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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

Home sweet home


Near home!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A bear pair marking trees and taking baths

Since discovering Labrador Valley, I've been searching for the places where bears spend their time during mating season. Although I've found a lot of promising places, I've found only a couple that have had regular bear visitors so far this mating season.

In one spot, there are multiple marking trees and a water hole. Recently, a male and female bear visited the spot together. They were together because it was mating season. As I've seen on every occasion when a pair was traveling together, the sow was first and the boar was trailing behind. 

At the start of the video, the sow sniffed a bear marking tree and took a brief bath in the water hole. Then she moved on. Then, the male appeared in the picture, marking the tree and taking a long bath. He made cute little grunting sounds the entire time, perhaps asking the sow to wait for him.

Check out the short video!

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had another good week. One day this week, we had two workers inside the house all day long. He and I hung out in the basement because that was the quietest place in the house. He seemed fairly calm despite strangers being nearby.

Then, during a break in the chaos, we busted out for a hike in our valley. As soon as we were out of sight of the house, Hachi romped in the wildflowers. It is so wonderful to have land where he can run despite his issues with strangers. It seemed to relax him so much.

While we were out, I couldn't help but visit the amazing and delicate wild irises in Labrador Valley. Since Shyla wasn't with us, he watched my back while I focused my macro lens on them. The pattern on the petal reminds me of a runway inviting insects to land in the pollen.

Our regular vet will soon be able to let one client come into the clinic with each dog. Because she knew that we were waiting for this day (there was no way we'd terrify Hachi by sending him in by himself), she reserved us a spot on the first day. So, Hachi has a vet appointment!

I've never before had a dog who worries me so much when it comes to vet appointments. We immediately started practicing vet exams with Hachi's behavioral therapist who specializes in helping dogs like him. We've been working up to this for a long time with all of our practice of "cooperative care". Despite that, I know that it will be hard for him. We'll just try to minimize the stress so the appointment doesn't lead to a setback.

All in all, it's been a good week for Hachi. That's all that I can ask. He's a good little pup.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

It is wildflower time, a time that I will always associate with the serene moments that our Black Dog and I shared in the flowers. No matter how busy my day had been, I'd forget everything else while we hung out together in the incredible beauty. I can almost feel that peacefulness just by looking at the photos and remembering.

He had such a spark in his eye even though it was blind, as if he was listening raptly to what I was telling him. 

Have a happy and peaceful Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla is happy and seems healthy. She finished the four week course of antibiotics for leptospirosis. Now, we are watching and waiting to make sure that it doesn't come back. We also measure how much water she drinks every single day!

She and I are loving the wildflowers in Labrador Valley. It's fun not knowing what flowers will bloom in each part of Labrador valley. I'm curious to see what happens next here.

 Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Mohawk the Black Bear and her Cub

My trail cams revealed more mischief by our cub of the year. Just after a bath, the cub's mom ambled to a marking tree that our bears visit frequently. While she checked it out, the cub messed with my camera, again! I'm glad that the cub isn't bigger because the cameras would have been damaged by a bigger bear. His mom, Mohawk, grew up among my cams so she's seen them for all of her life. She doesn't seem to notice them anymore.

Watching this cub makes me wonder about the social development of a single cub. Mohawk's last litter consisted of two cubs, and they focused their play on each other. This cub doesn't have another cub to play with. I wonder how it will affect this cub? It's probably part of why he's noticing the cams and messing with them.

I do know that mother bears who have only one cub occasionally go into heat because the one cub's nursing isn't sufficient to prevent estrus. I've been wondering why Mohawk is visiting the trees that male bears mark during mating season. Is she perhaps looking for a mate? That's another risk in a single cub litter.

Check the short video of Mohawk and her cub.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for Lab Valley. I've never lived on a meadow before now, and I am loving having the meadow flowers right outside my door.

We are having an incredible flower year so far. Just down Lab Valley from our house, Shyla ran through the Golden Banner flowers.


Then, she watched my back while I photographed the wild irises. They don't last long so I am trying to enjoy them every single day while they bloom. I took this one with an "artistic" lens which softens everything but the part that is in focus. It's a tough lens to learn to use but I like this image.

As I was photographing an Iris the other day, an insect landed on it, drinking its pollen.

