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Monday, January 25, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi has had an up and down week. Moving back and forth definitely stresses him. We can see it in our training games, in his ability to stay calm while being handled, and in his demeanor during walks. 

He loves Lab Valley and playing with his sister. That seems to spill over to other parts of his life, making him much happier overall.

When we are at our old place, I am constantly astounded by how well Hachi reads peoples' body language from a long distance away. From about 75 yards or maybe further, he instantly picks up on whether a person is someone who is nice or someone who is not. It seems as if his accurate judgements even extend to people who he hasn't seen on the trails previously. 

I read a book titled "A Wolf Called Romeo" about a very friendly wolf who lived near Juneau, Alaska for years. He liked to spend time at a recreation area where he'd play with people's dogs and even people themselves. He had a similar ability to "read" people which helped him to live a long life. 

We rarely see anyone else on our hikes at Lab Valley so Hachi can relax and just have fun.

Overall, it was a good week for Hachi. He definitely feels stress about us moving frequently but he can let it go when we get to Lab Valley. That's great news!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Today, all that I can say is that we miss this guy. What I miss the most and will stay with me forever was the pure hopeful happiness in his eye. When we did little outings together, like this one during a snow storm last winter, his eye would fill with joy.

I visualize the look in his eye every day, and the vision reminds me to make the most of the day.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Life is discombobulated with all the moving to and fro. But, Shyla always makes me smile. She will chase sticks for as long as I can throw them, and her enthusiasm makes me grin.

I grin even more because I know that it was a long journey to reach a point where she can leave her worries behind and play joyfully. I remember when her previous owner told me that Shyla was "useless" at retrieving. With years of building her confidence, she loves retrieving more than almost anything.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 22, 2021

All sorts of Carnivores love a Mountain Lion Scrape

Mountain lions mark in spots that can look nondescript and boring. More often than not, these spots are under pine trees where a thick carpet of pine needles lie. Shyla is the best at finding these spots based on scent. Then, when I follow her and take a look, I see the small piles of pine needles and "scraped" spots under the trees. Without Shyla, I'd walk past most of them!

Indeed, today I show a spot that I literally passed on my bike for years before I noticed the scrapes under the Ponderosa Pine trees. When it finally caught my eye, I felt embarrassed that I hadn't noticed the obvious scrapes for so long!

After a lion anoints a spot by scent marking there, other carnivores visit too. In today's fun video, you'll see a whole series of carnivores who seem to check this spot whenever they are passing by. Then, you'll see the big cat come into the area. He was all over the area for about 48 hours prior to my visit to check the cam (I have multiple cams in the area). I got really nervous when I saw him on the videos even during daytime, and I kept looking over my shoulder while I quickly changed out memory cards. Fortunately, he didn't seem to be nearby while I was there. Or, perhaps he's really good at hiding!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the freshness of new beginnings.

Each sunrise feels like a new start with a new day stretching out in front of me that holds hope of being a special day.

I am thankful for new starts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Rock Corridor Used by a Menagerie of Wildlife

Last winter, I found giant mountain lion tracks in the snow next to a meadow. Being a silly person, I followed them up a steep hill to a spot where huge boulders make it seem almost impossible to go down the other side. Yet, the mountain lion didn't hesitate. He wound his way around a few boulders, and then he led me to a magic rock corridor. That corridor is a secret passageway for getting down the other side of the steep hill.

Of course, a little later, I brought a trail camera to that spot. I set it up to record the animals who used the rock corridor. The very first animal was a female mountain lion. After her, a menagerie of wildlife appeared on the cam. Some used the corridor as a travel route, and others seemed like they lived in the rocks making up the walls of the corridor.

Check out the video if you have time. It's a relaxing interlude in this crazy world.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It's been a happy week for Hachi. He's had many good days, as we were either at Lab Valley or the Runner took the pups there just for an afternoon romp. When they have the chance, they play chase every single day.

One thing happened that is so routine for most pets. We got our notice that it's time for Hachi's annual exam. You may remember how absolutely terrified he is when being examined by anyone but us. He was so afraid last year that we felt that it took him a couple of months to get back to his baseline after his annual exam. Over that time, he was more afraid of us and of everything else. That is despite the fact that we have the most gentle "certified fear-free" vet that you can imagine. All of our other dogs have loved her.

We've been playing the "bucket game" with Hachi as a way to give him agency when being handled. The general idea is that we have a cup of treats (the "bucket") in front of him. If he looks at the "bucket", he is saying that it's okay for us to handle him. As soon as he looks away from the treats, we take our hands off of him. He gets a treat from the bucket after each time we successfully handle him. We've literally been playing it daily for months, and he's just now making serious progress with it. We can look in his ears, handle his paws, and gently pinch his skin as if he's going to get an injection. We have not yet started actually clipping his toenails or brushing his teeth during the game but I predict that we'll be able to do that soon. There are some good videos of it online if you google it.

Despite our hard work, we are not close to the point when anyone but us can handle him. We do have the option of sedating him for an annual exam (and vaccines) which I think will be the solution for this year. But, we also have the issue of Covid, which means that we cannot go into the vet hospital with him unless they take extraordinary measures to protect themselves and us. We'd want to be there for him, especially until the sedation kicks in and after it starts to wear off. So, we will probably delay his annual exam until more of us are vaccinated.

Hachi's first silhouette photo

I had no idea that a simple annual exam could be so anxiety-inducing, even for us humans. Have any of you had a pet who was as terrified of being handled as Hachi is? Any tips for annual exams?

Hachi may be complicated but we love him. We'll figure this out.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

I remember these days like they were yesterday. Our Black Dog and Shyla let their new little brother snooze between them.


It was Hachi's first winter with us. Our Black Dog was the big brother that everyone would want to have.


He was Shyla's best friend.



And he was Hachi's best friend. Hachi followed R everywhere, always wanting to be as close to him as he could be.  They took many naps snuggled together.


As you probably know, it didn't remain quite so idyllic. But for a while, it was incredibly sweet.

Even after Hachi's behavior took a turn for the worse, our Black Dog showed his forgiving and generous spirit. He was always glad to offer brotherly love to Hachi.

Happy Black Dog Sunday. Memories of our Black Dog are so sweet.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Shyla Saturday

After a rough start to life, Shyla has reached a confidence level that makes me smile. She eagerly greets our contractors at the door, - and and she wins their hearts almost right away. She often brings them a toy as a welcome gift as they come through the door. Then, she stays nearby while they are here. 

As a young dog, she was much too terrified of strangers to even go near them. Seeing how she's changed over time is heartwarming.

What a sweet and wonderful dog Shyla is. Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Feline and Nature Friday - Part 2 of "A Mountain Lion Scrape in 2020"

Last week, I shared a video of a very active mountain lion scrape. It ended with a female caterwauling at the scrape, trying to call in a mate. Many of you said that you were so curious to see how her vocalizing efforts worked.

This video picks up at that point, and the ending is super exciting!

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for this vision that has become reality. It's such a serene spot with the mountains watching over us. While there's lots to do to make the house suitable for us to live there full time, the setting is what stole our hearts.

Shyla is just as happy about it. This is her at sunrise on the ridge above the house.

Believe it or not, this was the first place that we'd even looked at an online listing for. The Runner found it, and he confidently told me that he'd found our new home. He was right. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

Here's what I saw during an early morning roll out from our Lab Valley house the other morning.


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Moose voices during the rut

It is no secret that I am barely keeping up with things these days. With the remodeling of the new house and the traveling back and forth, I am overwhelmed. Add needing to apply for permits for future work to the list of why I'm overwhelmed.

That has extended to my trail cam work. I just recently discovered some footage from October that made me smile. It was from a cam that is pointed at a mountain lion scrape. However, our moose took it over in October during their mating season.

On one day in particular, they spent a lot of the day deep in the pine forest where lions like to leave their scent. I guess that moose have nothing to fear from mountain lions so they can hang out there without worrying.

The cool part of their behavior was their voices. The bull moose whined and sang with such a high voice that it was hard to believe that such a huge animal was making the sound.

Check out the video and keep your sound on!