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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cats and dogs

A couple of days ago, we had our first snow. It snowed close to 4" and brought down a carpet of golden aspen leaves still glowing on the snow.
Just after that snow, I had a spooky experience that I wrote about two days ago. I was riding my snow mountain bike (Fatback) that has 4" wide tires when I discovered that a mountain lion had walked in my tire tracks very shortly after I made them so he was someplace very close to me in the forest.
I wanted a size scale so that I could measure the lion track size later so I put my chemical hand warmer in the photo. It is 7.7 cm on its long side. By using that as my scale, I determined that the heel pad was 4.2 cm wide. That is not a big heel pad for a mountain lion, and puts this lion clearly in the female or young adult category.
I immediately knew that these were lion tracks based on a couple of things. First, the size - they were much too big to be a bobcat's tracks. Next, the asymmetry of the track, where the left half looks different from the right half. In dogs and coyotes, the track is much more symmetrical (and usually smaller). Third, there were no claw marks. Mountain lions, like other cats, have retractable claws. Finally, a unique characteristic is that the roughly triangular heel pad has a "bicuspid" apex. You can barely see it in the photo above but it was very obvious in person.

I was hoping that the mountain lion had hopped back onto the animal path after I departed and would pass my wildlife camera that he'd been heading toward. Alas, I had no such luck. I think that the mountain lions are as afraid of humans as we are of them. Consequently, this young one abandoned the established animal path after discovering that I was nearby.

I did, however, get bobcat photos. In the photo below, a bobcat is staring at a bear "whammy" tree that the bears rub their backs on during mating season and just before hibernation. This camera is set up to get photos of a bear marking the tree but it got a bobcat instead.
Then, the bobcat passed closer to the camera.
I have captured a plethora of bobcat photos all in the area where the mother and kitten lived this summer. However, I haven't captured a photo of the two of them together since the day when they appeared to "lose track of each other" a month ago. I plan to do a post soon showing you all the various photos to see if you agree with me that both the mother and kitten are still alive and well - they are simply moving around the territory separately.

Our snow has rapidly melted and we are enjoying some true autumn weather. K has been romping and I have been rolling with joy in our hearts!
 However, as you can see, it's still wintery up high in the mountains.
Based on the bank of clouds over the Divide today, I took lots of extra clothes in my backpack for my mountain bike ride. Of course, by doing so, I caused it to be a very warm day! As I learned last week, it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to potential hypothermia.
On an unrelated note, we just learned that K has MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, in her urinary tract. Do any of you have experience with dogs and MRSA? We have no further information yet concerning treatment or the prognosis. She seems to feel normal despite the infection.


  1. Those clouds look fierce! Glad you packed extra clothes!! BOL that you 'caused' it to be warm!!

    I think I've said this before, but when Bart had the acupuncture for his neck, it helped with both his immune system and some allergies he was having. Not to mention great improvement in his neck.


  2. Hi Y'all,

    All I know about MRSA is that it was recognized in the UK in the early 60's. It is what articles here in the US refer to as the super bug. It is a problem in nursing homes and hospitals. There are newer drugs that are thought to be effective against MRSA.

    BrownDog's Human

  3. I love your blog, and have just read about K's MRSA. By now the vet has probably spoken with you, and if not, you've probably seen the links I'm about to share, so apologies in advance if this is old info.

    The blog I'm linking to is "an educational website coordinated by Drs. Scott Weese and Maureen Anderson of the Ontario [Canada] Veterinary College's Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses," to quote from its home page. Dr. Weese writes about MRSA a lot. Here's a recent post. ["The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has updated its practice guidelines for management of MRSA and MRSP..."]

    Here is his MRSA Information Sheet for Pet Owners [pdf].

    And here are all his posts tagged "MRSA/MRSP."

    Best of luck to K -- may she be hale and hearty for tons of years to come. And thanks so much for the great blog --


  4. What a glorious day you had there today! Nice to catch a day of winter and then have the beauty of fall right after it.

    We don't know much about MRSA in dogs, but have heard about it being a tough one to fight in humans. Any chance she picked it up when she had her toe injury? We did read that it also can come about from the prolonged use of antibiotics. The good thing is that at least now you know what you are battling. We hope your vet will be able to help you come up with a plan to help K get rid of the infection.

