I have a particular area in our forest where I like to take photos of the dogs. It's a high point, where the horizons are visible to the east and west, including the mountains. The area catches the first sun rays in the morning and the last ones in the evening - making for wonderful photography light.
Unfortunately, it has been gray and cloudy almost every evening that I've hiked to that area with the Duo. The evening is my prime time with R, and I'm looking forward to some sunshine! Despite the gray skies, he looked magnificent last evening.
However, this photo really gave me pause because the dogs and I spend a lot of time near this spot - and we were probably nearby when this photo was taken. As I mulled it over, I decided to engage the reasonable part of my brain, and I realized that this lion had been near us but had avoided us, like almost all lions will do, if given a choice. Moreover, I've had a trail camera in this spot for about 4 months, and this is only the second series of mountain lion photos that I've captured. I know, based on tracks, that more lions have walked through this general area. However, no one saw them - as they've stayed hidden from human eyes.
It's amazing how having fierce predators above me in the food chain changes my thinking about the forest. I love having them present, because it gives us humans the humility that we so often lack. It changes my attitude immensely to know that there's an animal in the forest that is capable of killing me. That fact makes my senses more alive, as I vigilantly search for signs of big cats.
It also teaches me to "listen to my dog". Shyla knows much more about what's going on in our forest than I ever will, due to her amazing nose. I should have checked this area on the very first day that she showed a keen interest in it. The strength of a dog's sense of smell is incomprehensible to me.
Happy Friday to all of you. I hope you have a leaping good weekend!