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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wordless Wednesday - The Boys and Wildflowers

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Mohawk's Cubs Explore Water

The days of mama bear's blissful baths without the cubs are coming to an end. Both cubs are getting over their worries about water and join their mom, Mohawk, in the water.

After Blackie watched her soak, he and his sibling took off, leading mom to worry. She grunted softly, like all mother bears do when they're worried about their cubs, and then she stood up to look for them.

After she either heard or smelled them, Blackie joined her in the water hole. I love this image - Blackie and mom looked each other in the eyes. They bear some resemblance, don't you think? (pun intended).

After Blackie and mom exited, Brownie showed up and took a short bath alone. Their mom loves water more than any bear I've seen - and these cubs will be super used to it by the time they are ready to go off on their own.
It's interesting to see that the cubs have switched roles. Up until a week ago, Brownie stayed very close to mom and Blackie tended to stray. For some reason, all of the videos from the past week show the opposite pattern. I wonder why.

Check out the video if you have time.

I feel so lucky to know how to peek into the lives of these animals who live full lives under the radar but in our midst. I hope with all of my heart that their habitat is not destroyed. Sometimes I wonder how many other people think about our invisible wildlife.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a relaxed week. Every day, one of his favorite events is his evening romp with Shyla. We usually hike at sunset when the air is cooling and the sunlight is more muted. Hachi and Shyla chase each other at top speed.

Whatever makes Hachi aggressive toward R does not seem to happen with Shyla. They play rough, wrestling in the meadow when one catches up to the other, but Hachi is always happy and relaxed. We humans love seeing it.

In our training with Hachi prior to this week, we had been testing the limits a bit, trying to figure out if the muzzle would be a solution to a number of scenarios where we'd like to have the three dogs together while indoors. Based on our tests, we learned that the answer was a resounding "no" because, while wearing a muzzle, Hachi behaved aggressively when too close to R. Although Hachi can't hurt R if he's muzzled, we don't want him to practice aggression so we are continuing to keep the dogs separated.

In the past week, we returned to keeping dogs at a distance from each other when playing the behavior modification games designed to change Hachi's feelings toward R. To be honest, I'm pessimistic that Hachi's feelings will ever change - but that attitude could be more about my stress level than reality. Also, I know that this type of behavior modification can take a very long time so we'll keep at it. Moreover, Hachi's meds were increased just a couple of weeks ago so we are waiting hopefully to see how that may affect his state of mind.
Some weeks, the best that we can hope for is a boring report. That's what we have this week. Nothing bad happened. And, we didn't try to test the limits of Hachi's relaxed attitude so we don't know if anything changed.

Hachi turned nine months old recently. He's almost a grown up, although the behavioral vet keeps emphasizing that his adolescence will last until he's 3 years old. Really?!? I guess that the good news is that means that he'll keep on changing emotionally for quite a while.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

It's Black Dog Sunday. It's been a week of hot sun and then afternoon monsoons. One great consequence is that the Mariposa Lilies have bloomed wildly.

The lilies and all of the other flowers have made our meadows into a riot of colors. R and I have loved our time together there.

Another effect of the hot but rainy weather is that wild mushrooms are popping up everywhere on the forest floor. You may be wondering - How are wild mushrooms relevant to our Black Dog? Long time readers might remember.

Our Black Dog developed the bad habit of eating mushrooms years ago. He usually eats only one kind of mushroom - one that is safe. Many wild animals in our forest eat R's favorite variety. However, a few years ago, R made an almost fatal mistake by eating a different kind of mushroom, a poisonous one. He had severe neurological symptoms from his mistake, including seizures. We rushed him to the best local emergency vet. Then, they put him in an ambulance and transported him to Colorado State Vet School. Amazingly, he survived.

Thanks to all of the efforts of multiple vets, he is alive and running through wildflowers now.
Now, we are at the time of year when we must protect him from his love of mushrooms. To run over to the meadow with me, he must wear a muzzle to stop him from eating mushrooms. He hates the muzzle but loves playing in the meadow. That's a reasonable trade-off from R's viewpoint, I think.

We are being very careful this year. At almost 12 years old, we are not sure that his body could survive mushroom poisoning. So, we protect him from himself.

Happy Black Dog Sunday! We love our boy!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Silly Shyla on Saturday

Shyla is the one who lifts me up when I need it. She seems to view it as her calling in life. I am so lucky to have her in my life - always enthusiastic and ready to play games with me.

This week, I needed silliness to counteract everything else. So we played our snarf game. Her first catch was intense but needed a bit more silliness.

