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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

I called this pair the "Labraduo" because they were so deeply bonded to each other. I would find them snoozing together almost every time that I looked for them.

They were opposite personalities when they met. Our Black Dog was a boisterous (some might say crazy) young Labrador. He loved every person and every dog who he met. His greatest fault was too much enthusiasm for meeting strangers, all of whom he viewed as instant friends. Shyla was very shy, afraid of strangers (afraid of us, at the beginning), and afraid to try anything new. Our Black Dog taught her by example how to navigate the world.

Our Black Dog worked his magic on her (and we humans helped a little), and the rest is history. It means so much to me that Shyla was so profoundly shaped by our Black Dog. He lives on in her.

May all of us view strangers as friends, unless they prove otherwise, just like our Black Dog. Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Our world had about 4 days of gray skies and snow since last Saturday. I'll admit to some unhappiness about the further delay of springtime. Shyla and I spent time outdoors together every one of those days but we had the most fun on the day when the sun finally broke through.

The world was gorgeous that morning with deep blue skies, a thick layer of fresh snow, and a happy Shyla.


I think that the one thing that Shyla doesn't like about deep snow is that it's hard to find sticks. She dug deep into the snow to find this one and then she wanted to show it to me.


After this fun session in the snow, we headed down to the flatlands for Shyla to have some blood drawn. I was so glad that we'd had such a glorious morning prior to the vet visit!

Her tests showed that something is not right but didn't pinpoint the cause. Now we are testing her for leptospirosis, a hidden unknown infection, thyroid issues, and cancer. My impression is that cancer is pretty far down the list but that didn't stop me from tossing and turning in worry. As we are doing all of these tests, we'll try a strong antibiotic to see if that reduces her need to drink so much water. That would help with either leptospirosis or a hidden infection.

Shyla is nine years old, and I am hoping for many more years with her. It feels as if she's still in her prime, especially behaviorally. It's wonderful to see how she is an outgoing and happy dog despite her rough start in life.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Nature Friday - Wild residents (including one you'll recognize) use a Labrador Valley trail

 In the valley that we call "Lone Ponderosa Valley", the wildlife activity is picking up as there's a glimmer of spring on the horizon. Coyotes, mama moose and calf, and deer are the most plentiful. Our family loves to visit the valley also, often when it's the most beautiful early in the morning.

Check out this short video, and enjoy the cameos by Hachi as he passes the cam during skiing and running outings with the Runner.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that spring snow is pretty!

The incoming storm...

The next morning... In the snow, I spotted a red-tailed hawk nest with two hawks tending it near this spot. I hope to photograph them over the coming month!


A seasonal stream, fed by melting snow, has emerged in this spot. The Runner built a bridge over it, making skiing and fat-biking across it much easier! Do you see our house in the distance?

I am thankful that we are spending this spring in such an incredibly beautiful place! I feel sure that the big storms are just about over.

Monday, May 10, 2021

A menagerie walks through a pine forest clearing

At our old place, I spent a couple of decades learning the special places in the forests where the animals routinely visit. 

One such place is on the south side of a ridge where mountain lions usually scrape and leave their scent. For much of this winter and spring, no lions visited but many other species did. Bobcats dominated. They made me laugh when they obsessed over the tip-top of a bush that was suddenly within reach due to very deep snow. You'll see the bobcat rolling on that bush. 

The snow depth fluctuated so much that it's hard to tell that it's all the same view from the same cam but it is. Watch to the end for a puffy ending!

Check out the video!

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi's behavior this week has been all over the map. He seems super happy on our hikes. He's overjoyed to run like the wind with his sister in Lab Valley. They also have a great time exploring together. I love seeing them running or walking side-by-side as they enjoy all the scents in our valley.

In his training, he started to have an old issue this week. At times, he seemed unable to calm himself sufficiently to focus on any training. He barked in frustration over things that he can usually handle. For example, when we play the "Bucket Game", he is supposed to tell us that he's ready for us to handle him (e.g., paws or ears) by lying still while looking at a container full of treats. He gets a treat after we manipulate a paw or look in an ear. This week, he barked in frustration during the game to such an extent that we ended it.

He had this issue before almost a year ago, and relaxation exercises during the day helped immensely. However, with all of the chaos in our lives, I lost track of his relaxation mat so I stopped doing the relaxation exercises. This week, I finally refound his mat, and we've restarted his relaxation protocol. And, after just a few days, he's capable of doing the Bucket Game again without barking in frustration throughout it. Woo hoo!


Another snow storm has started that is predicted to dump another foot of snow on us. Our internet was down Sunday afternoon/evening due to the snow so this post is late. I'm so ready for the snow to end for the season but the pups were over-the-moon happy during a hike as the storm started They love it. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog had an impish side. He loved to be in sun puddles with his sister, and sometimes he'd invite her to play with a friendly paw to the forehead.

