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Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet Chloe, the unconquerable

Today, I'd like to start by telling you about a great friend of mine, smrp from Dream Valley Ranch, who has had a terribly scary roller coaster ride with a wild mustang who she rescued 18 months ago. Sweet Chloe, a wild 7-year old mustang who was starved at the previous "sanctuary" where she lived, has been extremely sick. The diagnosis has been elusive, but, at the very least, her kidneys were failing. Smrp has spent most of her time over the past week sedating sweet Chloe and giving her IV fluids in her stall. Alas, despite this heroic effort, Chloe seemed sicker than ever over the weekend. Because Chloe seemed to be in pain, a vet went to smrp's house on Sunday to check out Chloe and consider whether it was time to end her pain.

Well, Miss Chloe wasn't ready to say good-bye to her beloved smrp yet. She rallied, in a huge way, and told the vet to go home. She is pugnaciously embracing life as I write this. She's not out of the woods but she's claimed some more time in this old world.

To understand both Chloe and smrp, you need to understand that Chloe was extremely afraid of humans and couldn't be handled when smrp first met her. Smrp worked her magic - a potent combination of love and training - and, in a post this summer, brought me to tears with a video of her grooming and playing with Chloe. The bond between the two of them is undeniable when you watch that video and imagine that Chloe would have never allowed a human so close to her just a year before.

If you have time, please go over and visit smrp and Chloe at Dream Valley Ranch. I think that Chloe will capture your hearts. As an aside, four incredibly cute dogs and an entire herd of flowery horses, all rescued, live there as well!

I've had Chloe on my mind a lot lately, and I thought about her last night as R and I watched dusk take over our sky. As we stood completely still gazing at the horizon, three mule deer, two does and a youngster, pronked past us as if they didn't see us. 
This morning, as I prepared to walk K and then ride my bike, a veritable deluge of Noah's Ark proportions fell out of the sky. As the rain started, the air temperature plummeted. Within a half hour, it was snow rather than rain. During our walk, K and I didn't dilly dally for many photos - getting her cast wet is a major mistake. She had three layers protecting it, and we made it through her walk with a dry cast!
Several of you have picked up on my excitement that K has less than 2 weeks left in her cast and have asked if she'll be allowed to run again. Unfortunately, no one knows. We don't know how successful the surgery was, and we don't know how much function she'll regain in her paw. Right now, I'm simply happy that I know that she'll be able to walk further than she can now. If she can run again someday, that will be wonderful beyond words. If she can't, we'll take special hikes and find other things to do together. I know that I'm lucky to have her in my life, no matter what.

After K's little walk, R and I headed out into a furiously windy, sometimes snowy, and generally wild forest. R sizzled with high voltage energy, hurtling toward me when I called him.
Yes, the poor boy still needs a muzzle to prevent mushroom eating. The problem is that squirrels harvest mushrooms and hang them in trees to dry for winter eating. On windy days like today, mushrooms rain from the forest canopy. One even landed on my helmet as it dropped out of a tree. R spent part of our ride trying to master a technique for pulling a dried mushroom into his mouth through the gaps in his muzzle. He was not successful, thank goodness.

At our turnaround point, we stood in a meadow with snow blowing horizontally off of the invisible Continental Divide. The wind and snow stung my face, and I had trouble standing upright without swaying with each wind gust, measured at up to 60 mph. I hopped on my bike and started pedaling hard to get home before I froze.

Alas, less than a mile later, a blue hole in the clouds had opened just above us. The sun shined on us while glittery snow still whirled through the air. I dropped my bike to enjoy the sight. Then R hopped up on a big boulder to pose. Look at the cerulean sky with SuperDog in the foreground!
We wended through an aspen grove that was a tunnel of dense yellow leaves just a week ago. The wind stripped the trees of almost every leaf overnight.
After I dropped R off at home, I did a wildlife camera check. No animals except me had walked in front of any of my cameras. Such is life.

However, near the same spot where I found bear scat a couple of weeks ago, I found another fresh bear scat, again filled with kinnikinnick berries. I've learned from the Minnesota researchers' updates on their collared bears that, at this time of year, bears generally stay very close to their dens when they're not actually curled up inside the toasty hideaways. Based on that information, I suspect that there's an occupied den very close to this scat. Now, I need my bear-expert friend to come look around with me!
I rode a bit further but never strayed too far from home. It felt like a true blizzard could descend on me at any moment. To the east, blue sky dominated. To the west, a huge storm brewed and dumped snow on the high mountains. As I rode tiny trails that consisted only of a 6" wide swath of trampled grass, I came upon a spot that I've visited before, a long time ago - a former fire lookout tower that's no longer in use.