  5. Love your photos and blog.

    Came across a few more of your cameras while working in the area. Hope K is OK and if you can see my card on your cameras email if you see anything I might be interested in on the path.

    Also, what kind a camera do you use? It (you) take great photos!!!


  6. Jim,

    Thanks! I couldn't read much of your card... so I wasn't sure of why you were holding it up to the cams. Now I know!

    The bears are due to start marching west to hibernate up high, and they mark trees like crazy during that journey. So, you saw my crazy set-up that I use only twice a year, during bear mating season and during the time when they are heading to dens (usually most of my cams are in other places). I love getting photos of them marking trees!

    I sent an email to the address that I thought that I discerned on the card. Did you get it? You can email me at kynabear5 at gmail dot com.

    For my handheld camera, I use a Lumix when I'm on my bike... an old one that is obsolete but has nice optical zoom (12X). When I'm hiking, I use a Canon Rebel (dSLR).

    Thanks again!

  7. Luisa,

    Thank you so much. My vet is busy researching MRSA in dogs so I don't know much yet. I'm going straight to your links!!!!

    I greatly appreciate it!


  8. Gosh,, just re- reading your eppisode gives me goose bumps!

    The cat tracks are truly amazing..
    kinda scary knowing it was so close to you.
    Mother Earth is playing with your weather,, to show you a little bit of what you are in for- after autumn.
    There must be an answer for K...
    there must. We will wish on stars for one,

  9. Oh my word lady, please be careful. Hope you carry the biggest pepper spray cannister known toman!!
    Benny & Lily

  10. Holy moly, it's supposed to be about 100 here tomorrow!

  11. Sweet, loyal, K. Hope the vet comes up with a simple workable solution. They usually do.

  12. Hi Everybuddy, wow oh wow, those photos and a mountain lion? We think this is just so amazing and beautiful. We get to see kangaroos, sometimes a koala and snakes but never anything like this of course. Glad we got to meet. Take care. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory
    P.S. We hope K gets better real soon.

  13. You could try a product called D-Mannose - it's a powder that you put 1/4 tsp on their food - I have used it for both myself and my dog and it works almost instanly for UTIs - I know that's not what K has but if it is in the urinary tract maybe this will help - it is natural and no side effects. I urge you to look into it - I really think it would be beneficial. I bought mine off the web - just do a search for it.

    Love your blog and your photos. Best of luck.

  14. That would unsettle me to think that a mountain lion had been following me through the snow. It's kind of weird to think that she was probably sitting there watching you go back by at some point, too.

    I've heard of some Greyhounds having a very tough time getting over UTIs, although I haven't experienced it with any of our dogs. If you'd like, I can ask on a Greyhound forum that I visit and see if they can give me some answers about it.

  15. Sorry to hear about K...I took a 2nd look when you said MRSA..because I`ve just heard about the incidence of it in hospitals and such. The info some people have already offered look positive. If I run across anything I will forward...good luck and hugs to K! and R of course!

  16. Wonderful photos. Remember, an apple a day keeps the mountain lion away. Or maybe not? I once carried some 4th of July "poppers" the ones where you pull the paper tab and they pop. That was to scare coyotes away, it did not work too well, coyotes in the city get used to more noise than that even.

    Mogley G. Retriever

  17. Oops - I misposted this in the wrong blog entry! :-)


    According to this website the kittens stay with their mothers until the fall (or for 6-9 months), so it's possible that he headed out on his own then or soon afterwards.

    "The kittens stay with their mother until the fall. They are born with their eyes closed and open them when they are ten days old. The young kitten drinks its mother's milk until about two months old. When they are five months old, the kittens learn to hunt with their mother. The kittens will stay with their mother for six to nine months."


  18. I'm learning so much about animal tracks from you. I, too, would be terrified if I found a predator was walking in my tracks moments after me, but the adrenaline that fuels my camera likely would kick in and take over, and I'd be stalking the wildlife instead of the other way around. All the while, my brother and my better half scolding me and ordering me to get back! :)

  19. Goodness K! Sorry about the MRSA. I guess it's good to know what you're dealing with finally. I wish I had some input, but suffice it to say that I'm keeping you all in my thoughts and hope things improve very soon!


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