What an incredible time of year! I love living in a meadow where there is so much beauty. I will be sharing more of it as summer unfolds!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Biggest and smallest bears mark the leaning tree

Our absolute biggest bear marked a leaning tree. Then, along came his beau (Mohawk) with her cub. Both of them marked the same tree as Tiny marked. And, the cub continued his/her interest in photography, examining and rearranging the camera.

It's a fun video. Check it out!

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi overall had a great week. He loved playing with his sister out in the meadows. One day, Shyla was reluctant to start playing so Hachi threw himself onto his back to entice her to play. We love seeing him be so socially savvy!

His strategy worked well. Soon, she'd be pursuing him.

All of his formal training went great too. He relaxed, he learned to be more consistent at taking a breath on cue, and he handled having workers outside remarkably well. In fact, when the foundation was finished for the greenhouse, Hachi seemed to think that we'd built him his own personal basking pad! He declined to go for a walk because he preferred to sun bathe!

Late in the week, he did run into a little bit of stress that caused him to act out. We asked too much of him socially. On one day, he went to a friend's house and hung out on their deck. Then, on the next day, we had friends over for a picnic. After sitting close to them for a half hour, he went over threshold and snarled at Shyla as we got ready to walk back to the house. It was all noise and no damage but I hate when it happens. 

I think that he's reached a phase where he can outwardly appear to be handling a situation well because he has no outbursts or other signs of distress. But then, all of a sudden his stress bursts out. I feel like we need to realize when he's stoically managing a situation and diffuse his stress before he bursts. But it is hard to identify the moment when that's needed.

In general, when Hachi looks like this, he is happy and relaxed.
Overall, he had a great week. I like to analyze the small outbursts so that we can help him avoid them. But they were a very small part of the week.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

As I rode my bike today, I was thinking about our Black Dog. I tried to think realistically about how my relationship with him evolved over the years. As a young dog, he was wild. Indeed, he was so wild that I had some trouble appreciating him. I wanted him to calm down. At the time, I didn't yet realize that his endless joy for life was what I'd end up loving the most about him.

Then, I started doing more things with him solo. I'd take him for little bike rides to enjoy the flowers or the leaves or the snow. During our outings, I'd do bits of training. Our bond started to grow.

Later on in his life, his elbow dysplasia got really bad. The vets said that all of the cartilage was gone from his elbow and the bones were banging together. There was only one kind of surgery that would help him. But, after a lot of research, I discovered that no one in our area did it. That discovery made my bond to him so obvious to me - I became doggedly determined to get him the surgery. I searched and searched, and I finally found a superb veterinary surgeon who was willing to fly to us and do the surgery. That filled my heart with hope.

After his surgery, the recovery exercises cemented our bond. We turned them into games - hilarious and fun games that both of us loved. That bit of fun time that we spent together every single day cemented our bond.

At that point, I had learned how to appreciate our Black Dog for who he was - an absolutely joyful soul - so joyful that he couldn't contain himself at times.

As I think about the evolution of our relationship, I know that it taught me to figure out who each of our dogs is and to try connect with each of their unique spirits. We have wildly divergent personalities in our current two dogs - but I've learned to love them both, mainly by finding things that bond me to them (and them to me).

Our Black Dog taught me that. I'm so glad that he and I found such a deep connection which taught me so much. Of course, that makes me miss him even more but it was so worth it.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Shyla Saturday

There have been many moments recently when I think that Shyla is staying young due to the playful influence of her younger brother. 

Shyla doesn't love warm weather, and she tends to lag a bit on outings with me if the sun is out. Yet, when Hachi goads her into playing, she seems like a puppy.

I think that the relationship between these two goes both ways. Shyla is helping Hachi learn to be happy in this world, and, at the same time, he is keeping Shyla more playful and silly than she would otherwise be.

It's a happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Bears love to mark a leaning tree!

Bears really love marking leaning trees. If a tree leans across a trail that is used by bears, it is very likely that it's an important marking spot.

Check out the first few bears who marked a favorite leaning tree this spring. Their behavior is so fun! Tiny hadn't been there yet at that point in time but he was coming soon!

Here's the short video!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for springtime, finally!  Lab Valley is finally adorned with green leaves and green grass!

 The meadow birds search for insects just outside our windows every morning.


 Deep in the pine forests, orchids are flourishing.

At this time of year, there are not enough hours in the day. Between working on the house, trying to empty the moving boxes (but needing more cabinets in order to do that!), gardening, exploring, and simply enjoying the sunshine, I cannot find time for everything!

I love springtime!