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Friday, March 22, 2019

Nature Friday - Bluebirds Arrive!

Although the calendar says that spring is approaching, winter has dominated our world recently. This photo was from one of the most recent times that we could actually make it up to Hug Hill.

We haven't been up to Hug Hill since then because the snowpack is much too deep and impossible to pack down for my fat bike. We had a lot of fun the last time that we were up there, with Shyla posing atop what appeared to be a big pile of snow!

Despite the recent big snowfalls, our Mountain Bluebirds arrived on the exact day that the calendar said "Start of Spring". Yipee! The first Bluebird who I saw was posed with a snowy forested hillside behind him.

The next one had a completely snowy meadow behind him. It made for a fun photo that seemed to show the juxtaposition of spring and winter.

Then, as I stood there by the meadow rejoicing in the sight of spring birds, I spotted another Bluebird. He took off from his perch as I snapped away with my camera.
Flying into Springtime!

Happy Nature Friday. Thank you to the LLB Gang for hosting the blog hop!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Thankful Thursday - For Shyla and for All of You

I am so thankful for my sweet Shyla. No matter what, she's loyal and eager to make me smile. And her heart overflows with love. It's impossible to be around her without feeling it.

She is patient with her little brother and seems to enjoy sharing her life with him even though it involves sharing her humans with him.

After having such a rough start to her life, Shyla seems almost unflappable with her little brother. Shyla has become my rock as I try to deal with life's uncertainties, including how Hachi will turn out. I don't know when she took on that role. For our first few years together, I needed to be her rock all the time so that she could navigate her fears. Then, she began to heal. And now, she's a huge source of stability and love.
I am filled with gratitude for Shyla... on this Thankful Thursday.

And thanks to you for your kind and thoughtful comments on my post two days ago about Hachi. We had an hour with a trainer today, and Hachi's response to stress, including greeting strangers, was so much better. I know that the coming months will be a roller coaster ride - but it feels really nice to be filled with hope today. Your dog tales, thoughts, and advice also helped give me hope, in a realistic sort of way. No, it won't be smooth sailing. Rather, it will involve a combination of management by us and adaptations by Hachi. I hope that we are all up to it.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - The Ears

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Life with our Puppy

I'm going to tell you about a big source of stress for me. From early in our time with Hachi, we noticed his shyness toward both dogs and people. In response, we decided to try to socialize him as much as we possibly could. We also noticed resource guarding against other dogs almost from Day One - which means that he would try to scare off dogs who came near his food or treats. Again, we hoped that we could deal with it using some methods suggested by our trainers.

As we worked on these issues, we also came to love Hachi. All of his "bad" behaviors came from fear - probably due to his early scary experiences living on the street, his mom's stress level trying to care for puppies without a home, the craziness of living in a shelter for a while, and due to genetics. It is very hard to be angry with a living being who is behaving badly completely out of fear.

Until quite recently, we thought that things were going well. He has totally come to love playing with other dogs and to be very sociable with them. He seemed less hesitant to meet people. And, his resource guarding became rare.

Fast forward to the past week - for some reason, almost everything has gone south. He had a horrendous vet visit where he was so scared that he lost control of his bowels. He resource guarded at two dog classes last week, which means that he snarled and scared off puppies who were interested in his treats. His behavior appeared very scary but he didn't actually touch the other dogs. Then, we tried to have visitors at our house but Hachi spent their entire visits staring at them and intensely barking at them.

On one occasion while a visitor was here, Hachi launched himself at R in a fury of snarling. There were no injuries except that we were deeply shaken. We believe that Hachi was guarding treats that were in the room. He was more prone to do that due to the stress of having a visitor in the house. As those who have had to deal with these kinds of issues will know - it's called "trigger stacking".

To be fair, I must mention that our Duo gets along with Hachi beautifully 99.9% of the time. They still snuggle with him daily. So do we. Hachi is so deeply attached to me and the Runner that it makes my heart hurt.

He is being neutered on Friday, and we hope that might help. Moreover, we are working with two good trainers, and we'll follow their suggestions. But the future is a great big unknown.

I am telling you where things are with Hachi so that you know that life with our puppy is not even close to perfect. He's still incredibly sweet 99.9% of the time. But those outbursts of aggression have shaken me up badly. I hope that we can help him but I'm not certain that we can. Aggression in such a young puppy is really scary.

Especially when you love that puppy.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Snow Dog

This bottomless snow may never go away but Shyla doesn't mind.

She's adores galloping through deep snow.

I love spending time out in the snow with her. It makes me smile.
I think that it makes her smile too.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog seems to be feeling great. He's full of energy and loves playing in the snow.

He races his sister with an intensity that is surprising.

And they both love bowling me over at the end of a recall. They make me laugh.

We had a funny moment during our snowshoe hike when both dogs sunk down deep in the snow. I told them both to "stay", and they did! While I fiddled with my camera, they seemed to start to dose off in the warm sun. That made me incredulous. Can you imagine falling asleep in a snow bath?

I love our Labraduo so much.
Happy Black Dog and Brown Dog Sunday!  And Happy St. Patty's Day! (Two more months of winter here!)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Snow Joy for Dogs and Puppies

Getting almost 2' of snow brings joy to our dogs. Our puppy was a bit skeptical at first because the snow was easily over his head. But his big sister led the way. Look at the joy on her face! Do you see Hachi's head poking up behind her?

Shyla's joy was contagious. She even found a stick despite the very deep snow. She galloped through the snow holding it high in the air.

And Hachi caught her joyful spirit. I love seeing this boy so happy. It makes me grin.

Hachi makes some hilarious faces when he's trying to run as fast as he can. And look at the size of his paw...

