I hit a dip between the waves as I rode the recovery surf today. My energy level had plummeted, and my pain had skyrocketed. So, it didn't rank as one of my best days. I did, however, enjoy watching a coyote wander through our clearing during breakfast.
On an optimistic note, I haven't talked about one amazing facet of my recovery. Although most people who have a 3-level fusion wear a hard brace 24/7 for 6-12 weeks, my surgeon is already "weaning" me off of the hard brace. I'm in the midst of gradually wearing the brace for fewer hours per day around the house. However, due to the snow and ice outdoors, I'll continue wearing full-time when hiking in snow and ice for another month. I'm not sure why I'm healing so fast but I'm very thankful.
Unfortunately, my neck muscles are staging a small rebellion over losing the supportive help from the brace. By launching into spasms, they're telling me that they'd prefer NOT to do the work of holding up my head. Muscle spasms and fatigue have made me feel like I'm trudging through molasses today. However, I know that it's part of the process of healing so I can endure it while keeping my eyes on the goal!
Several of you have asked how R is doing. Since his deer hoof and bone ingestion incident, he's bounced back like a 2-year old high energy puppy. He didn't have surgery so the remedy was to let his digestive tract work things through. He moped pathetically, as if he felt bad, for about a day. Then, all traces of illness disappeared. His astounding recovery leaves no doubt that he's in the physical prime of life, simply bursting with good health.
R hasn't been appearing in my photos often because I've been taking only the mellower dog, K, with me on most hikes. After the mountain lion episode, we realized that we wanted to be absolutely certain that whoever was with the dogs in the forest could control both on leash in a high intensity situation (i.e., both dogs pulling fiendishly at the end of their leashes). Until my neck gets stronger, I'm taking R and K together when only it's absolutely necessary or when I have someone with me to help. Don't worry - R gets treated to a long distance run every morning. He's not being neglected (except perhaps photographically)!
Here's our high voltage puppy during yesterday evening's hike.
The whole pack took a hike yesterday at sunset, and we found another bobcat scent post! We left the house with the goal of searching a specific boulder pile for a scent post but then we ran into a couple of close friends on the trail. They asked if we wanted to change our route to join them. We replied "No thanks, we're going to look for cat poop"! These are extremely good friends - so they just knowingly chuckled and bid us good luck.
The bobcat scent post sat beneath a beehive-shaped pile of boulders in the midst of a huge meadow that's half public property and half private. We hiked across the public land and immediately found a big cache of bobcat scat by the beehive boulder hill. To my surprise, I've become adept at finding these stashes - now there's a marketable skill!
I look for an overhanging ledge with lots of sun exposure that has bare dirt below it. More often than not, I find piles of bobcat scat in these spots, serving as scent posts for the dominant bobcat in the territory. I'd love to put a camera at the new scent post but all of my cameras are busy right now! I need a camera sponsor (ha ha!) because I can't afford enough wildlife cameras to cover all the active scent posts and wildlife corridors that I'm finding. In the photo below, the scent post stood below the pine trees that overhang the boulder pile.
After checking out the bobcat scent post, we walked through the bare brown grass up the sloping meadow. As we walked, a mat of deer fur, sticking up through snow remnants, caught our attention. It looked as if a deer had died in this spot, leaving behind a bed of fur. The bed of fur reminded me of the spot where the lion cached the mule deer carcass. The only clue that remains to mark that spot is a hillock of snow and a bed of fur. In the meadow, the fur barely protruded from below the snow.
When we reached the highest point in the meadow, the sky to the southeast cast a golden and reddish glow over the meadow. I love the ambiance of the world during the imperceptible slippery slide from daylight to dusk each evening.
I also love sunrises but my need for excessive sleep has meant that I haven't seen a sunrise since before my surgery. Maybe soon...
Despite feeling lethargic this morning, K and I headed out for a hike. We followed month-old lion tracks away from the deer carcass cache site. The fact that we could still see the lion's tracks tells you how little snow has fallen recently.
As we followed the tracks, K went on high alert, with her nose pointed up the slope. I wondered what scent caught her attention. Usually, I'd assume that it was a deer or elk but I haven't seen either species in our forest in the past couple of weeks.
After climbing through a dense and shadowy forest without finding a single fresh track except tiny weasel paw prints, we emerged into the blinding daylight of a trail. I released K to lead the way upward.
We spent the next half hour exploring a ridge that I've never set foot on before. The views were stupendous, the sun felt warm, and I felt lazy. So, we stopped frequently to soak up the sun and take photos.
Colorado blue skies with snowy mountains on the horizon provide the perfect backdrop for dog photos!
K noticed an animal in the meadow below us and watched it intently. I see why predators like rocky lookouts. They can spot potential prey from a long distance.
And, this one is for Queen Natasha of the Thundering Herd. K was Queen of this hill, and I dare Natasha to challenge her supremacy!
To get home from our ridge, we tromped down a steep snowy hill with K leading the way. At one point, she hopped over a small branch like it was nothing. Woo hoo, K is feeling better (she's been avoiding jumping since her surgery). She waited for me to hop the same branch. Not yet, K, but soon enough.
Although I enjoyed wandering with K, I still felt blue when I arrived home. Two dog-related things were dragging down my mood, in addition to the pain from my neck muscles. First, I made the mistake of watching "Marley and me" last night. I cried and cried for all the wonderful dogs who I loved with all my heart but who've crossed the rainbow bridge. That movie is painful for anyone who has truly loved a dog.
Then, this morning, I read MaxDog's blog about his serious medical situation. Please visit his blog to lend your support. I'm sending good thoughts to Max - a sweetheart of a Golden Retriever who I fell in love with from the first time that I read his blog.
Here's to Max. My thoughts are with him and his family.