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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.


  1. that would be tough to take, for sure. shyla is so beautiful in her sun light. :)

  2. Hi KB
    Were so glad you and Shyla were able to get out and see the sunrise. And we hope your pain level is manageable.
    You certainly have not let the surgery keep you from living and enjoying your precious forest and time with Shyla.. You may never know the secret that Shyla was concerned about,, maybe only she will know.
    We also feel sadness for the humans who lost their dogs. And we feel sad for the dogs too.
    Beautiful photo captured of the mountain lion

  3. Sunrise is an awesome time. One of my favorites. That's to bad about the mountain lion issue, I hope they can keep the dogs out of harms way.

  4. Shyla was in a mouth mood! somedays Lee can be like that. I agree with you, the dogs should be supervised in these areas. Sigh! Hope you get a beautiful sunrise tomorrow!

  5. Nola is extremely verbal during training (barks, grumbles, moans, yips, yells, ect. It's quite funny!); I can't imagine a dog that's so quite with training!

    Those poor dogs and families. :( I agree with supervising being the best option, but I wonder if barbed/razor wire or electic fencing at the top of fences would be any deterrent.


  6. Great idea. Dog is going to bark? Let her learn it as a command.

    Yes, we do indeed know how awful it feels to lose a beloved dog. You were so careful and protected K and I was so careful and protected Ellie and still we lost them far too soon. Why on earth do some people not do every single thing they can do to protect their dogs from known dangers?

  7. I got quite a chuckle out of Shyla sassing you!

    When I was a kid, one of our farm dogs was killed one day while my dad was away at work by some roaming neighbor dogs who were coming to our property to kill chickens. That was horrific enough. I can't imagine finding my dog killed by a lion.

  8. Its hard for me to imagine an unprotected dog in the country, just like I can't imagine a small town dog like Stella being out on her own. She has a small fenced in back yard, but when I go outside now I take her along, unleashed, to teach her to Stay Off the Road and she responds quickly when she hears that. So if your dog is in the country and killed by an animal or in the town and killed by a car, it just means he/she wasn't being taken care of.


  9. Heartbreak, comes after joy and happiness, and making sure any dog is protected all the time might be the only way to stop these tragedies. Take care , those photos of Shyla say how happy she is, truly in her element. Cheers, Jean.

  10. Your pictures are amazing.
    Oh I agree it is absolutely heart breaking to loose a dog period.
    I do love the wildlife , they don't seem to discriminate though when they are hungry.

  11. Shyla's light is like a beacon for your recovery. Focus on it, gain strength from it, share it completely.

    The rogue lion and the loss of the community's dogs seems like a powderkeg. I hope their is not some knee jerk defensive action against all the cats in the area over these horrible deaths. The cycle of life is sometimes gruesome.

  12. It seems that you had a lot to say on this particular morning, Shyla! Are you sure you don't have Terrier in you?!
    We feel horrible for the pups that have become prey too.

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  13. Beautiful sunrise photos and, of course, beautiful Shyla.

    So heartbreaking to lose a beloved pet this way. I imagine it would haunt a person all the rest of their life.

  14. I always teach my dogs to "Speak!" on command, partly as a way to get a bark when I need one, and partly so I can then teach them to stop barking on command as well. I also teach "shake" to get some of the rain or snow off a dog before coming indoors. At some point, Piper started pretending (really, I am convinced) that "shake" equals "Speak!" and now will bark instead of, or before, or during a shake. Her hearing is excellent, and I use hand signals as well as verbal commands, so she is definitely conflating the two. I'm trying to just reward only what I ask for - and especially not to reward barking - but sometimes it's really hard to figure out where to go from here. I'm not much of a dog trainer...

  15. Sorry to hear your neighbors are loosing dogs - that is tragic and heartbreaking.

    I also agree that dogs in human company make a harder target; once had to carry my terrier and a heavy stick to make it back from a walk where an overly bold coyote in a city park would otherwise have made the dog a snack.

  16. That us so funny how we randomly decide to get vocal.

  17. Sorry to hear about your neighbours losing their dogs. It is heartbreaking but at the same time owners do have to keep an eye out on their pets especially if they live in an area where mountain lions are around.


  18. There is a logic to the action of our special dogs and we do need to pay attention to what they are trying to communicate when they behave in an unusual or unexpected way…"training" works both ways.

  19. So sad for your neighbour's dogs.

    On the upside, it seems like your recovery is going well.

    You always seem to capture the best moments of Shyla.

  20. I think she was trying to tell you about something lurking about. We have some of our kitty friend get eaten by coyotes.

  21. Glad you make it out today in that Lovely wheather.
    Here in Sweden many lost their huntingdogs on wolves attacks. Also did they Catch dogs in their gardens.....Yes it must be awful to lose them like that.
    Hugs from us and stay well!

  22. Beautiful shots as usual! Hope you are recovering well. Nature often is not kind and the cycle of life can be heartbreaking.

    Your pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  23. That's so funny that Shyla was "talking back" to you during her training! She's such a different dog now! :)

    That's so scary about the mountain lions. I do want to say that sometimes even lots of vigilance can result in a mountain lion or other wild animal going after a dog. All it takes is a moment. I cringe when I see people out here in the desert with their dogs off leash in an area with a known coyote pack that won't hesitate to try to separate an unleashed dog from the human they are with. I imagine, like all wild creatures, if an opportunity presents itself - a hungry mountain lion won't pass up a chance to grab a dog in a yard or wherever. Although I do agree with you that leaving a dog alone in a yard all day or all night is just asking for trouble in such a remote area.

  24. Thanks for all of your comments. I do want to add that I know that even extreme vigilance sometimes isn't enough to stop a tragedy. Very responsible people have lost dogs to predators.

    We live in the mountains because we love it here but we must accept the risks that come along with it. Many people do everything they can to mitigate those risks... but they still exist.

  25. I am glad you were able to get up and about with Shyla and it's funny that she is barking today...just like that!! I am also very sorry to hear about your friend's losses. So very hard to deal with.

  26. It is great that Shyla has gotten comfortable enough to talk back to you LOL! We have seen the same type of changes in Taffy...she will on occasion give a little moan when she wants what we are eating. Not a behavior that I want her to continue but it makes me happy that she feels comfortable enough to do it. She never would have done it the first couple of years we had her.
    So sorry to hear that people are still losing their pets to the lion. I hope you are feeling good today.

  27. I'm so happy you're up to getting up early for the sunrise again! I hope your shoulder is healing well and that soon you'll be back on your bike.

    It's so fun to read about Shyla's personality. And to see the mountain lion getting possessive when the camera stepped in his way! :)

    I, too, mourn the lost beloved pets and hope owners will safeguard their precious dogs when allowing them outside. I, too, feel supervision would prevent some of the mishaps.

  28. Hi Y'all,

    Such a beautiful sunrise shining on a glowing girl.

    My Humans have never allowed one of their buds outdoors unless they were supervising. In more populated areas there are thieves who steal us and sell us to unscrupulous people. In cities or country areas there is traffic that can blindside even the most traffic wise...but you are so right, even under the most watchful eye bad things can happen to good people and dogs.

    Y'all stay warm and safe.

    Hope the pain abates soon. When do you start therapy?

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  29. Sorry, meant to ask you when did you start therapy...

    Hawk aka BrownDog and his Human


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