R knew how to teach Shyla to trust him. He used a combination of playfulness and love. His lessons were the start of a happy life for Shyla.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Snow, snow, snow. We've been having about one big storm per week over the past umpteen weeks. For most of this winter, I really enjoyed the snow. But, in my opinion, it is now time for springtime. Mother Nature does not agree. Another foot of snow is due in a few days.

Thank goodness for Shyla and Hachi. Their joyfulness about snow, no matter what month it is, makes me smile. It seems that almost all of my photos of Shyla this spring have been in snow!

Shyla seems very happy with being at Lab Valley. However, I've noticed her drinking more water than in the past. We have a blood test and urinalysis set up for her this coming week. Yesterday, we measured how much she drank, and it was 3000 ml, which puts her squarely in the "drinking too much water" category. She's been taking seizure medications for years (with great success in controlling her seizures). I hope that they haven't messed up her liver or kidney function. We will know more in a week or so.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Kitty, coyote, kitty, kitty

This clearing in a forest is a mountain lion favorite. You might remember it from when a lion visited it 2-3X per day while he devoured a carcass that he had cached nearby. There has never been quite that level of activity since then but it is a spot that lions and other carnivores visit regularly.

This video includes 6 months of visitors: bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. Not only do single male lions visit there but families do too! Be sure to watch to the end to see a mother lion with her two kittens play in the clearing.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Thankful Thursday

Snow in May is pretty normal at our elevation in the Rockies, and it is a key source of moisture that helps us in the summer. However, every year, I am ready for spring by May. Fortunately, our pups make me smile my way through the May snow storms.

They played happily on the day of the latest storm.


And then we were gifted a bluebird day on the day after the storm.


For a little while, the snow stayed on the trees set against the azure sky. Amazing!

I am thankful, however, that the bluebirds will doubtless return very soon. They've "arrived" several times already but they retreat to lower elevations when we have snow storms. I'm ready to enjoy their kind of spring beauty!

I keep reminding myself that a snowy spring will lead to amazing wildflowers. I will be thankful for that!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A wildlife message center at the junction of two valleys

Down Labrador Valley from our house, a second valley joins in from the north. For wildlife, the meeting of two valleys is a bit like a major traffic intersection for us humans. They love to travel along valley floors because travel is easier than in rough terrain.

One species that is there frequently is moose. We have a mother and yearling calf pair who have been around all winter, and they pass through that intersection regularly. The other morning, they joined us for breakfast. Indeed, they were so close to our deck that I didn't need a zoom lens to take a photo of them!

And here was mom's glamour shot! She's a beauty.

This pair, and other moose, frequently go through the valley intersection where I have a cam. I first placed a cam at that intersection because bears passed through there a lot in the fall. However, bears sleep all winter long so other species dominate for the winter.

Check out the video of the animals who traveled past the cam. It included both herbivores and carnivores. The carnivores seemed obsessed with reading the messages from others as well as leaving their own!

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

After feeling like Hachi's progress was stuck for weeks, he now seems much more relaxed. It may be that we humans have been maxed out recently, moving back and forth multiple times per week and feeling completely exhausted.

As soon as we got to Lab Valley, we humans relaxed and so did Hachi. I'm sure that our mood affects him but I also think that the opportunity to be off-leash (while supervised) multiple times per day makes a huge difference to him.

On Sunday afternoon before another snow storm moved in, we had a mellow walk and then simply hung out in the meadow by the house. The two pups quietly explored the newly uncovered grass 45 minutes or so. There was no raucous playing while they both seemed to decompress from the recent stress.

Then, Hachi wanted to play but Shyla was reticent. So, Hachi did something that is pretty new to him. He lay down on his back to invite Shyla to play. If you think about it, it takes a lot of trust and confidence to assume such a helpless position. It worked.


Soon, they were really playing, with some chase and some wrestling.

They danced a bit too!

We are so hopeful that, during this break in frenetic activity, Hachi will zoom forward in terms of his behavior. When he is able to relax, he's a different dog. 

It's been very interesting listening to a Podcast called Cog-Dog Radio by Sarah Stremming. She is a trainer who handles very tough cases. One of her first recommendations for dogs like Hachi is to find someplace where it's safe for them to have off-leash time at least a couple of times per week. She says that many behavior issues are solved by this simple step. The hard part is finding such a place especially when your dog is reactive.

Even before I'd found her podcast, we'd come to realize that off-leash time made a huge different to Hachi. Due to an influx of people at our old place, that had become impossible. I'm so glad that we have a new place where it is absolutely fine!