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Thursday, February 9, 2012

A hike and the wildlife

From the moment that we headed out the door onto our trails this morning, K just wanted to slide and wriggle in the snow. You can also see her "bad" leg in the photo below. The radiation really did a number on her fur but the radiation burn is gradually healing. Her radiation treatment was almost 5 weeks ago.
K was slightly limping today which, of course, sent me into a tizzy of worrying about whether her tumors are stirring or if she had injured the weakened bone. She still seemed happy but I think that her leg was hurting when she walked or ran. She's holding it funny, resting it on a snow pile, in the photo below but looks normal otherwise.
It was a gray day, except for a few flashes of sunshine. I took some photos when the sun rained down on us.
K chose one stick and carried it for much of our hike. Sticks are in short supply right now because most of them are buried under a deep layer of snow. The fact that K was playing with a stick told me that she wasn't feeling too bad.
We kept the hike short, in deference to K's minor limp and the fact that I was not feeling great either. I'm sure that you don't need me to tell you this - but having a dog with a deadly form of cancer isn't easy emotionally. I read far too much into every tiny thing, feeling as if I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's easy to say that we will keep a laser-like focus on *today* and not worry about the future until it gets here... but it's far harder to stay true to that attitude day-in and day-out. We just do the best that we can.

Before finishing our hike, we checked a couple of wildlife cameras. I actually got some photos!!! That's headline news given the depth of snow covering our forest floor.

A mule deer buck walked carefully in my snowshoe tracks and stopped to check out my wildlife camera. It amazes me how quickly animals notice the cameras, even in daylight when the cameras don't emit any light. The cameras are small and most humans don't notice them (although the cameras are posted are well away from human trails).
This deer had battered antlers. His left one was broken off very low. And, his right one looks almost as if it had bled from its base. If you look closely, you can see a reddish-orange substance in a ring around the antler close to the spot where he'll eventually shed the antler. I don't know if this is normal.
Then, he sauntered in front of the camera, giving us a nice view of his left tarsal gland. It's the red spot on his left hind leg that looks almost like a wound. It secrets chemicals that interact with the deer's urine (yes, he pees on his leg intentionally) to create his own "signature" scent.
Finally, at the very end of our hike, we discovered that a coyote had visited the area under our bear-proof birdfeeding station. In the photo, he was following my snowshoe trail out of the clearing. Do you see how deep that snow is? The fluffy coyote's head barely peeked over the edge of the trail. Life isn't easy for the wild animals right now.
I admire the wildlife who have stayed in the area despite the snow. I believe that our larger animals, like our elk and mountain lions, are staying at lower elevations. I can't wait for them to return!


  1. I love the wild animal pictures. Don't feel bad at all about over worrying or over looking into things, that's how you found out something was wrong!
    Dachshund Nola

  2. Oh how I love to see photos of K with a stick. She is a gal after my own heart. I too love me a stick.
    Blessings, Blessiings,

  3. I like the deer pictues! I miss seeing the elk too, they are favorites for me.

    When three very special dogs have had terrible diseases, like K, Lilly and Corbin, you get to feeling like they are all your dogs, so its been a worrisome time for all of us, I think. Keep the prayers coming for all the sick pups and kitties, no matter how ill they are.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  4. Hi KB
    It's very understandable that you would "freak out" when ever you thought something was wrong with K.
    We would do the same thing.
    Emotionally you must feel like a roller coaster that does not go high- very often, but plunges a lot!
    Your pushing yourself for K, and we are here to lift you up- if you fall.
    These photos are amazing. We did not know about that gland on deer. Now we do.
    We keep you and K in our thoughts- always.

  5. Tweedles said it so well. Take a break and indulge yourself for a is ok to melt down when you are in the safety of loving friends who understand...and we all do. But the key is to not stay there too long and to remember that you bear witness to the fact that hope and love make miracles of many kinds.

