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Friday, July 31, 2015

Wildflowers and Bees Galore

We are joining Dory in featuring flowers on Friday!

The bumblebees in our area are flourishing with our incredible wildflower crop.
 They adore the purple Loco Weed.
And I love watching them.
 It looks like Lady Bugs like the Locoweed as well!
Our pollinators have been so plentiful that I sometimes see bugs flying out of the flowers as Shyla runs through them. Shyla isn't allergic to anything that we know of yet. However, Angel K was allergic to a huge array of things. I still haven't learned not to hold my breath in terror when our chocolate lab is near potentially biting bugs!
Shyla doesn't worry about it like I do... and I'm glad for that!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - I love our World

This photo sums up what I love so much about our life. The flowers, the mountains, and our dogs. And I am still thanking our lucky stars for the miracle that R is still with us and flourishing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mountain Lion Monday

A series of mountain lion sightings has made me think that we have a mother lion with small kittens living in a small area of our neck of the woods.

First, I captured a photo of a young lion, one who I think was just kicked out by his mother. I believe this youngster is the one who we followed throughout the fall and winter.

I think that this is the mother mountain lion, who has been showing up on my cameras all over the area.

Later the same morning...

A week later...

The next day...

The following early morning...

Midafternoon, recently...

I haven't checked my cams in a little while but I'm hoping that she's still around. If she is, I'll be feeling confident that she's raising a litter of kittens deep in a den in our neck of the woods.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Silhouette Sunday

After one of our routine afternoon thunderstorms, the eastern sky was purple at sunset.
Although I don't love the storms, I do love the sky after them!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunset Saturday

The skies lit up at sunset the other evening.
As dusk approached, the oranges shifted toward pinks.
I love Rocky Mountain sunsets!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fledging Friday

I have loved watching the flycatcher family who had a nest under our deck. The parents would tend the young every day. They watched over the nest.

And they caught flies to feed to the babies.
After about four and a half weeks of tending their nest, the Cordilleran Flycatcher babies in a nest under our deck took their maiden flights.

I happened to go outside midafternoon, and I saw two of the babies sitting on the edge of the nest tray. Another two babies can't be seen. They were in the nest behind these to forerunners.
One of the parents was waiting on the ground, knowing that the chicks would try to fly soon. In past years, the chicks have sometimes landed on the ground near where this parent was waiting.
It turned out that the first two babies didn't land on the ground. They went directly from their nest tray to some nearby pine trees. I spotted one of them.
Then, some ravens came into the area, and I went inside so I wouldn't possibly lead the ravens toward the baby. Ravens might kill and eat a baby bird if given the chance.

My impression was that all four baby flycatchers made it into the branches near our house. Some years, the family comes back to the nesting area once or twice during the summer. Other years, I've never seen them again. I hope that they all make it, and that perhaps one of the babies comes back to nest under our deck someday!

I love summertime!
I don't have many photos of R outside and playing but, rest assured, he's doing great!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Joy

We have the great news that R is showing NO signs of liver or kidney damage. Our vet has "cleared" him to go back to everyday life!!!! Shyla loves her brother so she was leaping with joy!
As we often do after rough times, we're going to take at least a partial internet break. We want to take the time to enjoy having all four of us alive and well in this beautiful summertime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Still Waiting...

R had his blood tests this morning but we don't have results yet. He seems less sleepy today so I am hopeful that the results will be good.

I visited the local emergency vet today to pick up R's leash, that got left behind during the crisis. The receptionist told me that she thought that R was at death's door when the technicians carried him out to the ambulance. She was astounded to hear how well he's doing now.

The wild mushrooms, a likely culprit, are going crazy near us. They are growing bigger than I've ever seen before. This is an upside down mushroom next to my foot for scale.
Today I saw an even bigger one but thunderclaps prevented me from stopping to take a photo. For now, R is wearing a muzzle whenever he's outdoors to prevent him from ingesting anything dangerous. He hates it but we don't feel that we have a choice. Excess rain is still fueling the mushroom growth so there's no end in sight.

This was the Divide before the storms hit this morning.
I didn't write about Shyla's astoundingly relaxed behavior throughout R's whole crisis. Because we didn't know how long we'd be away from home, we took her everywhere with us.

She easily handled many situations that would have scared her halfway to death a year go. She wanted to make friends with every single person we met. She handled going "into the back" in the first emergency vet place, despite all sorts of looming equipment, lots of people, her brother being deathly ill, and me quietly crying.

Then, after R was transferred to Colorado State, things got even weirder. We were in a huge empty lobby, except for the cleaning crews. They had vacuums, mops, and even a "zamboni" machine for cleaning the huge tile floor. None of it scared Shyla. To our surprise, she wagged and tried to make eye contact with everyone, even the people using scary equipment.

I'm starting to think that I should call her a "formerly fearful" dog or a "sensitive" dog. Visible fear is a rarity in her now.
Indeed, the morning after the crisis, we met a friend on the trails. He's a big guy who rides a mountain bike. He straddled his bike as he chatted with me. Although she's seen him many times in the past, Shyla never had the courage to approach him before that morning. On that morning, she sidled up behind him and nuzzled his hand as we chatted. It took her three years to find the courage to do that - but she did it!!!!

