The mountain lion population wows me with their daytime appearances and fascinating behavior. This was a spot where the "main Tom" had marked about five days later. This thin female sniffed his pee-mail next to a human trail around noon one day.
Then, she opened her mouth wide to better sample the pheromones. This is called the Flehmen response.
A similar series of events led to this female adopting a graceful pose as she sampled air.
Then, she looked toward the camera before departing.
So many people think that mountain lions live someplace far away or really deep in the forest. They don't. Rather, they are right here among us living out their lives. In this time of crowds descending upon previously quiet trail areas, it is important that people think about their actions for the sake of the wildlife. Why not stick with well-established human hiking areas so that the wildlife can continue to eke out their existence in the quieter areas?
Check out the video of these mountain lions who live in our midst. During this pandemic, the pressure by people upon them has escalated dramatically. Let's hope that there's still enough room for them to flourish.
Our Tuesday included a trip to the emergency vet for Shyla due to relentless vomiting. We discovered that she ingested some bone shards probably from an old carcass in the forest (she occasionally sneaks off to these for brief chews during our bike rides). The short story is that the vet thinks that they will pass through her. She seems much better now after the vet gave her some meds to calm her tummy.
Hachi loves to run more than anything. He has the exuberance of the young dog who he is. Combining running with playing with his sister makes him so happy.
I think that our move to a much bigger plot of land will make the most difference to Hachi. We'll be able to take him and Shyla for off-leash walks every day through peaceful meadows and forest. Hachi will be able to run in circles around us as much as he wants to.
I think that being able to play with Shyla outdoors every day will make Hachi an even happier dog. I've come to strongly believe in the power of play for dogs with serious fears. Since we humans started playing with him daily, he has become so much more light-hearted than he ever was before. He wakes up playful, "ambushing" us to ask for play first thing in the morning. Just recently, he's started doing the same thing around mid-afternoon. It's incredible to feel the change in him.
Our Black Dog is always up for a micro-adventure. One morning this week, I invited him outside in the morning - before my bike ride with Shyla. R was thrilled to do it although Shyla almost had apoplexy over her time being pushed later.
The flowers in the meadow have faded but some in the shade near our house are still going wild. R and I checked them out, and he seemed utterly content to relax next to them.
CBD oil is continuing to work its magic. I think that the reduction in pain has brought a lightness to R that hasn't been there in a while.
Even though his eye cannot see, it can still sparkle with happiness. I most often see that sparkle when I get home after being out. He perks up, "looks" right at me, and then we talk about how our days are going. His days seem joyful. He's naturally such a happy guy.
I've known Shyla for almost eight years now. We've been through so much together. Her fearfulness has taught me to be more empathetic about fears that I don't understand and prepared me for the Hachi tsunami. I've learned to look at situations from her viewpoint so that I can gain a glimmer of insight into her fears.
She started on an anti-anxiety med last January. With the vet's help, we very gradually increased her dose. By April, the dose was reasonably high, and we were not sure whether it was making a meaningful difference. We took a break from giving it to her (with our vet's guidance because it's not okay to stop a med like this cold turkey).
Well, the verdict is that it was making a big difference. When she came off of it, it was obvious to me that her fear of strangers and separation anxiety escalated. So, she has restarted the med, and she is happier.
I'm so glad that we can help her with her persistent worries. I actually wish that we'd tried a med like this for her eight years ago. It's been quite a journey teaching her to live in this crazy world.
The journey that we've traveled together has made our bond even stronger. It hasn't always been easy but I've always known that it was worth it.
Thanks so much for all of your kind comments yesterday. It's scary to make a leap like this one but I think that it will be a good choice. As you know, I am very attached to the wildlife who I follow. I will keep following the ones who I know so well, and I feel confident that I'll get to know new animals at our new place. It's actually better wildlife habitat than here but it will take time for me to learn where the animals reside.
Our mountain lions are awing me. For reasons that aren't clear to me, they are coming closer and closer to my trail cams to mark. Then, other lions want to sniff their markings so they come close too.
I usually set up my cams 15-20' from where I expect that the animals will appear. They are marking within a few feet of the cams (or 1' in one case).
It is really fun to see them so closeup. I think that this is one of our Toms.
He was close enough that we can see his drool!
Check out the video if you have time. It's the only time that you ever want to see mountain lions so close!
