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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Straddling the seasons

We are in that crazy season where we are partway between winter and spring, as symbolized by Shyla's leap.
We've had snow and sun recently. One day, Shyla was almost blinded by the sun, closing her eyes for a photo!
Although snow is good for our world, I'm looking forward to true spring with wildflowers and warmth! I hope that some of you are feeling that warmth!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wildlife Friday

Some of my favorite bobcat photos... On the first day that I had my cam in this location, a bobcat arrived and began to sit. Look how he curled his stubby tail under him.
He sat for a spell.
 Always alert, he scanned the world.
Finally, he departed, giving us a beautiful view of his face.
I love our bobcats!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Black and White Sunday

 May neither you nor your dogs ever see this sight!

Friday, March 22, 2013


I have to admit that my health issues have taken a toll on me recently. I am tired.
I don't think that Shyla is truly tired, but she puts on a good act! She also knows how to relax and soak up the sun.
I'm going to take a bit of a break over the coming week, hoping to help my fatigue and my wrists. I may put up a few short posts but I'll be back at full strength soon. I thank you all for your support!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


There are winter storms moving our way, leading with a bank of clouds. Fortunately, it looks as if I've dodged a storm myself.
The hospital computers are still kaput, believe it or not. However, my thyroid doctor eked some information directly from the pathologist. Based on a "probably benign" diagnosis, my doc thinks that we'll be able to take a "wait and watch" approach to my thyroid nodules.

On the less happy side, the docs think that my sarcoidosis is indeed on the move again, but it's probably not what is hurting my thyroid (it's hurting my nerves to my hands instead). I didn't expect this disease to be such a problem but there's still a chance that it will go into remission and stay there. I'm researching alternative means to slow it down (besides the standard steroids).

I am thankful about my thyroid and so is Shyla! She was a star during socialization training today, again. We are on a good streak.
In other news, Shyla has developed a talent for finding dead things in our forest. We've had 3 instances in the past week - a dead squirrel, a deer ribcage, and a deer leg. For the first two, I tried every trick in the book to get her to drop her treasures, to no avail. I even threw a handful of treats next to her, hoping that she'd drop the dead animal part to pick up the treats. No way - my treats cannot compete with a real dead animal.

So, today, I tried a new strategy when she found a deer leg. I ran away until I was out of sight. Then, I lay down on the ground, unmoving, as if I was injured. I could hear her bell, as she tried to decide whether to look for me or enjoy the deer leg. She finally became concerned about me, and, to her immense credit, she dropped the deer leg to run over and check on me. My trick worked (but I continued the act after she arrived so that it might work again if I need it to)! Now, we have some training work to do because it's obviously not a problem that is going away by itself. She usually follows her "out" command with enthusiasm (i.e., drop whatever you're holding) so now we need to practice with highly valued objects... like deer legs.

In contrast to his mischievous sister, R has become the wise and stable rock in our pack (K taught him well). He is so sweet and deeply attached to us humans. He's generally calmed down a notch from his days of Mango Minster Cracker Dog exploits, except for the insane 15 minutes before his morning run with the Runner. He'd make all Cracker Dogs proud with his exuberant antics and loud howling.
I adore this boy. He has a heart of gold.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Bond

It takes time to build a bond of love with a dog. It's especially tricky when your last dog was a heart dog.
Over this past week, it's hit me quite suddenly that Shyla has become part of me. When she looks in my eyes, I utter those magic words, "I love you", without even thinking.
Together, we've fought our demons. Shyla's demons are all the peculiar aspects of normal human life that can terrify her. Mine are many - but she's helped me to begin to heal from losing K. Together, we are emerging from the shadows and finding our way.
When I spotted this view today, it reminded me of hope superimposed on cold reality. I love the juxtaposition of the swelling aspen buds and the snowy mountains. It's like the overlapping of my growing love for Shyla and the gradual healing of my heart from losing my K.
I feel lucky.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ears and eyes

Shyla and I are racing out each morning, trying to catch the magic sunrise light while it's still at an hour that I can handle.

She has a favorite boulder. The odd thing is that it's one of the only boulders that K never stood on. So, this one is "Shyla's Boulder". 
This year, I've learned that the sunrise light hits this boulder around the winter solstice and then again around the spring equinox. It was cold and windy this morning, so we both sought sunny spots.

Shyla woke up in the middle of the night pawing at one ear. She wasn't her usual bundle of energy this morning...
Indeed, a trip to the vet told us that she had an ear infection. She was a superstar - so very courageous - at the vet, giving everyone kisses who came near her!
My vet mentioned again how happy she was that Shyla is spayed now. Apparently, many bitches around here go into heat at about the spring equinox (March 21).

