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Thursday, April 19, 2012

The lesson of the elk leg

K and I are continuing our tradition of morning mountain bike rides. I find myself amazed at how much she still can and wants to do! If I hadn't seen her xrays, I wouldn't know that she's sick.
This morning, we rode through shafts of sunlight in a pine forest, heading up to Hug Hill. K pranced out of the dark forest and into the light.
I've run into a pitfall that I bet is common for dogs with terminal illnesses. Since I found out about K's cancer, I've been giving her a lot of latitude with training. I let bad behavior slide... rather than addressing it. For example, before she was sick, I'd do a training session immediately if I felt that her responses to me were sluggish while we were out in the forest. We'd do some recalls, leave-its, stays, and other training exercises right on the spot. I do positive training, rewarding good behavior with lots of treats, so K thinks that training is fun.

Since she became sick, I've been lackadaisical, letting her do what she pleases, as long as it's not dangerous to her.

Well, K has started taking advantage of my attitude. One example which is potentially dangerous is that she found an elk leg during a bike ride a few days ago and refused to leave it. She hid in the woods gnawing on it while I became increasingly panicked about where she was. Finally, she emerged from the woods looking guilty. I backtracked her paw prints in the remaining snow patches, and I found the elk leg.

Today, she peeled away from me at exactly the same spot as the day that she found the elk leg. Fortunately, I knew exactly where the elk leg was, and I marched down the slope to find K licking it. This time, I hung the elk leg in a tree so that K won't be able to reach it if she decides to visit it again.
In the meantime, the coyotes are going to be puzzled by the leg in the tree - they are usually the ones who clean up the final bones from a carcass in the woods! This guy visited our clearing this morning.
My advice is, don't slack off on training, no matter what, especially if you have an off-leash lifestyle like we do! After our elk leg incident today, we did some training. A recall...
Then, after training, we continued up to Hug Hill. K was joyous atop the hill. She leaped right out of my camera frame in a dance of happiness!
Then, she gazed at our mountains with a serene demeanor. She and I agree that Heaven looks like our mountains, especially in the summer when they are covered in wildflowers.

As an aside, I recently saw my blog on an iPad for the first time, and I discovered that the photos get cut off because they're too big for the screen. Can you leave a comment if this affects you? I'll reduce the photo size if a lot of people are reading this blog from iPads or iPhones. Thanks!


  1. I'm glad to see K is channeling her Inner Sibe ;-)

  2. So K got some attitude did she! Ha! Just like kids, give an inch and they take a mile. Glad to see she's back to her recall. Very interesting seeing the elk leg hanging in the tree. I agree with you and K about heaven! :)

  3. I enjoy your posts and photos so much. Makes me long for the mountains...

  4. Wow, such beautiful photos, as always! K looks like she is enjoying every moment she can with you in the mountains. I'd love to come run in those mountains (although, we'd definitely have to do a lot of work on my recall, because there is no way I'd leave an elk leg! ;)

    All the best!

  5. Wow, such beautiful photos, as always! K looks like she is enjoying every moment she can with you in the mountains. I'd love to come run in those mountains (although, we'd definitely have to do a lot of work on my recall, because there is no way I'd leave an elk leg! ;)

    All the best!

  6. We're having similar troubles here, since Lilly got sick, but since she indeed has neuro deficits, it's hard to tell if she is being a stinky pete or if her brain isn't processing my requests. If it helps at all, your blog photos look fine in my Kindle Fire.

  7. I would keep things as normal as usually. She is one happy pup
    Benny & Lily

  8. We love seeing her so happy. And it makes us smile to know that K can be a little naughty too:)

    I read this blog on my iPad and the photos were all fine, even more crystal clear and beautiful than on the laptop.

  9. I do have trouble viewing your pictures on my iPad, but discovered that if I tap the picture, it enlarges, and I can see all of whatever you were saying was in it. At first, I couldn't figure out how you could see a coyote or a bear, and I was sitting there looking at woods...? But now it's not a problem. Don't change a thing, love your blog, all of you. Big ole' kisses to K and R!

  10. K lives to please you, the leader of her pack. I've been reading on an iPad a your photos at fine. You can adjust size of what you're reading with your fingers.

  11. Oh an elk leg is very tempting indeed. I'll be interested if that leg stays in the tree. K and the leap of joy, LOVE it.

