the wind with his sister in Lab Valley. They also have a great time exploring together. I love seeing them running or walking side-by-side as they enjoy all the scents in our valley.

In his training, he started to have an old issue this week. At times, he seemed unable to calm himself sufficiently to focus on any training. He barked in frustration over things that he can usually handle. For example, when we play the "Bucket Game", he is supposed to tell us that he's ready for us to handle him (e.g., paws or ears) by lying still while looking at a container full of treats. He gets a treat after we manipulate a paw or look in an ear. This week, he barked in frustration during the game to such an extent that we ended it.

He had this issue before almost a year ago, and relaxation exercises during the day helped immensely. However, with all of the chaos in our lives, I lost track of his relaxation mat so I stopped doing the relaxation exercises. This week, I finally refound his mat, and we've restarted his relaxation protocol. And, after just a few days, he's capable of doing the Bucket Game again without barking in frustration throughout it. Woo hoo!


Another snow storm has started that is predicted to dump another foot of snow on us. Our internet was down Sunday afternoon/evening due to the snow so this post is late. I'm so ready for the snow to end for the season but the pups were over-the-moon happy during a hike as the storm started They love it. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog had an impish side. He loved to be in sun puddles with his sister, and sometimes he'd invite her to play with a friendly paw to the forehead.

R knew how to teach Shyla to trust him. He used a combination of playfulness and love. His lessons were the start of a happy life for Shyla.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Snow, snow, snow. We've been having about one big storm per week over the past umpteen weeks. For most of this winter, I really enjoyed the snow. But, in my opinion, it is now time for springtime. Mother Nature does not agree. Another foot of snow is due in a few days.

Thank goodness for Shyla and Hachi. Their joyfulness about snow, no matter what month it is, makes me smile. It seems that almost all of my photos of Shyla this spring have been in snow!

Shyla seems very happy with being at Lab Valley. However, I've noticed her drinking more water than in the past. We have a blood test and urinalysis set up for her this coming week. Yesterday, we measured how much she drank, and it was 3000 ml, which puts her squarely in the "drinking too much water" category. She's been taking seizure medications for years (with great success in controlling her seizures). I hope that they haven't messed up her liver or kidney function. We will know more in a week or so.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Kitty, coyote, kitty, kitty

This clearing in a forest is a mountain lion favorite. You might remember it from when a lion visited it 2-3X per day while he devoured a carcass that he had cached nearby. There has never been quite that level of activity since then but it is a spot that lions and other carnivores visit regularly.

This video includes 6 months of visitors: bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. Not only do single male lions visit there but families do too! Be sure to watch to the end to see a mother lion with her two kittens play in the clearing.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thankful Thursday

Snow in May is pretty normal at our elevation in the Rockies, and it is a key source of moisture that helps us in the summer. However, every year, I am ready for spring by May. Fortunately, our pups make me smile my way through the May snow storms.

They played happily on the day of the latest storm.


And then we were gifted a bluebird day on the day after the storm.


For a little while, the snow stayed on the trees set against the azure sky. Amazing!

I am thankful, however, that the bluebirds will doubtless return very soon. They've "arrived" several times already but they retreat to lower elevations when we have snow storms. I'm ready to enjoy their kind of spring beauty!

I keep reminding myself that a snowy spring will lead to amazing wildflowers. I will be thankful for that!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A wildlife message center at the junction of two valleys

Down Labrador Valley from our house, a second valley joins in from the north. For wildlife, the meeting of two valleys is a bit like a major traffic intersection for us humans. They love to travel along valley floors because travel is easier than in rough terrain.

One species that is there frequently is moose. We have a mother and yearling calf pair who have been around all winter, and they pass through that intersection regularly. The other morning, they joined us for breakfast. Indeed, they were so close to our deck that I didn't need a zoom lens to take a photo of them!

And here was mom's glamour shot! She's a beauty.

This pair, and other moose, frequently go through the valley intersection where I have a cam. I first placed a cam at that intersection because bears passed through there a lot in the fall. However, bears sleep all winter long so other species dominate for the winter.

Check out the video of the animals who traveled past the cam. It included both herbivores and carnivores. The carnivores seemed obsessed with reading the messages from others as well as leaving their own!

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

After feeling like Hachi's progress was stuck for weeks, he now seems much more relaxed. It may be that we humans have been maxed out recently, moving back and forth multiple times per week and feeling completely exhausted.

As soon as we got to Lab Valley, we humans relaxed and so did Hachi. I'm sure that our mood affects him but I also think that the opportunity to be off-leash (while supervised) multiple times per day makes a huge difference to him.

On Sunday afternoon before another snow storm moved in, we had a mellow walk and then simply hung out in the meadow by the house. The two pups quietly explored the newly uncovered grass 45 minutes or so. There was no raucous playing while they both seemed to decompress from the recent stress.

