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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Winning in a Runaway

Someone forgot what "stay" means although it's excusable because he's a puppy.

The puppy won in a runaway!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Wintery Week in the Rockies

I think that the past few years of mild winters have made this normal one feel extreme. I get out on my fat bike every day with Shyla by my side.

It can be very hard to take those first few pedal strokes as the frigid air stings my face and immediately begins to turn my fingers into ice blocks. However, when we get moving, I am almost always happier for having done it. And Shyla never complains - she gallops and leaps exuberantly no matter what the weather is.

Sunny days have been rare recently. More often than not, snow is either falling from the sky or being blown parallel to the ground. A weather station near us recently said that the wind was blowing steadily at 49 mph with gusts to 75 mph. No wonder Shyla is constantly covered in snow! And no wonder I get blown over on my bike (no photos of that).

A wonderful thing about having Shyla as my riding partner is her amazing happiness every day. I feel gratitude whenever I see her happy gallop that she's so much less fearful than a couple of years ago and can seem so carefree.

When the sun peeks out, I can stop to photograph the frost that is stuck to all of the dried plants. Those photos show me how amazing Mother Nature is.
Our world is beautiful, no matter what.

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

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For Positive Training!

I am overwhelmed with happiness that I understand positive dog training pretty well so that I can use it to teach Hachi. He is the first true puppy we've had since I have studied positive training pretty extensively.

In the "bad old days" of punishment based training, people didn't start officially training a puppy until they were six months old.

In reality, a puppy is learning from their first day living with you. By using positive training, we can harness their eagerness to learn and teach them lots of things before they are 6 months old. I have taught Hachi important things like to come when called.

And I've taught him silly things, including how to do a "High five" or wave. I think that the most important thing is that he has learned how to learn. He knows the clicker game, and we can use the clicker to communicate to him that he was doing exactly the right thing when he heard the click. With that form of communication established, the sky is the limit in terms of teaching him.

Today, I want to show you a video of me teaching him something silly - a high five. We were doing a different kind of training when I noticed that he kept pawing at me. I immediately changed directions to using that paw lifting as a way to teach him a high five.

At the start of the video, you'll see me touch his right front paw, hoping to trigger him to lift it. Then, a bit later, you'll hear me click whenever I saw him raise his right paw at all. Because he's already an experienced dog at clicker training, he'd figured out the game in just a few minutes. He would hit my raised hand with his right paw by the end of the session. And, he still remembered it the next day so we've continued to play this game.

Now that I am quite certain that he'll raise his paw when I raise my hand, I am also gradually moving further away from him so that he'll do the same motion when I'm far away - which is a wave when it's done at a distance. I'm adding a verbal cue which is "wave".

Positive training makes all of this training so much fun! Here is the video.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Frigid Winter

It's been below 0°F here for days

So thank goodness that Hachi is not afraid of his coat anymore!

This stir crazy photographer has been having her dogs pose indoors!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Wild Cat Patrols in a Snowy and Very Cold Winter

When we have real winters, like this snowy and cold one, wildlife activity goes way down. Cats are an exception. Usually, we still have mountain lions following the elk herds. This was the first example of 2019.

Bobcats frequent the same scent marking spots as mountain lions. Indeed, a bobcat checked out the spot that the lion marked on 1/3/19 the very next day. He sniffed the pile of pine needles left by the mountain lion, and then he rubbed his cheek on the area where the lion had urinated. I usually think of cheek rubbing as being a way for a cat to leave its own scent in a spot. However, it's not so obvious in this case. Was the bobcat trying to mark over top of the mountain lion scent or was he trying to rub some of the lion scent on himself? I don't know.

That bobcat stopped briefly to soak up the sunshine as he departed the marking site. It made a beautiful sunlit portrait.

Then there was a month's wait before the next mountain lion came through our neck of the woods. That felt like a long time because I'd heard that a mountain had been shot to death by a resident. I wondered if it was one of the lions who I follow with my cams. I still don't know the answer for sure because the most recent lion did not follow exactly the same route as our usual lions follow. I need to keep watching for a while longer before I'll know whether our big male lion is still alive.

The one who was shot had preyed upon some goats multiple times this winter. The goat owner confronted the lion, and the lion lost his life. My biggest question is, why didn't the owner do something to make his goats inaccessible to prevent the lion having to pay the ultimate price? I don't know the answer... but I also don't know all the details.

In any case, a lion finally came through in early February. He marked at one of the usual mountain lion scent posts but skipped others that most of our lions visit. I'm uncertain about whether he was one of our long-term locals or not.

Here is a video showing the marking by mountain lions as well as the sniffing and marking by bobcats. I find it to be so cool to see huge lions and little bobcats marking in the same spots.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Humongous Paws!

I did a fun little photo session with Hachi yesterday. I thought that you might enjoy it.

He led off by nose poking my lens... which smudged it, and I didn't realize it until after we finished!  Please ignore smudges in the photos!

His humongous white paws kept catching my photographic eye. I cannot imagine him growing into them!
Sitting Tall

Look at my Paws!
It's time for action! (The hardest part of photographing a puppy is their need to take sprints around the room every few minutes!)

And his incredibly sweet eyes.
We love him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

I've had a good week with our Black Dog. I spent a good bit of time with him out on the trails!

Here he is atop Hug Hill on a Blue Bird day.

This boy loves to run! This photo is just a bit below the summit of Hug Hill.

And he has crazy ear days, like this one. He's a Lab, despite the appearance of his ears.

