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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

I won't lie - it hasn't been an easy time for our Black Dog or for those of us who love him. It seems as if he has no vision. He's very tentative about moving around inside the house. We are teaching him some cues like "step up" and "step down" at stairs, and "follow me" while we walk loudly just ahead of him. He is learning those words fast.

We still find him stuck in corners of the house, which breaks my heart. Yet, he doesn't want to be constrained to stay in a single room by a gate (most "lost" incidents are happening as he moves between rooms). Constraining him often brings howls of protest so we give his freedom back.

Our Black Dog visited the veterinary ophthalmologist this week, and the pressure in his eye has tripled recently. It's not quite in the danger zone where the eye would need to be removed. However, the vet is worried that the pressure may be fluctuating so R will be having regular ocular pressure checks.

Why, oh why, does one of the sweetest dogs in the world have to endure so much? I wish that I could make it different for our Black Dog. All that I can do is make his life as fun and happy as possible, within whatever constraints he is facing. And we promise to do that.

We are continuing to play nosework games, and R absolutely goes wild for them. When he's searching for the scent, he doesn't care if he walks into walls (but oddly, it's infrequent). When he's doing a nosework search, I feel convinced that he's going to adapt to total blindness.

Shyla has been especially affectionate with our Black Dog. When I get home in the afternoon, they are often snuggled together. They melt my heart.
Happy Black Dog Sunday. We will have fun this week, even if the type of fun is a bit different than in our Black Dog's past.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Shyla is my guardian.  Although I rarely show them here, I have been taking a lot of photographs that are not of dogs. I know - shocking!

This is a favorite view along our route - it gives a glimpse of the Divide off in the distance. It is replete with wildlife so it pays to stay alert here.

Shyla always has her eye on me. I don't even need to ask her to do it. Here, she sat like a guard next to my backpack while I took photos.

After passing through that meadow, we usually return to the forest, where the pine bark glows in the early morning sunshine.

I do love the beauty of the forest but none of it would mean as much without Shyla by my side.
Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Nature Friday - Magpies and crows vs. Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagles and the corvids (magpies and crows) both wanted the elk carcass to themselves. When an eagle was on the carcass, the magpies would get upset if they couldn't nibble along side him. You can imagine that one whack by an eagle wing or tail would flatten the smaller birds.
So, the magpies started pulling on the tail feathers of the eagle, which seemed to upset him a great deal. Sometimes, he'd actually fly away, leaving the magpies to eat in peace.

The crows also got in on the act. They'd go behind the eagle but the video didn't give a clear view of exactly what they did back there. Nonetheless, the eagle would get upset, flapping his wings and causing them to scatter.

Check out the video if you have time. I found the clips to be fascinating. I have a whole new respect for magpies and crows.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thankful Thursday

Life isn't easy, as we all know. I suspect that many people are like me - they embrace their favorite part of life as a way of coping less easy parts of life.

I make sure that I don't miss my mornings with Shyla. They recharge my energy and optimism so that I can do my best with other, more difficult things, for the rest of the day.

I took this photo this morning, just as the rising sun touched our neck of the woods and Shyla's beautiful face.
Thanks for putting up with me, Shyla.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Almost Wordless Wednesday - The Lion Moon Sets over the Mountains

This month's full moon was obscured by clouds when it rose and set for two days in a row. I decided to try once more to photograph it as it set over our mountains after the official full moon had passed. As Shyla and I pedaled out of our clearing early in the morning of that day, I was certain that the moon wouldn't be visible because I could see the pinkish glow of a cloud bank over the Continental Divide.

But, as long as we were up early and out on the trails, it seemed worth taking a look. My studded tires crunched on the hard pack snow as we made steady progress toward my favorite lookout point. We crested the ridge and coasted downhill toward the exposed western view.

As the moon came into view, I gasped and said "wow"! I didn't have much time to set up my tripod and my camera before the moon set below the clouds. Meanwhile, I was also supervising Shyla so she stayed very close (I worry about wildlife early in the morning).

I managed to get everything set up while the moon was still barely above the orange-pink cloud bank.
And, it was worth keeping Shyla close as we watched the beautiful moonset. My trail cam showed a mountain lion was in our neck of the woods as I photographed the moon. I know that this full moon was officially called the "Wolf Moon" but I'm calling it the "Lion Moon".

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Pair of Golden Eagles at an Elk Carcass

Sometime last week, a cow elk was killed in the forest nearby. When I find a carcass like this one, my first reaction is feeling sad for the beautiful animal that is dead. I think about whether she had offspring and how the death happened.

My melancholy is always helped by realizing how much life will come from the dead animal, especially in the middle of the winter. The body becomes a hub for scavengers, who seem to see it as a gift from the heavens. Within a week, the carcass will be down to bare bones. Nothing is wasted.

This time, I felt very fortunate that a pair of Golden Eagles fed on the body. These are magnificent birds. They weight up to 15 lbs, and their wingspans are around 6-7'!

Here is one standing on the elk carcass. The rib cage of the elk looks small by comparison to the eagle.

I've seen single Golden Eagles at elk carcasses near here before but I have never seen two Golden Eagles! In this photo, a second Eagle had just descended from the sky almost on top of the one who was feeding there. I know that it's hard to tell that there are two - but it will be obvious in the video.

