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Friday, November 26, 2010

The unveiling of the paw

Yesterday evening, K and I made a big leap, and we made it to our sunset viewpoint for the first time in about 10 weeks! It's not a long walk but it's been beyond K's reach for a long time. We both savored the moment.
This morning was earmarked as "bandage removal time". So, prior to our morning walk, I took off K's (hopefully) last paw and forearm bandage. I put on a dog boot to protect her tender paw from the crusty snow on our morning stroll. Despite the boot, K was obsessed with her newly unveiled paw.
Although I think that the Ruffwear boots are the best for real hiking, K has always hated them. I had a notion that after 10 weeks in casts and bandages, K would no longer notice a ruffwear boot. Wrong. Here, she told me that she was incapable of walking with a boot on her paw.
She finally convinced me to remove the darn thing. She seemed much happier... but still obsessed over her paw. She hasn't seen her paw in about 10 weeks, and now it's missing a toe. I bet it's a surprising apparition in her mind!
You can also see in the above photo that K's left front leg has atrophied tremendously due to all the time it was in a cast. We have a long rehab ahead of us, but I am SO happy that we're probably embarking on that journey (assuming that the last pathology test doesn't show anything ugly).

Our stroll was short because I wasn't sure if K's paw was hurting her. I covered up her paw and headed out with R for a snow bike ride. Wow, the view from Hug Hill awed me with a veil of winter clouds curtaining the mountains below a brilliant blue sky.
Then, R popped up from the far side of the summit like the Flying Nun.
Here's the flying nun herself.
Pretty good resemblance, don't you think?

Our winter winds that relentlessly buffet us from the west have arrived. The Chinook wind becomes a constant companion when outdoors in the winter, muffling all other sounds and sapping my energy reserves. It's a flow of energy rocketing at us from the mountains, often whooshing so hard that I can't stay upright on my bike. I always wonder - Where is that energy coming from? If we're being infused with wind energy, someplace else must be in an energy trough...

After R's short ride with me, I went out on my snowbike to explore some of the most obscure trails that I know. To my utter surprise, as I struggled up a steep and snowy hillside, I spotted extremely fresh bear tracks. They were so fresh that the snow under the bear's heel was still loose, unlike old tracks that are frozen into place.
A smallish bear had walked through this snow shortly before I arrived. His hind track was only 6.5" long, unlike last week's bear whose tracks were somewhere around 7.25-8" long. Based on information from bear biologists, I am certain that today's track must be from a small male bear because the females probably snuggled into their dens a while ago.

I followed the tracks for a short distance, getting a good idea of the general area that the bear was aiming for. However, I didn't follow the tracks very far because the bear didn't have a big head start. Now, I have another area to search for a den later this winter!

Here's an example of an old track. I ran across a preserved track from the bear who came through a trail in the area more than a week ago. Last week's bear was big compared to today's visitor. The hind paw track has my chemical handwarmer next to it for scale (the handwarmer is 3.25" long).
I'm starting to wonder how much of my fall/winter I'm going to spend following bear tracks through the forest! But, I wouldn't do it if I didn't love it. I get a peek into a bear's life, and that peek never fails to fascinate me.


  1. It must feel strange after weeks of wearing something on his paw. Hope all goes well!

    thanks for the kind words about Buddy. The first seizure he had I panicked! He was terrified, Sam was barking at him and I was running around frantically looking for the vet's #. I upset Buddy more. So I quickly learned I need to be calm to keep him calm. This helps both of us. And Sam too. But it isn't easy, as you know.

  2. Oh the 'woe is me - get this off Mom look' was a winner!

    Great pics and great progress!

  3. Wow! The bear track is huge! I am so glad K's paw is getting better!


  4. HA! R does look like the flying nun!

    Oh that look from K holding her paw up with the boot on is priceless.

    Now those bear tracks are amazing! We are glad you didn't see him in person.

    Chasing my tale...
    Addie, Lucie and Hailey

  5. I remember the Flying Nun and R is a dead ringer if I ever saw one!!

    I'm glad it was a good day for you and K, and that you didn't run into the bear that made that track!

  6. So good to hear that the bandage is off. That alone has to be a relief for both of you. All good thoughts for a good pathology report. I laughed out loud at the Flying LabNun:)

  7. 3 Cheers for K! WTG
    ...the Flying Nun is perfect!
    Now those snow bear tracks are just a bit unnerving...seriously be careful. We have coyotes around here doing weird things to animals and people! So good to see you back on your treks again K!

