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Friday, April 23, 2021

A Carnivore Message Center

In my previous video installment, I shared footage of a mountain lion who had cached an elk carcass very nearby to a forest clearing. In fact, I found the forest clearing by following the lion tracks from the carcass to it. It turned out to be a great wildlife spot for years and years.

For the 10 months following the lion's frequent visits, many animals came through the clearing including lions, bobcats, moose, and a coyote. My favorite part is how the smaller carnivores like bobcats have the courage to mark over the scent of the lions. They are amazing creatures!

Check out the video if you have time. And, Happy Earth Day, a day late! Let's protect the parts of the Earth that we can by giving wildlife and their special spots space to be truly wild.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thankful Thursday

It's still snowing here in Colorado. A couple of nights ago, a rapid and intense storm hit, and it dropped around 12-18" in short order. By the next morning, the storm was gone, leaving the most gorgeous world behind.

I think that it was my favorite snowy day yet this winter. Shyla and I had a glorious snowshoe hike.


Shyla happily galloped through the deep snow, loving every minute of the bluebird day.

I even enjoyed a little bike ride on the local roads. The crystalline beauty of the white snow and frost against the blue sky was incredible.

While I was riding, I had to stop to take off my boot and try to remove whatever felt like it was cutting the sole of my foot. As I stood on one foot with my boot off, a moose sauntered by and then stood in some aspens nearby. She looked like a yearling to me. Fortunately, she was completely unconcerned with me.

There is so much beauty to be thankful for.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Scenes from Lab Valley


Sunrise before the next foot of snow

Residents of Lab Valley - Mama and yearling

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A mountain lion's marking spot near his meal

I frequently hear the misconception that a mountain lion lives in a certain den or hiding place all the time. In fact, lions who don't have tiny kittens are constantly on the move. When they manage to kill a deer or elk, they will stay close to the carcass for a few days. 

When they've finished eating that meal, they move on to hunt for their next meal. This video includes an example of a mountain lion who visited a spot in the forest at least twice per day for about 3 days while he ate a cow elk that he'd successfully hunted. Then, he vanished, in pursuit of his next meal.

Over the years, a mountain lion appeared in this forest clearing about once every three months so his twice daily visits were extraordinary!

Check out the video of three days of a mountain lion "commuting" to and fro his feast. He's a big cat, and his behavior is fascinating to watch.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It was a snowy and cold week in Colorado. Among all of our dogs past and present, Hachi likes snow the least. Despite that and moving back and forth between homes, he had a good week.

The snow began at our old place. I used to take Hachi out to play on our old land until people started trespassing very close to our house (it seemed like pandemic-induced lack of consideration). I spoke to them, and they were not apologetic or even pleasant. So, I stopped spending outdoor time with Hachi for a while due to worry that he would chase and bark at trespassers. 

When it snowed this week, I'd had it with inconsiderate people stopping me from playing with Hachi on our own land. So, we went out to play in the snow, and we had FUN!


No interlopers appeared in the midst of our play so it was peaceful. Hachi seemed very happy about it.

Then, the best fun began when we went to our new place. There's enough space for the pups to play to their hearts' content.

They love making funny faces together. It makes me laugh!

I do have to admit that progress on "real" training feels like it's been slow this week. Hachi was tense several times during our daily "Bucket Game" sessions. Our play sessions were so-so with Hachi worrying about things that we couldn't see. But, he handled seeing strangers on the trails near our old place remarkably well so that's good news.

It is truly astonishing how he is transformed when we arrive at our new place. It feels as if he has a clean slate with little history of fear there. That is a good thing.

We are seeing glimpses that Phase 1 of construction will be winding down soon so we'll be able to be there a lot more. Hachi will be happy about that!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

We all looked up to him.

And we all loved him.

 Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla loves our morning outings as much as I do. At our old place, she knows all of the great photo spots. She's become a bit of a diva, always assuming that I am planning to photograph her. She poses before I even ask her to. She is the best model that I can imagine. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Together, we are slogging through this stormy month. She adores the snow and the cold. It makes her want to run so fast, checking out every scent to the sides of the trails. Her energy lifts my spirits!

Happy Shyla Saturday.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Feline and Nature Friday - Mountain lions and a Black Bear (Tiny!) out in spring snow

Deep in the forest, there's a narrow path that our most shy wildlife love to use. I found it last summer after bear mating season had ended. Since then, mountain lions and bobcats have dominated it with an occasional bear wandering through.

After our huge spring storm, a mountain lion very slowly plodded through the snow. Then a deer and pair of dueling  robins. After another mountain lion, the highlight of my spring arrived. Tiny the Black Bear sauntered through. He marked a tree with his trademark "sitting" style.

Seeing him on video made me so happy. He looked good, no different from last fall. Check out the video!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Thankful Thursday

After we've had some nice warm weather with sunshine in April, I have a very hard time being happy about snow. Yet, April is our snowiest month so I have to face it yearly. Most years, we go to the desert in April which helps deep my happiness level high.