When I saw two Golden Eagles, I jumped to the conclusion that they were a mated pair but, as you'll see, they didn't behave as cooperatively as you might expect.

Check out the video if you have time!


Monday, January 13, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

It's been a good couple of weeks for Hachi, despite him having to cope with the obliteration of our normal routine due to the flu. Things are very slowly returning toward normal.

We finished up our rehabilitative play course, and I learned so much. Hachi loves to play and so do I. It does seem to "lighten" Hachi's attitude toward unexpected happenings so he can think.

Daily play will stay a part of our lives, and I bet that it makes a big difference for Hachi over time.

The only "not-so-good" aspect of the past couple of weeks has been that R has accidentally wandered straight into the side of Hachi's ex pen a couple of times. It's totally due to his blindness. R gets flustered, and Hachi gets scared. I think that we've mostly solved it with a guiding runner carpet to lead R past the ex pen.

This morning, Hachi went with me for a sunrise fat bike ride. It was super cold and windy but we played a bit. Hachi glows so brightly in the sunrise light!

I had to keep him moving so that he didn't get too cold (meanwhile my fingers were turning into blocks of ice).


He's a really fun and cooperative guy. He was somewhat scared because it was so new to him. He isn't used to being out with me at sunrise. I hope that we can keep doing this occasionally so that it becomes more relaxed for him.
I am feeling quite hopeful for our Hachi. In general, I think that he's feeling a bit less worried about life.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Winter! It hasn't snowed much in the past week but I wanted to share a favorite photo of our Black Dog taken late last spring. I love seeing him running with his sister.

This week has been lower key for our Black Dog. He is still grappling with the decline in his vision. We are learning to help him around the house. We are seeing the patterns in where and when he seems to get lost so we can anticipate it. We are working on placing guides like carpet runners for him to help him find his routes.

I am continuing to play games with R that I know that he loves. He's been doing his "chair crawling game" every few days, and I've been setting up nosework searches for him.

I videoed one of the nosework searches for you to see. In it, the metal tin with birch oil in it is stuck to the propane tank. The search shows how R's lack of vision forces him to use his nose, even when he's within a foot of the source. When Shyla did this same search, she followed her nose until she was close to the tin, and then she used her eyes to finish the search.

I think that nosework will be a big part of R's life. It really makes him happy! And that makes me happy!

In general, R has an exuberance for life that this latest hurdle has not dimmed at all.

Here is the video of R's nosework search.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Silhouette Shyla on Saturday

One dawn back before this dastardly flu, we stepped out the door to the very first hint of magenta sky. I pedaled so hard with Shyla by my side to make it up above the forest for the pink and purple part of the sunrise. It was so worth it!
For me, seeing the gracefulness of the canine form with Nature's sunrise painting as the background is sublime.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sunrise in January

January is a month of beautiful sunrises.

Even after the sun rays kiss the world, it is still so cold.
In my mind, the blue in the last photo shows how cold it is. But, the warm hue of Shyla shows her big heart warming everyone around her.

Thanks again for all the well wishes. We both made strides forward yesterday although there is still a long way to go. Our house is a cacophony of coughing. For me, I really need to be able to return to my normal routine so that my spine stops hurting so much. Being sedentary is awful for it. We must be getting close... Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thankful Thursday

As I reviewed my 2019 photos, a few leaped out at me as so special. This was one of them.

Hachi was about 6 months old and the true extent of his fears was becoming clear. During the weeks before and after I took this image, he had a few aggressive outbursts that scared me. Yet, our timid Shyla never withdrew her friendship from him. She steadfastly played with him and watched out for him like a big sister.
I didn't realize at the time that we were seeing the beginning of a beautiful bond. These two are so good for each other, and that makes me smile.

When I saw this image in my library, I felt so grateful for Shyla and for her friendship with Hachi.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wordless Wednesday


P.S. Thanks for all of the well wishes for a speedy recovery. Neither of us is a lot better yet. We are hearing that the flu been lasting a long time in most people. Maybe the Tamiflu that we are taking will shorten it some. Steer clear of germs!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Easy Tuesday

I'm still under the weather so I chose a few easy images from this winter to share with you.

From November, this was the last bear track that I saw for the season. His paw was bigger than my hand but not by too much.

I saw that track not too far from this view.

We live in a place where it's possible to go down 2500' in elevation in a short distance so it's much less snowy a short distance from our house.

This was from a bike ride to lower elevation. While down there, I looked back toward our mountains.

And this was from a trip down to the flats to take Shyla to the vet. I saw the sunset unfolding, and I had to pull over to take a photo of it. Those cloud shapes happen when it is super windy, and indeed it was incredibly blustery that day.
Although winter can be harsh, the beauty still shines through.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Flu and Hachi Chronicle

Despite getting flu shots, influenza has us humans very sick so this will be short. We got Tamiflu today so maybe that will help us to get better faster.
Hachi has handled us both being confined to bed way better than I would have expected. He’s a dog who likes his routine, and the routine has been blown to pieces. I’m really happy with him.

The photo was from our most recent desert trip. The warmth and sun of the desert sound like nirvana to me right now.