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Friday, February 28, 2014

R can Run!!!!

With the craziness of this week, I forgot to tell you the most important piece of news. R finally went for his first run since his surgery. He and the Runner have run together for 5 minutes each day since getting permission from the surgeon earlier this week. Yipee!!!!
R is not yet doing any off-leash running so I probably won't have new photos of him running for a while. His surgery was very serious, and we are proceeding very slowly with his return to running. He was born with elbow dysplasia and had his first surgery as a pup. Then, as usually happens with elbow dysplasia, his elbow steadily degenerated over the past five years. Even early surgical intervention is no cure for elbow dysplasia.
For anyone who knows about elbow dysplasia, this will probably make sense to you. His ulna's coronoid process was fractured into three pieces and detached from the rest of the bone. Moreover, multiple other bone chips were floating around in the elbow joint space. He had no cartilage remaining on the end of his humerus (the upper forelimb bone). Needless to say, the surgeon labeled R's elbow dysplasia "Grade 5", which is as bad as it can get.

We are hopeful that the recent surgery that removed all the bone pieces and attempted to stimulate cartilage growth will give R more active years. If it doesn't, there is a completely new surgery, called "CUE" surgery, that essentially takes the pressure off of R's cartilage and puts it onto surgically implanted surfaces. We hope not to need this surgery because it has been done on relatively few dogs so far. There is no long-term data about how dogs fare with this surgery.

But, for the moment, things are looking good!!! And, in the spirit of a dog, I will smile about that and rejoice that R has begun to run again!
Happy Friday to all of you!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Lion Walked Nearby

Shyla and I were out early, as usual. I love the quiet of the forest in the morning. Shyla looked like she was tip toeing through the forest!
Shyla played in the snow, carefree and happy.
Then we hiked to check a trail camera. It turned out that we'd been sharing the forest with a mountain lion on one of our morning outings recently. He left a scrape in the snow. In this photo, he's in the process of systematically kicking backward with each hind paw.
I know that many people in my area are not happy about mountain lions right now but I was thrilled to see the series of photos of this healthy lion. This lion was in the part of the forest where lions normally travel, and he passed through our area without anyone knowing it (except my trail camera). He was living a normal and secretive mountain lion life. I loved seeing his images!

After our hike to the trail camera, we headed home. I have the flu, including a jackhammer headache that hasn't wavered all day since I woke up. I think it's time for bed now...
We've had lots of pairs of dogs in our life, and this pair is the most affectionate with each other of any, matched only by the pair of littermates who were our first dogs. I love seeing how Shyla and R snuggle up together.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Non-wordless Wednesday

Traditionally, Wednesdays are wordless. However, I cannot be mute today. Your support yesterday was overwhelmingly wonderful. Just so you know, I plan to go through official channels to rectify the situation, and I will let you know how it goes.
You, my friends and readers, are why this blog is so special to me. I am honored that take the time to read my posts, and that you share your experiences and support with me. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Vexing Problem

As long-time readers of this blog know, my interest in photography has grown exponentially over the years. When I started this blog more than five years ago, I had barely taken any photos in my life. Now, I adore photography, and I take pride in my baby steps of improvement.
Back at the beginning, I used a point-and-shoot, and I took basic photos that documented my life and my dogs. The photos were nothing special to anyone but me.
As my photos have improved, I've run across my newer and better photos in odd places on the internet, and a firm note usually gets them taken down.

Now, I found that someone has a Facebook page that includes a bunch of my early photos of K and R. The stolen photos are not great photos but they mean a lot to me. This person claims that K and R are her dogs. In fact, she calls them "her boyzzzzzzz". For some reason, this discovery has made me extremely angry.
I feel like K's photos are sacrosanct. They are my treasures. They are the only physical images that I have left of her. Now, her photos are on a Facebook page that has lots of obscenities and an obvious lack of ethical grounding. I feel the same way about R's photos but at least he is still alive so I can see his actual handsome eyes every day.

The weird thing is that this person chose to steal what I now consider to be really bad photos from an artistic viewpoint.
After some research, I've seen that Facebook has a process (an online form) for reporting copyright infringement. I am tempted to follow that route. I am pessimistic about approaching the individual who stole the photos because I became aware of this problem due to her online harassment of others.
What would you do if you were in this situation? I want K and R's photos taken down from this person's Facebook account. Any ideas?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A good day!

We had a busy but good day. R had his 6 week post-surgery checkup. We were a bit worried about it because he still limps sometimes, especially when he gets up after snoozing. The surgeon says that is perfectly normal at this stage, and he can increase his activity more, including a little bit of running!

I had physical therapy,  which always leaves me sore. I have an ice bag on my shoulder right now. However, my PT is thrilled with my range of motion just 2 weeks post-surgery. I think I'm going to be back on my mountain bike before I know it!

We arrived home after our appointments and headed out for a quick hike as the "next" storm front was oozing up from the east. I could see the clouds advancing up the canyons toward our perch on the mountainside while we hiked.