Her second snarf was one for the silliness contest. Look at those crossed eyes!

Happy Saturday.
I am hoping for some rest and relaxation this weekend. Playing in the flowers will help me smile too!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Playful Coyote Pups

The coyote pups played happily outside the den over the past week. They played tug of war with a big branch on the ground. One pup pulled off a piece to tease his littermates.

One pup found a "toy" and brought it back to play with his siblings.

He even carried his toy as he climbed up on the branch. Another pup grabbed his hind leg and hauled him down to the ground.

I thought that it was super fun watching the puppy play, and even to watch the parents keep the pups in line (see video cover below). I compiled some of the best parts into a video.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Thankful Thursday - Reuniting Lost Dogs with their Humans

Last weekend, Shyla and I headed out for a mountain bike ride together. We started with some photos in the meadow by our house... just because I cannot pry myself away from the brilliant wildflower colors that I know won't last forever. It's been such a hard summer, coping with my father's illness, that I find huge solace in nature's beautiful colors. This was one of the photos that I took that morning.
Then, Shyla and I headed up a big hill toward more meadows. As I pedaled along, I heard a dog barking from nearby. When Shyla is with me, I try very hard to avoid unknown dogs. They scare her badly. So, I pedaled away from the barking as fast as I could with Shyla in tow.

We played in another wildflower oasis, and then we turned around, heading back toward home.

As we headed toward home, I started to think that we'd somehow totally avoided the dogs... but I was wrong. As we passed exactly the same spot as where I'd heard the barking earlier, I heard woofing coming from the forest. That struck me as really odd - why hadn't the barking dog moved? If he was hiking with humans, they certainly would have moved by then.

So, I got off my bike to look around while Shyla hid in the woods away from the barking. I peered through aspen trees and underbrush, and I eventually spotted the source of the barking. There were two big white fluffy dogs, one of whom was barking. The other was trying to hide from me. There were no humans in sight.
I started photographing with the hope that someone would recognize the dogs in my photos.

The non-barking dog disappeared almost immediately. However, the barking one looked at me with bright eyes.

I started to traipse through the thick vegetation toward the dog. He didn't run so I got pretty close.
However, I saw three things all at once as I got close. No collar. Fear of me. And a little bit of aggression. I decided to leave them alone and try to find their humans - I'd only make the situation worse if I scared them into fleeing. I pedaled home, keeping Shyla extra close.

When I arrived home, I started perusing our neighborhood email group and local social media sources. Reports of a pair of lost Great Pyrenees leaped off the pages at me. I called the owners' phone number, and the ball was rolling toward reuniting the dogs with their humans.

The problem was that the humans didn't know our forest or trails at all, and I couldn't visualize how they would find the spot where I'd seen the dogs. So, I rode back to the spot with the plan of meeting the owners near there. One dog was still apparent in exactly the same spot but I couldn't see the second one.
I rode onward to find their humans who had hiked toward the spot from another direction. Soon, I'd found them and led them back to the dogs. To make a long story short, the owners went into the brush to get the visible dog, and both dogs were there! The second one was hunkered down on the forest floor. It was very hot, and they were probably sticking to a cool spot.

It felt so wonderful to see these dogs back with their humans. And, that is what I am thankful for. It felt so good to be able to actually make a difference in the lives of dogs and their humans.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Very Curious Bear Cubs

Yesterday, I was in the zone, pedaling hard through the forest on a narrow trail. I glanced to my right, and I saw a brown butt and a black butt galloping parallel to me. The thought flitted through my mind, "That's odd. I thought that I left the Labraduo at home.". Then, I realized that the butts were not Lab butts but bear cub butts!

They galloped away from me fast. Meanwhile, my eyes sought out mom. She was very close, perhaps 20 yards from me. She stood strong, first watching her cubs' butts disappear into the forest. Then, she turned to examine me as she stood still and silent.

I took three steps away from her while hauling my bike with me. She watched me unwaveringly, still unperturbed.  After I stood still gazing back at her for five seconds or so, she turned and galloped after her cubs.

It was magical. Bears are my favorite wild animals, and I live for those moments of seeing them in the forest, away from homes. Seeing Mohawk and her cubs with my own eyes was special beyond words. I shouldn't have been surprised. We live in the heart of Mohawk's territory, She's been wandering the forest near our house with her cubs for the past month.

These photos were from a nearby spot. The first glimpse of the black cub in a photo answered an age-old question. Yes, bears poop in the woods! And, cubs like to mess with trail cams.

After finishing his business, Blackie joined the monkey wrench gang, rearranging my trail cam by the time he decided to move on. Here's a close-up of him.

