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Monday, February 8, 2010

Find it!

Today dawned snowy and beautiful, like yesterday. My energy was lagging and the footing was slippery so K and i walked more slowly and carefully than usual. I immediately noticed an aspen tree with bear claw marks on it. A series of marks made a trail up the tree, suggesting that an adult bear had shimmied up it.When I looked more closely, I saw that the climbing marks led to a woodpecker-sized hole that the bear doubtless investigated.

This sign made me think of 'my' bears, sleeping peacefully on the other side of the ridge. It will take great patience to stay away from them and my camera - but their lives depend on conserving energy for the winter. So, I have high motivation to keep my distance.

Someone asked why the mother bear slept by the den entrance. I don't know the answer but my best guess was that she was protecting her cub. Moreoever, the cave roof became lower further back in the crevice so the mama bear might have been too big to fit back there.

I'm pretty sure that the mother and yearling are the same pair who I saw last summer foraging for berries on a verdant slope. One time, as the cub ran in the underbrush up the slope, mama bear stood on her hind legs to examine me. I've read that standing upright is a sign of curiosity rather than aggression in bears. Indeed, after peering at me, she followed her cub uphill and away from me.
On today's hike, snow didn't fall hard but the bushes and small trees frequently covered K in snow, making her look like frosty the snow dog!
Early in the hike, she climbed some boulders. Sometimes, it looks like she's surveying the land from a precarious post.
But, she always finds easy ways to climb up and down. This photo shows how she descended the backside of the boulder face that she just posed on.At the end of our walk, we played a game that K loves. It's our "Find it" game, where she searches for something that smells like me. In this case, she searched for an old pair of chemical handwarmers, encased in a zip-lock plastic bag, that I'd clutched in my fingers for hours.

This game was a fun ending to our walk!


  1. KB! Catching up on your weekend posts...I feel like I'm getting to know your forest too. I can't wait until Spring and the waking bears.

    I love K's snow face. It seems like such goofy adornment for the dignified, athletic pose. (It's good to see her looking so strong!)

  2. We are glad woo took it carefully today -

    The bear checking you out was a joy to see - I wonder if the bear blogged about it last year?

  3. Frosty the snow dog!!! I love 'find it' too!!! Especially involving a treat... :)

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  4. K looks like she's wearing a snow blanket! I have to say, your videos are five thousand times more entertaining than mine!

    Do the bears generally stay in the same area all their lives? How far do they ever tend to migrate? It would be kind of cool to see the bear cub keep getting older and older.

  5. Do you ever have grizzlies that come and check out your territory?

    K looks wonderful in her snow coat, Stella has been wearing one all week, everytime she comes in, its either falling from the sky or she is down rolling around in it.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

  6. I'm really impressed with K's Find it! Whenever Marge picks something up in her mouth, she MUST chew on it. It's made our dumbbell work pretty hard. How did you get K to hold things so gently?

  7. Impressive! way to go. I love games with the doggies!

    i have to do some videos but next week. this week, busy preparing for mardi gras. you're inpsiring me though!

    ps: why do you call her "dog"? I mean, i know she's a dog... but is that what you call or or is it for sake of K's privacy? :)

  8. Great pictures! You do have a lot of snow!!
    Just dropping by from Max's blog and wishing you lots of well wishes~
    Get well soon!

  9. Khrya - I checked and the bear had a photo of me on her blog last year!

    Houndstooth - Bears don't stay in an area after they separate from their moms. I plan to blog a bit more about what will happen to these two over the next year. But, in a nutshell, the yearling will be allowed to stay with mom through May or so. Then mom starts driving the yearling away from her (so that mom can mate). During the first half of the summer or so, the two of them are in the same territory but not together. Next, mom will start trying to push the cub out of her territory. Then, the cub becomes a 'subadult transient' traveling around our area trying to find his/her own territory that's not occupied by another bear of the same sex. That's the most dangerous time in a bear's life.

    Stella: No grizzlies here. So far, they've stayed north of us in Wyoming and other northern rocky mtn states.

    Sam: K was born with a 'soft mouth' like a lot of Labs. But, I reinforce it with treats by holding on tight as I offer a treat. If she bites at it too hard, I don't release it into her mouth and ask her to try again (or if R is present, I give R the treat that I just yanked out of her mouth - this second method works wonders!). I've never had to do this process with an object, however, because K naturally could carry a raw egg without breaking it. Perhaps you could work on your 'take it' without worrying about how hard Marge bites it (and trading a jackpot of high value treats for the dumbell before Marge starts chewing on it). Then, later, work on clicking only soft 'take its'.

    Wild Dingo: I called "Dogs' because that's our generic term to avoid having to say all the dogs names (we've had as many as three at a time). I find that our dogs do better if I always use 'Dogs' as their recall name (even when it's only one dog - they don't care about grammar). Using just 'Dogs' is my informal recall and 'Dogs come' is my formal recall.

  10. Oh wow...neat KB on the "dog" answer. its always interesting to learn other methods of training. I'm a Patricia McConnel fan too. I don't remember that part except when she tried to recall one dog at a time through the door way and it didn't work.

    My trainer says not to use their name except during recall, so alot of my recalls sound like "LokiJuno Come!"

    My husband isn't very consistant. He'll use their names on everything. Recently, Juno picked up a piece of trash outside from a painting project. Mr. WD followed her around and said "Juno Out!" and pointed to the ground. Firstly, only my GSD knows what Out means from our tug games and training. secondly, he was FOLLOWING her and using a stearn tone. I sometimes wonder if he was in the same class as me when he took her to training. i mean seriously! I saw all this happening and started laughing as Juno ran away from him with the goods in her mouth. I simply recalled her happily. She came to me, i praised her, and just opened her mouth with my hand gently and out popped the trash. I praised her again and if i thought of it would have exchanged it for a treat.

    i swear... men! LOL!

  11. Hi KB, I used to play this find it game with my Golden. Working dogs need tasks like this to keep them mentally as well as physically stimulated. K looks like a frosty dog in some of the photos. Cold here in Denver this AM - 5 degrees.

  12. Love the "find it game" - Z especially loves to be sent back to find my gloves or hat, which I originally taught him because I was tired of looking for the glove I had dropped along the trail somewhere.

    We use "dogs" to recall all the dogs at once, too!

  13. Maybe the bear recognized you when you came to their den and decided you were OK, so no need to wake up:) Great game with K - she is so smart.

    And please do post a pic of S, we would love to see it. We all move on, but we never forget.

  14. Oh my goodness-the Find It video was so cute! I love that brown bunny so much! Good job K!!!

  15. I can't believe K can find something like that in the snow and that she understands what you want her to do. Pretty cool!


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