The sunset was muted due to the impending storm but still painted a beautiful pastel picture in the sky.
A good day all around! Snow tomorrow...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

I found out that today is "International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day". So, of course, we celebrated it in our house.

Shyla was a very cooperative model for this special day that our Duo holds near and dear to their hearts.
I really wanted R to be a model for our photos honoring dog biscuits. However, he figured out that he could snarf the biscuit as soon as I raised my camera to my eye. Rascal!

It's hard to believe that a dog with such innocent eyes could be so devious!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Shyla and I wandered the forest near our house this morning. I watched my wonderful young Labrador leaping, galloping, and sniffing the world while staying in a small radius around me, and I pondered how lucky I was to have her land in my life after K died.
One of her favorite things to do at sunrise is to find a perch up on a rocky hillside, and lie with her chin resting on a boulder, overlooking the world below us. I always wonder what she's thinking. I hope that she's as grateful for our bond as I am.
Shyla would not be the perfect dog for everyone because her fears limit what she can cope with in life. However, she's grown into the perfect dog for me.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Heart of a Dog

'Tis the time of year when I start dreaming of spring wildflowers.
Just before a big snow at the end of November, I scrambled to find my Columbine seeds, and I headed out onto our property to plant them in the aspen groves. I chose the end of November because snow that falls then usually doesn't melt until April or May.
So, as the snow falls, I visualize beautiful Blue Columbines resting under its protective carpet. I wonder what the Duo was visualizing in the snowstorm the other evening?
Snow and cold make these gems flourish when the sun finally warms our world. Ah, the vision of them warms my soul.
There are a few old ruins of mining cabins in our forest, and a couple of them are surrounded by Columbines, Lilacs, and Irises. As I ride past them in the summertime, I visualize a turn-of-the-century miner out there planting seeds all around the cabin. The flowers are the miner's most beautiful legacy.

And, as it snows these days, I visualize the other wildflowers that are sleeping under the snow, waiting for their time to bloom. It is so hard to believe that our world will look like this in a few months.
There's so much to look forward to... although Shyla seems completely exuberant in the moment. She loves every single day, as far as I can tell.
And that's what I love most about our dogs. I try so hard to have the Heart of a Dog.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding happiness - Shyla and Mr. Bobcat

I have to admit it. This surgery recovery is a lot harder than I anticipated. The fatigue is flooring me, and the pain isn't fun either.

I dragged myself out for a hike with Shyla this morning, feeling little enthusiasm for it. But, Shyla knows how to make me smile. She seems to sense when I need my spirits lifted, and she tries so very very hard to make me smile. This morning, she was running and jumping joyfully, and I soon felt happier. Look at her zest for life!
After playing together for a little while, we hiked to a trail camera, where I found some cool images. It's in a place where I've seen bobcat and mountain lion tracks many times in past years but there have been few cats there recently.

Then, a neighborhood dog helped my cause by dropping an elk femur in the far right of the camera's view (I have photos of the dog dropping the femur there but my policy is that I never publish photos of people or their dogs).

A bobcat was obsessed with the elk femur.

Walking directly to it...

Sniffing it...

Tasting it with an ecstatic look on his face...

Rubbing his body all over it for a couple of minutes...

Suddenly, in the midst of his obsession, he stared into the forest.

Looked around a bit...

And departed, while licking his chops.

Bye bye, Mr. Bobcat!

The combination of Shyla's amazing spirit and seeing photos of Mr. Bobcat had me feeling pretty happy by the end of our hike!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

On Alert

Shyla and I finally made it out into the hills in time for sunrise after a week of me being too tired to get up early (sunrise hikes were on my "list"!). It is incredible how fast the time and the position of the sunrise are changing.
I know that these sunrises are precious. Pretty soon, the sun will rise so much further to the north that the rays won't hit our neck of the woods until well after the actual sunrise. And, you all know how much I love seeing my sweet Shyla in the sunrise light!
Around sunrise this morning, I felt like I was on high alert. I don't know if I was picking up worried signals from Shyla (her giving me looks like the one below) or if my mind was fabricating it.
So, we stayed close together, playing games in the warm sunlight.

I was putting her through her paces, having her do various tricks. She was ad libbing, doing slightly different things than exactly what I'd trained her to do. In fact, her responses to my verbal commands started making me laugh. I asked her to wave with her left paw, which she did successfully a few times. But then, the next time I asked her to wave with her left paw, she barked very loudly.
And then she looked at me with a crazy expression that seemed to say "take that"!.
She was definitely in the mood to bark while training (it was only the second time in her life that's been true - this morning, she was barking regardless of what verbal cue I gave her). So I took the opportunity to teach her the word "Bark!". She seemed to be getting it, and we both had fun!

The rest of our hike was uneventful so perhaps the odd wariness that I felt about the forest was not based on anything real. It might have been triggered by the ongoing attacks on dogs by mountain lions. The numbers and the heartbreak are piling up.

