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Friday, November 15, 2019

Full Moon Setting over Snowy Mountains - Nature Friday

We had a full moon this week. I have realized that I love seeing the full moon set to our west because it sets over the snowy mountains. The downside to this is that I have to wake up very early, when it's still pitch black outside. Then, I have to go out into the frigid winter air and pedal through the dark forest to get to a lookout point.

On the morning that the full moon set here, moose were seemingly everywhere in the forest. As I pedaled through a meadow, I heard some rustling. I pointed my head lamp toward the sound, and a bull moose was just waking up and getting to his feet. I was far enough away that I just pedaled harder to get past him safely.

When I arrived at the lookout point, I was overjoyed to see that the western horizon wasn't too cloudy. I've gone through this routine in past months only to find that the moon was totally obscured by clouds.

However, the moon was already closer falling behind the mountains than I expected because it was setting over a very tall mountain. I rushed to pull out my tripod and set up my camera.  I quickly took two exposures so that I could have both the mountains and the moon properly exposed.

It worked! It was such a glorious sight. The world was completely quiet, without even a whisper of the wind. And the one thin cloud near the horizon lit up gorgeously from the moonlight.
It was so worth running the "moose gauntlet" to see this sight.

It was over way too fast with the moon hidden below the mountains but its glow lingering.

I packed up my gear, and I headed home to pick up Shyla for a ride together. I spotted the brilliant purple hue coming from the east. When this color started appearing at dawn and dusk months ago, we learned that it was due to volcanic particles in the atmosphere, all the way from a volcano in Russia. I love the color.
It was well worth getting up so early and running that Moose Gauntlet.

Thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday Blog Hop!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thankful Thursday

Life has continued to have some unwelcome twists and turns, with my dad still struggling to recover from cancer treatment and surgery.

At times like these, I feel such gratitude for a friend like Shyla. She is such a sweet soul, so attuned to being loving toward the people around her. She is joyful about each day, trying to have as much fun and find as much contentment as she can.

Her joy is infectious. When I see her strike a pose like this one on a mesa in the desert, I have to smile along with her.
I don't know how I got so lucky as to have Shyla in my life. But, I do know that my gratitude is endless.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Autumn to Winter

From this in the Utah Desert:

To this at home:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Mountain Lion Family Checks out a Scent Post (9/29/19)

We have several mountain lion families passing through our neck of the woods regularly. Early one morning this fall, a mother cat led her two kittens along a forest path. They passed a spot where male mountain lions scent mark, and the kittens were transfixed.

Mom was less curious about the scent. It was likely from a cat who she knew. So, she guarded her kittens as they sniffed.

The family spent a fair bit of time at this spot but their actions, as recorded by my cam, were a bit confusing. All three of them exited left after the initial sniffing. Then, one came back but startled -and leaped straight up the hill on the far right of the photo, knocking a big ball of dirt down the hill. Then, another one came into the picture, and carefully sniffed that ball of dirt before following the first cat. While all that was going on, a kitten was walking up the hill in the background.

Whew, a busy family!

Then, a short time later, a single family member showed up a bit to the west. I'm guessing that the kittens had been left someplace to wait while mom headed off to scout for prey.

She stopped briefly to groom and then look toward my camera. She's a beauty.
I am forever astounded by the responsibilities of a mother mountain lion. She must kill enough prey to feed the entire family. With how big kittens become very fast, that's a tall order!

I made a short Video of the family's escapades. I hope that you enjoy it.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

The Hachi journey has had some ups and downs recently. Although many aspects of Hachi's life are positive - like his attitude toward us humans and even strangers - we think that his doggy prozac ("Reconcile" or generically known as "fluoxetine") was making him have more aggressive episodes toward R. It is dumbfounding that Hachi seems to get along with almost everyone pretty well, except for the being who we'd most like him to get along with - R.

So, we have a bump in the road as we take him off of Reconcile and then will start him on a new anti-anxiety med - Paxil. So far, the transition has indeed been difficult as Hachi seems unable to relax during the "wash-out" phase between meds. On the upside, he already seems more peaceful toward R as the old drug leaves his system. As always, it will be a slow transition.

Hachi has learned so many new behaviors with me, many of which make him a great photographic subject. I've taught him the game where he sprints past me so that I can capture his silhouette. (Our dusks and dawns were purplish in Utah!). He is a beautiful runner.