At the beginning, I honestly never thought that Shyla would gain as much confidence as she has now. I've learned an important lesson about resilience!

I'll keep you updated on R. I wish we had those blood test results. R has just a little bit of GI distress, which makes me worry about his liver. The phone is next to me, and I am willing it to ring!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Some much needed silly time

I felt the need for some silliness today after the rough few days we've had. So, Shyla and I played a a very silly game.

First, she balanced a whole bunch of treats on her nose and forehead. She had to focus intently to balance that many treats but she became very good at it!
Then, I released her to launch the treats.
She sometimes caught one or two in her mouth and then I picked up the rest to feed to her. I laughed a lot during this game which made her zoom in happy circles around me. I think it was just what we needed!

R still seems zonked, and my head still hasn't completely escaped the migraine. I discussed R's condition with our vet this morning, and we agreed that we would wait until tomorrow morning for his blood test. Hopefully, that delay will help both of us recover with more rest time instead of driving time. The one downside to living in the mountains is that nothing is nearby, not even our vet.

We know the acute signs of liver and kidney problems, and we aren't seeing any of them in R. That makes us hopeful that his blood values will be normal too.

Meanwhile, he continues to sleep a lot. I didn't awaken him for a photo today. The boy needs his sleep!

Here's one more smile photo from Shyla's silly game today. If you look closely, you can see one treat that landed in her mouth!
Smiles to all of you!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Black and White Sunday - Our Black Dog

R has been sleeping deeply almost continuously since he came home. I came over to him with my camera, and he continued to slumber, not even acknowledging my presence. Then, I opened the treat jar, and this was the sparkly eyed, albeit tired, look he gave me.
So far, I think he's simply tired from the battle his body waged. We see the vet again tomorrow.

Thank you for the amazing support.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A miracle...

I feel as if we've had a miracle bestowed upon us.
At 3 PM yesterday, R was mostly unresponsive and having seizures. The experts in our town felt his condition was going downhill so fast that he needed all the high tech equipment (possibly a ventilator) and the top specialists at the state veterinary hospital.

Before yesterday, I didn't know that pet ambulances existed. However, R rode in one to Colorado State Vet School, with a wonderful vet who was working overtime for his sake. She told me that R had more seizures in the ambulance so she had to give him more anti-seizure medicine via his IV. I was really glad that he had a vet with him rather than just us.

Very soon after arriving at CSU, he stopped deteriorating and showed glimmers of improvement. By the wee hours of the morning, his life was no longer in immediate danger. We drove home to grab a few hours of sleep. 

At 7AM, he still had "gait ataxia", which means he was walking in a clumsy way and stumbling sometimes. But he hadn't had any seizures since the night before.

So, you can imagine my disbelief upon hearing that his neurological status was completely normal by early this afternoon. Seriously, I thought someone had their messages mixed up. But it was true. And they wanted him home with us so he'd be in a low stress environment. So he is here, sleepy but able to move and behave normally.

The vets now think the neurological symptoms were caused by a toxin, although we will never know what exactly it was - a mushroom, compost, or something else. We are even more confused by the fact that he had not been outdoors off-leash for the previous two days so we knew he hadn't eaten something mysterious.

The vets want his blood drawn regularly over the next few days. Often, toxins act first on the nervous system and then move onto the liver and kidneys a few days later. Our vets will be watching for that and hoping it doesn't happen.

I'll take the miracle that we have so far. Last night, I didn't know if he'd survive, and now he's sleeping on his dog bed at home.

I took these photos the evening before the disaster. As I looked at them last night, I wondered if we'd ever get to go for a walk with him again. I wished we'd taken more note of that particular walk - because I thought it might have been his last. That fact re-teaches me a life lesson - never take tomorrow for granted.
A miracle...
Thanks to all of you. Lots of people don't understand Blogville. In fact, I had no idea what a supportive and loving community I was joining when I wrote my first blog post back in January of 2009. Every time we've had a crisis, you've shared your generous hearts with us. I feel so blessed to be part of this community.

Not surprisingly, I now have a migraine so I'll be stepping away from the keyboard for a little while.


Thank you so much for the support! I read all the comments when we finally got to bed at about 2 AM.

This is a short update. R survived the night and made big strides in the right direction. He is responsive, can stand, and can walk with only mild ataxia (stumbling, clumsiness). He's also acting more like his normal self, which means he is alertly looking for attention.

It feels like a miracle to me. When we last saw him, he barely knew we were present, was having seizures and all sorts of involuntary movements, and couldn't support his own weight. Both we and the vets feared he might lose his life yesterday.

The vets are returning to the original diagnosis of toxicity. The other things on the list were more scary but toxin ingestion is usually completely reversible if the dog survives.

He will be staying in the hospital. We don't know how long.

Thanks again. Blogville is amazing, and the POTP is magical.

