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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Silly Puppy Saturday

It was one of those frustrating days that we all have every now and then. We are still trying to get our internet fixed, and I had to deal with the "logic" being thrown at me by customer service. There was absolutely no logic involved.

There is nothing like the spirit of a puppy to bring a smile to my face. Hachi melts my heart regularly.

His sister doesn't always find Hachi to be as smile-inducing as I do. I was trying to take a photo of the two of them when Hachi suddenly needed to kiss Shyla.

Then, Shyla was saved by a distraction that pulled Hachi's attention away from her.
Although it may not look like it in these desert photos, Shyla and Hachi are getting closer and closer. Their bond is built on playing together outside... they are both so fast and love to chase each other in huge circles!

Happy Saturday! I hope that our internet problems will be fixed someday next week. I'll be able to visit my favorite blogs more regularly when it works again.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Nature Friday - The Wrath and Beauty of Mother Nature

Picking up from yesterday... Shyla and I had a fabulous time playing on the red rock at sunset on a stormy evening in Utah.

Shyla seemed to be keeping "an eye" on a storm that was sneaking up on us but I had scarcely noticed.

Suddenly, Shyla let me know that the thunder storm was upon us. Soon thereafter, the Runner was yelling "get down, get down, there's lightning". So, we jogged downward on the steep and now wet slickrock as rain pelted down around us. I stopped a few times to look at the clouds that were descending onto the top of the slickrock where we'd just been.

Then it began to rain really hard. The thunder rattled my bones. The too-short pauses between the flashes of light and the thunder booms made my heart accelerate. But the light was surreal. I stopped for another photo. It was so beautiful as the storm arrived.
After that photo, I hustled down further for a while with no more photo stops. Fortunately, the storm seemed to be veering around us. The pauses between the flashes of lightning and the booms of thunder lengthened.

It was suddenly eerily dark with a gargantuan cloud almost upon us.

I quickly changed to a wider lens because the cloud was filling the whole horizon.

The cloud looked organized in a way that I never get to see in the mountains due to the ridges and valleys. The bolts of lightning zig-zagged within the cloud.  We were now down as low as we could be and the rain was letting up so we were happy to stop and observe. Oddly, it seemed to get lighter all of a sudden even though the sun was close to setting.

Then, the Runner pointed behind us.... an incredible sunset!!!!

We stood in the low spot, watching all directions, in awe of the paintings that Mother Nature can create. After the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky became even more beautiful.
When we looked back toward the storm cloud, it had faded and was undoubtedly moving past us, no longer a threat.

It was an inspiring evening in the desert. I love the desert more than I dreamed that I would.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thankful Thursday - Desert Sunsets and Shyla

As it continues to snow outside with another 8" expected tonight, I am looking backward again to a warm and sunny evening on the slickrock in Utah.

I can wander the slickrock, soaking up the beauty endlessly. I love the textures of the rock, the glowing colors, and the contrast between my pups and the rock.

As Shyla and I climbed toward the top of the slickrock slope for sunset, we stopped for a photo because I loved the lichens spotting the slickrock.

Then, we resumed a very fast hike directly up the fall line of the slickrock slope. In places, it was too steep, and we'd wind around looking for a route that was shallow enough let Shyla's paw pads and my running shoes stick. Soon, we were at the top. Shyla got there first.

I eventually caught up. The sight of Shyla glowing in the deep red sunset light warmed my soul.

And then the light got even more beautiful. I was so enamored with it that I wasn't paying attention to the clouds sneaking up behind Shyla.

I adore these photo sessions with Shyla. She's become my partner in so many ways. She anticipates what I might ask her to do. She does all of it with enthusiasm and a softness in her eyes that melts my heart. After K died, I never dreamed that I'd have another dog in my life who knew me so well and made my heart sing so much. That is what I am thankful for on this Thursday. For Shyla and the bond that she and I built.

