Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Best Friends and Our Thundering Herd

My black and white photo for today was from before the snow, during a hike with both dogs. They are best friends already, as you can see from them running side-by-side almost in perfect sync.

Today, in the snow, Shyla and I set out for our morning hike. I've been working on "heeling" with her every morning for the first ten minutes of our hike. She learns so fast that she's already doing the "heeling" part of the hike without a leash.

Well, we had a big surprise waiting for us this morning. We arrived at the mouth of the meadow, with Shyla in heel position, and 100 elk thundered across our path. I happened to have a telephoto lens on my camera instead of a wide angle so I never captured the whole herd in one photo. First, the elk briefly watched us from an aspen grove, deciding what to do next.
The matriarch, who is the "boss" of the herd, must have decided that they should go for it. They had to jump a fence to get started.
Then, they strung out as they ran across the meadow in full view of us.
As they departed the other side of the meadow, a few stopped to gaze at us. I was surprised that they were so unperturbed by us in the midst of hunting season.
I took advantage of the opportunity to teach Shyla that her "commands" hold even when a thundering herd arrives unannounced. I leashed her while the herd was very close to us, while having her do a sit-stay. Then, I started working on her off-leash training as soon as the elk were out of sight. Their scent was so strong that it lingered in the meadow for a long time. If I could smell them, imagine how strong the scent was for Shyla!

Shyla did a sit-stay, but with her attention in the direction that the elk had gone.
I let her run around in the area where the elk tracks pocked the snow and then called her back to me. She was the picture of intensity, both while running free and during the recalls.
Mmmm, what a smell.
I'm not sure what is "different" about Shyla - but she is learning so fast. She seems to have incredible self-control and focus for her age.
And, she's an incredible friend, so sensitive and focused on her humans. It's been a rough year but having Shyla join our family has helped us more than I thought was possible.

I hope that all of you on the East Coast of the US stay safe.


  1. Wow! Even at the age of 12 I'd have forgotten Mommy even existed and been off in pursuit of that herd. --Merlin

  2. Beautiful photos as always. Just love reading about Shyla and how she's learning and fitting in so well.

    Sam and Pippen

  3. Beautiful shots! Shyla's coming along so well!

  4. I hope all the Elk Herd live to run free, beautiful telephoto shots, and Shyla, well you are so good,Sitting, then smelling.KB, you live in a wonderful part of your world, and happiness is what should be with you every day. Greetings from Jean

  5. You have been sent a blessing that is refocusing your family on the future and the amazing daily miracles that provide the courage and audacity to hope again.

  6. I'm not surprised that Shyla is so eager to please you. She found you a little later in life than a lot of puppies, but just late enough to realize that she's got a very good thing going. Obviously, your training style and her learning style are a very good fit!

    I got the giggles a little as I read your post today, because I started thinking about the Fenton video. Obviously, Shyla is of a different mind set. I heard that he was a career changed service dog, and I'm guessing prey drive was his issue! lol

  7. I've missed a few days, and all of a sudden you are in winter! Your photos of the elk are wonderful, but my favorite is of Shyla peeking over the snow-covered log. Great shot!

  8. I wish I could say I would of held a sit stay with the elk so close. MOM thinks I might have, but I don't know. I mean my breed was bred to take down deer and elk (not that I would, I think I would just love the chase). Shyla you are such a good girl. And I love that last photo of you peeking over the snow on the rock.

  9. OH Shyla, that photo just after the Elk was stunning. Your coat, your eyes....You have become a part of the mountain you can see it in your eyes. You are the picture of health, you can see that in your coat.

    thank you for the joy you bring us each day with your posts.


  10. Oh my gosh, those pictures were wonderful. How fabulous too, that Shyla is so well behaved and responding so very well to all her training. Well done to you both. Thanks for sharing your photos. They are so good. No worries, and love, Carol (and Stella and Rory)

  11. What awesome pictures of the elk! You are a gorgeous girl, Shyla, and a very smart one! We are so proud of you!

    Love ya lots
    Mitch and Molly

  12. Shyla is one amazing girl. I think I'll send our pup (Shelby) to you for training. She doesn't listen to one word I say (well, most of the time anyway)


  13. My goodness, how breathtaking to see a herd of elk!!

    Shyla is so well trained. You've done a great job with her.


  14. Gorgeous pics!! Calhoun once met a draught horse in Charleston SC and he was terrified. He hid behind my legs and made the wimpiest barks. Big tough dog- yeah right!! I'm pretty sure the Elk would've scared him to death as well!

    Way to go Shyla!

    Mamma Heartbeat

  15. Wow, that herd was beautiful! and yes they should be scared of you and Shyla. I'll always remember the male bulging sound from our vacations in Wyoming.

    Shyla is sooooo smart. My Airedale would be going wild....of course we haven't done 1% of the training you do.

    Thanks for sharing your magical moment.


  16. Happy Monday KB, Love these pics and I am so impressed with how quickly Shyla is learning-wow is all I can say. To heel the first part of your time is incredible; that is when Hunter runs like a sled dog even when I have her on a "close" command.
    Loved seeing the herd and for her to wait with you-I am sooooo impressed; GREAT JOB! Have a great sunny day today.
    Hugs, Noreen & Hunter

  17. They look like best friends. The wildlife is amazing.
    Benny & Lily

  18. Ha - Blueberry would have left me in the dust!

    Glad that Shyla is so great at learning! Your consistency is a big factor in how great she is doing!

  19. Great pictures of the elks, they are big like our moose.
    Impressive that Shyla didn´t bother the elks. You trained her well. We have hunting labs in Sweden like Shyla. They are most used for bird hunting. They swim out and get the ducks after shooting. Also tracking after wounded animals from car accidents or a bad shoting

  20. I love the photo of her watching the herd, you can almost hear her say "Hmmm, well... That was different..."


  21. My ex-husband used to call our GSP Josey "Josey the Magical Dog"; seems like that could fit Shyla, too :)

  22. Wonderful photographs. We seem to have let the "heel" command sort of go by the wayside. I think it's because my husband does more of the dog walking than I do. They are on leash and he tends to give them too much slack.

  23. Way to go Shyla!! She sure is a smart one. It must make you very proud! I'm so glad you two found each other and she's such a good friend. Love that B & W "best friends" pic! :)


If you are a Blogger registered user, you can skip the step asking you to verify that you are not a spammer. For posts older than 5 days, I have comment moderation turned on.

Thanks for your comments!!!!!