  6. Hope K is no longer limping by the time you read this. She looks like she's enjoying her snow rolls thoroughly. Of course it is natural you are going to worry about K. Maybe in a way the cancer is similar to your back problems: it's there, you have to think about it, but you're doing your best to treat it and you're not letting it control you. That's the best anyone can do. Big hugs to K and to you.

    Jed & Abby

  7. I love your wildlife photos and explanations. Who knew deer peed on their own legs! Hopefully K is okay once she rests her leg. I can't imagine how you must worry over every little thing. And you are right, try as we may to stay up beat and positive everyday when we're faced with heartache, is much easier said than done!

  8. Your worry is understandable, but I think you are handling all of this so well. You may be freaking internally but you are not letting it come across to darling K . You are giving her the space to do the things she loves and that is a great gift indeed, letting them set the pace when they are unwell is so difficult and you are doing a sterling job so don't you feel bad for worrying or fretting it is natural.
    Big {{{hugs}}}
    Momma Tea
    xxx xxx

  9. Some days are definitely better than others. Enjoy it when you are feeling in a positive frame of mind and on the low days, just hug K, tell her you love her and have a good old cry. Sorry I can't offer any other advice. I always found a good cry kept me going for another couple of days. Hugs to you KB. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  10. KB I love that Muley! I didn't realize the differences between them and the WTD I have here. Cool!

  11. Hmmmm, I has nevers thougts bouts peein' on myself...wonders if I could do da same thing.
    And I thinks Momma Tea, pawed it most beautifully.


  12. I second/third/whatever Tweedles said - we question everything and play the "what-if" game. I hate that game! I play it in my own life way too often. Love the wildlife pics - that snow is deeeeeeep!
    Have a great weekend, KB - feel better and give those pups hugs from all of us.


  13. Great pictures of K like always. The wild life pictures are also very nice to see. Great!! have a nice weekend all of you!

  14. OK - I've caught up now finally! I should never get that far behind but I don't regret flooding myself with Rompin' & Rollin' Labradors. Always a treat to see what your camera or the wildlife camera has captured. I'll have to show Chester's dad the mule deer, he'll love them.

    It would be virtually impossible to not let negative thoughts come into your head about K's future but the key is that you don't have to dwell on them. That's where the "focus on today" part will get you thru.

    Happy trails,
    Chester's Mom ;0-)

  15. I didn't know that deer had a gland like that, cool. I know what you mean about worrying too much, although hopefully Zephyr's encephalitis won't return. It's emotionally draining. It's so hard not to notice every little thing. I try to remind myself that Zephyr probably wouldn't want me to worry so much. Much easier to say than do. Hang in there. I love that first picture of her!

  16. KB, I love that you find peace in the simple things (K's stick :)
    Again, all the wildlife shots are great. I feel as though I'm out in the woods with you. Thanks for the adventure.

  17. I love that picture of you with the stick in your mouth, K!

    Love ya lots,

  18. Imagine that - We are the same way! OK, my person is the same way with me and my seizure monster. Just keep on with what you are doing - and feeling.

    I love that K found a stick! Lucky her! I would say she could have some of mine from here in the GST, but I haven't found any good ones! OK, I haven't found any. Where do sticks come from?

    Great info on the wildlife! We are learning so much!

    Bark at ya later!


  19. You would be super human if you didn't worry about K. You worry because you love her so much and that's not wrong! So don't be so hard on yourself.
    Fabulous shots as always. Absolutely thrilled by the wild life shots and details.
    We are all here for you good or bad days! Pawscrossed for K.
    Big Nose Pokes
    The Thugletsx

  20. Hi Y'all!

    Playing catch up. Glad K is feeling better. Seems as if time is flying by for y'all. I know it is for us!

    If anyone knows how to slow time down, let us know!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  21. I know your pain and wish that no one on earth had to endure such sadness again. Holding you and your sweet K close to my heart in prayer.


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