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Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding the way

I tried, without a lot of success, to ride my Fatback snow bike on our trails today. That windstorm that resculpted our world last week did something to the snow properties, making the snow an impediment to almost any form of movement. That is, except for cross-country skiing, which sends jolts of pain radiating down my leg. So, I tried to ride my bike.

R came back to check on why I was going so slowly!
The pups and I took our time, stopping for crazy frolicking. The duo was moving in lockstep in the photo below.
K clambered on a boulder, a favorite 'look-at-me' trick!
Even though the snowbiking was marginal, at best, I loved my time with our dogs. They infuse my world with a lightness of spirit in a way that no one else can.

After slipping and sliding around our trail network, I headed out for a slippery road ride, enjoying the dramatic cloud-enshrouded views of the rocky hills to our east.
Along the quiet side roads, I saw lots of animal tracks. The elk herd had crossed the road, from one forested hillside to another. I suspect that they're hiding in the protected areas away from our daily winds. I hadn't seen any signs of them in a week so I was happy to see evidence of their passage.

On more than one quiet road, coyote groups had trotted along the the road last night. I bet that the windpacked snow encrusting the forest floor is not easy for the wild animals to travel through. So, they wait until most humans have abandoned the roads after dark, and then use the roads for energy-efficient travel.

At one spot, I saw coyote tracks, overlaid with bobcat tracks. Below, my 3.5" long handwarmer lies next to a bobcat track. Notice the two cusps at the front of the largest paw pad. I never saw that delicate feature until this winter, and now I've seen it three times!
Below, the juxtaposition of the coyote track (top track, oblong with claw marks) with the bobcat tracks (lower right) caught my eye. I don't know who came through first. The bobcat tracks crossed the road, squirmed under a wood fence past an abandoned house, and headed down to a dark and snowy gulch. The coyote tracks stayed on the road for another quarter mile.
I arrived home, to find that our friendly Federal Express guy had left a package, with two dog milkbones lying atop it. I left it outside briefly while I warmed up, thinking that no one would mess with the package in a short time. Alas, I was wrong. Our friend Pepper visited and ate both milkbones! Look at the naked package behind him.
I brought him in the house and called his humans, who were unconcerned about his unsupervised wandering, to say the least. I told them about the dogs killed on our road, shot by angry horse owners, and attacked by wild animals. The owner still didn't care. I was furious beyond words, especially knowing how many people go to amazing lengths to take the best possible care of their dogs but still tragically lose them to disease or misfortune.

I became even more furious when I looked at our wildlife camera's photos from last night. First, our 'regular', the wily coyote visited.
Then, Pepper and his brother both visited our birdfeeder area.
It's too common - people move from the big city to the mountains and decide that it's OK to let their dogs roam. In reality, it's against the law, and it's incredibly dangerous. My dogs and I have found the bodies of two dogs killed by wild animals on the trail network behind our house. One victim was bigger than an Akita. I told that story to the dog owner today but it elicited no response. At least, I made my views clear. There's at least a shred of hope that the family will reform.

R changed my mood before I drove down to the 'big city' for a doctor's appointment. He loves stealing items from bags and hording them, but not destroying them, on his bed. I caught him in the act of mischief. I love our grown-up puppy!
Mentally, I felt much better today, like I'll figure out the right path. Part of why I felt more confident was the easing of the electric pain jolting down my leg. That pain is caused by the ruptured disc in my lower back. The fact that it's been tyrannically ruling my life has made it difficult to even think about the neck surgery, which won't address the leg pain. So, today, I felt like I was moving in the right direction. I'll figure things out.

Thanks to all of you for your emails encouraging me in general and advising me to listen to the spine experts. You're absolutely right. No one's advice should carry as much weight as theirs. However, we might have found another source of information. A peripheral acquaintance has a large part of her spine fused. I'll probably get to talk with her this weekend which will help me address my fears about the limitations imposed by having so much of my spine fused.

For now, I'll seize the day like a dog playing in the snow!


  1. Hi KB,
    I'm back and catching up with your posts. Pepper didn't look too guilty - he thought those treats were his! Good that you found a woman who has undergone this extensive spinal surgery. It will be good to get her feedback. K & R are romping like pup sin the snow! I'm thinking of you.

  2. We sure hope your neighbors wake up and tend to their dogs' safety before it is too late.

    Hope that your encounter with this lady gives you some more insight to what you should do. Good luck.

