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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

K, the sunrise mountaineer:



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doggles, and K plays!

K and I saw the only sun of the day just after sunrise this morning.
The sun was still soft enough that K had her eyes wide open, taking in the world.
As the sun brightened, I took everyone's advice and tried putting some "Doggles" over K's eyes. I've had this pair for about a decade since I bought them for Acadia, K's predecessor. Acadia didn't like them.

At first, it seemed as if K might not mind the Doggles.
But, as soon as I turned my head, K got to work on removing them. She had them off in about 10 seconds.
Every time that I put the Doggles back on, she'd take them off. I'll try again on a very bright day... because perhaps K will tolerate them on a day when the sun is really hurting her eyes.

Today was not a super bright day. Soon after the Doggles experiment, storm clouds cast an ominous shadow over the forest.
In the course of a couple of minutes, the world was transformed from a sunny spring-like day to a snowing wintery day. You can see the freshly fallen snow stuck to K's fur. I love the cute look that she gave me for this photo.
While she stood in that spot, I tried the Doggles on her for just a minute because I realized that the reflection in the glasses might look cool. You can see the forest that she was gazing at in the lens.
After that, we headed for home, and, along the way, we met a friend and her 1-year-old dog. Since K's radiation on her leg, she has mostly avoided playing with other dogs, perhaps because her leg feels fragile. Not today. Today, this sweet young dog played with K just perfectly - she wasn't too rough, and the two of them had a blast wrestling in a snowy meadow. When my friend and I saw how much fun they were having, we hung out and chatted, letting the dogs have a long play session.
Woo, I didn't know that K could look so ferocious!
It made me so happy to see K frolicking with her young and incredibly sweet dog friend. My friend and I smiled and smiled.

Every day is a gift, especially one that includes frolicking play with another dog!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Raspberry on your nose?

It was a sun-drenched winter day here in Colorado. K and I hiked the trails in the morning cold air (5°F when we started).
On sunny days, I've been noting how much K squints and even closes her eyes. In aspen groves...
Atop Hug Hill...
I have to take about a zillion shots of one scene to capture her with her eyes open.
After looking at my many photos of K with her eyes closed this morning, I Googled the side effects of K's chemotherapy. Guess what! Photosensitivity (eyes more sensitive to bright light than usual, kind of like after the eye doctor dilates your pupils) is near the top of the list. So, it makes sense that she's squinting all the time. I'll have to re-double my efforts to get out on the trails early before the sun gets strong.

Today, we hiked to Hug Hill, and relaxed while gazing at the mountains in almost perfectly still air. K started to explore on the other side of the hill so I called her back into view and captured a photo of her as she crested the peak.
It was a super fun hike because no other humans had climbed the peak in a while. The snow was smooth and unbroken, except for animal tracks. However, the only animals who had ventured on our route were coyotes. They seem to be the only animals who haven't fled our snow-laden territory.

When we arrived home, K and I played a few silly games before I headed out for a snowbike ride. Can you balance a raspberry on your nose? K can!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


It's been a busy weekend but I make hiking with K a high priority even when life is busy. The tracks of a girl and her dog out for a wander in the woods...
When I saw these tracks, I was reminded of a person who used to hike with his elderly dog in the snowy forest near our house. I'd see their tracks just like the photo above almost every day. Then, one day, there were only the snowshoe tracks and no more dog tracks. That was a very sad day and and the memory seared my heart this weekend.

Okay, enough of the melancholy. K and I had lots of fun this weekend despite the chemotherapy drugs coursing through her system. We saw the sun rise on Saturday, and K glowed in its magic rays.
K stuck to me like glue during our hikes and kept gazing at my eyes. I am so lucky to have her by my side.
She didn't hesitate to romp though. I've noticed that, in the days after chemo, she romps during our walks and then sleeps very deeply for the rest of the day. I like her style!
She also dug holes during our hikes, with her head disappearing deep below the snow.
Thanks to those tracks that I showed you at the beginning of this post, R and the Runner tracked us down yesterday morning to join us for the second half of our hike. R burst onto the scene!
K played happily with her brother, zooming around while playing keep-away with a stick.
I'm improving in my ability to let K romp without having a panic attack with fear that she'll break her leg. Based on the crazy things that I've seen her do since her diagnosis, I think that the leg is stronger than I initially believed.
As our friend Bert said, seeing K's leg as she stands so strongly makes me incredibly proud of her. She may be missing a toe, have a radiation burn, and lack fur on that leg, but she still lives with unbelievable zest and love. She's an inspiration to me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hilarious R and Happy K

Today was my day for hiking with R on the trails, since K was busy with chemotherapy. He and I tracked a bobcat.
R doesn't know "the rules" of tracking with me, and he tramples all over tracks before I get to see them. I'll have to ask K to teach him the rules.