I know that I *used* to be afraid of heights but I believed that I'd conquered my fear with all of the exposed boulder scrambling and mountain biking that I've done. Wrong. I confidently started to walk up the steps of the lookout tower and my knees literally started to shake and my palms started to sweat on about the tenth step. I stopped, took a deep breath, and took one more halting step upward. Then, a gust of wind hit the tower - it stood solidly without a vibration but I'd lost my nerve. I could barely make my legs work smoothly enough to descend the steps because I was so scared. I guess that I was wrong about having conquered that fear!
But, as you might have guessed, I already have it in my head to visit again on a still day and climb to the top of this albatross. If sweet Chloe can so courageously fight her life-threatening illness, I can climb to the top of a fire lookout tower!


  1. We've been reading Chloe's fight -

    She's something as are her humans!

    More wonderful pics - Love Super R!

  2. We have all that wind and rain coming in here overnight, but alas, no snow. That makes the Mom happy, but not the pups. All in good time.

    Off to meet Chloe, sounds like a great place to visit.

    That tower brings chills of fear to some of us just looking at the photo.

  3. Wild weather! We visited at Chloe's and were so moved and touched by this amazing mustang and her savior! Thanks for bringing her story to light. R looks terrific on that boulder against that amazingly blue sky, but it LOOKS cold!!! Take the fire tower in small steps - it looks impossibly high and even tho I used to climb high walls, I'd probably freak today too! You are one of the most courageous people I know - don't sweat that old fire tower!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie's and Avalon's Mom

  4. I am so sorry to hear about Chloe but am glad to hear she is a fighter, I look forward to reading more of her story.

    I learn so much from reading your posts.
    I never knew that squirrels harvested mushrooms, very interesting.
    I look forward to your next encounter with the tower, with a picture looking down or out:)

  5. I don't know Chloe, but she sounds amazing. I know you can climb that tower!

    Your pal, Pip

  6. I have a feeling I know what R is going as for Halloween! :P That's a great picture of him!

    We've had weeks of beautiful, dry weather here, but this weekend and week, we've had a run of rain. I know how Noah felt after our wake up call yesterday morning! Plastic bread bags also work well as an extra emergency layer of dryness if used with enough tape. Don't ask how I know this.

    I have no doubt that you will have photos from the top of that tower on the blog sometime soon!

  7. Your description of Chloe had me thinking about my own past with horses - a sensitive topic for me, for sure - I really hope she pulls through, she sounds like such a fighter.

    As for your fear of the fire lookout, I say you break it down into tiny little bits - each time, go up just a couple of steps, and add more every time - just like we'd do with a dog!

  8. Claiming extra time in the old world. What a lovely way of phrasing it.

  9. Holy crap and I'm not talking about the scat- although it looks delicous. Mom's fear of heights has increased over the years. That look out tower is creepier than anything I posted for fright week.
    PS- the skies are amazing! And we went over to see chloe- so sad.

  10. I'm now 20 minutes late getting back to work because I've been reading and enjoying your post. Once again you've totally captivated me with your pictures and what you've written. What a wonderful escape for me!

    I'm off to visit Chloe too--Who needs to get back to work? ;-)

  11. Our thoughts are with sweet, brave Chloe! She sounds so very special.

    Okay, I used to be skeered of stairs, too. But here's what you do. You gets a whole bunch of cheese. Then you have somebuddy go with you and put some cheese on a step. Then you go up and eat that cheese. Then they'll put cheese on another step and you get on that step and eat that cheese, too. Now, you might not be able to get all the way to the top the first try. But if you do it over and over again, pretty soon you'll be at the top and have a happy belly full of CHEESE!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  12. Thank you all so very much for visiting my sweet Chloe and leaving such kind and loving messages. And KB-thank you for the beautiful post. I gave Chloe a special kiss from her Auntie KB while we sedated her to change her catheter today :) that's the perfect time to kiss a wiiiiiiiild mustang ;)
    Sue and the DVR gang!

  13. All of us here are pulling for Chloe and our friends at Dream Valley Ranch.

    Thanks for balancing the sad news with that photo of R in his superdog cape! He looks so cute.

  14. Oh KB, we will go visit Chloe also.
    The way you describe her----I can feel her spirit-
    Good luck next time you go to the look out. I become glued and cannot move (when I tried to climb one of the towers in our forest.
    I just cannot conquer it.
    Your so correct about all the things you will be able to do with K- even new things.
    Just one step at a time.

  15. I understand the height issue - painfully so! Your K looks fantastic and you sound so positive about the future - this will bolster all your and her efforts. As for the mushroom muncher, well, can you blame him for trying? ;)


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