We haven't been able to go this year due to the construction. We are the only ones who can make certain decisions so we need to stick around just in case they run into yet another unexpected decision. Given that we have a whole week of cold and snow in the forecast, I am fighting to keep my chin up. I know that we "need the moisture" but I'd rather not be here for it. Yes, I'm a wimp.

So, for Thankful Thursday, I had trouble figuring out what I was thankful for. For that reason, composing this post was a great exercise for me this week, helping me to remember just how lucky we are.

First, I loved that a big turkey marched around our house for about 4 hours the other day. No ladies were nearby so we aren't sure why he was displaying just for us. But, it was opening day of turkey hunting season - so perhaps he felt safest by us.


As always, I am thankful for Shyla's happy companionship in the forest. I took this one before the current grayness descended on our neck of the woods. She and our world are gorgeous.

And I am thankful for incredible skies with Shyla howling in front of them. I went back through my library of photos searching for smiles, and it seems that I never shared this one. It looks unbelievably brilliant so I went through all of my settings to make sure that I hadn't over-saturated it. I didn't touch the saturation or vibrance buttons. This was for real. It was like fire in the sky.

There is so much to be thankful for. I know how fortunate we are, and I try hard to remember it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

From this...

To this...

That change was within a day. It's April in the Rockies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Mink at Lab Valley

We visited Lab Valley last weekend. In addition to pondering the scintillating topic of sconces, I checked a few trail cameras.

I had heard through the grapevine that there might be a few river otters in the creeks in the Lab Valley area. River otters are considered "extremely threatened" in our state. At one point, they had vanished from the state but then wildlife officials reintroduced them in 1976. They've gradually increased in numbers since then but still aren't common.

A friend said that she'd seen the tracks of an aquatic mammal on a snow covered creek in the spring months. You can imagine that I was motivated to set up a couple of cams to try to get footage of animals on the creek that goes through Lab Valley.

Believe it or not, I got some footage of an aquatic mammal right away, and some of the footage was in the daytime. One cam captured the animal bounding along on the snow atop the creek. Another cam captured footage of him hunting under our bridge. He swam under the ice, doubtless fishing.

It took me a while to figure out but it turns out that the animal was a mink. The clearest difference is that mink are much smaller than otters. An otter can be the size of a medium dog or the same length as the coyote who appears in the video. A mink is about half that size.

I am excited that we have a mink but I am still hoping for river otters. I'll keep you posted! Check out the video.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Despite the chaos of our lives, Hachi is doing pretty well. We humans are coping with construction decisions, and I am sometimes cranky about them. I think that remodeling a house is "death by a thousand decisions", and each of those decisions seems to be required *right now*. Today it is bathroom towel racks and which side to have the hinges on the basement door. Oh my...

No doubt, our stress affects Hachi. It becomes most obvious when we go back and forth between our places. He needs about 24 hours to settle in after a switch. That is understandable. I need 24 hours too. But, with Hachi, I need to work harder to remember to be more careful for those 24 hours.

In the first 24 hours, he doesn't play as well with me and the Runner. He will play a tiny bit and then check out his surroundings. Sometimes, he will spend half of a 10 minute session checking out his surroundings. We never pressure him to play. We simply make ourselves available to play if he wants. 

He almost never says "no" to playing with Shyls!

He also occasionally gets a little growly with Shyla in those 24 hours. That happened this weekend soon after we arrived at Lab Valley. We were out on a short hike, and it appeared that Hachi thought that the Runner was about to give him treats (although he was mistaken). He growled/snarled at Shyla who was next to him. Shyla barely seemed to notice but we humans did.

So, the lesson from this week is to be aware of the possibility of resource guarding when Hachi might be trigger stacked. I need to remember that what feels like a fun transition is also stressful.

This next photo was a fun from an indoor photoshoot when Hachi was about 4 months old. I love seeing the trio together. I remember Hachi's resource guarding from that day (no one else was supposed to get treats, in Hachi's opinion) - and that memory made me realize that how much better he's become since then. It is less frequent and less intense. That is a Victory!

We have accepted where we are with Hachi. We have wonderful days with him. Sometimes, bad behavior emerges. I have learned to analyze it and then let it go. It has taken me a couple of years to reach this point of acceptance, and I'm glad to be in this place. 

We are so glad that Hachi is part of our family.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

The definition of joy. 

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Shyla Saturday

She watches my back while I am engrossed in photographing wildlife. As long as the animals are alive, she is totally reliable about leaving them alone (but all bets are off if it's a carcass!).

She is an amazing athlete who easily mountain bikes with me to this day. She can run like the wind.

How utterly wrong her previous owner was who said that she was "useless". Yes, keeping a puppy in a crate for the first 9 months of her life creates some psychological problems - but that owner did it anyway. I'm so glad that we invited Shyla to join our family and never looked back. In Shyla's case, love erased her past.

Happy Shyla Saturday.