Friday, July 17, 2015

R needs POTP

It's been a shockingly tough day here.

R is in the hospital, the local awesome emergency vet. At first, they thought he had ingested a neurotoxin. However, he is going downhill so fast that they are now not sure what is going on.

The emergency hospital is transporting him to Colorado State Vet Hospital by ambulance so he can be in ICU there.

I am shaking so hard that I can barely type. Please keep our beloved R in your thoughts and prayers.

Here he was on a happier day. Let's all hope that he sees another day like that one.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lovely Summer!

In the summer, I eat breakfast on our deck, with Shyla snoozing by my side. I love July because I watch the Flycatcher parents industriously catching insects and then flying under the deck to feed their nestlings.
They always keep an eye on me before they take the snack to their youngsters. I think that they'll be doing this for another week or so before the youngsters take their maiden flights.
It's a banner year for insects after all the rain. I think that the early part of nesting was very tough for the Flycatcher couple but the current part is probably incredibly good with the swarms of insects down near the ground (but not so plentiful up as high as the deck, thank goodness).

The insects are enjoying the riot of wildflowers with gusto.
And so are Shyla and I. I've never seen so many Mariposa Lilies in my life. Entire sections of meadow are covered in them. In the next photo, they are the white flowers with yellow centers all around Shyla. Most years, I feel lucky if we see a few!
Today, as we rode, I remembered the drought 3 years ago. We had almost zero wildflowers, and forest fires were breaking out all around us. I think I like having at last some rain!
The bears do too, although I know that some of their most common food crops were destroyed during the cold and rainy/snowy weather of May.

This is a new bear who has been around for a couple of weeks. She's been marking trees and swimming. Due to the small white dot on her chest, I thought I'd call her "Dot". I'm hoping that she's making this area her home territory because I am now convinced that something happened to our two matriarchs, Mabel and Cinnamom, and they probably won't be seen again.
Based on the way that bears divide up territories, I'm guessing that this female is the daughter of one of the two matriarchs. Usually, the females make their homes very close to where they were born. Here's Dot at the same tree, three days later.
I hope to find time to make a video about her exploits sometime soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday

This photo is Shyla standing next to a flower that will forever remind me of love and loss. I first discovered these Fairy Trumpet flowers on July 15, years ago, on the day that my Acadia became an angel. Angel K left us on July 15, three years ago. The same magical flower is blooming every year on this date.
On this day, I truly realize that every moment that seems like an ending is also a beginning. I didn't know Shyla back when K died and left me with a broken heart... and now Shyla is part of my heart.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Water Hole in Summertime

Shyla and I tend to stay in the bright open areas of the forest and meadows during our outings.
At the same time, there's a wilder part of the forest where the animals are carrying out their daily routines. I've learned that water holes are active places in the forest, especially in the summer.

If I were to place a trail camera on any random tree in the forest, I could go a whole year without getting a photo of a single animal. In contrast, if I find the places that attract animals like water holes and bear marking trees, my trail cameras see far more activity.

I mentioned earlier this summer that I'd found a new water hole. It seems to attract all sorts of wildlife. In the video that I'm about to show you, it attracted Tiny, our huge black bear, and it also attracted a mountain lion. I believe the mountain lion is a female who might have kittens in the area. She's been appearing on my cameras far more frequently than most mountain lions, suggesting that young kittens are stashed somewhere nearby.

You can watch the video here or at Youtube.
I think it's interesting that bears love to soak in the water while the mountain lion seemed only interested in drinking (and possibly waiting to see if any prey came to the water hole). I wonder what a coyote would do? I am quite certain that dogs would splash around and get soaked in it!

Monday, July 13, 2015


What goes through your mind when you fail at something that you think you should be able to do?
When I first met Shyla, she'd hang her head as if she was about to get in big trouble. It was part of her lack of confidence. Now, after years of our encouragement, she's happy to try again.

Yesterday, we stopped to do this trick several times during our mountain bike ride. We are doing an online training program by Susan Garrett, and one of the themes is "impulse control". I do believe that balancing a treat on your nose until you are given the cue to toss it into the air takes a lot of impulse control!
Got it!
I try to take Shyla as my role model in learning to get over fears. I've mentioned before that I came to mountain biking after many years of road biking. Given the fragile state of my spine, my doctors would never have approved of it. So I didn't ask permission. I stopped asking permission a long time ago. Otherwise, I'd have a very limited life.

I started out as an incredibly tentative mountain biker, and I've become more adept at navigating technically tough trails with each year. However, I have certain "bugaboos" on nearby trails (sections of trail that scare me so much that I sometimes get off my bike and walk). Although I've ridden them in the past, my fear of them comes back when I'm not feeling 100%. Then, the fear often lingers after I'm back to full strength.

When I'm trying to overcome these transient fears, I try to think of Shyla, and all the courage she's mustered to become a well-adjusted dog. It's a strategy that helps my courage immensely. More often than not, I discover that I actually CAN easily ride a section of trail that used to scare me to death.

Thank you, Shyla!