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Monday, July 30, 2012


I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream where someone was saying to me - "It's time for you to say goodbye to K". I went out onto the deck to drink my coffee while watching the hummingbirds buzz around, a time that K and I used to share. I thought about the concept of "saying goodbye".
All day, those words have hung with me, rattling through my brain like an ear worm that won't go away. As I've pondered them, I realized that I never really say goodbye to any of my departed dogs - and I'll never truly say goodbye to my heart dog, K. She'll remain part of my heart forever, and I'll keep thinking of her all the time. I see K in my mind's eye every single day, so vibrant and loving.
When a dog is still part of me, I have to deny that I ever really say "goodbye". I continue to let them be part of my soul even though they aren't physically here anymore.
I won't lie - these are hard times. I am fighting with all my will not to let the darkness take over but it creeps up on me when I let my guard down. I physically hurt because my beautiful and loving K isn't here with me anymore. For some reason, I received the gift of K's love... and I miss it so much.
At the same time, I try to do things to keep myself from falling in the inky black abyss - playing with R, riding my bike, seeing my friends, and going for hikes. And, I write blog posts, usually trying to be happy and upbeat. Today, I'll tell you truth that I've fallen into the darkness. Tomorrow, I hope, I'll be able to tell you that I'm climbing out again.

This boy's goofy antics do help!
But, despite R's smile-inducing games, I still miss my girl so much that I hurt.
Sorry for this "downer" post but, some days, I just need to be truthful.

Thanks to all of you who voted in the trail camera contest. If you missed yesterday's post, I'd be very grateful if you could check it out and quickly cast a vote for my photo. Thanks!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ferocious face and bears!

We had a canine visitor today, and R had a wild wrestling game with him.
R looked far more ferocious in that photo than any of the bears that I've ever photographed with my trail cameras. I entered one of my favorite bear photos from this year in a contest. This big male bear was marking a tree during mating season.
I'd like to ask a favor. I'd be incredibly grateful if you could go to the Trailcampro photo contest and vote for my photo. To do so, click on this LINK and then, on that page, click "VOTE HERE". My photo is number 138 in the "US and Canadian Category". Please notice that you are *not* required to give your name and email address. You can just vote for my photo by entering its number. The winner gets a trail camera.

As you know, I adore trail cameras so I'd be incredibly happy to win. My trail cameras have been such fun, even through the inevitible tough times.

Every year, I use trail cameras to stake out bear marking trees to see the crazy marking dances done by the males during mating season.
And, I watch closely for the new cubs that appear each year. We followed this family for all of last summer.
Finally, I even sometimes get lucky enough to find an occupied bear den in the winter, like in 2010. K and I were out for a hike in the snow, and I noticed a hole under some rocks. We investigated and found three bears snuggled in the cave. I posted a trail camera next to the den, and I got to witness the secret life of a bear family as it emerged from hibernation in the spring.

Here, mom appeared to be telling her yearling cubs to behave themselves.
But the two cubs had irrepressible energy. This was one of the funnier play photos that I captured.
So, if I win the contest, I will be over-the-moon happy to win another trail camera, and I promise to share the photos that I capture with you.

Here are the instructions on how to vote once more: Click on this LINK and then click "VOTE HERE". My photo is number 138 in the "US and Canadian Category". Please notice that you are *not* required to give your name and email address. You can just vote for my photo by entering its number.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Play, play, play

I've been trying to do special things to help R and me heal our hearts. So, the other day, we headed over to Dream Valley Ranch for R to play with their new puppy, Huck.
Lots of chasing and playing "keep away" ensued. R would lay claim to a toy and entice Huck into chasing him.
Almost all the photos show the same scene... I love R's eyes peeking over the Monkey toy in the next photo.
Next, it was Mr. Froggie's turn.
It seemed that R had not mastered the art of letting Puppy Huck "win" the game sometimes. When R was a puppy, K would let R think that he'd stolen the toy from her on occasion to keep him interested in playing. I hope that R learns! At least he has learned to wait his turn for a treat...