He absolutely adores having my full attention  so he puts every last ounce of energy into each game.

Another very positive thing is Hachi's relationship with Shyla. He loves kissing her.
Despite the drug transition, I am feeling pretty positive about the outlook. Every "failure" (like the Reconcile drug) is perhaps getting us closer to the one that will work. Plus, my love for Hachi grows every day. He's a sweetie.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - R and Me

R wasn't feeling great for part of our time in the desert. He seemed sore and wasn't enthusiastic about walking or running. But, when I spent some solo time with him at dusk, he insisted on doing tricks, like taking a bow.

He looked at me quizzically at times from the perch where multiple generations of our dogs have hung out. I wondered what he was thinking. Was he thinking of his sister K who loved lying there? Or was he wondering how to get the treats out of my pocket? I'm betting on thoughts of treats but R surprises me all the time. He's a sensitive dog.

As the dusk light became soft and reddish, he realized that it was tine for dinner. He looked at me to ask permission to go get his dinner inside the LabMobile.
In case you're concerned, he perked up later in the trip when we started giving him anti-inflammatory meds. We were thrilled to see the spring in his step again!

After he headed into the LabMobile for dinner, K's Rock glowed in the dusk light.
I cannot imagine a more perfect place to spend time with our Black Dog.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Shyla Saturday - A Slickrock Edition

Shyla and I have so much fun out on the slickrock. She seems to love running fast on the sandstone, and I love watching her amazing athleticism.

As we wandered the slickrock, we came upon a small boulder, and she seemed convinced that she needed to take a bow on top of it. It was almost sunset, and I loved seeing her shadow behind her.

We both love the quiet time of sunset. The sun falls silently toward the horizon. Just before it disappears, it feels as time stands still. The world glows reddish in the light of the setting sun. Shyla and I sit quietly, and I know how lucky I am to have her as my best friend.
The journey from fearful dog to almost-normal dog was long and difficult but it is one of the most rewarding journeys imaginable. I love this girl.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Nature Friday - A Second Autumn

One of my favorite things to do is to visit the desert just after our autumn at home has ended. We did that, and it was glorious, as Shyla is shouting into the purple sky.

Yellow flowers keep blooming until late in the desert, as you can see closest to the camera below. However, the cottonwood trees are even more spectacular. They are further away, at the base of the rock cliff.

It isn't easy to visit the cottonwoods on foot because it's bad to walk on the fragile desert floor. However, I found a few brilliant golden ones that I could get to easily.
By visiting the Utah desert, we can keep autumn going for a while longer.

Thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday blog hop.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For the Sibling Bond

Through everything, the friendship between Shyla and Hachi has glowed. It's based on fast-paced play outdoors. They both love it.

Every now and then, I'll be out with Shyla when we spot Hachi with the Runner. Both dogs' tails start to wag - faster and faster. Then, the play bows start. They beg to be allowed to play together. It warms our hearts.
The Hachi journey has been filled with ups and downs but I am always thankful when I see him with Shyla. He's been a huge positive influence in her life, and she is a guiding big sister for Hachi.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Duo Love

During a recent desert sojourn, the Duo showed their bond.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Mountain Lion Kittens PLAY!

In light of the bobcat family playing in recent posts, I wanted to share my favorite video of mountain lion kittens playing with their mother.

I first showed this video early last summer - but I love it so much that I want to share it again. For me, it's incredible to see wild cats letting down their guard and playing with abandon.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

As one of our trainers has said, Hachi is a complicated Rubik's cube of issues. For example, he is afraid to go for forest hikes without Shyla or R with him. However, if he gets too stressed, he might turn and snarl at whatever dog is next to him.

Another example - he crazily wants to go mountain biking with me. However, when we get on a trail together, he is afraid to come near the bike.

It's like he knows that there are fun things that he really wants to do - but his fear gets in the way.

He's a mess of contradictions...
... but we will keep trying to figure him out.

He's worth it. He's such a special little guy that he has human friends who come to our house just to see *him*. They'll even go into his ex pen with him to snuggle.
We'll get there, Mr. Hachi.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our dogs teach us to treasure each day just with their wide-eyed delight in every little thing.

