The days are getting shorter and colder. The snow is flying up high. The towering peak on our horizon is now a glimmering white ghost. I always get a little sad at this time of year. The melancholy is more intense this year because our summer was dominated by the loss of K.
The biggest advantage to the changing seasons is that I get to see my pups in the sunrise light more often. I have to admit that, in any light, photographing a chocolate lab is easier than a black lab. Thus, Shyla is rapidly learning to be my cover girl!
I've learned to say "no" to most other people who want to pet her in public. In cases where people simply won't listen to me, my trainer has taught me some strategies. I've trained Shyla to know a "find it!" cue, which means that I am dropping treats on the ground, and she should look for them. This activity can distract her while I try to convince the person that Shyla isn't ready for head-on meetings yet. Later, when Shyla is more comfortable with people, we'll use a "target" cue, where I'll ask the person to put out their hand, and Shyla will poke it with her nose. I'll give her a reward, and then I'll ask her to do it again. It's another way of distracting Shyla from the probing eyes of new people. It's the eyes on her that seem to scare Shyla, which makes sense since direct eye contact is very impolite among dogs.
With the changing of the seasons, my trail cameras are seeing some traffic. Bears are known to go through a phase of vigorous tree marking before they go to their dens. It's likely that pregnant sows are choosing dens now and marking trees as they survey the real estate. I captured this very healthy looking bear marking a tree one evening.
I've also continued to follow what I believe to be a female bobcat who has a kitten in the area. I have surmised that she has a kitten hidden based on the fact that she has been carrying her prey a long way after she kills it. I think that she's taking it to the kitten but I haven't seen the kitten yet. She also keeps marking the base of bear trees. I've seen some of this behavior from bobcats each year but never as frequently as this year.
There are deer around, and they've lost the velvet from their antlers.