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Thursday, September 20, 2012

A new era

A wise friend once pointed out that my bonds with my dogs have always been built through our shared adventures. Many of you know that hiking in the high mountains is my favorite kind of adventure. When Shyla arrived in late August, I wasn't sure if there would be enough snow-free time to take her up high above the trees this season or not. We lucked out - it hasn't snowed substantially yet.

Before any big hikes, Shyla needed to get a little stronger and to get tougher paw pads when she arrived. Those physical changes happened very fast with our active lifestyle and her puppy metabolism. She also needed to get comfortable enough with me and with our world to venture high in the mountains. That was a slower process but our trainer and I thought that she was ready to try it. Yesterday, I began the hike with the attitude that we might need to turn around very early if Shyla wasn't happy.

It rapidly became clear that Shyla was in her element.
As always, we passed more people (maybe 15) in the first mile of the hike than any other time. I'd ask Shyla to hop up on a rock next to the narrow trail, and I'd reward her for confident and calm behavior. Every person except for one followed my requests not to pet her. The one dissenter insisted that "all dogs loved him"... and then Shyla ducked away from him as he tried to touch her. I did, however, follow my trainer's advice. I clicked as his hand descended toward her head, and then gave her a treat. The idea is to make a person reaching out to pet her into a happy event by rewarding her for a hand coming toward her every time.

Shyla forgot about it in an instant. She was in her element and nothing was going to throw off her stride. We climbed fast and soon were above treeline.
We were heading for a pass that was above Shyla's tail in the next photo, and then we planned to go further to a lake that is fed by the snowfields that you can see directly above Shyla's head in the next photo.
When we arrived at the pass, Shyla was mesmerized. Her head swiveled from side-to-side, with just too much to absorb all at once. I bet that the scents on top of the Continental Divide are incredible.
After a little while, she began to relax and her face turned very happy!
She went for a swim and seemed to discover that snow-fed lakes are cold! It was a short dip because I stopped her so she wouldn't get too cold. We hope to take her to a warmer lake with her brother soon. She didn't appear to have tons of swimming experience but chasing R into a shallow lake will be just the ticket!
Then, to commemorate our first big hike, I tried to use the self-timer on my camera to take a photo of the two of us. This series shows you what a puppy spirit Shyla has!

Kisses, kisses...
Then, a big hug in an attempt to calm her. It didn't work! It gave her another fit of kissing.
Finally, a serious one. But, Shyla had made me laugh uncontrollably so I don't look so serious!
After our funny photo series, we started down toward the trailhead... and Shyla perched on a rock to look to the west before we lost the view. The mountain peaks and lakes seemed to stretch out endlessly. The wind picked up and Shyla's ears flapped like wings. Yes, girl, these mountains are your home. After all, you are the "daughter of the mountains".
As we descended, Shyla kept looking back up at the Divide. I think that she loved it up there as much as I do!
Just before we arrived at the trailhead, the sun was barely peeking over the mountains, and Shyla glowed in its rays. A wonderful day... a start to a new era in my life.
When we arrived at the car, Shyla lay in the backseat, wearing her seatbelt, and fell asleep as rapidly and deeply as only a puppy can do. She snored softly.

A Paul Simon song ("The Boxer") came on the radio. It felt so nostalgic - the past and the future intertwined. My K had joyfully done the same hike so many times with me, and now Shyla was capturing my heart as she embraced the mountains that I love so much. Somehow, the lyrics seemed to fit my mixed up feelings.

Now the years are rolling by me, they are rockin' even me
I am older than I once was, and younger than I'll be, that's not unusual 
No it isn't strange, after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same 
After changes we are more or less the same...
Li la li...


  1. Lovely post. The photos are SUPER, and "The Boxer" reference is great. Wish we could all meet Shyla - in her own time.

  2. This post so makes us smile:) We especially love the pics of you and Shyla together - ALL of them:)

  3. Hi Y'all!

    Just wanted to stop for a visit. Hope y'all are havin' a great week!

    Certainly appears to have been a great day for both of you! What a happy, happy dog!

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  4. What a gorgeous dog. Joy everywhere in these photos! I too love the wilderness and love taking a dog there. It is hard when you lose your heart dog. Mine, Kasey, died two years ago in July of lymphoma. I didn't even remotely start to heal until we got Toby several months later. I still mourn Kasey, but when I'm sad I can love on Tobester.

  5. What a beautiful trip! I love the photo of the two of you

  6. So happy, so happy for you both. :D

  7. This post is filled wif joy and happiness!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae and Max

  8. Great photos, especially the one of you smiling with Shyla. That's what it's all about! So happy for you both.

  9. Such fun you two had today. I love your pictures together.


  10. Love the way you are training Shyla. Sounds great. She sure is a smart kid
    Benny & Lily

  11. We are full of smiles from this post. And the last picture of Shyla with those big beautiful eyes and her half grin. What a joyful post.