I'm glad that Shyla never went into heat in the midst of the coyotes who live all around us. Here's a goofball youngster playing  for the camera in our clearing.
And, here's an adult who I believe has something wrong with his left eye. Notice the lack of eye shine in it.
Here is the same adult, with his right eye showing. It does have eye shine.
I believe that I've captured photos of this same individual near our house. Look at how little eye shine he has even in a bright white camera flash.
By contrast, here's a youngster with very shiny eyes.
Long time readers might remember that our alpha male coyote had a wound near his left eye last winter. It looked serious and perhaps infected. I wonder if he lost the sight in that eye, and now we are seeing his dull eye in my photos.

I think that he also lost his alpha status in our coyote pack. Last year, he always traveled right next to a female, and I believed that they were the breeding pair in our coyote pack. Only one pair per pack breeds, and the other coyotes help raise the pups. I'm betting that there's a new alpha male, and our coyote with the damaged eye is now a "helper".

As for my health, I found out the hospital's computer system crashed badly last week, and they do not know when it will be fixed (but it won't be soon). I'm quitting worrying about the biopsy (because the pathology report is lost in the computer someplace). There's no point in ruining perfectly good days over something out of my control.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Shyla wore her St. Patty's Day bandana for our morning snowbike ride. It's been warm and sunny over the past week so there was even some green on the ground today!
Green moss and lichens also emerged from under the melting snow.
The weather was wildly unpredictable while we were on the trails this morning. After a sunny start, the snow started to fall. Shyla barked because she is Irish!
The snow stopped when we were on Hug Hill, and Shyla barked again because she is Irish!
Since "finding her voice", I've taught her to bark on command (she learned it in about 10 minutes - her doggy IQ is sky-high). She loves it! A great advantage to having her know the word "bark" is that it makes it easier to teach the word "quiet". Because I can ask her to bark whenever I want to, I can teach her that "quiet" means to stop barking. Very convenient!
R celebrated St. Patty's Day by taking his post-run snooze with his head on a green pillow. He looks angelic when he sleeps.
I hope that you all had a great day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Bobcat

Based on my trail cameras, we've known for a while that bobcats regularly come through our clearing in daylight.

This bobcat clambered over a pile of slash to get into our clearing.
Then he sniffed an area that coyotes mark all the time.
After sniffing, he left in a hurry, showing us that he was actually a decent-sized bobcat when he stood tall.

Yesterday, around sunset, we noticed a bobcat hunkered down under a pine tree next to our birdfeeders. He chose to lie on a snow-free patch of ground under the tree and blended into the patch almost seamlessly.

Inconveniently, he had some bare rose bush branches between me and him.
The birdfeeder area was strangely devoid of any squirrels or ground-feeding birds. I wonder why? Mr. Bobcat stayed for quite a while, even appearing to doze off occasionally.
We had a window open for me to take photos, and I accidentally bumped something, catching his attention.
What an amazing creature! I feel lucky that I had a powerful lens, loaned to me by a friend, to capture his handsome face.

Because we were having fun watching the bobcat, we were late for our evening walk. We arrived up high just as the clouds faded from a brilliant pink to a gray tinged with pink.
Those clouds have stuck around, giving us a mostly overcast day. We're having a "Zen" day, relaxing quietly.
I hope that you're having a great Saturday! Thanks for all of the kind comments yesterday. I've stopped being anxious since I know that no news will come before Monday. There's no point in ruining my weekend over it!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Highs, Lows, and Questions

It has been a wild week, with high points, low points, and many questions.
The highest point has been seeing my Shyla grow more comfortable with the world. Aside from one incomprehensible day when she was scared from the very instant that I opened the car door in town, she has a streak of about 3 weeks of great socialization training sessions in town.
On a good day in town, I barely recognize her compared to the dog who I met at the end of August. I still "protect" her from the scariest stuff by going around it or giving her space to look at it from a distance, gradually moving closer to it, using our BAT protocol. It's odd but one of the scariest things for her is men talking loudly into cell phones. Go figure...

The low point of the week was learning that there is a far greater likelihood that my thyroid gland has cancer in it than I originally thought. Two nodules are very suspicious, leading them to take 8 biopsies during my hospital session on Monday. My neck is still bruised and sore. Unfortunately, it is now after 5 PM on Friday, and I have not heard the results. Thus - my representation of the Power of the Paw.
The odds are that, regardless of what the biopsies say, the docs will want to remove my thyroid gland because of these "dangerous-looking" nodules. I have an appointment with a thyroid specialist next week.

Thus, this week has been full of tumultuous emotions. On top of the current affairs, it's been a year since the day that we found out that K had lung mets - and I truly realized that no miracles were going to save her. That was one of the hardest days of the entire journey.

But, I must say, there has been a surprise miracle in my life - Miss Shyla.
Shyla continues to generate magical rainbows everywhere she goes.