I continue to see the normal pattern of behavior of the wildlife in our neck of the woods. The mountain lions who I've captured on camera have been doing normal "mountain lion activities" like eating elk and acting outraged that a camera was recording their feast.
In my opinion, the best outcome of the current crisis would be if dogs were always supervised when they're outdoors. It seems as if all the killings have been immediately adjacent to houses, when dogs are outside by themselves, either contained in a yard, on a deck, or totally free. It's a long shot but... perhaps if there weren't unsupervised dogs outdoors, the rogue lion wouldn't have easy prey and might naturally return to deer and elk as prey. I have a sliver of hope that this might happen because it seems that everyone is talking about the dogs who have been lost to mountain lions recently.

Regardless, I feel a very heavy heart knowing that fellow mountain-dwellers are mourning their dogs. No matter how a dog's life was lost, I feel huge sympathy for the peoples' grief. I think we all know how awful it feels to lose a beloved dog.

Monday, February 17, 2014


It seems as if there is lots of "stuff" to fit in each day right now, leaving me feeling frazzled. I have all my own recovery stuff - icing my shoulder, doing my exercises, going to doctor's appointments, and having physical therapy sessions. In addition, our Duo still needs my attention.

Although I am not at my usual speed, Shyla is a young and healthy dog who needs to burn off lots of energy every day even though I can't snowbike with her. In the morning, we've been heading out onto the trails together, with both of us on foot. I'd love to put a GPS tracker on her to find out how many more miles she covers than I do! I'm definitely lagging these days.
Every time I look, she's galloping one way or another, keeping a radius around me.
I stop sometimes to look at things or take photos, and Shyla keeps busy nearby. Sometimes, she chomps on sticks.
I'm proud of those white teeth in the photo above. I brush her teeth every day (except since my surgery - but I plan to restart soon). Shyla actually seems to like having her teeth brushed - and she loves the "poultry" flavored toothpaste (yuck!).

After our morning walk, I hop on my exercise bike, keeping my legs and heart strong for when I can ride a real bike again. It also keeps back spasms at bay - I've never found a better muscle relaxant for my back than pedaling a bike.

This evening, although my shoulder was aching from a rigorous physical therapy session in the afternoon, I needed to walk the Duo. It's especially critical for R, who needs multiple walks per day as he rehabs from his elbow surgery. We saw the mountains during that walk. I'll never tire of the view.
Now, I am sitting at home with a throbbing shoulder, and wondering what ever possessed me to make a list of "extra" things I was going to do during my recovery! I can barely keep up with the essentials. I suppose that might change as my typing speeds up and my sleepiness abates, but looking back at that post makes me laugh at my ridiculous expectation that I'd have extra time on my hands.
Here's to the hard work of recovery and to the wonderful help from the Runner. I am hoping it gets easier for everyone very soon.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Black and White Sunday - The Art of Napping

Shyla demonstrated the art of napping today...

R's favorite napping pose...
They're both leading by example.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


It's been quite a week. I had shoulder surgery on Monday, and then I tried to get started on my "active recovery" on Tuesday.

Shyla and I went out for a morning hike on Tuesday. When I say "hike", most people can insert the word "walk". Where we live, there are no sidewalks or safe places to walk near roads. However, there are many trails, which are literally outside our back door. So, we have short loops that we can hike just by stepping out our door.
I've always been one to push the limits after a surgery. I know that's not necessarily a good thing but I feel almost incapable of sitting around at home all the time during a recovery. My greatest challenge this time has been fatigue. I am bone-tired, capable of a nap almost anytime, which I'm guessing is an after-effect of the anaesthesia. This is the most fatigue I ever remember having after surgery.
Surprisingly, although my shoulder looks horrible with a humongous technicolor bruise, the pain of this surgery pales by comparison to my spine surgeries. It hurts but I can deal with it.

For that reason, I am capable of smiling and laughing as I watch Shyla's joyful play.
I love having Shyla to hike with during this recovery - she gets me outside even when I feel like I'd rather stay curled up inside my house. She can be off-leash, which is great, since I am afraid of holding a leash right now. I have the feeling that a hard pull on the leash would be very painful. Unfortunately, R is required to be "on-leash" due to his surgery so I haven't been able to hike with him unless the Runner is present.

This morning, Shyla and I did our longest hike yet, heading out to check a trail camera that I pointed at a mountain lion kill a few weeks ago. Previously, I showed you a photo from this camera, when a group of coyotes was feeding on the elk carcass.

Today, I discovered that the lion came back to the carcass a couple of weeks ago and had his photo taken many times. I still need to go through all the photos but here's one of the big cat with the snow-covered carcass.
Today, there was almost nothing left of the carcass so I brought the camera home, awaiting the next big event in our forest.

Amazingly, this carcass was not terribly far from houses yet I don't think that any residents were aware of it. Mountain lions are masters of moving in the shadows, unnoticed by people. Perhaps only the most secretive mountain lions survived back when they had bounties on their heads, leaving us with a population of mountain lions that is almost invisible to us.

The trip to that trail camera was enough excitement for one day. I am ready for another nap...