  12. It is so great to see you so happy again!! Your enthusiasm is contagious! Beautiful pictures of you both!!! I just love the ones of Shyla with the sun shining on her!
    Jeanne, Chloe and LadyBug

  13. I knew in my heart that Shyla was going to love hiking! I'm glad you both had such a fantastic experience together. And you have a beautiful smile -- it's good to see Shyla bringing that out in you! :)

  14. Ann...from...Outer Banks of NC...said .....Shyla has such great enthusiasm....looking forward to seeing more of the good times all of you are having together....your happy faces make me happy too.....laughter is good medicine for the soul....HUGS

  15. I love it all! The scenics, the sky, the sweet Shyla and you.


  16. Looks like you two are a match made in heaven! She looks like Shyla is going to be having the time of her life. :) And you too of course.

  17. This is a beautiful post, thank you

    Anne and Sasha

  18. Great post and pix. happy days. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  19. What a great post, KB! We are having trouble wiping the smiles off our faces!

    Love ya lots,
    Mitch and Molly

  20. ahhh the pics of you two together are fab xxxxx

    im so glad you both enjoyed your first hike together and i hope you have many more years of fun and happiness to come x

    Charlene and Stormy

  21. Wow - now she is TRULY daughter of the mountains. I am loving the self timer photos, KB - and your big smile! I need to try this with Indy sometime when we are at our beach house.

    Have a wonderful weekend :):)

  22. Lovely photos of the two of you!! *So* nice to see life is getting better for you.


  23. I love the pictures of you and your happy smile with Shyla!

  24. KB...thanks for sharing your glowing visage....Shyla has brought you around and with your constant teachings, she will be the best that you can offer her. I can feel the air on this sojourn...fresh and alive...Sophie and Shyla would love ea romp here!
    Thanks for this special view of your lives!

  25. Well, I thought I could read this the second time (the first at 6am) without getting all teary but it didn't work :)
    They are tears of Joy to 'hear' and see you so happy again ! Shyla is so perfect for you !!!

  26. Mommy is crying so hard right now that she can't see to type, so I gotta help her!

    She said "KB had the breakthrough that we just knew would come." And after reading your post Mommy is so very much happy for you! Guess that's why she's a babbling idiot right now...

    Shyla ~ You are an AMAZING little girl!

    Your pictures just tickled our hearts this morning :)

    Lily Belle

  27. You guys looks so happy together! My husband wishes we could give our pups the lifestyle your dogs are lucky to have. I bet they are so happy!


  28. Beautiful smiles from you and Shyla!

    Great post!

  29. You and your daughter of the mountains will have many more adventures to enjoy together, and it looks like you are well-matched. Happy trails!

  30. Your smile says it all: after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same! Wonderful post!

  31. Hi there, Oh what glorious mountains we have here! I am so impressed with how quickly Shyla is learning; we start obedience training tomorrow and I'm hoping that Hunter will decide he likes it and participate. The colors look so brilliant; once our daughter has her baby we will definitely be up in the park for photos shoots. My oldest told me that snow is predicted down here in two weeks-heavens no, I love it but can't it wait til Nov. I'm just not ready yet. Have a joy filled weekend my friend.
    Noreen & Hunter

  32. What a wonderful world!! Great photos, and to see you both together will make so many of us a lot happier, smiling together,yes this is all a new life for 2 girls,and with your mountains surely the very best place to be.Greetings from Jean

  33. KB this has just made our day. Your beautiful smile in the photo with Shyla is fabulous. You are doing K proud. Enjoy every day and my gosh, it looks like you are both doing just that. Loved your photos. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  34. Your post is so inspiring today and again, the photos are beautiful.

  35. Your pictures are awesome and Shyla is beautiful! You are so blessed that the two of you found each other:)

  36. These are such wonderful photos! Shyla truly is in her element, and she is so lucky to have ended up with you! The photos of the two of you together are priceless.

    Kudos to you, KB, for turning a stressful situation into a positive experience for Shyla. I would have had a hard time curbing my anger if someone ignored my request that they not pet my dog. Getting angry would, of course, make the encounter so much worse.

    You two are going to have so much fun together!

    Susan T in AZ

  37. Beautiful pics as always and this girl is SO different from K. Sounds like thetwo of you have a lot of great adventures ahead ;-)

  38. Hi! What lovely much love and happiness you show in your pictures. Shyla is the best that happend after all sorrow.
    The picture of you two is the best. You look so happy.
    Hugs from us!

  39. Stunning photos! Gotta love those kisses!

    PS - I sent you an Email - checking to see if you got it. :-)


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