Each time I find a quiet spot in the forest with R, I feel gratitude for his sweet and happy spirit. In my head, I hear a very faint "tick-tock, tick-tock". I push it away to enjoy this day with our Black Dog.
Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Shyla Saturday - The Perfect Model

My girl tries so hard!!!! When we go out in the forest at sunrise for photos, it's a true collaboration between Shyla and me. I figure out where I think that the light and the background are the best. I set Shyla up in that spot, and she tries all sorts of poses and motions to see what makes me happiest.
Of course, she gets lots of praise and treats for her graceful efforts.

I love my Shyla!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Nature Friday - Memories of mountain wildflowers

The wildflowers in the mountains were amazing beyond belief this summer. I had tons of fun photographing them but I haven't shown you very many. So, as winter is descending upon us, let's warm up with summer memories.

These are Paintbrush in a crimson color that I only see above 10,000' in the mountains. Paintbrush come in all sorts of colors but crimson is my favorite!
I did a very long solo ride from one point to another where the Runner picked me up in the LabMobile. I had trouble making forward progress due to the incredible flowers! My trail is to the left in the photo.

This was the hillside above my trail at about 12,000' feet elevation. Mother Nature is the best gardener.

Because the trail climbed such steep mountains, it had lots of hairpin curves and switchbacks, all surrounded by flowers and with craggy mountains above them.
I hope that you're feeling the warmth of summer from gazing at these flowers!

Thanks to the LLB Gang for hosting Nature Friday.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Mother and bobcat kittens PLAY - Part 2

This is part 2 of that wonderful play session by the bobcat family. I showed you Part 1 a week ago.

You can watch the video here or at Youtube. Enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi's first autumn was fun. He loved running in the golden aspens!

His recall is getting stronger and stronger. He runs so hard when we call him. Practicing recalls is so much fun.

It's pretty rare that he runs to us in a mellow way, like in this photo. Usually, it's full speed ahead!
I've never previously had a dog who engendered such conflicting feelings in me. When I am alone with Hachi or I watch him play outdoors with Shyla, my heart is filled with love. When I see him afraid of something, my heart is filled with empathy and love. But, when he turns an angry eye at R, I feel angry at him. I know that showing my anger won't help and will likely hurt so I hide it... but that feeling is inside me.

One person commented that, someday, Hachi's "issues" will seem like a distant faded memory. I hope so!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

I had some time outdoors with the Labraduo before the golden leaves fell. We played silly games.

I tell them that they can launch the treats with their release word. Usually, Shyla moves first but R beat her this time.

I know that R can't see little treats moving fast but he has the routine hardwired - flip the treats, tilt nose upward, and open mouth. He still occasionally catches one.

And they both look equally crazy as the treats fall around them.
I need to get out with the Duo more often. They adore each other, and their fun-loving spirits make me smile. I feel so lucky to have this pair in my life.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Shyla Silhouette Saturday

On one recent evening walk, I saw the sky lighting up to our south, which is a cue that I may be able to get good silhouette photos of Shyla. We have a few favorite boulders for silhouettes. All that I do is take Shyla to the base of a Boulder and say "go, go". She climbs up to the top and then does what she wants.

My job is simple. Get the exposure right and wait for my beautiful girl to do something photogenic. She rarely lets me down.
This is a classic example of how rotating your camera to make the frame be vertical can improve an image a lot!

I love my Shyla. I'd be lost without her. No need to think about that.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nature Friday

During a very long mountain bike ride this summer, I spotted this beautiful Columbine standing guard next to the trail.
It never ceases to amaze me that such delicate looking flowers can survive the high winds, hail, and torrential downpours at the highest reaches of the Rockies. I think that their toughness combined with their beauty is what makes me love them so much.

Thanks to the LLB gang for hosting Nature Friday.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For the Stars in the Sky

I love the zillions of stars int he sky. And I love our galaxy, the Milky Way.

This was an interesting evening this summer. We were down in the San Juan mountains, and we stopped quite close to the road to sleep for the evening. A group was camping nearby.

I set up to photograph the Milky Way when the group lit a campfire and turned on lanterns around their campsite

I had no idea that their campsite would look like a wildfire later.
And, there's a shooting star just to the right of the Milky Way, looking like it's going to land in their campsite.

I m thankful for every one of those stars!

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop!