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Monday, January 4, 2010

Sunrise, moonset, and sunset

The Rocky Mountains shined with brilliance today. The golden hue of the rising sun and the white face of the setting moon greeted us as we rolled out the door.
The frigid air kept the snowpack solid, and I rode my Fatback on perfect snowy trails with K by my side for part of the ride. As we headed out, we crossed one route that animals could take up toward the deer carcass cached about a third of a mile from our house. Indeed, two sets of tracks, starting at the top of the photo below and moving toward the bottom, headed directly toward the site. At the start of the tracks shown below, the animals moved slowly, one directly behind the other. Then, something spooked them, and they briefly loped uphill. I couldn't see any of the tracks clearly but they were the right size and spacing to be a small lion and her kitten.
Nearby, a pair of deer had walked a parallel path. I now have a visceral feeling for how much courage it takes to be a deer in our forests.
While I looked at the tracks, K patiently sat next to my Fatback, watching out for me.
When I returned, she looked at me soulfully, as if apologizing for her crazy behavior when she ran away to the deer carcass two days ago.
Our next stop was our favorite view point. The wintery veil of clouds, glowing with the subtle golden hue of sunrise, mingled with the mountains.
Then, I took K home. She stood by the intersection leading to our house as if to say, "Why aren't we going further?". She's giving me conflicting signals. Some say that her tummy has felt bad since her venison misadventure and others say that she wants to romp. If only she could talk.
I rode solo after dropping off K, and I found some stupendously perfect trails for snow biking. I rolled up a ridge faster than I usually do on dirt. I had a blast and almost forgot about the rapidly accelerating countdown to surgery. On my way home, I coasted downhill, careening atop crusty snow with the world passing by at warp speed. When I was almost home, a gorgeous view of a mountain greeted me.
When I arrived home, the pups and I did some training in preparation for my surgery recovery. I won't be able to bend or twist my neck due to a restrictive brace that I'll wear for 6-12 weeks. So, I'm training the pups to put their front paws on a platform so that I can leash them without bending my neck.

This trick is an old one for K. I first taught her it when I had my lumbar fusion surgery almost 4 years ago.
For R, it was totally new. However, the boy learns fast. As usual, he added his own unique twist, putting his back paws on the bottom step rather than keeping them on the ground. That's fine for my purposes!
Tomorrow, I'll work on actually leashing them in this position. And, I'll work on having the one dog do a down-stay while I leash the other one.

That ended the fun part of my day. I then headed to the spine doctor's office for a lumbar steroid injection, designed to reduce the pain in my low back and legs before next week's neck surgery. I hate these injections but maybe it'll help. I'll know within a few days.

I arrived home in time to see the sunset light up lenticular clouds into a rainbow of colors against a deep blue sky. The snow turned pink, transforming our forest into a surreal landscape. I can't find such beauty and peace anyplace but in nature.


  1. That last pic is incredible

    and so is THE LOOK K gives you!

  2. When I look at that last beautiful picture, I find myself taking a deep breath, wanting to smell that place! Smells of cold, snow, pines, animals, a heady mix!

    Thanks for taking us on your rides!

    Jo and Stella

  3. I didn't realize the surgery was so soon. You sound like you're doing a lot of preparing - I really love the idea of K and R's platform. It's so cool to hear about people teaching their dogs behaviors that are useful in daily life situations!

  4. I'd give K anything she wanted with a look like that!

    My husband got a book today that made me think of you. It's called Ghost Trails and it's by Jill Homer. She rode her bike 350 miles into the Alaskan wilderness along the Iditarod Trail. When he showed it to me, I thought of you on your bike and figured that would be a short ride for you!

  5. The venison brought back memories when a friend's dog found a rotting carcass and brought it home, eating it a little here and a little there along the way. Then - monumental puke all over the carpet! YECH!

    Cool job with the steps! My lumbar spine is a mess. Maybe this is something I should think about teaching!

  6. Great to see the two of them weighing in by learning new routines.

  7. R - Rusty says he always adds his unique twist to any request, so he salutes you for yours. Compliant, but creative!

  8. i read, but didn't have time to post....the coyote video is awesome, and your thoughts on why they were forcing him away....fascinating stuff!
    surgery next, but you're preparing the dogs to accommodate you...they'll be fine....after all, all they really want is to be with matter what you're doing...
    hope the injections help...

  9. Incredible sunset!!
    Labs are so eager to please,
    I'm sure you could teach them to leash themselves-chuckle!

  10. Stunning photos, another beautiful journey.

    Your stories of training with K and R are inspiring. I am sure they will both be a great comfort and a great help to you in the weeks ahead. As for me, I am inspired to work a little more each day with Byron because you show me goals to reach toward.

    Byron's Mom

  11. We hope K's tummy is ok!
    What great training. Would like to work on that as well...a few 'jobs' learned would be really great for our puppy!

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose and mom

  12. Sorry, we have fallen behind in our reading here again. Mom is always amazed at you, here she is complaining about not being able to walk us because of the ice on the roads and sidewalks, and look at you, out there biking away and facing your serious surgery in days. So much courage - we send our best wishes for success.

    Tail wags, Phantom and Thunder

  13. A spectacular sunset, KB! May your days now until surgery be calm and purposeful. I hope the shot works for you. My D-i-L has been getting some relief - my fingers are crossed.


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