The pandemic has accelerated change in so many aspects of life - including in the forest near our house. It is hard to find times of day when it's okay to have dogs off-leash because there are people everywhere on the land. Because I'm out early with Shyla and she's such a meek being, she has the best chance of off-leash time.
While nature itself hasn't changed here, the impact of humans on our world has escalated dramatically. Twenty years ago, this spot was paradise. We could wander out into the nearby meadow and peacefully hike without running into anyone except perhaps an elk. Road noise was minimal - we never noticed it on our dusty dirt road. People who chose to live here did so for quiet and nature. So much has changed.
So, we had a talk back in May on our wedding anniversary, and we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our marriage someplace quieter and closer to nature. Amazingly, we found the right place in an online listing the very next day - making me feel as if it was destiny. We are "under contract" for a large plot of land (and a house) about 40 minutes to the north of here - and I'm starting to believe that the purchase is actually going to close (it's taking forever!). It is a place where even Hachi can have off-leash time every single day.
I never thought that we would leave this spot that we've loved so much. A piece of me is very sad about it - and especially about the friends who will no longer live within walking distance. However, the place has changed around us (and against our will) while we've tried to ignore the noise and "crowds". Inertia isn't a good enough reason to stay. So we are embarking on our next grand adventure.
And, our new home will be close enough that I can continue to keep tabs on the animals who I know so well. That's very important to me.
I am thankful that we've found the courage to do this. Of course, the deal still has to close, and something could go wrong. But, no matter what, it's time for a new adventure.
On a hot summer day, I love watching trail cam videos of beautiful bears bathing almost as much as they love taking their baths.
The most popular bathing hole for bears has two marking trees near it. The bears tend to dance at these trees either on their way to the water or as they leave. In this video, I included the footage of them at the trees as well as during their baths.
My favorite parts include them blowing bubbles when their noses are blow the water and how they "clean" their heads with their paws as they bathe.
Whenever we can, we let Hachi and Shyla play together. They seize each day that they have a chance to play.
One evening when they played in a grassy meadow, Hachi started sneezing violently, one sneeze after another. My heart fell because I thought that it was a foxtail up his nose. That's a serious matter that can require a rapid visit to the vet.
As he continued sneezing, my mind started racing ahead. We'd have to take him to the emergency vet, muzzle him, and then he'd have to go into the hospital by himself (due to Covid precautions). My mind then visualized how terribly the vet visit would affect him especially without us being by his side. The emotional trauma would probably set us back months in his behavioral rehab. I then started fervently sending up requests to the heavens that he'd sneeze out the foxtail without needing to go to the vet.
As he kept on sneezing, I started wondering if there are things that can be done to help a dog like Hachi not be so completely terrified by a vet visit and then suffer for months afterwards. A few days later, when we talked with our behavioral vet, she said that yes, there's a protocol for pups as fearful as Hachi. It involves immediate complete sedation with specific amnesiac drugs before they even examine him at the vet hospital. She said that she'd write us a letter to take with us on an emergency visit to the vet to increase the chances that the ER vet would actually do it.
I was glad that there is a protocol for a dog like Hachi. I was a little surprised that I had to ask for instructions (rather than them being offered a long time ago when the degree of his fear became obvious). Regardless, I'm glad that there's an option.
On that evening walk, Hachi sneezed out whatever was in his nose so it didn't end with a fast trip to the vet. Instead, he got to play some more with Shyla. Phew - that was a close call.
I know that someday, he'll need a visit to the ER vet, and I'm glad that we'll be a little bit more prepared so that he doesn't have repercussions for months afterwards.
It was a good week for our Black Dog. He enjoyed lots of runs and hikes. He barks with happiness or anticipation of good things a couple of times each day.
Much of this is thanks to CBD oil which has put the spring back in his step. We are learning that he needs it within a few hours of a run or hike for it to help. By fine tuning the timing of it, he's been happy about most outings.
One night when we went to see Comet Neowise, we brought our Black Dog. It was so wonderful that he wanted to do the short hike with us to see it. The Runner brought a La Fuma chair to recline while watching. Our Black Dog climbed up onto it, lying on the Runner's lap to enjoy the night.
The only hitch was when law enforcement was trying to make all the comet-watchers leave. We humans were trying to stay below the radar. Our Black Dog heard all the activity and started barking. Fortunately, no one noticed before we quieted him down. He's not a "stealth" dog!