  12. Even on my PC it sometimes cuts off part of the photo, but all I have to do is click on the pic and I see the full size. I love the big size, so if you don't have to make them smaller, it would be fine for us. (I think it is just the template we use.)

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo, Stella and Zkhat

  13. Hi KB
    I guess K's sniffer was working overtime to find that elk leg!
    I am sure she enjoys a little training now and then- so I think it all works out perfect.
    We only have a PC- and everything looks fine to us.

  14. I think you can be forgiven for giving K too much slack. That is our nature but in your neck of the woods I agree that you have to remind her you are still the pack leader.

  15. Reading on my iPhone now and no problems....
    Thanks for your kind words on Poppy. She is fine :) sadly daughter in laws brain tumour has grown instead so back into the fight .
    Thinking of you

  16. That's awesome! Can't help but chuckle (we have a sort of naughty Great Pyrennese, and I know the guilty look that they have when they've done something wrong). K even looks atlittle sheepish in that picture you took of her next to the leg, as if she knows she's not supposesd to be even that close....

  17. Beautiful photos! Those poor coyotes will be crazy trying to get to that leg LOL! Sometimes I blog and visit on my iPhone, and sometimes the pictures are cut off, but it's nothing terrible!
    Dachshund Nola

  18. Ohhhhh....I love that second picture of K leaping over the log! The glint in her eyes is beautiful!

  19. I usually read your blog from my iPad, and yes, the pics get cut off for me too! As Jo said, if you tap on the pic, they enlarge - not really a big deal for me! They are so wonderful it's worth tapping for!

    Patty (Blogless)

  20. Good thing K was there to keep you in line! BOL!! I had the same problem (still do in some regards) with Blaze and Chance who were abused before coming back to us. I can't help but feel guilty or doing something against their will. For the most part I've been doing pretty good, but sometimes I still let things slip. But one thing about our dogs they always keep us on our toes. Isn't that great how it works both ways? :)

  21. It is hard to keep order when your world is filling up with chaos but the beauty of living life fully yet within your routine is that looking back, these times will be genuine not a last wish to visit disneyland. And in the trueness, the reality will become the comfort and memories that will sustain you. So say no when you must and set REAL life, not a fairy tale escape.

  22. Thank heavens dogs don't know about x-rays .

  23. That's a great comment Angus.
    You and K both have strong will powers...and I can just see the coyotes scratching their heads :-)

  24. Last picture of K is fantastic! Happy to hear that she´s so fit to go on your hikes. Hug hill is an amazing place, wish I could follow you there and take part of the great wildness you have.
    The trial camera is great cant wait to see little ones...
    Hugs from us all to you

  25. Uh oh! Sounds like it's back to regular training for you, K! I'm glad you enjoyed your elk bone.

    Love ya lots,

  26. Hi KB - thanks for the update. I do daily training but I always forget that dogs don't generalize commands. So lately I've been re-doing the "basics" but in different places (and doing them with my back turned or me being out of site). I am also trying to train Indy to walk with a loose lead. Oh Lord - that is proving to be such a challenge for me. Got any tips?

  27. I can't believe that K's secret is out! lol I think it's good for people to know that even a very solid dog can have moments of misbehavior. It reminds everybody that they have to remain vigilant!

    I think your photos are beautiful, but if you have to make them smaller, I'll still enjoy them!

  28. We can understand why you would back of on the training but we also can see how important it is. K seems to be very happy!!

    The Florida Furkids

  29. Oh my, I just love that jumping for joy picture! Your pics are always amazing. I'm just in awe.

  30. An Elk Leg? We prefer turkey ourselves (tee~hee~hee.)

    Again, I feel like we are right there on Hug Hill with you all. BEAUTIFUL!

    Lily Belle

  31. Hi Y'all,

    Wanted to stop and say hello! How are y'all doin'?

    My Human is havin' problems solving why my posts have stopped posting automatically. Sigh :(
    It's meant I'm not gettin' around to keep up with everyone.

    If my Human ever figures Blogger out, maybe she can figure out how to post photos that a viewer can enlarge.

    Hope y'all are havin' a great week!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  32. Gorgeous photos, as always - giggling over puzzled coyotes! (Momma hung a deer leg we found in the mts. near Capitol Reef last week and we wouldn't give it back!) I think you're right about consistent training when dogs go offleash a lot, although I can completely understand backing off from all that. Am most impressed by K's resilience and energy; she is simply amazing and just so beautiful and expressive!
    Big Hugs xoxoxo
    Sammie and Avalon

  33. Elk leg in the tree! OMG! that is so funny! and K is hilarious for doin' whatever she UNLIKE a nice choco-lab. Guess we all have our days, huh?

