Photos and text copyright Romping and Rolling in the Rockies 2009-2017.

All photographs and text within this blog are copyrighted.

You may not copy or repost any photos or text without specific permission from the author of this blog. When in doubt, please ask.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trick for Halloween & Black Dog Pupdate

I've been working on a trick with Shyla. It's not perfect yet but it's good enough to use to earn treats!

I am teaching Shyla to match an object that I hold up. I have gathered a number of pairs of identical objects. I put one object from each pair on a table. I hold up an object that is identical to one on the table, and I say "match it". Shyla is then supposed to touch the identical object with her nose.

This is not easy to teach or for a dog to grasp. I've spent about a month on it so far. I love the time that I spend on this with Shyla because I am absolutely fascinated by how dogs' brains work. I think that Shyla loves it too based on her happy demeanor whenever we are working on this game.

Without further ado, here is a short video of me holding up one object from each matched pair and asking Shyla to "match it"! Happy trick or treating!

On a different topic, our Black Dog is healing well. He is bubbling with happiness- which makes me think that his eye was hurting a lot. We love him.

He is waving to you!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Tiny, the Black Bear, is Injured

Near the end of August, a very big bear showed up in our neck of the woods limping badly. At first, I didn't recognize him but I slowly had to accept who is was - Tiny - our biggest black bear who has ruled our forest for a long time.

He is the biggest black bear who I've ever seen.

He has a way with the sows. Mohawk, our youngish sow, is the blacker bear on the left. Tiny was letting her push him around. The two were traveling together during mating season.

During his courting of Mohawk, Tiny took a break in a small water pool

The last time that I saw Tiny in the first half of the summer, he took a mellow swim. See it in this short video.

Every summer, he disappears for a while after mating season. I assumed that he was traveling throughout his range searching for food. Most years, he'd return to our area in the fall, remaining active until far after most other bears had retired to their dens. He also returned incredibly fat, ready for a long winter without food.

This year was different. Tiny returned in late August, and he was nowhere near as fat as usual. As he began to walk in front of my trail cam, I found out why. He was not bearing any weight on his right hind paw. I caught two short clips of him tripedally walking before he disappeared.

At the end of the video, you saw him walk up the steep hill without using that hind paw. I am hoping (guessing?) that he went straight to a den to save energy and begin to heal. If we're lucky, we'll see him again next spring.

I am very sad to see the magnificent animal injured. I will be watching for him next spring.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Autumn and Winter Intertwined

Autumn and winter mix together here. Our first snow is usually in September or October. It was in early October this year. It was gorgeous even if it was a shock to my system.

The snow fell while golden leaves still hung on our aspens. I love the combination of autumn leaves and snow.

Alas, the snowfall was the end of autumn leaves as most of them fell to the ground or turned brown within days. I made sure to enjoy the fleeting beauty of these leaves.

Now, we are truly in the shoulder season when our world oscillates back and forth between the seasons. Up higher, on those mountains higher than 10,000'', it is truly winter. The white snow and the clouds hugging the mountains make that clear.

Down at our elevation, the world is brown and dry. It is sometimes warm enough to ride my bike in shorts - although more snow is due later this week. Sweet Shyla manages to brighten it up.
What is it like at this time of year where you live?

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Black Dog Sunday

Normally, I like to share photos of our Black Dog's adventures on Sundays. He is doing fabulously - he is acting more happy and upbeat than we dared to dream so soon after having his eye removed. In addition to his happiness, it seems that his perception of the world hasn't changed at all after losing his left eye, perhaps because it was blind for the last month or so. He was bumping into things on his left side prior to surgery, and he still is. He will probably get better at navigation with experience.

The healing process from having an eye removed isn't pretty. I've decided not to share photos until he has healed a bit more and has grown some fur on his face. We love him like crazy regardless of how he looks but I don't want to shock anyone with the photos at this point in the healing process.

