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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Moose on the Loose

I haven't talked about moose in our forest very much recently, although they've still been in the vicinity. A couple of weeks ago, Shyla and I saw a young bull moose, all by himself. Shyla did a sit-stay next to me, and I snapped a photo as he disappeared into the forest.
I'd heard that others had been seeing new moose calves all over our area so I guessed that this was last year's calf who had been hanging out in our forest for the winter. I suspected that his mother had split from him to have a new calf.

Here are a couple of photos of him with his mother last winter. He was the closer of the two moose in the photo.
He and his mom usually foraged right next to each other.
I saw them together, one last time, near the end of the winter. You can see the calf's antler buds just above his eyes.
Then, I didn't see any moose for a while, until a trail camera picked up photos of a young male moose by himself. He sniffed the ground in front of the camera. It's a spot that mountain lions have marked many times.
He was so engrossed in the scent that he knelt down to smell it better. You can see his velvet antler buds in both photos.
He spent a few minutes in front of that trail camera before going on his way, probably starting the process of finding his own home range, away from his mom.

Then, I heard from my neighbor that she'd seen a baby moose with a mother moose just outside her house. This is her photo, that she kindly gave me permission to share with you.
You can see in that photo how protective the mother moose looked. To be honest, seeing this scared me. I was worried about meeting this pair on the trails while I rode with Shyla. It finally happened the other day. Fortunately, they weren't right on the trail but about 30 yards off of it.

I spotted them, hopped off my bike, and told Shyla to do a "sit-stay". It was one of those moments as a dog guardian that I was SO thankful that I spend so much time training Shyla. She did exactly as I asked. I leashed her. I snapped a quick photo, and then we moved further away from the pair, giving them an extremely wide berth.

It was during that encounter that I captured the photo that I showed you yesterday.
It was incredible to get to see the pair, although I hope that it doesn't happen too often. Moose scare me more than any other animals in our forest.

It was also one of those moments that I realized that Shyla has become a true partner with me. We can do amazingly fun stuff together, and I can trust her to follow my instructions. In this case, our safety was on the line, and she passed the test with flying colors!
Every single day, we practice "stays", "recalls", and other basic trail safety cues. Indeed, I take many of the photos that I show here while we practice. For photos, I often put Shyla in a "stay" and then I either call her to me or direct her to run to some other target.
All that practice has been worth it - especially if it means that we can peacefully coexist with the potentially dangerous wildlife in our forests! And, our shared experience with the moose further strengthened our bond. I love Shyla more and more every day.


  1. Way to go, Shyla! Seems there are more and more moose in your area. Wonder if that is a natural progression or if the have been introduced into the area more recently. At any rate, I think they are more scary than the bears or the mountain lions. They seem much more unpredictable. And they are so huge.

  2. Good for Shyla. As I was walking the back trail this afternoon, I heard a loud commotion and saw in my peripheral vision something coming straight toward me through the forest. My adrenalin skyrocketed, because I also have moose on the brain. However, it was just a female mule deer, doing that fast boing, boing leap to get away from a Golden Retriever that was chasing her. The dog was a few yards behind and soon returned and started looking for its owner. After a few more seconds, the young man appeared, coming toward me on the trail. He was carrying a leash, but obviously didn't have voice control over his dog. I spoke of the moose in our area and how dangerous they are to dogs (and humans if provoked). People who live in wilderness areas need to protect themselves and their pets by training them not to go after wildlife.

  3. Those moose are so majestic, powerful, and, well they just amaze me. And Shyla, what a good girl. The love between you two has created in her complete trust in you.

  4. The most dangerous animals around here, in Otto's opinion, are horses. He's gotten really, geally good at his recall and at sitting by me with minimal freaking out as they pass. Big baby.

  5. Wow,,, the coolest photos ever of the moose!!!
    Good job Shyla-- for trusting and listening to your mom!
    What a pair!

  6. What a good dog. You'll feel more confident when you go riding...

  7. The dedication and hard work you've put into Shyla's daily training is truly showing in how connected she is to you when you're out.

    I am like you about moose. Of course we don't have them here in Virginia, but we did in Alaska, and I gave them a lot of room and hoped I didn't accidentally come too close to one -- I did that with my car once, and it charged me. YIKES!!!!

  8. Good for Shyla. I'm so glad that Torrey has a great "stop". It has averted her from small critters many times.

  9. What a team! An amazing opportunity to see momma and calf but even more amazing that it went so calmly for all. I believe that you should NEVER ease up on those basic life-saving skills practices.

  10. Shyla, full marks with "excellence" for doing a sit and stay. Training over the months has been so worth all that effort, and repetitiveness. Superb pics of mums and a baby.

  11. Good for you and Shyla. I'd be afraid of the moose too!

  12. Bravo Shyla :o) I'm not sure if I would be brave enough to see such a big guy in the furs... I rather watch them via your blog :o)
    easy rider

  13. We are so proud of you, Shyla! You are the BEST girl♥

  14. good girl, shyla! both of you stay safe!

  15. Good work, Shyla, and great training of your part, KB. We really enjoy it when you can relate your new photos to older ones as you trace what is happening in the lives of the wildlife.

  16. Bravo beautiful Shyla! The moose photos are amazing!!!

  17. Shayla is very very smart about listening to you, mom says our ears are often plugged with crap cos we do not listen as well. I fink her said we need to all go to school this fall!!
    stella rose

  18. Consistent training can make all the difference in the world. Love the moose photos, but glad you are being safe
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  19. Good training Shyla. Those moose sure are cool
    Lily & Edward

  20. This is all so wonderful to read, KB. It makes me feel so happy when I think of early days with Shyla and you weren't sure you were going to be able to do much with her. Here is to your persistance and abilities!


    Jo and Stella


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