On another day, both R and his sister joined me for a bike ride on the trails. Hachi is too young for this level of exertion yet. We wait until our dogs are a year old before they run for longer distances.

R seemed to have a blast with his sister.
Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Playful Puppies!

Hachi is getting older but he still loves his puppy classes. In fact, he's still learning from his classes really fast. He was a little fearful and prone to blowing up early in his days in puppy class. In particular, he had trouble when he was the recipient of rough play. He'd quickly escalate to being too rough himself. Then, he'd get a "time out" which means that he was picked up and given a few minutes to calm down.

Over the past week, he has not been given any "time outs" by his teachers in his puppy classes. He's learned to remove himself from the action when he's starting to feel overwhelmed. In the class in the video below, he'd go under the folding chairs or come sit next to us when he needed a break. It is so gratifying to see how much his interactions have improved.

Puppy classes are not just for fun (and they are FUN)! They teach a puppy skills for reading other dogs and for coping with a lot of other dogs and people. I have a video from his most recent puppy class (he goes to 3 per week). Notice the number of people milling around and the number of puppies who Hachi played with. You can see only a third of the room in the video. It might seem chaotic but it's actually very closely supervised by the teachers who are making sure that the puppies are playing nicely.

Check out the video - it's fun! We have only a few more weeks of puppy classes so this fun phase will be coming to a close all too fast.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fast Friday out in Nature

I took the trio for a hike yesterday in the midst of a gray and cloudy day. Our world is covered in such a deep layer of snow!

Hachi is learning to come when called. No one can teach a young dog as well as a pair of adult dogs!

The adults almost always let the puppy win!

And if the adults get close enough to pass, the puppy has those sharp little teeth as weapons!
Happy Nature Friday. Many thanks to our friends, the LLB Gang, for hosting this blog hop.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thankful Thursday - A Puppy's Winter Coat

I am so thankful for positive training. Now we're using it to help Hachi learn to like his winter coat.

By way of background, Hachi gets cold outdoors on our coldest days. He has shorter fur than our Labs. So, he needs to wear a coat so that he can go for hikes on frigid windy winter days. For this photo, it was fortunately warm in the sun!

For colder days, we bought him a coat, only to discover that he was afraid to wear it. At first glance, he seemed most concerned with the process of us putting it on him. For that reason, I thought up a game to help him conquer his coat.

Before I share video of it, let me point out that this game showed me that I need to go more slowly in helping him learn not to be afraid of his coat. You'll see that, although he played the game seemingly happily, he wasn't completely comfortable with it. His body language tells you that.

Here is the video.

My friend, who has used positive training with all sorts of animals, suggested some ideas for breaking down this game into more manageable pieces. For example, getting Hachi used to having the coat touch his back, without adding how we'll actually put it on him.

We'll keep working on it and figure it out, hopefully before the next -12°F cold snap!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Hachi Happiness

I never dreamed that the love would grow among the trio as fast as it has.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Life is good.

Sunrise is getting later, and the angle of the sun is changing. This spot in our forest just started getting that warm reddish light of sunrise this week.

Shyla and I love to play in this aspen grove, especially during the fleeting time when the sun shines on it so early in the morning. My recollection is that this sunrise light on Shyla's leaping log lasts only about a week. Since it's supposed to snow for the second half of the week, we'd better get out and enjoy it again tomorrow!
We heard a woodpecker drumming on a tall dead tree while we played this morning - another sign that spring is coming! I love the rebirth of the world as it heads toward springtime.

When we arrived home, we were greeted by the boys who were lying in a sun puddle. Hachi took advantage of having both of his siblings at home by crossing his paws and snoozing in between them.

I think that Hachi is utterly content.
Life is good.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hachi Plays and Trains

Hachi is changing so fast that I can barely keep up. Physically, he's almost doubled in weight since we met him. He seems to be about twice as tall too! But, he still plays like a crazy puppy!

Some of the biggest changes are mental. I've played with him, and injected a bit of training, almost every day since we met him. He's learned an incredible number of words and behaviors. "Sit" and "down" are no longer difficult by themselves. I've begun teaching him to "stay" in those positions.

You'll see him work on a "down-stay" in this video. You'll also see me asking him to "out" the toy, which means that he needs to release it from his mouth.

I like to work on these types of behaviors in the midst of raucous play because it's much harder for him to stay in a down or release a toy or when he's revved up by playing.

Check out the short video! (Excuse my silly outfit in it. I'd just returned from a snow bike ride with Shyla.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - An Extraordnary Big Brother

Our Black Dog makes us smile so much.

He may be 11 years old but he doesn't act like it. He runs on our trails every single day. He almost never limps on his front limb that had such serious surgery a few years ago. I am so happy about him!

He still does a "flying nun" imitation every now and then. This has been a specialty of his for many years!

R runs hard on the trails and then snoozes peacefully when he gets home. Today, R and Hachi snuggled together during an afternoon nap.

Hachi was so content with his big brother. For his part, R really loves his little brother.

Hachi looks up to R with reverence.
Big brother and little brother - a bond that is growing and growing.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Portraits of Hachi

The other day, we had some fun outdoors with the pack. As we headed indoors, Hachi started exploring the front porch. I watched him from down below... and he peered down toward me.

Then, he watched me out of the corner of his eye with a funny expression on his face.

It was fairly chilly outside. As soon as we got inside, he headed for a big fluffy bed. I loved seeing him so snug and warm, especially knowing the tough "street" life he knew as a small puppy. So, I went to get my camera. He peeked at me so cutely!
Our little puppy is growing up but he is still incredibly cute!