  8. I laughed at K doing the same foot up that R did when you put a boot on his foot. I am sure she is most happy to be out on a bigger walk with you.

    You are going to turn us all into naturalists if you are not careful.

    Cheers and Hugs,
    Stella and Jo

  9. What a great day! I'm sure K is confused...I would be wary of the booties, too. "If I wear something on my paw too long, it'll eat my toe!! She looks wonderful :)

  10. It has to feel SO good to get that stuff off her paw. Good for her for saying (in her own way) that enough is enough!

  11. K looks so questioning,,, like, what am I supposed to do mom?
    Carry me! It won't take long and K will develop new muscles in her legs...
    She is probably busy washing all the yucky smells of medicines off her foot.
    Awsome photos,, awsome bear tracks.... i can almost smell the smow.

  12. Is next year going to be the Year of the Bear? You seem to be a magnet for them this year!

    I would think it was somewhat natural for K to want to sniff and lick her toe some after not being able to for so long. I had to have surgery on my hand a few years ago, and when the cast came off, ugh! It smelled horrible for one thing, and I just wanted to soak it in water. I had quite a bit of atrophy, too, but I was surprised by how quickly the muscle tone came back. I'm betting K's returns even faster because it's a weight bearing leg. She'll be running across the snow, barefoot, in no time! ;)

  13. it's great news to hear that K's bandage is off and that she enjoyed a bare paw walk! asa has had to wear the snow booties a few times, and she gave me that same pathetic look as if to say, "what am i supposed to do with my paws now?" haha.
    i've enjoyed reading about and seeing the bear/bear paw pictures in your last few posts!
    booker agrees that a yellow lab puppy would complete your pack. ;)

  14. She must have been so bewildered. The bandage comes off and now the boot comes on?!

    The Flying Nun was hilarious! & I love the bear tracks peektures. I hope you get to see more tracks of bears and share with us about the stories!


  15. Wonderful to see K getting better and better. Paws crossed for continued, uninterrupted progress.

    Jed & Abby

  16. Yes, K, we understand. Those booties are no fun when you want to feel the crunch of snow under your paw.

  17. I remember when I had a cast taken off my wrist. It was amazing how my arm had shrunk but it came back quickly so I'm sure K's will too.

    I noticed the front clip harness. I've been looking for one online as they don't seem to carry them at any of the local pet stores. Some of them look like they have too much plastic that would break. I found one really heavy duty one but it costs a lot. Do you have any recommendations about making a choice?

  18. I totally understand the "not wanting a boot on" thing! When I go outside I have an IV bag put over my leg to keep it dry. It's not even pretty!

    Glad K is doing better. She looks beautiful as always.

    Emma Rose

  19. It's good to see her up and about and on the mend!


  20. I am so glad the bandage was able to come off. She looks great!

    The flying nun thing was hysterical!!!

    Your pal, Pip

  21. Hi Y'all! Wow! R looks suspended in air!
    My Human Momma wouldn't survive out there...but I'd love it! She doesn't do wind and cold very well, but it brightens my day.
    Thanks for stoppin',
    Y'all come back now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  22. Such happy-making over here to see K without her big boot! Sammie's not a fan of her Ruff booties either, but she gets used to them. Avalon will be another story! Those bear tracks are incredible - no surprise that you want to follow! And love comparison of R to flying nun hee hee!
    Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Avalon

  23. So nice to see K out enjoying her adventures. My R also hates wearing his boots so if he has an injured paw I put both boots on his front feet. With two he gives up and gets on with life but with only one he pulls the "woe is me" routine.

    Wishing continued healing for K!

  24. When we lived in "suburbia" we had to put boots on our dog because of the salt and ice. She hated them!

    R does indeed favor the Flying Nun!

    I know you are so glad to be starting K's rehab. Still sending positive thoughts your way.

  25. it is always wonderful to pop in and see what you and your friends are up to. I have been thinking our bears are tucked in with our minus temps last week. But I don't really know.

  26. Great to see K making such good progress. She must be curious about her foot, but she'll adapt. Poor thing with the boot on. Guess she's just had enough.

    Mango Momma


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