    The coyotes...there gonna be like WTF? how am i supposed to clean that up, when it's up there? and just what kind of monster would do that? K's looking good. I'm so sorry about the news of it spreading. I'm so glad she's livin' it up. no place i'd rather be than in the mountains in nature.

    hugs to you and your fur family!

  34. I just scroll to the bottom of the page on my iPhone and hit "View Full Website" so I can see the whole photos. Because I don't want to miss a single one. And that works just fine for me.

    I can't say I would have done anything differently if K was my dog. I think I'd have eased up on the rules, too, except, as you say, if she wanted to do something that could be dangerous for her. I kind of giggled at the leg in the tree even before you mentioned how coyotes may react because I (humorously) thought of it as nature's answer to Nightmare Before Christmas.

  35. OH what magnificent fotos!
    I can sees hows your mondset gots slack withs da trainin' and all but don't beat yourself up. Wheres you lives training is crucial cuz K do be off leash. But uh, hows in da world is them coyotes gonna gets dat leg, hope they has a good plan.

    I'm not on an ipad but my blog looks totally different on Explorer then it does in Firefox.


  36. hello
    it is a tender dance when we get sick and how we treat and are treated. thank you for sharing your story. you are so good at photographing your dog friend! Beautiful images.

  37. Spending some time taking in your beautiful photos...

    Just wanted you to know we are heading out on another cross-country RV adventure, destination- Oregon Coast. We'll be gone a couple of months...please don't forget us, and pls know you will be in my thoughts!
    Kit and The Pups

  38. Photos are perfect , always. And don't be hard on yourself... Nothing beats every breath we take.

  39. KB, sorry but I had to laugh (in a good way). Boy oh boy, I must admit we all went pretty slack with the training when Oscar was sick. We even allowed him to sleep on the couch, something he had never been allowed to do!!! You do as you think best. K will follow your lead. Wonderful photos again. Thanks for sharing this special time in your life. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory) P.S. Rory reckons he might still have reached the elk leg in the tree hehehe.

  40. Hi, Of course I'm really missing our mountains but enjoying the beauty of the Pacific ocean. I was wondering about your training-if you took classes near you when you first get a pup or just have trained so many that you work on your own. After we get back from vacation, we will begin our hunt for our next furbaby-and thus start training again. All our other dogs were adult rescues but I want to have a well behaved pup this time...any suggestions?
    Hugs, Noreen

  41. Greetings from Iowa~
    You K is just beautiful and has a soul that touches many. I hear your amazement over K's continued verve given her diagnosis. It truly is a blessing that our wonderful companions "don't walk (or run) on their x-rays". She clearly just does what she loves.
    Best wishes to you all for many more beautiful days.
    (Summi's Mummi)

  42. Mama always slacked off, too, under the same circumstances. But there was no off leash mountaineering involved, so the risk calculation was different.

    Some little tree dwelling carnivore or omnivore is going to think it stumbled on Heaven's waiting room when it finds that nice elk leg up high where it's safe from the larger predators. And eventually gravity will have its way and the coyotes will at least get the bones.

    Do not use iPad or iPhone or any of that stuff. We like the larger photos. Is there a way for viewers to adjust the picture sizes themselves on their individual machine?

    Jed & Abby

  43. I think everyone who has dealt with the terminal dog goes through the whole spoiling thing. On my guy's last Christmas Eve he stole an entire baked brie off the coffee table, which was something he would NEVER have even thought of doing when he was healthy. Like you I'd stopped enforcing the basic rules like "your nose does not belong over the coffee table" and he kept pushing to see how far he could go. They are a lot smarter than us at times! LOL

  44. We were the same with Abby. Since she got bone cancer when she was only 15 months old (and still not fully trained to not jump up on people) she never did learn! I kept trying to train her not to, but people would see her with that missing leg (and also see how joyous she was) and say, "It's ok!" Then they'd pet her and love her and reinforce her unwanted behavior. It's so hard to not spoil them.

    Hang in there. It seems you have the right attitude - every day is indeed a gift.

    [And, yes, the pics get cutoff on my iPad, but as others mentioned, I just tap/page through them.]


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