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Sunday, March 31, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog had a treat-filled week.

And that's how every week should be, says he!

He and his sister tossed treats in the air with glee.

They even clashed teeth as the tried to snarf the treats raining through the air.

And, at the end, strings of slobber hung between their faces.

Only now do I realize how extraordinary it is that neither of them feels the need to guard their treats. They've had lives filled with plenty of food, and they are both secure in the knowledge that food will fill their bowls every day for the rest of their lives.
Poor Hachi is not yet able to grasp that idea. He's improving, two steps forward and one step backward... but I imagine that overcoming early experiences of needing to fight for your food is very hard.

His Zen Black Dog Brother is here to help him.
Our Black Dog has now been off of antibiotics for a full week with no relapses of his UTI/kidney issues. I am very hopeful that he's finally kicked this infection! Yay!

It is indeed a Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Silly Saturday

Shyla and I played some very silly games earlier this week. You can't tell but she is saying - toss that treat now!

I tossed it. Shyla trained her eyes on it and opened her mouth in anticipation.

For once, my toss was decently aimed. Shyla snarfed it.
Shyla looks insanely happy!!!

We BOTH love this game.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Wild Springtime

We had a few days of spring! Shyla and I had fun on our morning outings in the sunshine and warmth.

The bluebirds flitted around in trees full of bursting buds.

And, best of all, the elk herd is back! They retreated to lower elevation after our big snowstorm a couple of weeks ago.

The elk spread out across a vast meadow with the snowy mountains in the background. Less than half of the herd is in the photo. I will never stop loving watching our elk.

And, as regular readers probably know, the predators follow the elk herd. My trail cams showed how true that is as a mountain lion was out viewing the herd in broad daylight.

I have a short video of the mountain lions and other animals at a scent post to share. The scene shown as the "cover photo" of the video shows one of the biggest bobcats who I've ever seen in the middle of a serious snow squall.
And, not unexpectedly, winter is returning tomorrow. Ah well - spring was fun while it lasted!

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

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Thankful Thursday - Thankful for our Goofy Puppy

Last week, Hachi had the dreaded neuter surgery that strikes almost all puppies at some point. It went smoothly, and he's acting as if he's feeling 100% of normal already.

Yes, he's had to wear the cone of shame whenever we're not closely supervising him. It hasn't hindered his goofiness even the slightest bit.

He's been applying his substantial intellect to the cone problem. Here, he demonstrates an experiment in using his hind paws to pry it off.

Then, he contemplated biting at the velcro seam. That technique actually worked once but we're still not sure how. I'm guessing that our puppy genius will never tell us.

Finally, he made his last attempt of that morning...
... or perhaps he was holding his head in frustration and despair. Only 8 days to go, Hachi.

We thank our puppy for entertaining us even during his coned recovery from surgery.

And we thank Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wordless Wednesday

Just before our puppy was taken out of action by neuter surgery

Playing with our good friends' dog

Mr. Big Paws with his sister

His sister took flight shortly after playing with Hachi

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Training Tuesday: Shyla Mimicking Me

You all might remember that I dabbled in teaching Shyla to mimic me more than a year ago. Back then, she learned to mimic a few of my behaviors, and then I let it drop. Until about two months ago, I think that both Shyla and I had forgotten all about it.

Two months ago, I decided to dedicate some time to it again. It is one of the most fun ways to teach a dog new behaviors. In fact, after two months of practicing, I've taught Shyla more complex combinations of behaviors than I've taught her any other way.

When teaching a dog mimicry, you start with very simple behaviors that your dog already knows how to do. One of the hardest parts is figuring out how to imitate a dog's way of doing something like crawling or carrying a toy in their mouth. In this video and the next one (probably next week), you'll get to see my silly imitations.

One of the behaviors that you'll see me do and then Shyla imitate it is the one shown in this photo - resting her chin between her front paws. It was one of the first ones that she learned to imitate.

Here is the first video of Shyla mimicking my behaviors. Enjoy, and don't hesitate to laugh at us!

I really love teaching our dogs new ways of learning and fun games that we can do together. Mimicry falls into both of those categories!

In case you're interested, there is a book lays out how to teach your dog to imitate you.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Full Moon Setting and Beautiful Shyla

I absolutely love when the full moon sets because our entire western horizon is snowy mountains.

Unfortunately, it was very very cold as I tried to take these photos so I didn't do a great job. I have Raynaud's Syndrome, and I couldn't feel my shutter finger at all! So, I captured the random moments when my finger touched the shutter button almost by accident.

My favorite part of the setting of a full moon is that the sun is rising behind me as the moon sets. You can see the alpenglow and the brightening sky from the rising sun in the next photo.

For the grand finale just before the moon disappeared, I managed to quickly put on a wider angle lens when I saw the whole mountain range lighting up from the sunrise. Standing there in the mountain silence, I was so glad that I'd braved the cold to watch the moon set.

I shouldn't say "I". Of course, my best furry friend was with me during the magical moon set. After the moon disappeared from view, we hustled to a good spot to see the reddish light of the rising sun on her fur.
To my eyes, she is as beautiful as the setting moon.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog had another good week. It's always a good week when I get some time on the trails with him!

Our Black Dog brings out the best in all the dogs around him. He's Shyla's best romping buddy. And he's Hachi's best companion for going to the vet or for wrestling.

The snow on the trails has continued to be almost impassable. So, lots of mornings, we make it only as far as the favorite photo spot in these photos. This is the sunniest spot near our house so the snow is almost gone. I sure hope that the melting spreads soon.

On the morning that I had the pleasure of having both halves of the Labraduo with me on the trails, they decided to engage in some hilariousness while the camera was pointed at them. Shyla wanted to wave to all of you while R wanted to try to howl loudly enough that you could hear him from all around the world!

In R's younger days, I hadn't yet accepted that being very vocal was an immutable part of his personality so it would drive me nuts. Now, I just laugh along with him. Shyla still looks a bit concerned about his behavior though!

After 10 weeks on antibiotics for kidney/UTI issues, R ended them yesterday. We are SO hopeful that we won't end up at the emergency vet this weekend (like the past times that we tried stopping the antibiotics). Please keep your fingers crossed for us.
He seems to be feeling good based on that last photo!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Enforced Rest for a Puppy!

Hachi came through his surgery (neutering) just fine yesterday. He had a good day, all things considered.

One of the big incidents that had worried us so much last week was that he got so scared that he couldn't function at the vet when he went in for his pre-surgery tests. Today, he took a sedative prior to going, and his big brother, R, went with him for the drop off. I am guessing that his big brother's guiding presence was a huge factor in making Hachi feel better about being at the vet hospital. He's so bonded to his siblings.
He's home now with a cone. He's not too happy about that. I can feel him shaking under his fur. That could be due to coming out of anaesthesia, the cone, the pain, or all of the above.

He now has 14 insane days until he can run around again. That is very hard for a 5 month old puppy, as you all know. We hope that time flies, and he's out playing before we know it.
Please wish Hachi and us well during this time of enforced rest!

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