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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Yearling Bear Cub Dancing before Heading for a Den

Our "little" yearling bear cub is growing up, marking trees like a big bear.

This is the bear cub who was gradually changing from being blond to being brown.
I have looked very closely at all of the footage that I have at this yearling cub, and I now feel fairly confident that it's a female. If I'm right, that means that this yearling will live in our area! That makes me so happy.

Here is a zoomed in view of her marking a tree. Female bears mark like crazy before they head for their winter dens. That fits with what the bear cub was doing over the past month!
That photo makes her look bigger than she really is. You can see the tree trunk above her snout. Most adult bears are taller than the trunk. She did put on a lot of weight in September and October - and she grew taller - but she's still smaller than grown-up bears.

Based on where she was marking, I suspect that she is in a den nearby, and that she's done with marking for the year. Sleep well, Bear Cub. We'll see you in the spring.

Here's a short video of her marking marking trees and other things. Enjoy! Soon, the forest will be quieter because these magnificent animals will be in their dens.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Beautiful Evening Hike

One evening recently, I took the Duo for their evening walk on the trails near our house. As we hiked upward, the world had fallen into shade. The combination of R's black fur and the yellow aspen leaves caught my eye.

Now that I look at the photos, it was a glorious combination.

It was before his left eye took the recent terrible turn for the worse... although you can tell that the eye was swollen in this photo.

In my humble opinion, he is a handsome dog!
By reading about other blind dogs who have lost their eyes and also by realizing that R won't be comfortable until that eye is gone, I have accepted what will happen soon - and R is helping me see it as a transition and nothing worse. We are still working on finalizing the exact date. .

After that brief stop in the aspens, we hiked up to a viewpoint where we can see the Continental Divide. The sunset was stupendous.
That was the night before the snowstorm that dropped our golden aspen leaves to the ground. However, I still have autumn photos that I want to share. You'll be seeing them in the coming week!

Black Dog Sunday - A Birthday!

Our Black Dog had a birthday recently. He's 11 years old, and he's as goofy as ever.

I think that his sister was singing him Happy Birthday in this photo. And R was simultaneously waving to the camera. I have no idea how they came up with their crazy poses that they used throughout the fall. They made me laugh daily.
I took some birthday photos of R yesterday. Sadly, his painful, swollen, and very red left eye dominates them. So, I'll wait and take some more photos after he recovers from surgery.

The next one was one of my favorites from the year. I took it during a camping trip in the height of wildflower season back in July, when R's eyes still appeared to be perfect. I love his eyes but, mainly, I love R's beautiful spirit.
He is teaching us about how to see with your heart instead of your eyes.

Happy Birthday to our wonderful Black Dog. We still have so much to learn from you and so much fun to have with you.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Bobcat and Mountain Lion: Marking and Selfie!

In September, a bobcat and a mountain lion each visited the same marking area within a few days of each other.

This time, the bobcat arrived first so he wasn't terrified by the mountain lion scent.

After sniffing a bit, he began rubbing his face and body on a small aspen trunk. He did it so gracefully and reminded me of a domestic cat rubbing against the furniture or a person's legs.

The bobcat then decided to use the trail cam to take a selfie! Or, he got intrigued by my scent on the camera. Either way, the resulting photo and footage was fun.

A few days later, a mountain lion came through the same spot. He sniffed the air, opening his mouth as he sampled the air. That's called the "Flehman Response", which often is triggered by the scent of pheromones from other cats. It lets a cat do a combination of smelling and tasting the pheromones to get more information about them. In this case, it might have been the bobcat who left the scent that caused the mountain lion to respond in this way.

Then, the mountain lion closed his eyes, perhaps contemplating the scent...

I put the footage of these two animals together into a short video. Happy Caturday!

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Stars in the Sky

A campsite sits out in southwestern Colorado that you've probably read about here before. The view from it is simply stupendous. You can see only half the view behind the LabMobile in this photo.

A whole separate mountain range sits behind the LabMobile in the photo above. It's the mountain range that is often behind photos of the Duo at sunset.

My mind keeps flitting back to that campsite today because it was the last time that I saw R's eyes looking like normal - deep, brown, and beautiful. We had little idea what was ahead.

We didn't have nearly enough time in that campsite this year... but I am grateful for the little bit that we had. I feel the same about R's eyes - I am grateful that we saw them so healthy but I wish that they'd stayed that way longer.

Today, I needed to bring peace to my mind so I thought about the stars in the sky above the campsite. This year, we camped there at the full moon so the distant mountain ranges were bright when the moon was high in the sky and only the brightest stars were visible. This photo shows the movement of the stars in about 25 minutes.

I made a very short time lapse video of the stars moving in the sky for almost six hours. It calmed my mind a bit to put it together. I hope that you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sad but still so Thankful

I am thankful for R's absolute joy in living. He is leading the way for us humans, as we navigate this strange and scary new world of severe glaucoma.

We noticed over the past week that R's bad eye appeared to be red throughout the entire eye, not just the white of the eye. His formerly deep brown left eye now looked deep red. Thank goodness that we had an ophthalmologist appointment already scheduled for this week because we definitely needed one.

We were prepared this time, at least as prepared as you can be for bad news. As we'd guessed, tests showed that his eye was filled with blood, and the ocular pressure had gone up despite the eye drops that we were giving to prevent that from happening. None of that was good news.

R has showed very little sign that the eye was bothering him over the month since we last saw the ophthalmologist. He and his sister were a pair of clowns every time that I tried to photograph them. They even seemed like they planned their silliness with whispers behind my back. I don't know what they were doing in this one but it made me giggle uncontrollably.

Yet, given what is going on inside his eye, there is little doubt that it hurts him. So, we've made one of those very hard decisions that animal guardians must make for the love of their pet. We've chosen to have his left eye removed.
His left eye is now completely blind, and it must hurt him due to the high pressure and inflammation inside it. Moreover, the pathology inside that eye will give us information about how to best treat his good eye to slow down the progression to blindness.

It never ceases to astound me how life can turn on a dime from happy days to harder days. When you bring a puppy home, like R below with his departed brother and sister, you dream that the puppy's life will be nothing but easy.
That hasn't been even close to true for R. Less than a year after the photo above, he was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia and had his first of many orthopedic surgeries, something that I've written a lot about here. Since his CUE surgery 2.5 years ago, he has been nearly pain-free for the first time in his life. Then, his genes turned against him again as his defective eyes' degeneration became apparent. Yet, he has the most effervescent spirit imaginable.

Just like for his elbow, we will do everything that we can to make this new phase of life as joyous as possible for R. His spirit cannot be kept down - he is the living definition of "exuberance". He will guide us through this, and we will do all that we can for him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Singing the Labrador anthem...

Our handsome Black Dog gazing at the camera...
We love this Labraduo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The crazy energy inside an elk herd during the rut, including bugling

Elk mating season is iconic here in the Rocky Mountains. Big bull elk posture to gather as many cow elk into their harems as they can. Part of the posturing is the eerie high pitched bugles of mature bull elk. While bugling they usually adopt the unmistakeable pose shown in the next photo.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to watch the rut. The animals are not hunted there, and consequently, they tolerate people watching them. Also due to the lack of hunting, the bulls are huge there!

We went to observe the elk at the park a couple of times this fall, and we watched huge bull elk from very close. This guy was incredibly successful in attracting and keeping the cow in his harem.

At one point, he decided to drag his antlers through the grass. It's part of the mating ritual.

And then he ate grass while he had grass hanging from his antlers.
Now that's a sexy combo, don't you think?

One of his cow elk looked at him with puzzlement.

While I took most of my elk photos at the Park, some elk were closer to home. I captured their activities with my trail cam. I made a short video of an elk herd  who was foraging in a pond. Multiple bull elk were nearby, and they were bugling. Moreover, the herd was jumpy and suddenly fled as a herd a couple of times in the video. If you want to hear the bugling, be sure to have your sound turned on.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Clouds Floating over a Golden Aspen Grove

We recently had a humongous change in the weather in a very short time. It felt as if I was wearing shorts one day but then needed a thick winter coat the next day.

The change started with low-lying clouds that swirled around our world.

I knew that this change probably signaled the end of the leaves so I flew to capture their beauty one more time.

Navigation was a challenge but the beauty was definitely worth the flight.

Indeed, the change in the weather stuck around, and Mother Nature dumped a lot of white stuff on us the other night.
Yes, in one fell swoop, Mother Nature painted our playground wintry!

I made a short video from above the aspen grove - enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Black Dog Sunday - Almost Wordless

I'd been holding back photos where R's blindness was too obvious - primarily because they break my heart. As part of me accepting this change, I'm going to start sharing those photos. These are a few images that I love from this autumn that I haven't shared yet.

The Labraduo in the golden leaves...

R looking at me intently from an aspen grove.

R diving into a high mountain lake for what was probably the last time this year. (It's supposed to snow 8-14" tonight).

And bringing back a ball that he successfully tracked down in the water. 
These images truly bring home the message that R is still living joyfully. We see the ophthalmologist with R this week so we'll get more insight into whether the meds seem to be helping slow the progression of glaucoma.

Happy Black Dog Sunday - we should all be as happy as R!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Silhouette Saturday

It has been a long time since I captured a good silhouette photo at sunset. I took this one on the evening before our weather suddenly turned wintry. The unsettled air made for a great sunset!
It's been stunning to observe Shyla relaxing more and more in our everyday life and standing tall like in this photo. I believe that our "play therapy" is helping her to take life a little less seriously. That helps her to cope with all the things that have scared her in the past.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Our Autumn Flowers - Aspen Leaves!

We've had a dramatic transition over the past week or so. It had been a sunny, warm, and gorgeous autumn. The colors were brilliant.
I love how tall Shyla is standing in this one!
On that last day of sunshine, Shyla took a bow in a favorite spot. These are usually among the last leaves to change color. I'm glad that they shined so beautifully before winter arrived.

Then, the low-lying clouds and fog arrived. The aspen colors popped out of the drab light.

As I pedaled through the clouds, barely being able to see further than 20 yards ahead of me, the aspen leaves popped along a forest road.

As the fog became so thick that I thought that I might get lost close to home, the aspens seemed to glow even more. It was astounding how bright the aspens seemed.

When I looked closely at the aspen leaves, the droplets deposited by the fog shimmered.

The leaves fell rapidly in the fog making our "aspen tunnels" into "yellow brick roads".

Finally, the fog and clouds turned into snow and rime ice.
Up until today, it looked as if this winter weather would be leaving soon - giving us a bit more sunny autumn weather. I had that forecast cemented in my mind... and then the forecast changed while I wasn't paying attention. More snow is now predicted for the weekend. Thank goodness that my fat bike worked great today - it was its first day on duty this winter.

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Flower Friday Blog Hop.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday - For Nature's Beauty

When our world leaps from warm autumn to freezing winter, it's tough for me to adapt. However, our Labraduo loves it. Shyla spent our ride today zooming in circles around me. The Runner said that R was full of joyful energy too, which is wonderful given what he's going through now.

My body wasn't ready to cope with the huge drop in temperature and the snow pelting out of the sky.

Shyla and I visited that wonderful red-leaved aspen tree that I have been showing you in aerial and closeup photos. It still had some leaves, much to my delight.

I kept thinking as my fingers froze,"Thank goodness it's beautiful". I repeatedly stopped to take photos because the sights were so surprisingly gorgeous and achingly frigid-looking.
I know that I'll adapt and today's temperature will feel warmish to me by a month or two from now. But, for now, I'm cold! And, this weather promises to stick around for the foreseeable future. R and Shyla will love it - that much is certain.