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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thankful Thursday - An Ode to our Black Dog

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the more senior member of our current Labraduo, R.

When I wrote this post, I wasn't ready to talk about his veterinary news, which might be bad and might turn out not to be as bad as we think. The easy part was that he had two cracked teeth extracted. He's in pain and is still a little drunk but that will pass. The hard part was that an abdominal ultrasound showed masses on an adrenal gland and one on his spleen. The spleen one is likely benign.

The bigger deal is the adrenal gland. The whole reason for the ultrasound was that he'd had bloodwork a couple of weeks ago that pointed toward possible adrenal gland cancer. Thus, finding a mass on his adrenal gland is a bigger deal than it would be otherwise. We found out about this last night. Today, I'll be consulting with vets and probably fighting to get him into the Colorado State University Oncology clinic sooner rather than later. I'm feeling a bit sad and worried but I'm going to try to enjoy every day with him while we go down this diagnostic road.

Enough of that - Here is the original post - an ode to R!

He might not know how much he has helped Shyla overcome many of her fears just by being her fun-loving big brother. In her early days with us, she'd follow his lead when he paid no attention to "scary" things and just had fun.

Sometimes he appears almost crazed but it's his pure joy in living every single moment to the fullest that is shining through.

Seriously, what else besides joy could motivate a dog to take a flying leap like this one for no particular reason?

Although there's nothing he loves more than running and jumping, he also enjoys snuggling in a sun puddle with his sister.
Thank you, R, for teaching all of us how to live more joyfully.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A sunrise worth waking up for!

We recently had another incredible, almost unbelievable, sunrise. I've never had a clear view of sunrises until I got my drone. Now, if I see a glow shining through the trees from the eastern horizon, I put my drone into the air to get a view of it.

Recently, the wind has lulled at sunrise only to erupt into wild gusts shortly thereafter. Consequently, the views are not from very high - the drone is just above the trees on our land. From that elevation, I can bring the drone down fast when the wind gets wild.

This view was almost directly east - which was not the most spectacular view on this morning - but it was still pretty nice!

To the west, we could see the Divide with snowy mountains and a magenta cloud above them. That cloud turned the snowy mountains purple too!

A bit further to the south was where the best part of the sunrise was. Whenever a cloud is shaped like this, I know that there are some strong winds aloft.

A tiny bit further to the south, I could see the base of the long thin cloud in the last photo plus some other gorgeous clouds.

Despite my fear of the wind suddenly blowing down at our trees' elevation, I did a 360° spin with the drone. I'm not sure why the colors are even more intense in video form. I need to figure that out! For now, I'm not complaining! I actually desaturated the colors a bit in this video.

You can watch the video here or at Youtube!
Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Birthday Girl!

Yesterday, Shyla turned six years old! She and I celebrated in our favorite way with a sunrise mountain bike ride!

Here's our selfie in the light of the rising sun.

I loved seeing my girl glowing in the rising sun.

And I loved seeing her shadow chasing her!

Here she was at sunrise on her first birthday. We don't have any puppy photos of her because we didn't know her until she was 9 months old.
Shyla has taught me more than any other dog because she needs me more than any other dog we've had in our family to help her through the scary parts of life. I'm honored that she trusts me. And I'm overjoyed to have such a perfect trail companion and best friend.

She loves to sleep with her head on my shoulder. What a precious bond we have.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Another Brawny Mountain Lion on Patrol

In the past, mountain lions have tended to all arrive at once, around the time when the elk herd arrives to spend the winter here. Yet, I am still surprised, every single year, when we suddenly seem to have a population explosion of mountain lions.

This guy was big and brawny like the last one. Usually, one big male rules a territory, which makes me think that this might be the same lion. Perhaps he is spending an extended time in our neck of the woods because the sprawling 150-head elk herd is here.

He also marked in exactly the same spot as the last lion. Here he is in mid-marking.

This guy checked out something up the tree. I know that lions are good climbers but I've never seen one climb. Too back that this guy did only an exploratory upward movement on the tree.

After circling the clearing for a short time, he paused to gaze into the distance before departing. He's a magnificent cat!

I made a video of his visit to the clearing which you can watch here or at Youtube.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Black Dog Sunday!

Our Black Dog has a big week ahead of him, after seemingly finally recovering from his strained hind leg muscles (iliopsoas) by resting for a couple of weeks.

He's now back to running, and that makes him a super happy dog!

