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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bookends: Sunset and sunrise

At the end of yesterday, the dogs and I went for a romp in the woods around sunset, and the lighting was sublime.
Our youngest dog, R (the black lab in yesterday's photos), had elbow dysplasia surgery about two and a half months ago. My heart soars with happiness to see him gallop effortlessly with absolutely no hitch in his stride. We got him from an extremely responsible breeder who has bent over backwards to help with his vet bills and to research the best treatments. A word of warning for people who are trying to find orthopedically sound dogs -- recessive genes cause elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia. Consequently, when a breeder advertises that the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) has certified the parents as having structurally 'normal' elbows, it does NOT mean that all of the puppies will have normal elbows. Even a parent with structurally sound elbows can be carrying one copy of the bad gene. We learned this firsthand because both of R's parents are certified as having normal elbows. The best strategy, in my opinion, is to find parents that have been previously bred to each other but have NEVER had a pup with elbow or hip dysplasia. That's where we went wrong - R's parents were being bred to each other for the first time so we had no information about whether they had bad recessive genes lurking in their DNA.

Actually, we didn't really go wrong. R's loving and joyful soul has brought us happiness. However, we will do things differently when we look for our next puppy.

This morning, my biking buddy, K, and I endured my cough and some intense winds to get out on the trails together. I took the picture below while I was riding. I managed to hold the camera in my right hand and snap a shot of our shadows (K is on the right).

Since last summer, I've been having the recurring feeling that I want to freeze time right here and now. Life is good. I can ride my bike, and my best biking buddy, K the chocolate lab, is in the prime of life. She's physically strong, very well trained, and our bond is amazing. All my dogs, over many years, have taught me about exuberantly embracing the moment. Their lives seem so brief. Although I'm meticulous about not running K too hard, she probably has only a few more years of riding with me if we're lucky. So, we have fun on the trails whenever we can.

After I dropped K off at home, I went for a little more riding. Below is a picture facing east. You can see Boulder through Eldorado Canyon. Beyond Boulder, the plains stretch as far as the eye can see.
Today, the wind was blowing so hard that a long gradual climb that usually takes about 27 minutes in the summer actually took 50 minutes. I could hear each gust coming before it hit me. I downgeared and hunkered down so that I could move forward through each gust. After a gust subsided, it felt like there was a vacuum that sucked my bike forward. At the end of the long climb, I had the wind at my back and flew home! Amazingly, these aren't the 'real' winds. There's a high wind advisory starting tonight through tomorrow night with gusts up to 80 mph forecasted. Riding might not be possible but, believe it or not, forecasts have been wrong before.

Yesterday, I wrote about why I ride -- sheer love of it and controlling my back pain. As my mind wandered today, I realized that that fear also motivates me. I've had more than my share of health problems and resulting lengthy periods when cycling was impossible for me. I'm scared that I won't be able to ride sometime in the foreseeable future due to my spine. So, if the day looks good and I'm physically able, I hop on my bike and go. Carpe Diem.

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