Then, all of a sudden, Shyla completely disconnected from me. She slumped, looked downward, and appeared miserable. I was so engrossed in the light and the beauty around us that I hadn't noticed a storm bearing down on us. It was scaring Shyla. As many of you may remember from her early days with us, she shuts down when scared.
Just after I finally realized that we needed to get down off that slope (prompted by morose Shyla), the Runner yelled to me to get down because he'd seen lightning.

I will pick up the story there tomorrow - complete with images of one of the biggest and most intense storm clouds that I've ever seen. We couldn't see it from the slickrock because the slope itself was blocking the view.

Mother Nature is dangerously beautiful.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Contrasts

Winter is back at our home in the Rockies.

Based on history, this really should be the last winter storm. But it's going on for days and days and days. I'm glad that the dogs love it!

So I will dream of the warm places where we hung out last month.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

More Conversations Among Lions, Coyotes, and even a Moose

I love seeing the wildlife in our area via the lenses of trail cameras. The main reason is not just to get pretty pictures of them. Rather, I love seeing how all the myriad species interact.

The carnivores like to mark in the same places. I'm not sure how a spot gets established. Perhaps the king of the forest starts it with a mighty scrape of the pine needles and then a touch of pee. I recently showed you a mountain lion marking the spot shown below.

On a recent rainy and then snowy day, a mountain lion visited the scrape left by that previous lion. This one did not act like a dominant resident lion. This one seemed skittish. Perhaps that was because it was mid-morning, a time when people tend to be out and about. This spot is close to a hiking trail.
I've never seen a mountain lion looking as wet as that one. On that morning, I froze when I was caught out in the rain on my bike.

Then, a group of coyotes arrived at the same spot about 10 days later. Each of them peed over the mountain lions scent. It was so much fun to see them come through this spot as a group.

A similar thing happened at another scent post. First, the mountain lion walked past my trail cam into the spotlight. He scraped and left a scent mark.

Days later, a coyote visited. He made it clear what he thought about the mountain lion scent!

Then, a week later, a moose appeared. She is so big compared to the lion and coyote!

I have a video showing the behavior of each of these animals as they sniff the lions' scents.

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Puppy Hachi seems to have felt a bit stressed out this week. Compared to our time in the desert, he's had a ton of everyday "stranger exposure" which may be a reason for it.
Among other things, Hachi started an advanced training class this week. That involves group classes at city parks. His stress seemed to start on the first day of school although he did pretty well at class.

He also went to town multiple times this week, and the Runner did a fair bit of counter-conditioning while watching strangers and other scary things. That involves feeding Hachi treats when the scary things are in view. The counter-conditioning went super well, with Hachi gradually relaxing during the course of each session.

He came home from town wired each day. Some of it was pure teenage rambunctiousness and some was stress. Thankfully, R wanted to play with him most days which relaxed Hachi a lot.

Hachi looked at his brother with wide eyes while they played. What incredible faces they both make.

I could watch them play all day!

Hachi's general stress level led a few resource guarding episodes. Immediately after a service person was here to try to fix the internet, Hachi guarded unopened bags of food that Chewy had just delivered. Then, in a similar scenario, he'd just finished some slightly stressful training, and he "guarded" a treat in my hand from R. In both of these situations, the astounding thing is how little it takes to stress Hachi enough for him to resource guard.

I find it difficult to constantly be on our toes to avoid potential food guarding but it's what we need to do. In particular, we need to be especially vigilant if anything remotely stressful has happened to Hachi recently. I am going to redouble my efforts. I was a little too chill about it this week.
I am writing this so honestly because I want to be able to remember the ups and downs of rehabbing Hachi. I think that this view might help others as they rehab their fearful dogs. It also will be interesting for me to go back and read it later, when Hachi is a well-adjusted dog. (Do you like my optimism about the ultimate outcome here?).

As I know from my experiences with Shyla, rehabbing a fearful dog is not a smooth ride from point A to point B. Rather, it involves lots of ups and downs. The progress sometimes seems negligible but, then, the dog will suddenly make a big leap forward almost unexpectedly.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

We are probably getting some snow in the next few days so I'm looking back to last week's snow storm. The fun never ends here in the Rockies!

