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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!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Seen in Lab Valley



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!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

A contemplative bobcat

A contemplative bobcat sat in front of my camera while he pondered the world. It's a moment of zen in our busy world.

Enjoy the video.

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a great week. He seems more relaxed than he's been in quite a while. He and Shyla have enjoyed playing chase in the meadow daily.

We had workers here all week getting the site ready for our greenhouse. Since they started on this job ten days ago, we have taken Hachi outside to watch them work. We're specifically using a technique called "BAT" (behavioral adjustment therapy). That's a fancy name for taking him to a spot a sufficient distance from them that he's able to hang out without obsessing about them. I adjust how far away he is based on how he's behaving.

By the end of this week, he could hang out fairly close to the workers without barking or getting upset. That was a huge contrast to when they started the job, and he'd go way over threshold (barking and lunging in their direction) as soon as we stepped out of the house. It is SO good to see him adapt to having strangers around the house. He's always had trouble with understanding that some people come to the house but work independently of any of us. This is the first time that he made such strides in handling it!

It's been a happy week for Hachi!

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

The flowers are starting to bud, reminding me of the sweet times that I'd have with our Black Dog in the meadow wildflowers.

Every summer except his last summer, our Black Dog would run along side me as I rode my bike to a spot the meadow where we'd settle in to enjoy the beauty.  Even with an elbow that hurt and being almost blind, he loved our little bike rides so much that he'd bark joyfully while running next to me. I'd smile the whole way.

I think that our Black Dog believed in the motto "Live, love, bark" no matter what curveballs life had thrown at him. He didn't let a day go by without finding some joy.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Shyla Saturday

This week, Shyla started the second antibiotic in the treatment plan for leptospirosis. It made a big difference! Her water drinking dropped from 2000 ml per day to 1200-1500 ml per day. Now, we are truly in the "normal zone". I feel relieved.

Shyla and Hachi have been loving springtime at Lab Valley. Shyla is the best big sister that I can imagine. Our electronic photo frame has been showing photos from two years ago when Shyla was teaching Hachi how to play. This was during a very stressful phase in our dog life. Hachi was turning on our Black Dog, and we were awaiting a far off appointment with a behavioral vet. I've been so cautious with Hachi ever since those dark days that I am surprised that I trusted him and Shyla together. I'm so glad that I did!

I think that the days when Shyla was guiding Hachi on how to play cementing their friendship.


At this instant, Shyla and I are enjoying our first afternoon on the deck. The sound of the raging creek is peaceful. The air is warm. Shyla is snoozing, and I am relaxing. Happy Day!

 Happy Shyla Saturday!