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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fighting the blues

It probably hasn't escaped your attention that my spirits have been low lately. The fire, the camera thefts, other unethical behavior by fellow humans, and back pain have dragged me down and left me exhausted. I started my day by reminding myself that many wonderful people, dogs, and places surround me. I usually can keep perspective and remember how lucky I am. I'm hoping to regain that ability soon.

K's soulful eyes in the photo below, taken in the dwindling light of sunset, remind me of the good in life.Today, I thought that I would shake the blues that have possessed me for a couple of weeks. It was a glorious, warm, and colorful autumn day. I had both halves of our wonderful and lovable Duo with me for a mountain bike ride through blazing aspen groves.
We started early, when it was still crisp and the smoke was down. The stunning mountains met us at the top of the world.Both K and R donned muzzles to prevent 'shrooming. I heeded advice from the comments and tried loosening K's muzzle. Unfortunately, it didn't improve her disposition but it did look more comfortable.
When I briefly took off the muzzles, they both looked relieved but K even more than R. Although they are both full Labs, their temperaments are a study in contrasts. Almost nothing fazes R but K is extraordinarily sensitive and insecure about any change in her world, especially changes that make her feel less able to protect herself.
Shortly later, as I pedaled through an aspen grove, I spotted bear tracks in the sand. When the Duo hit the same spot, they jolted awake like they'd just had espresso injected into their veins. I already had my camera out so I captured a photo of K as she accelerated to warp speed.
I was SO pleased that they both pivoted and sprinted to me when I called them. It's bear hunting season so the ursines have a lot to contend with. Their metabolisms are sluggish as hibernation season approaches, and armed people are stalking them. The bears don't need the added stress of dogs chasing them - so I'm thrilled that the Duo behaved so well.

When we passed that spot again on the way home, R gave a lot of though to investigating the fascinating scent but he again heeded my call. What a good dog!
After I dropped the Duo off at home, I went to check a wildlife camera. Immediately, my eyes were drawn to five shallow slices on the locking cable. The inept thief barely dented the surface of the cable, and I spent the next hour moving the camera to an extremely remote location. In fact, I hope that my GPS did a good job of marking the spot or I may never find it again! Thwarting evil feels good! That was the only camera that was posted close to a place that humans occasionally visit - now all my cameras are in very hidden places.

Shortly later, I found a campsite, with camping gear set up in it, but a knee-high campfire unattended. Wind out of the west whipped the flames. All around, bone dry grass and trees beckoned the flames. The campsite sat in terrain like the canyon shown in the photo below. I find it hard to believe that people are so utterly clueless and uncaring. A huge wildfire is still burning nearby. Isn't that sufficient reminder to pay attention to a campfire?
After finding the campers and using great restraint to remain polite while talking with them about their fire, I managed to let the incident roll off my back. It was a glorious autumn day, not one to be squandered while continually fulminating over a few bad people.

At another wildlife camera that I checked on my loop, I found that a mother deer and fawn had passed through at dawn. Here, the mother is ahead of the fawn and noticed my camera.
In a few steps, the fawn stood, barely visible behind the doe. The fawn's eye barely reaches her mother's shoulder. According to my reading, a mule deer fawn stays with its mother for almost a year. I was surprised by the long dependency.
I finished my ride by rolling down this spectacular autumn trail. Although the day started cold, the warm sun kissed my shoulders as I whooshed along the buttery trail. Most of life is good.


  1. Are you ever afraid of the duo getting too close to bears?


  2. I'm not sure which stoopid human trick made me more angry:

    the thief or the fire twit -

    Thanks for sharing the day with us - and for persevering -

    I so understand the feelings -

  3. Hi Sam,

    I do worry about the Duo and bears although I doubt that bear could ever catch the duo to hurt them. I mainly worry about the Duo hurting a bear, especially a cub who is fleeing from them.

    Most black bears are incredibly timid, and rarely truly attack. Researchers in Minnesota told of one of their radio-collared bears sitting outside her den with her very very young cub early this spring. A loose dog started harassing them. The cub couldn't climb a tree yet because she was too young and weak. The mother bear simply lay over top of the cub and waited for the dog to go away. The dog eventually departed.

    In general, research shows that bears usually search for the lowest-conflict way out of encounters with humans or their pets. If they can, they simply climb a tree. I often wonder how many bears have watched me from high in trees as I pedaled under them.

  4. I think you are an incredibly strong woman and giving in to a little slump now and then just has to happen. Most of us would never be able to find so much joy in the face of chronic pain. Kudos to you!

    I totally understand your anger at the irresponsible campers. We find the same thing around here. And it seems to occur more when the weather is cooler and the forest is dry. All of us have to take the time and effort to courteously point out how dangerous it is to leave an open fire even for a few minutes.

    I can't believe the Aspens are already turning. Beautiful photographs.

  5. I'm interested to know what the response was from the Campers. . .did they seem to understand what you were talking about? Did you make them sign a promissory note to pay for any damages??? I would!

    No matter what, it seems that you are very good about keeping your sunny side up!


    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  6. Hee hee! Wouldn't you have loved to have caught the would be thief on camera, not so much so you could turn him in to authorities, but just so you could see his frustration and thwarted efforts? I know I would have enjoyed that a lot!