From my point of view, the only good thing about snow at this time of year is the moisture that it gives our forest. I know first hand that most of our secluded water holes used by our wildlife for drinking and bathing do not have water in them yet. So perhaps this storm will bring the water level up high enough to fill them.

Even though May snow is yucky, wet, and heavy, I still love getting the pups out to play in it.

And, R loves sprinting through snow like a pup. His sister is in the background, trying to catch up!

A May snowstorm is a good excuse for some snuggling, and our Black Dog is everyone's favorite snuggle bunny.

Even Hachi can snooze (briefly) when next to him.

I'm afraid that I ruined their snoozing bliss with the sound of my camera. The puppy eyes opened...

... and soon Hachi wanted to play. R is the most patient big brother that I can imagine.
R is a very happy dog. I think that the only bummer is his vanishing eyesight. I realized this week that the probable reason why every one of Hachi's angry outbursts has been directed toward R is that R cannot see Hachi's body language. If he could see it, I have little doubt that he'd respond appropriately to prevent an outburst. That makes me sad but it makes me realize that us humans can help by intervening when we see the stress signs in Hachi.

In general, we have a very happy Black Dog on our hands!

Silly Puppy Saturday

In the desert, I had such fun playing with with Hachi. There was no one around, and he could truly relax and be a clown.

Somehow the big blue sky made Hachi seem even cuter to me.

There's a shadow racing you, Hachi!
Happy Silly Puppy Saturday!!! At least it's not a snowy Saturday. That's holding off until Tuesday (I'm not joking!).

Friday, May 17, 2019

Feline and Nature Friday - The Forest is Thick with Mountain Lions

I trekked in complete solitude to check trail cams. Every camera I checked had mountain lion footage on it. Yes, *every cam* had lion activity. I am not usually a nervous person but I started looking over my shoulder frequently.

This post would be too long if I tried to include all of the lion footage so this post will include the highlights from one part of the forest.

This guy was out in the middle of the day, not too far from homes. I love the idea that animals this large are wandering peacefully among us in daylight with no one noticing.

Just like I was, he was looking over his shoulder! He was probably worried about humans seeing him.

Then, he showed up at a nearby site, stopping to evaluate the scene before stepping fully into the view of the camera. Look at the ragged upper edge of his left ear. I wonder what happened to it. Frostbite? An injury from another animal?

When he stepped into view he sniffed a branch in a handsome pose.
These photos are from a small area. Usually, a lion will stay in a small area only to stay with a carcass. However, Shyla did not alert me that there was a carcass nearby. I still feel sure that the lion had a kill stashed there. He triggered one camera 10 times in a couple of days, making me think that the cam was very near the carcass.

Meanwhile, very nearby, a bold bobcat left his mark by marking within a mountain lion scent mark.
In the opposite direction from home, another mountain lion was extraordinarily active and visible... but I will save that for another day.

You can watch my video of these ghost felines who pad through the forest silently and secretly.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Thankful Thursday -- For our Mountain World

I am thankful that I live in a place with such a glorious playground outside my door. Coming home from a place as beautiful as the Utah desert would be very hard if I didn't love it here so much. I still have more Utah fun to share but I wanted to celebrate our mountain world today.

Shyla loves to hide on Hug Hill and then leap up to run to me. It makes me laugh! She does it near the start of almost every bike ride.
After we play on Hug Hill, we head for a big aspen grove where the bird watching fascinates me at this time of year. Many birds of many species are vying for nesting holes inside our groves of big old aspen trees.

Tree swallows dominate the aspen groves. They've paired up. The same pairs sit on the same perches day after day when they're not building nests inside nest holes.

The pairs are fighting for the prime nesting holes, doing incredible acrobatics in the air. This confrontation was between one of the birds in the photo above and an invader.
I will be telling more stories from these aspen groves because I've seen so much beauty as I've gazed at the birds above me.

I am so thankful that I live in a place that makes me smile so much. I love it most of all in the spring!!!

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.