But those funny faces do seem to help him gallop through the snow very fast. He had a big head start over Shyla in this particular sprint but he is speedy.

I hope that our snow dogs have made you smile today! I've smiled my way through our recent hikes.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Nature and Feline Friday - Mountain Lions Prowling around the Elk Herd

When the elk herd is nearby, the mountain lions are not far behind.

Yup, a mountain lion was prowling along the edges of this meadow while the elk were there. I cannot imagine how nerve-racking it must be for elk knowing that predators are waiting for just one of them to make a mistake. I couldn't live like that... but they manage to.

I am guessing that the goal for an elk is to stay in the middle of the herd so that the mountain lion prowling in the nearby forest doesn't choose him/her to attack.

The mountain lions are masters of stealthfulness, and they blend into nature so perfectly. I bet that I could have ridden my bike right past this guy without spotting him.

He spent a long time at this site - a spot where the mounds of pine needles show how often lions have scraped there to mark territory. He even had the Flehmen Response to the scents of other lions. That enhances his sampling of the odors.

I believe that this mountain lion was the male in the mating pair that my trail cam captured. I'm basing that on his color markings so I can't be absolutely certain.

Enjoy the video. All of the clips show mountain lions prowling along edges of meadows containing the elk herd.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Thankful for a Blizzard

During the drought in 2018, the summer was scary with fears of forest fires never leaving our minds. So, yesterday, I actually felt thankful when it snowed several inches per hour to give us at least an 20" snowstorm. Due to the wind that came with the snow, it was technically a blizzard. I have seen the news reports hyping this storm - but let me assure you that it was just a normal March storm for us. This happens almost every year, and experienced mountain folks know how to handle it.

Because I am crazy about riding my bike outdoors,  I actually tried to ride my Meriwether fat bike during the storm. First, I tried the trails behind our house with Shyla. It was impossible to ride with powder up to my knees. So, we walked for a while and then headed home.

For newer readers, by way of explanation, I am really determined to ride my bike every day because it is the *only* thing that staves off spine pain. I have two long sections of my spine surgically fused so keeping the pain at bay is a daily undertaking. I feel so lucky to have discovered the power of cycling for my spine pain because it is so much better for me than taking medicines.

My next try at riding today was on our driveway, which the Runner had just cleared. It's reasonably long so I thought that I'd ride up and down it a few times. It was good at first... and then the wind kicked up. With the snow pelting into my face, I literally couldn't see far enough to avoid running into trees. So, my rational side won, and I headed inside.

I love my Meriwether fat bike! This is my 10th season of fat biking in the snow!

After my riding attempts, we all stayed indoors for a few hours by the fire, watching the snow pile up outside the windows. When the crazies hit our bored puppy around sunset time, we headed out to snowshoe for a while. This was the first really big snow storm that Hachi has been able to play in. The snow was taller than his shoulders but it was dense so he didn't fall in too deeply.

The dogs were off leash so we practiced some recalls as they frolicked around us. Hachi is a determined puppy - he wants to win every recall race! Do you see the look in his eyes?

As a dog born far to the south of here, I suspect that he was flabbergasted by the snow!
After this day of pelting snow, I'm hoping for a day of sunshine and blue skies tomorrow! And I'm dreaming that this snow leads to many wildflowers in May.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - Big Snowstorm Today

From a past big snow storm - my girl who runs with such intensity...

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Our lovable mountain puppy

Hachi is rapidly turning into an amazing mountain dog.  He can run like the wind in the snow.

He dances like no one's watching in mountain meadows.

He can leap like super dog!

Most of all, he is an incredibly affectionate, sweet, and playful dog soul. 
He does have a couple of quirks due to spending the formative first few weeks of his life on the streets. I've found it to be difficult to write about those because I simply want to cure them. We have been working very hard to help him to understand that he's safe and can trust us to take care of him now. He doesn't have to fight to get enough to eat or assess whether people and dogs can be trusted.

Fortunately, he completely and utterly trusts his canine and human family. He can chill out and be a silly puppy while his siblings and humans take care of him.
Our hearts are filled with joy to have this amazing boy as part of our family.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Amazing Bond

Many mornings, Shyla and I take our puppy to a nearby meadow to play. The most recent game has been fetch the stick. Shyla is so fast that she wins all the sticks.

Hachi chases after her.

And Shyla lets him catch up. The best part is that Shyla understands that she needs to encourage Hachi. Look at her face and her eyes - she wants him grab the stick and play with her.
I've never seen such a playful expression on Shyla's face before now. Hachi has been so good for her - he's brought out her inner puppy and her mothering instincts at the same time. I'm not sure that Shyla ever really had a chance to be a puppy when she was young. So now is her chance!

Although Hachi has a few lingering issues from living on the streets as a small puppy, our trio has bonded completely.
The fact that they choose to snuggle like that warms my heart!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog seemed to feel better this week. He and I had some time on the trails together - which is something that we both love! He waved to you!

He was back at the vet as they tried to figure out why he wasn't feeling or acting quite right last week. His urinary tract is the focus right now, and I think that we're making progress. As of now, most cancer possibilities have been ruled out. That is great news!!!

He's in the midst of an 8 week course of antibiotics for his recurring UTI. Fortunately, the antibiotics don't seem to bother him at all. So, the only tweak for now is changing his dose of a supplement that fine tunes his urinary pH. With that small change, he seems like a new dog!

He and his sister had an absolutely wonderful time playing in our fresh snow! And I loved seeing it.

Happy Days! We are going to keep seizing the days of our wonderful trio of dogs, doing our best to be out having fun whenever we have a winter wonderland for romping!