I am taking photos each day to document the recovery from this surgery. I plan to make a photo series of his healing to help other dog owners to know what to expect if their dog needs to have an eye removed.

For today, let's revel in R's exuberant and unstoppable zest for life. This photo was from springtime and highlights his gorgeous brown eyes and his love of sprinting through life.
With that intensity for living life to the fullest, we all know that R will be back to sprinting through meadows before we know it.

Here was a recent photo of R and his sister.
I hope that they'll be playing in the forest together again before too long. As glaucoma affects R's vision in his remaining eye, we are hoping that his sister will learn to help guide him a bit.

Thanks so much for all of your support, kind words, and good thoughts. I know that R will find his way, and he'll help us find our way too.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Mountain Lions on Patrol

On the home front, R continues to be in amazing spirits. He's doing well and isn't even interested in messing with the surgical site. So, as long as he is supervised, he can have his cone off. That makes him very happy!

Now, for a wild Caturday post...

The mountain lions are patrolling our area, doubtless attracted to the elk herd which has arrived to spend the winter here.

As autumn got underway, I noticed a mountain lion marking area and decided to put a trail cam there. I have found that it is a very popular spot for our lions. In September, a female lion came through in broad day light. Unlike male lions who visit this spot, she simply urinated there. Look at her graceful tail!

And then she walked onward. I wondered if she might be the female who was part of an "amorous pair" drinking from a nearby water pool back in July. If that pair successfully mated, kittens would have been born this month.

Then, for about a month, other carnivores came to the spot but not mountain lions. Finally, on October 22, a lion arrived at this marking area.

The lion was very interested in a scent just off the trail. This view also showed an apparent wound on the inside of the lion's left leg.

Here is another view of the wound.
Surprisingly, that lion didn't choose to mark. The lion just sniffed and then departed, suggesting that it was a female. Females are less vigilant about marking than males are.

Only two nights later, another lion visited the spot. I believe that it was a different lion than on the 22nd because there is no wound visible on his left leg, although the view was never perfect for seeing it. This lion did mark - as a male lion would typically do. Remember that "marking" is when they scrape backward with each hind paw and then leave a few drops of urine in the scraped area.
It has been a very busy year in terms of mountain lion activity in our area. Many people would view that as a "problem". I don't agree. These cats have plenty of prey, and so they don't mess with humans. We have hundreds of elk, and innumerable deer, and so our mountain lions do not lack food sources.

I made a short video of the activities of these mountain lions. Seeing them in motion is a thrill for me - every single time!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Time to heal

This photo gives you some notion of the pain that R's left eye must have caused him after glaucoma irreparably damaged it.

He was home by last evening, and he seemed much better than we expected. He seems pretty comfortable and energetic.

Lots of poeple who have gone through this glaucoma with their dogs have told me that their dogs seem much happier after the surgery. I have the feeling that R will be one of those. So, he should be clowning around for the camera again soon.

I hope so!

Thanks so much for all of your kind messages yesterday. You helped make the day easier.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

R's Surgery and a Serene Sunrise

We found out on Wednesday that R's surgery is today. He must be at the hospital very early, and he should be able to come home late in the day. Because this is scary to me, I'm feeling the need for some serene moments to prepare me.

Mother Nature offered up some serenity - a beautiful sunrise.  I love how a nearby pond reflects it.

A bit later in the sunrise, more orange had crept into it.

Winter is our season for gorgeous sunrises... and that's a wonderful aspect to this time of year.  An added bonus is that the elk herd is nearby, and the bulls bugled about every 10 seconds throughout the entire sunrise.

I made a video of the sunrise and the alpenglow on the Continental Divide. It's quite short... I hope that you enjoy it. And send some good thoughts to R for the surgery and the recovery/transition that will follow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wordless Wednesday - Speeding among the Seasons

In chronological order over the past few weeks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Yearling Bear Cub Dancing before Heading for a Den

Our "little" yearling bear cub is growing up, marking trees like a big bear.