He got a little ahead of me, and this photo looks pretty normal, doesn't it?
But, it only looks normal until you realize that the boy had leaped up onto a tree trunk that was a few feet off the ground. He was walking on it like a balance beam, following in the tracks of the bobcat. The bobcat had done exactly the same thing.
R proved to be an avid tracker, keeping his nose deep in the snow as he followed the bobcat.
He spent most of the hike with his snout plastered with snow.
R suddenly decided that he'd had enough of the camera... and barked straight in my face. He may be the most hilarious dog who I've ever known.
After his outburst, we continued following the bobcat tracks until the wind suddenly blasted us out of the west. Our bodies were sandblasted with ice crystals moving at mach speed.
We hurried home through erratic periods of calm and hellacious wind. R sprinted joyfully during a calm period.
R provided me with lots of fun on the somewhat tense day of K's chemotherapy.

This evening, with a day of chemotherapy behind her, K was unbelievably happy. As we walked at sunset, she picked up sticks and zoomed in circles around me. I laughed and laughed. I'm so happy that she's here and feeling good. (Yes, this photo is K, shortly after she arrived home from chemotherapy - unbelievable!).
As dusk fell, we saw a sliver of a moon in a purple sky. I felt thankful for the Runner, R, K, and our amazingly beautiful world.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Strong and ready

Yesterday evening, two days of wild Chinook winds with gusts of 85 mph finally began to die down at about the same time as my body started to win the battle against the flu. As the world quieted, snow began to fall.
We awakened to about 6" of fresh snow this morning, adding to a base so formidable that I have no idea how deep the snow is in the shady parts of our forest.

K was full of energy as we charged out of our clearing, free of the wind that has buffeted us for days and free of the germs that floored me.
The winds had resculpted the forest floor, making it difficult to find the trails that I know so well. Huge drifts engulfed entire sections of our trails. Those winds, in combination with the new snow, left a landscape that was as familiar as Mars.

Travel in our forest must be painstaking for the wildlife because walking through drifts is nearly impossible. Our driveway has been like a thruway for coyotes recently. My wildlife camera gets multiple coyote photos per night.
In contrast to bobcats who always saunter with majestic pride, the coyotes have all been trotting at a fast clip in their recent travels on our driveway. The wild canines appear as if they are late for a very important date.

After our morning hike, we visited the vet to have K's blood tested to see if she's ready for the next round of chemotherapy tomorrow. Great news! Her white blood cell count is high enough. She is strong and ready. I felt uneasy for the entire week while we waited for K's bone marrow to recover because I know that osteosarcoma travels fast without chemotherapy.
I'm rooting for some sunshine and no wind so that K and I can play in the warmth of the sun's rays after this round of chemo!

As I told my vet the other day when she reiterated the seriousness of K's cancer, I am fully aware that there will be a time when grief will be unavoidable but that time is still in the future. For now, I'm simply happy to celebrate each day with K.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Nature's Light

K glows from her inspiring spirit and from Nature's amazing light.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I trudged out the door this morning for my walk with K, full of high hopes that my flu symptoms might disappear after walking a bit.
Storm clouds loomed in all directions, reflecting how I felt. Alas, in stark contrast to me, K seemed happy and full of zip. She kept picking up sticks and requesting that I play with her.
She galloped through deep snow by choice.
And then she found yet another stick to try to pry out of the snow. This was a big one.
It was, most definitely, a good day for K. It's been almost two months since her diagnosis with osteosarcoma, and I feel like we've lived each day as fully and joyfully as possible.
Although walking didn't make me feel better, seeing K so happy made my heart sing.

Today, as I struggled with the flu, I thought about our canine friend, Lilly, who has been so gravely ill recently. She was struck with an inflammation of her entire nervous system, including her brain, and she spent many days in the hospital, barely able to move. Compared to how sick I feel, Lilly felt at least 100 times worse.

Lilly is home now but is still struggling to recover her full mobility and strength. To my eye, she's made incredible strides since her worst days but she still has a battle ahead of her. The good news is that she has a good chance at a full recovery and a normal happy life.
If you could go over to Lilly's blog and give her a word or two of encouragement or even contribute to her Chipin fund for vet bills, I'd be incredibly grateful. Your support has meant so much to me, and I think that it would mean as much to Lilly's human, Roxanne.

Like last night's blazing sunset light, support from friends can feel like a shining beacon in an otherwise dark world. I've learned this firsthand from all of you. Thank you.