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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Springtime, my sensitive K, and the bears

I joyfully started my day with a short bike ride on our dirt roads. I'm going to be riding only roads until the snow clears the trails this year. As my longtime readers know, I have fabulous Fatback snow bike. However, it would be foolish for me to risk riding on snow while my neck heals. The biggest downside is that K can't ride with me on the roads. The trails will melt out soon enough.

I started my ride next to a sunny meadow. Myriad signs of spring stopped me in my tracks. Red-winged blackbirds called all around me. I finally spotted one in a willow bush. These common birds spend only the late spring and summer at our high elevation. It's earlier than they usually arrive but I won't complain!
A little further east in the meadow, I spotted two pairs of mountain bluebirds (although the photo shows only three birds). They perched atop swaying bush branches and burst into flight after I took one photo. The male's brilliant blue plumage stood out against the gray skies.
Indeed, although signs of spring abounded, a storm approached with the clouds oozing unstoppably up the canyons from the plains. Perhaps this storm was the reason that I saw a massive flock of Canada geese flying SOUTH today. I wanted to flag them down and point them in the right direction!
I glimpsed a slice of one snowy mountain all day long. In the photo below, a snowy peak barely shined through just above the forested hills. Higher, a curtain of clouds obscured it. Our elk herd loves the meadow and pond in the foreground. I hope to see them basking there soon.
After returning from my ride, I took only K, and not R, for a hike. R split a nail a few weeks ago but it started hurting again recently. We learned that he had chipped a bone further up that toe and also has a bone infection creeping up from the crack in his nail into the toe bone. Hopefully, antibiotics will stop the bone infection. Otherwise, amputating the end of his toe will be necessary. Apparently, it's unlikely that he'll need amputation but that word freaks me out. In any case, he took it easy today. The big thing that I learned is that most vets will advise prophylactic antibiotics for a badly cracked nail like his because serious bone infections are a frequent complication. I had no idea.

I showered K with attention on our hike. She's a sensitive soul and gets subdued when the two of us don't get hiking or biking time alone. She also gets scared if I have to use a firm tone with R during a hike, and that happened frequently yesterday. Today, she seemed to beam with mellow happiness. She loves playing with R but she also loves having quiet time on her own with me.
We truly wandered, with nary a goal. We followed her nose across a meadow and found a spot where a coyote had made the snow crust collapse. His tracks trampled the area around the hole in the snow, and I wonder if he caught a rodent there, like the coyote who I watched yesterday.
Then, we followed the path of melted snow where dirt showed through, wanting to take a break from the endless slogging through deep snow that we've done over the past week. K found a lookout toward the Divide but the mountains had vanished behind the clouds. She still savored the scents.
As we moved at a relaxed pace along a ridge of boulders, we stopped frequently to scan our world and snuggle together. In this photo, I think that she's wondering when KB is going to stop hugging her! Sorry, girl, but the answer is NEVER.
Finally, just before we descended toward home, K struck one of her trademark dramatic poses high on a boulder.
Once I was home, I wrestled more with iMovie and put together another montage of photos of the bears outside their den, a continuation of yesterday's video. It's a short clip, showing the two cubs playing wildly (there will be several more clips in coming days). Then, mom comes out and appears to exert her authority to calm them. However, just when it looks like the cubs might become mellow, the two cubs jump onto mom, and get her to wrestle with them. I never thought that I'd get to see the intimate interactions in a bear family like these photos show. You'll notice that there's no video included - after the first bout of playing, the cubs filled the memory card on the camera that I had set to record video. I'm so glad that I had multiple cameras on the scene!


  1. Those bears must be taxing for poor mom! They sure are fun to watch, though!

    Boy do I understand K! Blueberry is so similar. Raise your voice to somebody and she just can't take it. Heaven forbid you leave her out of anything, either!

    I thought about you for the first quarter of our bike ride today, and then on the second quarter, I remembered why I'd sworn it off when I felt like I'd pass out again. I don't think I was made for riding uphill!

  2. ...and I'm not sure I'm made for riding on the flats...

    We hope R responds to the treatment -

    Once again, thanks for sharing the bear family fun!

  3. The photos of the bears are remarkable! I can only imagine how thrilling it must be for you to discover what took place at the den since your last visit.

  4. you hit the jackpot finding this bear den!! fascinating images!! i won't be surprised to find your images on Nat Geo!!

    i didn't know about the split nail prophylactic antibiotic treatment either....(don't see this in CCU) hopefully amputation won't be necessary! arg!

  5. Always love the pictures looking into K's eyes - they are so full of life!

  6. I know it sounds awful, but toe amputation usually is no big to a dog. Toe injuries are really common in greyhounds. I've had 3 toes amputated on 3 different greyhounds.

    One recommendation, if you do have to amputate, its ok to amputate P3 bone or the entire toe. But make sure the vet does not amputate P3 and P2 leaving P1. Leaving P1 can be very painful. I hope that made sense.

  7. Bear pictures great. What a story about R dog. With the joy of their company comes a fair leavening of worry.

  8. Yes, definitely Mama Bear was asserting her authority - I'd know that pose anywhere...I liked the clip where one of the cub's back paws was flung into the air. Great slideshow, KB - thanks! I also like the closeup of sweet K - glad she scored some alone-time. I hope R's foot heals quickly. It's windy here in Denver!

  9. Hey there KB
    Wow...amazing bear pics! What a treat to be able to be privvy to it all!
    Sending lotsaluv and lotsalicks for a happy Easter. Warm recovey wishes too!

  10. We sure hope R's toe gets better soon. K sure is a sweet dog/friend & beautiful too. Great pics. We would have liked being there.
    Loved the bear video too.
    Ernie, Sasha,Chica

  11. While we haven't had any experiences with cracked nails (thank goodness), it's good to know how serious they can be.

    Beautiful pictures!

  12. K really seems like a special girl. It looks like you had some needed one on one time with her.

    Thanks for the note about R's toe. That's something I need to hear because I always try to avoid taking Kona to the vet. I'll be more vigilant about toes! I really hope R heals up without another mention of that scary "a" word.

  13. Thanks to everyone for their comments. Also, thanks to "Never Say Never Greyhounds" for the advice. I do understand what you mean and will be sure to talk with the vet about it if the "a" word is discussed again!

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