  3. Wow - lots and lots here today, but I'm furious too at Pepper and his bro's hoomans - understand your fury there. The pix of the coyote tracks next to your glove warmer is amazing - never saw that before - you saw so many tracks! Careful on those slippery roads - and just wishing for you to be painfree. Sounds like you've had a good talk with someone who's had an fused spinal op.
    xo Sammie's mom

  4. That's so frustrating about Pepper's humans. We have a similar situation with a cattle dog that runs loose around here, and usually ends up at our neighbor's goat farm... and his owners just don't care. I honestly think the only reason that our neighbor hasn't shot him is that he knows it would upset me. So he locks the dog in his barn and calls animal control to come get it, and then the owners have to pay a fee to get their dog back. So far, they've bailed the dog out of the pound 4 times, and it has been a while since I've seen him, so I'm hoping that the owners have finally decided it is worth some effort to keep him from roaming. Every time, I'm worried that they won't pay to get him out of the shelter - I don't think he's particularly adoptable.

  5. I hope Pepper's humans grow a brain! That makes me so angry!

    Glad to hear you're starting to feel led to a certain course of action!

  6. I'd be furious, too. Actually, there are people even HERE in the CITY that let their dogs roam aimlessly. It's awful! I hope Pepper doesn't pay the price for his owners' stupidity.

    There is a woman who I often see out with her yellow Lab, Leo. They remind me of your and your dogs when I see them, despite the fact that she's a jogger and you're a biker. Leo is one of the best behaved dogs in my neighborhood, staying close by his owner when they run out in the field, not running up to Marge and I uninvited. It's so refreshing to see a duo like that around here amidst all the irresponsible people who let their dogs go out and gallivant on the sidewalks or run up to other dogs and start fights.

  7. Love the pictures of the dogs frolicking in the snow. It is a message to us all to enjoy the moment.

  8. beautiful the bobcat picture by the rabbit hideout!!
    what ski area is that?
    crazy about the labs running wild....people are so stupid...i agree with your sentiments exactly...i have a new neighbor with a irish setter....i've stopped snagging him and taking him home, only to see him running the hood later...the guy doesn't care...why should i?...he's always apologetic...i told him i don't care if he's sorry, i don't want to find his dog dead in the road...
    glad that you have someone to talk with about your back....perhaps will help to clarify some things...i'm sending positive vibes your direction......

  9. Great pictures again. So glad you're getting as much insight and info as possible.

  10. I'm glad you found someone who has experienced the surgery and you feel a little more certain of what you are going to do.

    I'm thinking you have a very nice delivery guy to leave milk bones! It seems like everyone has a neighbor that lets their dogs run loose or does something else stupid like not keeping their water dish full. We have a rat terrier and a great dane that run loose together. Cute pair but the great dane attacked my old dog a couple times and people in the neighborhood are afraid of her.

    I have a question about your handwarmers. Do you wear them inside a glove and do they keep your finger tips warm? I need to find a way to keep my fingers warmer. Any thermal wear recommendations? Can you tell I'm prepping for skiing?

  11. Wow...the whole Pepper thing is just so wrong and I am angry right with you. In fact, my old neighbor did that with his dog and it caused all sorts of problems with my pack of misfits. He was the biggest incentive for us to move! I can't stand that kind of arrogance. Good for you for trying your hardest to educate them.

    I'm really hoping that you get some helpful insights from the woman with the fused need all of the info you can to make the right choice for you. As much as I agree that the advice from the surgeon and doctor is important, you are a very unique person with a very unique and amazing lifestyle. I think often the medical advice given is for the general/normal population and you, my dear friend, are anything but normal :) So gather every bit of info you can so that you can fight fiercely to maintain as much of that quality of life as you can...I can't think of many other people who appreciate being outside as much as you do!

    I'm here on the sidelines cheering you on and ready to hop in and help in any way I can...and so is mr. smrp :) Let us know if you need anything!

    And give the dynamic bouncing bunny duo extra scritches from us :)

  12. Good news - we received a conciliatory phone call from Pepper's humans last night. I think that there's hope of reform. Only time will tell.

    KKS: That's a tiny ski area called Eldora. You've probably never heard of it although it's actually big by the standards of most of the country.

    Maery: I have two sets of mittens, one for cycling and one for skiing. For cycling, I use Manzella windproof fleece convertible glove/mittens. They're gloves with half-fingers and a mitten cover that I can flip on and off. The handwarmer goes in the mitten part. These are great for activities with dogs because I can manipulate treats without taking off my mittens.

    For skiing, I use Black Diamond Mercury Mittens when it's below around 25 deg (I use the Manzellas when it's warmer). They're expensive but incredibly warm.

    I have Raynaud's syndrome quite badly so I go to extremes for my fingers. You might not need anywhere near the extreme stuff that I need.

    For handwarmers, a neat trick is to lock them in a zip-lock bag after using them. You can use them for a total of about 10 hrs so there's no point in throwing them away after one use!

    In my experience, chemical handwarmers don't work with regular gloves. Your fingertips still get cold.


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