This is the bear cub who was gradually changing from being blond to being brown.
I have looked very closely at all of the footage that I have at this yearling cub, and I now feel fairly confident that it's a female. If I'm right, that means that this yearling will live in our area! That makes me so happy.

Here is a zoomed in view of her marking a tree. Female bears mark like crazy before they head for their winter dens. That fits with what the bear cub was doing over the past month!
That photo makes her look bigger than she really is. You can see the tree trunk above her snout. Most adult bears are taller than the trunk. She did put on a lot of weight in September and October - and she grew taller - but she's still smaller than grown-up bears.

Based on where she was marking, I suspect that she is in a den nearby, and that she's done with marking for the year. Sleep well, Bear Cub. We'll see you in the spring.

Here's a short video of her marking marking trees and other things. Enjoy! Soon, the forest will be quieter because these magnificent animals will be in their dens.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Beautiful Evening Hike

One evening recently, I took the Duo for their evening walk on the trails near our house. As we hiked upward, the world had fallen into shade. The combination of R's black fur and the yellow aspen leaves caught my eye.

Now that I look at the photos, it was a glorious combination.

It was before his left eye took the recent terrible turn for the worse... although you can tell that the eye was swollen in this photo.

In my humble opinion, he is a handsome dog!
By reading about other blind dogs who have lost their eyes and also by realizing that R won't be comfortable until that eye is gone, I have accepted what will happen soon - and R is helping me see it as a transition and nothing worse. We are still working on finalizing the exact date. .

After that brief stop in the aspens, we hiked up to a viewpoint where we can see the Continental Divide. The sunset was stupendous.
That was the night before the snowstorm that dropped our golden aspen leaves to the ground. However, I still have autumn photos that I want to share. You'll be seeing them in the coming week!

Black Dog Sunday - A Birthday!

Our Black Dog had a birthday recently. He's 11 years old, and he's as goofy as ever.

I think that his sister was singing him Happy Birthday in this photo. And R was simultaneously waving to the camera. I have no idea how they came up with their crazy poses that they used throughout the fall. They made me laugh daily.
I took some birthday photos of R yesterday. Sadly, his painful, swollen, and very red left eye dominates them. So, I'll wait and take some more photos after he recovers from surgery.

The next one was one of my favorites from the year. I took it during a camping trip in the height of wildflower season back in July, when R's eyes still appeared to be perfect. I love his eyes but, mainly, I love R's beautiful spirit.
He is teaching us about how to see with your heart instead of your eyes.

Happy Birthday to our wonderful Black Dog. We still have so much to learn from you and so much fun to have with you.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Bobcat and Mountain Lion: Marking and Selfie!

In September, a bobcat and a mountain lion each visited the same marking area within a few days of each other.

This time, the bobcat arrived first so he wasn't terrified by the mountain lion scent.

After sniffing a bit, he began rubbing his face and body on a small aspen trunk. He did it so gracefully and reminded me of a domestic cat rubbing against the furniture or a person's legs.

The bobcat then decided to use the trail cam to take a selfie! Or, he got intrigued by my scent on the camera. Either way, the resulting photo and footage was fun.

A few days later, a mountain lion came through the same spot. He sniffed the air, opening his mouth as he sampled the air. That's called the "Flehman Response", which often is triggered by the scent of pheromones from other cats. It lets a cat do a combination of smelling and tasting the pheromones to get more information about them. In this case, it might have been the bobcat who left the scent that caused the mountain lion to respond in this way.

Then, the mountain lion closed his eyes, perhaps contemplating the scent...

I put the footage of these two animals together into a short video. Happy Caturday!

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Stars in the Sky

A campsite sits out in southwestern Colorado that you've probably read about here before. The view from it is simply stupendous. You can see only half the view behind the LabMobile in this photo.

A whole separate mountain range sits behind the LabMobile in the photo above. It's the mountain range that is often behind photos of the Duo at sunset.