One day recently, I had him to myself for a bike ride so I had the chance to take some photos of him running on Hug Hill! I love his crazy ears.
Later this week, unfortunately, he has to have dental surgery. He has a crack in a molar, and the vet needs to see it under anaesthesia and then decide whether to extract it. At the same time, he's having an abdominal ultrasound to rule out cancer. He had some odd bloodwork values that made our vet want to take a look inside him. He is 10 years old, after all, so we thought the tests were a good idea.

Last night was our big turkey dinner with the family at our house, and after we waved goodbye to them....

We all collapsed into sleepy heaps.

The Duo were certainly the cutest sleepy ones in the house, although Shyla has trouble keeping her eyes closed when she hears the shutter click. That's no problem for her big brother!
Happy Black Dog Sunday. Let's hope that all the Black Dogs out there have a great week, including R!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

What a year!

We've had a string of incredible sunrises. We had yet another one yesterday that lit the entire sky magenta. However, I'm saving it for a later post.

The "problem" with gorgeous sunrises is that they mean that the morning will certainly be cloudy. That means that Shyla and I won't be playing in the sunshine. This morning dawned with a clear sky to the east and unbelievable winds from the west. When I see clouds hugging the Divide like in the next photo, the wind is inevitable.  In fact, it knocked me over as we headed out to see this view around sunrise. It was not a morning to put a drone in the air!

Shyla and I bowed down to the weather gods in thanks for the sunshine! We ignored the hurricane force winds that came with the sunshine.

I love when the sun is almost horizontal so I can see Shyla's shadow on the rocks behind her.

She didn't glow as red as she will on a perfectly clear day. A thin layer of clouds hung between us and the sun. She waved "hi" to everyone. She didn't care about the thin clouds!
Shyla and I have come a long way in the past year. A year ago, our early morning mountain rides were fraught with worry about whether she was about to run off to gnaw on an elk or deer bone somewhere nearby. She never went far but she scared me when I couldn't see her. That led to a bad feedback loop. When I get tense, Shyla gets worried and then hangs a bit further away from me. And, that makes me even more tense...

Fast forward a year,.. I've worked very hard in a bunch of training classes with her. One was "recalls" which worked wonders in teaching her to come when called no matter what. That's a huge relief to my soul.

The rest is less tangible. We've done nosework training plus some obedience training (like precise heeling that you'd see in a competition). I think that all of our work together on training has made us into a team. I love doing it, and Shyla does too. Now, I am so relaxed during our rides in the forest because I trust Shyla. She hangs close by, and if there is a temptation, she'll leave it to come when called. Part of our "deal" is that I'll go look at whatever was tempting with her. If it's safe, I'll let her sniff or chew on it a little. That give and take in our relationship has changed things for the better.
So, I have a lot to be thankful for! Training Shyla has been harder for me than with any other dog because of her fears and worries. I'm so glad that I've found classes that have taught me how to build trust with her so that we can be a true team!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Stupendous Sunrise

I must admit that I'm having lots of fun with my drone. If I wake up and see the eastern sky lighting up in gorgeous colors, I can pop my drone up above the trees and take some photos. It's the lazy photographer's way to photograph sunrise!

Usually, our sunsets are more vibrant than our sunrises - but not recently! Sorry to inundate you with the views of our sunrises.

Using my drone, I photographed and videoed a sunrise on a recent morning. This first photo was from fairly low. I love the reflection of the sky on the pond in the meadow.

This photo was from higher so it shows faraway bodies of water.

 At the same time, the mountains lit up with alpenglow.

The light show was mostly over when the sun finally appeared over the horizon.

However, sweet Shyla enjoyed soaking up the warmth of the sun's rays.
We are getting to the season when Shyla will glow red on clear mornings at sunrise. I can't wait to be in the forest with her at sunrise so that we can see that!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

Earlier this week, we saw the sky light up as we were out on our afternoon walk. It's been a while since we've had sensational sunset skies so we hurried up high to see them.

My trusty silhouette model clambered up a boulder for me to combine two of my favorite things in the world in one photo - one of my dogs and nature's beauty.

I kept snapping away because such intense colors are so rare.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! It's good to have a day when we slow down and think about the things for which we are thankful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Almost Wordless Wednesday

A recent sunrise left me awe-struck. I popped my drone up just above the trees, and I saw that the incredible colors from the eastern sky had actually colored the entire horizon, all 360°, in gorgeous pink and orange.

This was the first view, looking to the east.