On a different topic, how many of you get to see this outside your kitchen window (captured by trail camera)? The bear peacefully rested and then walked away, heading for an anthill where my other trail camera photographed him digging for ants.
More about bears tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Happiness Program

We had big and intense lightning storms today. They knocked out the power and phone line almost all day. That's why I didn't post until now!

Something amazing is happening. Both R and I are off-kilter, trying to figure out how to live without K. R never knew a life without his big sister until a little while ago. The amazing thing is that R and I are forging a bond that we've never had before now.
I keep seeing this sad and confused look in R's eyes. His eyes almost show the look in the next photo.
I don't need to tell you that the look in his eyes reflects the deep sadness that I feel.

So, I've decided to institute a "KB and R Happiness Program". Our program involves me teaching R new tricks. R adores learning new things, and I adore training him. So it's a win-win proposition.

Today, I taught him to pick up objects from the ground and deliver them to my hand. He "sort of" knew how to do this trick a couple of years ago. However, because K was my dedicated companion, she picked up everything that I dropped, and R didn't get any practice.

Today, we started with a training bumper that he had to find and bring to my hand. We progressed to all sorts of other objects like a camera bag and a hat. R is so sharp and has a very soft mouth!
After learning to bring me dropped objects, R began to learn how to "take a bow". In his frenzy to figure out what I wanted him to do, he practically threw himself into play bows by the end of the session.

His enthusiasm for training makes me laugh. It's good all around!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living Life with Abandon

This boy has some lessons to teach me.
While R's style is very different from K's, he lives every day with a joyful spirit that is helping to heal my soul. R doesn't care if he has strings of slobber all over his face just as long as he has fun and love in his life.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Paw Power

The Black Tornado

Beautiful Caterpillar

Bear investigates camera

K watched as I watered this Columbine every day. Now it is blooming in her honor.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spirit Guide

I feel like I am starting to emerge from the fog. I felt physically sick for most of last week after K died. Finally, today, I felt a small spark of energy. I'm sure that this process will be a roller coaster but I liked seeing the ray of hope today.

I've been spending more time with R than ever before. I adore his facial expressions as he tries to please me.
How can anyone, even someone who is incredibly sad, resist these eyes?
R's world has been turned upside down, just like ours. We're trying to give him lots of attention and fun. He romped today as I rode my mountain bike. As you can see, he also had been digging holes, a popular activity among him and his dog friends these days. He ended up with a brown snout!
He's so speedy and full of energy. Spending time with him makes me realize how much K and I had slowed our pace in the past year. That wasn't a bad thing... we stopped to smell every rose and to hug at every lookout point. But, being with R is different and lots of fun. He moves so fast that he's a blur...
The Runner mounted a tiny chocolate Lab on my handlebars so that R and I have a Chocolate Lab with us all the time. I love our little buddy.
I'm so thankful for spending time with R. There's nothing like the indomitable spirit of an amazing dog to help me through tough times.
After I rode with R, I went to check a nearby trail camera. The bears have been busily eating everything that they can find. Their normal berries and other plants have not flourished this year due to heat and drought. So, they seem particularly focused on ants. Based on how many anthills I'd seen that had been dug up by bears, I decided to point a trail camera at a huge ant hill about a week ago. Sure enough, a bear decided to check it out.
This bear is not Socks. Notice that s/he has a green ear tag which you can barely see in the left ear (Socks doesn't have ear tags). I suspect that this bear is Socks' mother or father. The ear tag means that this bear has gotten in trouble in the past. She was probably "relocated" to someplace else but history shows that bears almost always find their way home. She gets one more strike before the authorities kill her. I just hope that my fellow Coloradans are willing to lock down every single food source near their houses and be tolerant of bears wandering nearby so that bears don't get in too much trouble in the coming months.

I was glad to see that this bear was seeking natural food sources rather than going to homes. She dug into the ant hill which I know is full of ants. Even when I stand 15' away from it, I end up with ants crawling all over me. Bears particularly like the ant pupae (white little eggs, containing the next generation). I don't know if this bear found any pupae or not.
So, I got a smile from capturing a bear on camera today. I love that she was doing what a normal bear does when humans aren't watching.