    I think we all get the blues at times, but I'm glad you seem to be getting out of the slump. I love seeing the Duo having such a great romp in the Autumn air!

  7. Your grasses and trees are really turning, KB. I walked about 5 miles on the trails around my house this AM and saw some yellow but not as much as you seem to have. It has been low 20's overnight through the weekend. Do you have a pic of the would-be thief on your camera? That would be great. It is obviously someone who lives close to you. I'm sure glad when mushroom season is over - for K and R's sakes!

  8. Our fire seasons are usually bad and campfires are prohibited almost everywhere. I would be furious to find a fire unattended.

    I hope you feel better soon. You have been under a lot of added stress with the fire and the theft problem. Hopefully things will calm down now!

    Emma Rose and the Duchess

  9. The kids don't look like they are minding the muzzles much. We would run to if we smelled Smokey the Bear. Tell mom not to let those knucklehead people get her down. They are not worth the energy.
    Benny & Lily

  10. Glad no one got away with your camera, or set another fire. Do you have campfire restrictions in your area?

    Props to you for getting out while in a slump. I know that I can, well slump, when I'm feeling down. I feel like your forest and Duo will lift your spirit as you attend to them.

    I know you've shown recent pictures of your apsen trees, but for some reason they really look like even more like fall today.

  11. Oh, Man... ditto Khyra. Amazing what you do manage to catch, despite the "burglaries." Horrid. The scenery indeed looks fall-like - how beautiful. Hope your stress levels drop and that you feel better soon... and... hopefully, humans will start leaving as well for the winter.
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie, Avalon and Mom

  12. Sorry you've had the blues, but from what we read - you were due for some less than sunny yellow!

    When you have the dogs in the woods during bear season have you ever thought of putting orange vests on them so they don't get shot? That has always worried me with my dogs.

  13. Hope 'the other unethical behaviour' gets resolved soon. I can see that it's a drain. Have you looked back to see what you were writing about a year ago? Progress and perspective!

  14. Wait, so do you have video evidence of the retardo-thief? and seriously, is s/he doing this to YOU specifically or just is s/he doing it because they don't like cameras in the woods? i'm fascinated by the theif's tenacity to keep coming after the cameras. is it the same person?

    K, ya, K and Loki are two pees in a pod. so sensitive. on one hand it's sad on the other hand, it makes easy training because they's so in-tune with the world around them and keyed into their behavior within the environment. very little force is necessary for a sensitive dog. versus Juno, we need a fog horn and a big skillet to even come close to jarring her. LOL! it is interesting with the opposite temperment duo dogs. It makes training and learning how to manage dog behavior "faster" to learn on our behalf because each dog has different motivations and sensativity. Loki also has "low threshold" for pain therefor a small leash correction is more than enough to key him in if he ever needs one. versus with Juno, she's not sensitive to pain at ALL, nail through her paw last year didn't even phase her. right now tho, Loki is completely perplexed because we finally set up our office upstairs after a few weeks of having it in our dining room downstairs and he's so confused about what to do, where to laydown, etc. Juno, she'll plop anywhere! sigh. i need to send them to you for some romps and rolls in the woods. K & Loki can woo together in "woah is me" company! R and Juno can conquer the world!

  15. Grrrrrr - how angry it makes us that someone is still after your cameras. We wonder, like the Wild Dingo Mom if you have anything on your camera's recording. Still makes us a little concerned for your safety.

    Being on the blue side is so understandable - your life has had so many ups and downs of late. We admire your spirit to fight back - we could sure learn a big lesson from you on that.

    Hope this week is a better one for you. We hear there is another big fire in Colorado now.

  16. Deep breaths, enjoy the little things.
    Great recalls!!!! And, mom's sometimes felt like fire patrol at some campgrounds we have stayed at...still burning fires, winds....not good :(

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

  17. Hmm. I was thinking. As someone who spends a lot of time alone on public lands, I wonder what I would do if I came across a camera? I pick up trash, cut and remove barbed wire, tear down cairns, and untie survey tape. I know--some of this is good, and some of it is not. I tend to remove all evidence of human-ness when I am out there. To selfishly want to keep this part of my world pristine is just something I do. My hands are often shaking as I remove "the human" from the wild. I still feel like I'm stealing.

    So, I was thinking, maybe your thief is really someone like me. Someone to whom a camera in the wild is an intrusion. I hope you understand the place I am coming from when I say I'd probably have the same reaction.

  18. I'm so happy to see you seem to have more internet access now! We've missed you and the labraduo!

    I, too, am amazed at the gold already showing. My weekends have been uberscheduled, and I fear I'm going to miss it like I did much of the wildflower season!!! So I am so happy to see your quakies.

    My blood boiled when I read about this latest camera theft attempt. And while I understand Dawn's feelings, I guess I've lived in Colorado too long and have grown accustomed to all the different studies set up in various parts of the wild. I could never remove someone's cameras, meters, instruments or anything that might be the result of research that might in the end make the world a better place. Plus, to damage someone else's lock in order to remove such equipment is just plain vandalism.

    I'm so glad you happened upon the campfire when you did to prevent a sequel to what has already been so tragic, and I hope you were able to educate the campers, and maybe they in turn will educate others in the future. It's a long shot, I know, but it give me hope.


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