My mind keeps flitting back to that campsite today because it was the last time that I saw R's eyes looking like normal - deep, brown, and beautiful. We had little idea what was ahead.

We didn't have nearly enough time in that campsite this year... but I am grateful for the little bit that we had. I feel the same about R's eyes - I am grateful that we saw them so healthy but I wish that they'd stayed that way longer.

Today, I needed to bring peace to my mind so I thought about the stars in the sky above the campsite. This year, we camped there at the full moon so the distant mountain ranges were bright when the moon was high in the sky and only the brightest stars were visible. This photo shows the movement of the stars in about 25 minutes.

I made a very short time lapse video of the stars moving in the sky for almost six hours. It calmed my mind a bit to put it together. I hope that you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sad but still so Thankful

I am thankful for R's absolute joy in living. He is leading the way for us humans, as we navigate this strange and scary new world of severe glaucoma.

We noticed over the past week that R's bad eye appeared to be red throughout the entire eye, not just the white of the eye. His formerly deep brown left eye now looked deep red. Thank goodness that we had an ophthalmologist appointment already scheduled for this week because we definitely needed one.

We were prepared this time, at least as prepared as you can be for bad news. As we'd guessed, tests showed that his eye was filled with blood, and the ocular pressure had gone up despite the eye drops that we were giving to prevent that from happening. None of that was good news.

R has showed very little sign that the eye was bothering him over the month since we last saw the ophthalmologist. He and his sister were a pair of clowns every time that I tried to photograph them. They even seemed like they planned their silliness with whispers behind my back. I don't know what they were doing in this one but it made me giggle uncontrollably.

Yet, given what is going on inside his eye, there is little doubt that it hurts him. So, we've made one of those very hard decisions that animal guardians must make for the love of their pet. We've chosen to have his left eye removed.
His left eye is now completely blind, and it must hurt him due to the high pressure and inflammation inside it. Moreover, the pathology inside that eye will give us information about how to best treat his good eye to slow down the progression to blindness.

It never ceases to astound me how life can turn on a dime from happy days to harder days. When you bring a puppy home, like R below with his departed brother and sister, you dream that the puppy's life will be nothing but easy.
That hasn't been even close to true for R. Less than a year after the photo above, he was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia and had his first of many orthopedic surgeries, something that I've written a lot about here. Since his CUE surgery 2.5 years ago, he has been nearly pain-free for the first time in his life. Then, his genes turned against him again as his defective eyes' degeneration became apparent. Yet, he has the most effervescent spirit imaginable.

Just like for his elbow, we will do everything that we can to make this new phase of life as joyous as possible for R. His spirit cannot be kept down - he is the living definition of "exuberance". He will guide us through this, and we will do all that we can for him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Singing the Labrador anthem...

Our handsome Black Dog gazing at the camera...
We love this Labraduo.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The crazy energy inside an elk herd during the rut, including bugling

Elk mating season is iconic here in the Rocky Mountains. Big bull elk posture to gather as many cow elk into their harems as they can. Part of the posturing is the eerie high pitched bugles of mature bull elk. While bugling they usually adopt the unmistakeable pose shown in the next photo.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to watch the rut. The animals are not hunted there, and consequently, they tolerate people watching them. Also due to the lack of hunting, the bulls are huge there!

We went to observe the elk at the park a couple of times this fall, and we watched huge bull elk from very close. This guy was incredibly successful in attracting and keeping the cow in his harem.

At one point, he decided to drag his antlers through the grass. It's part of the mating ritual.

And then he ate grass while he had grass hanging from his antlers.
Now that's a sexy combo, don't you think?

One of his cow elk looked at him with puzzlement.

While I took most of my elk photos at the Park, some elk were closer to home. I captured their activities with my trail cam. I made a short video of an elk herd  who was foraging in a pond. Multiple bull elk were nearby, and they were bugling. Moreover, the herd was jumpy and suddenly fled as a herd a couple of times in the video. If you want to hear the bugling, be sure to have your sound turned on.