Then, Hachi wanted to play but Shyla was reticent. So, Hachi did something that is pretty new to him. He lay down on his back to invite Shyla to play. If you think about it, it takes a lot of trust and confidence to assume such a helpless position. It worked.


Soon, they were really playing, with some chase and some wrestling.

They danced a bit too!

We are so hopeful that, during this break in frenetic activity, Hachi will zoom forward in terms of his behavior. When he is able to relax, he's a different dog. 

It's been very interesting listening to a Podcast called Cog-Dog Radio by Sarah Stremming. She is a trainer who handles very tough cases. One of her first recommendations for dogs like Hachi is to find someplace where it's safe for them to have off-leash time at least a couple of times per week. She says that many behavior issues are solved by this simple step. The hard part is finding such a place especially when your dog is reactive.

Even before I'd found her podcast, we'd come to realize that off-leash time made a huge different to Hachi. Due to an influx of people at our old place, that had become impossible. I'm so glad that we have a new place where it is absolutely fine!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Yesterday, we got word that the bulk of the work for this phase of construction was finished on our new place. There are still some things to do to totally finish it but none of them should be very noisy or disruptive. Through the process, we learned that there are some seemingly silly shortages due to the pandemic - interior doors, exterior doors, sconces, and appliances. So, those things will be dealt with by carpenters and electricians as they arrive.

In light of that news, we packed up a lot of stuff yesterday and moved to Lab Valley, hopefully for the long term (or until we need a break from the next phase of remodeling). In doing so, I found myself having huge pangs about our Black Dog. He lived and died at our old place, and that makes it harder to leave.

As I was packing, I ran across a white board that we used to keep track of his exercises in the months and years after his elbow replacement in 2016. To me, it showed the labor of love that keeping him moving was for us. We used it right up to the day that he died, and the day markers (e.g., "T" was Tuesday) just stopped.

In case you want to understand this crazy chart, one thing to know is that we named all of his exercise equipment. For example, "Penelope" was his inflatable peanut, "Wally" was his wobble board, and "Dunkin" was his inflatable very tippy donut. We did each exercise about every other day. In the months before his death, we reduced what we did each day because we could tell that exercise was getting harder.

You might enjoy watching a video of his routine. When I watched it, tears sprang to my eyes. I loved doing this stuff with him. He was so eager and happy even though some of it probably hurt his reconstructed left elbow.

I took this photo of our Black Dog on the day that I made the video of him doing his exercises. What a handsome and happy dog! We were so lucky to have him in our lives.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Shyla Saturday

The snowy weather, interspersed with sunny and warm days, continues. Shyla's joy in the snow has helped me to enjoy even late April snowy days.


Even on the gray days, Shyla happily forges ahead of me. The snow makes her so energetic.

At this time of year, the snow never lasts long. It rapidly melts in the warm sun. In Shyla's view, that means that we need play as much as we can before it melts. I also like to take photos of its beauty before it melts.

As I watch Shyla meet people on the trails, I am still filled with gratitude that she's become so outgoing. It is hard for me to remember how afraid she was as a young dog - because she is so utterly transformed now.

As the transformation was happening over years and years, I didn't always recognize each little step toward her being a more normal dog. Now that most people would say that she's very social and outgoing, I see the huge changes that happened so gradually. It makes me smile.

Happy Shyla Saturday. There's another foot of snow in the forecast so the snow photos are not ending yet. That makes Shyla so happy!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Nature and Feline Friday - Kitty love is in the air!

Close to human trails, there is a line of mountain lion scrapes that host myriad animals all year around. The scrapes are just barely hidden from view, and lots of animals, including cats, venture there even during the day.

This video covers the very snowy last two months. I'm sure that the deep snow is a lot of trouble for travel by wildlife but we will all benefit from it in the long run. You'll see the vast changes in snowpack throughout the two months. We've had lots of days like this one.

We have a pair of adult mountain lions together. If the successfully mated, the female will have kittens in May, which seems like a wonderful time of year to raise them. Mountain lions can have kittens at any time of year but there is a pulse of kittens born in springtime. 

Later in April, a female lion visits a scrape and caterwauls, which means that she is looking for a mate. Love is in the air!

Check out the short video!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the awe inspiring beauty around me.

I am also thankful for the online photography courses that I've been able to take during the pandemic. My full moon photo session did not work out this month. So, I pulled out a set of photos from an April full moon photo shoot a couple of years ago. At that time, I considered it to be a failure. 

But, now, thanks to my courses, I knew how to resuscitate the images. I had to combine two images to make this one. And THAT is something that I did not know how to do back then. I love learning new things!

There is so much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

It's still winter here.