The cubs checked out a mountain lion scent marking spot. Brownie loves being bipedal. She seems to rear up onto her hind legs every time she's on video.

She and her sibling sniffed something together.

At a bear-marking tree, Brownie was standing tall again as she sniffed where so many bears have left their scents over this season and many before it.

Check out the video of this precious pair of cubs. They melt my heart. I feel so lucky that this family is living in our neck of the woods! I don't think that Mohawk will take them very long distances in the quest for food this year so I am guessing that we'll be watching them until they go into a den.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

I spent some time in the meadow flowers with Hachi this week.
He is such a sweetie when we spend our special time outside together.

We played the game of me tossing him treats to snarf out of the air. He hadn't learned that trick yet. My camera told me why - he closed his eyes as the treat came toward him.

It was so cool to see him learn how to do it within one photo session. He stopped closing his eyes and started tracking the treat instead.

Then, for the first time in his life, he snarfed his a treat out of the air.

In addition to the silly trick of snarfing treats, Hachi continued improving when he saw strangers when out and about.

He did well with R outdoors when wearing his muzzle. They took nice walks side-by-side and interacted nicely. However, he did not do well with interacting with R inside the house. Hachi was always wearing his muzzle during these interactions so there was no physical harm done. However, my spirits were damaged by these skirmishes.

Like so many other people coping with a damaged dog, our weeks will not always be filled with rainbows and unicorns. We will keep trying to figure out how to better rehabilitate Hachi. Despite his issues, he can be a heart-melting sweetie.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Hot, hot, hot. Too hot for a Black Dog to go out and play in the heat of the day. So, he and I played just after sunset a few evenings.

He seems to feel good. He went to the vet for a followup ultrasound to follow the tumors growing on his spleen and adrenal gland. The spenic ones are unchanged but the adrenal one has begun growing. It's not big enough to need immediate surgery but R will have his belly shaved again in three months time to follow up. He's too precious not to keep track of this while it's still small enough that something can be done.

Although our Black Dog is the target of Hachi's aggression, R still acts as if he likes Hachi and wants to play with him. He has an absolutely huge heart and is so trusting that things will go better "next time". No worries - we are being extremely protective of him but our Black Dog's ability to forgive is something to admire and emulate.
It is another very happy Black Dog Sunday! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Wildflowers Galore

What a year we're having for wildflowers. They are bursting into bloom everywhere! Here's a fave of mine.

The meadows are like paintings with every color imaginable.

Mariposa Lilies bloom here every year but never like this year. It's like a super-bloom! Meadow trails are my favorite right now so that I can enjoy the countless lilies.

The Locoweed has also been crazy. Purple is my favorite color so I love Locoweed (and that chocolate Lab in the photo)!
I hope that you are having a similarly beautiful summer. Our wildflowers are later than in most parts of country but they're worth the wait!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Moose Frolic at a Water Hole

The moose know how to deal with our hot weather. They play with utter abandon in the nearby ponds.

They seem to love to lift their front hooves out of the water and splash the water high into the air, just like human kids. These are young bull moose... so they play like children!

One of the pair was definitely wilder than the other. He kept splashing and splashing and splashing.

He also was a bit of a bully, chasing the other one out of the water.

If you have time, I bet that you'll smile at the video of their frolicking good time in the water. The temperature is wrong on the video. It's never been 107°F here but it must have been warm by our standards. Enjoy the video!

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

Thankful Thursday

Shyla is a sweet and sensitive dog who seems to read every nuance of my state of mind. In these days of me feeling so much stress, her love means the world to me. She is my steady partner who is out on the trails with me every morning. I often sing to her when we're in the remote parts of the forest. Shyla is the only being on earth who loves my singing. I am tone deaf and have a terrible voice - but Shyla comes running to me whenever I sing!

She has come so far since her days of utter fear. She is still a mild-mannered dog who tries to fly under the radar. On our trails, she knows which neighbors she likes and which ones scare her. With the ones who she likes, she sidles up to them to nuzzle their hands, looking for pats. She's formed great friendships with those chosen people.
The people who Shyla fears rarely even know that she's nearby when we see them in the forest. She seems to smell or hear them long before I do. She heads into the forest to hide until I've passed them. If I stop to chat with them, she is hovering nearby, hiding behind a tree or lying in the shade. Sometimes I tell them that Shyla is hiding nearby and sometimes I never mention it.

After she comes out of hiding, I loosen her up with some play.
I feel so lucky to have Shyla in my life. Seven years ago, we saved her from her very fearful start and now she buoys my spirits almost daily.

Many thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019