As I keep trying to move forward with grace, I remind myself of K's amazing spirit throughout the onslaught of osteosarcoma. She never moped and always made the most of each day. I'm trying, with all my heart, to emulate her. K is my spirit guide.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Tribute to K

It has been one week since K died. It has been one of the hardest weeks of my life. But, if I met K again, I'd love her just as much, even knowing the deep pain that her death would bring to me.

K had a heart full of love, and she freely showered it on those who were lucky enough to know her. Many of the notes and emails that I've received mention her absolutely joyful soul. She made everyone smile, me most of all. She will live on forever in my heart.

I've made a video tribute to her that is a montage of photos from her lifetime. You can watch it below or at Youtube.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A bright spot

R's expression in this photo sums up how we all feel in this first week of living without K.
We are all trying to rally. As part of my grief process, I am working on a montage of my favorite photos of K. This is one of my favorites, taken fairly recently. I'm pretty sure that I'll never know another dog who will look at me with such love.
But, I'm finding solace with R. The Runner and he have been joining me on some mountain bike rides. Togetherness is helping us all get through this time.
R is so full of life and vigor.
We love him, and he is one of the sweetest souls in the world. He's a bright spot in our life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


As I find myself having trouble functioning without K in my life, I remind myself of the lessons that she taught me. Live each day as well as you can... try to find joy in the small things even if huge things have gone catastrophically awry. In that spirit, here are a few spots of joy from the past few days.
A Cassin's Finch in my yard

R lying in K's morning sun puddle

My first sunset hike without K - a rainbow glowed over our house
Last, but certainly not least, is how much all of you have rallied to express your sympathy and help me to feel the incredible spirit of our blog-world. Thank you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Last night, we had to let sweet K go because her body was failing her. Her downward spiral was very fast. Just eight days earlier, she'd easily hiked up to Hug Hill with me, played in the aspen groves, and gave me kisses on a boulder. For that reason, although her battle with osteosarcoma lasted about 6 months, her loss feels like an awful shock. I feel as I've had the wind knocked out of me and can't grab my next breath. I keep gasping as K's absence overwhelms me again and again.
The oncologists said that K's life expectancy was 4-6 weeks at each monthly check-up since April. Because she repeatedly beat the "expected", I'd started to believe that K was invincible. Alas, no one is, not even the amazing spirit of K.

The hardest decision an animal lover ever has to make is to let them go. K and I spent the weekend lounging under the pine trees near our house. I could see how tired she was, and yesterday, her eyes told me that it was time. Later, when we walked out of the vet clinic just after K's passing, a huge rainbow arced across the entire eastern sky. The tears flowed down my face.
Today, R is sticking very close by my side and licking away my tears. I will find my way - I know that I will - but the path is difficult to see right now.

I thank all of you for your support through this journey. This blog will continue but, depending on how I feel, it may be a little erratic in the coming days.

The photos in this post were taken during a hike last July 15th at almost exactly the time that K died yesterday. On that beautiful summer day, it never crossed my mind that my relatively young dog who I loved with all my heart would die a year later. Seize the day, my friends.

And, this amazing and soulful painting, given to us by you and painted by Kathleen Coy, will help carry us through the coming days of grief.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dancing bears and frozen treats

The bears are still dancing, despite the end to mating season! Up on his tippy toes...
All over the forest, I am seeing evidence of bear foraging - ripped up logs, flipped rocks, excavated ant hills - but they're still finding time to dance!
K is enjoying her frozen kong treats. Our walks are quite short now so we're finding other ways to keep the sparkle in her life.
Licking her lips.
Analyzing the best approach to emptying the kong...
K has an amazing spirit that lets her find happiness regardless of the situation. I am treasuring every moment with her.

Right now, she's letting me know that it's time for a little walk... Like I said, her spirit astounds me. Her wish is my command so we are heading out!