Then, I had my drone slowly spin 360° counterclockwise. It started facing southeast. Be sure to keep your attention for when it faced the snowy mountains to the west. Even the sky over the mountains to our west was a gorgeous color!

You can watch the short video either here or at Youtube. This was straight from the drone's camera with no enhancing by me!

I was very lucky. Just as I finished making the rotation with the drone, a very strong wind kicked up (and then stuck around all day). My drone was blown out of my view by the wind. Fortunately, I was able to use GPS and full throttle to guide it back to land at my feet. Phew! I'm learning how to be a decent pilot, slowly but surely.

Thanks for checking in!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One last memory of our autumn desert trip

Just as winter is truly starting (at Thanksgiving, in my world), I wanted to finish up sharing memories of our autumn desert trip.

We decided to finish our desert trip as we'd started it a couple of weeks earlier, with a few nights at K's Rock. I was glad for that decision because I was hit with a short but intense illness. I'm still not sure exactly what it was - an odd migraine, a virus, or something else altogether. In any case, I was glad to be someplace that felt like home while I wasted an entire day lying around and feeling awful.

Fortunately, whatever it was passed as rapidly as it had hit me, and I could enjoy my favorite desert spot afterwards.

I had another sunset photo session with Shyla at the base of K's Rock. I'll never tire of those sessions! I think that Shyla loves them like I do because she so enthusiastically does whatever I ask and sometimes even improvises on her own.

After the sun had set on our last evening there, I snapped a few photos of the beauty of desert dusk.

From its thin end, K's Rock appears to be a leaning slab of rock when in reality it's a huge triangular mass of red rock with one apex of the triangle being slender (as in the photo below).

On those last days, I enjoyed a few more views of golden leaves, knowing that the color would be gone at home.

I soaked up the warm sunshine, appreciating every bit of warmth.

All too soon, it was time to point the LabMobile toward Colorado, leaving the world of red rock behind us. It's a world that I'll never tire of.

As we departed, we scouted out a new area for future camping, and we saw golden Cottonwoods lining the Colorado River from a high plateau.
I am already looking forward to our next trip to the desert. It is a part of the world that I never dreamed that I would come to love so much. I'm glad that our whole pack loves it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Moose Selfie and Camera "Attack"

The wildlife activity is starting to wind down, like it does every year at this time. However, the moose continue to amuse me. They don't leave during the winter so I hope that they'll keep entertaining us all winter long!
Recently, I went to check a trail camera, and I saw it hanging at a funny angle from the tree. It was obvious that "someone" had messed with it. My first thought was a bear, and I checked it with great anticipation that we'd have our final bear view of the year.

I was wrong... a bull moose had rearranged it. He and his lady arrived at a water hole during moose mating season. When they first arrived, they were "talking" in a very whiny way. Make sure that you have your volume on for the video.

Then, the cow moose departed and the bull moose moved toward the camera. He ate for a while next to it, and then he turned his full attention to it. He took a selfie as he rearranged the cam.

I feel very lucky that he didn't destroy the camera. Instead, he turned it so that it was pointed at nothing in particular.

I'm getting zillions of photos and videos of moose these days. I think that they'll keep us entertained for a while!

Here is the video for today! You can watch it here or at Youtube.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Black Dog Sunday

R is now on strict rest to heal some strained muscles and to give his elbow a break. It's fun looking back at how incredibly strong he was in the desert.

As always, his spirit was like a force of nature. Although Shyla is a lot faster than him by this point in life, his insane enthusiasm always causes her to back off and let him have the spotlight.

After trying unsuccessfully to build up Shyla's confidence to run with him, I finally just let him sprint around on his own. Sometimes it's best to simply enjoy R's spirit.

His crazy ears are a Black Dog hallmark!

So is his funny habit of coming within inches of bowling me over as I snap photos.
R's spirit is not lagging at all, although he's disappointed every time someone goes out running or biking without him. He probably has another half week of rest, and then he'll be freed to run again, assuming that he's healed well.

He's also been banned from his elbow exercises, which both of us have come to love. I'm looking forward to getting my daily dose of R again when we restart his PT. Unfortunately, a little later in the month, he has to have some dental work done and an abdominal ultrasound. We don't expect the ultrasound to show anything serious but he had an odd bloodwork result earlier this month that caused our vet to want to take a look at his insides - just to be safe.

It's a big month for R. Let's hope that he's back to full strength and able to do all the things that he loves very soon!