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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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mama Bear and her Cubs

 Our young sow, Mohawk, has been leading her first litter of cubs throughout the heart of her territory. After a bath down the slope, she and her cubs appeared on Black Bear Trail.

Her cubs are growing so fast! It seems as if they've almost doubled in size since we first saw them more than a month ago. In this photo, Mohawk is looking for ant pupae under a rock. When you see this scene in the video, watch her tongue flick out as she ate a little from under the rock.

Just the next day, mom went to her favorite water hole. Her cubs hung out nearby playing. Here, Brownie had a heart-to-heart with her mom.

Meanwhile, Blackie climbed a marking tree and relaxed on a branch near the top of it.
What an amazing opportunity for us - having a sow raising cubs in the heart of the territory where I have cams. I hope that more bear food is ready for eating soon. I happen to know that Mohawk led her cubs close to houses the other night looking for food. That's not good - I really hope that this first-time mother can feast on real bear food soon.

Check out the video!

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi's week was up and down. The vast majority of the time was happy.
When I take him for short outings to the meadow, he behaves super well. His recall is strong, just as long as nothing has put him over threshold in terms of fear. He's so affectionate, giving me kisses whenever he gets a chance.

This is the way he starts his recalls - bursting into action as hard as he possibly can.

In terms of training, he's become completely comfortable in his muzzle. He'll hang out for 15 minutes at a time wearing it without trying to get it off. He's also doing really well with his counterconditioning to R, in which he gets treats whenever R appears. He is perhaps doing the very best at learning to watch strangers going by in town. As long as the people keep their distance, Hachi is happy to observe them.

We met with his behavioral vet and trainer. They decided that we should increase Hachi's meds to try to help him relax even more. We doubled his Reconcile (doggy version of Prozac) and we'll be experimenting with higher doses of his short-acting anti-anxiety drug.

On the down side of this week, Hachi had an incident with R. Hachi was wearing his muzzle in a super relaxed way while separated from the Duo. We decided to let him out into the area where the Duo was, and Hachi immediately went after R aggressively. He was wearing a muzzle so he didn't hurt anyone.

I made some mistakes that might have led to that incident, like having been giving Hachi treats prior to letting him be with the Duo. That means that it may have been a case of resource guarding. We plan to try this again but without having any treats in the picture. I was upset about Hachi's attack during our first try at having him be with the Duo while wearing a muzzle because the muzzle is our biggest hope for making it possible for all three dogs to be together.

The rehabilitation of Hachi is a roller coaster ride. Each week, there are ups and downs. We both feel as if there is more up than down in terms of overall progress over the past 6 weeks or so. I hope that we're right. Hachi is such a sweet soul with us humans - and we desperately want to be able to integrate him into the family.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog is one of the most innocent animals I've known. He expects that treats will fall from the sky and that everyone, humans and dogs alike, will be nice. As he walks down a street in town, he tries to catch everyone's eye,  hoping to entice them to meet him. We call him the "biggest flirt" we've ever seen.

This innocence and complete optimism makes him expect a lot out of life. For example, I take him for an extra outing by himself some days. Ever since I started doing that, he seems to expect it every single day. So, I feel guilty when I must say "no, not today" on occasion. He forgives me in seconds.

His attitude toward life is a wonderful injection of optimism and joy to my life. Life isn't easy, as you all know. Twenty minutes in the meadow with R can bring a smile to my face no matter what!
 Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Silly Saturday with Shyla

First, the more serious portrait of Shyla in an aspen grove full of Columbines.

 And this one with her paws up!
Even on a day with a roaring migraine, Shyla can make me smile. Happy Silly Saturday!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Nature's Feline Kittens: Bobcats and Mountain Lions

It is the season of juvenile animals in the forest. In the course of a few days, I found footage of baby bobcats and teenage mountain lions in the forest.

The bobcats were, by far, the youngest ones that I've ever seen. I suspect that their mother was moving them from one den to another. They definitely are too young to be out and about with her yet. In this photo, there are two kittens, one under her front legs and one under her hind legs.
When I first saw the video of the bobcat kittens, I thought that they were puppies because they were so little.

They traveled only a short distance on the animal trail, and then they must have gone to a new den.

Around the same time, the two kittens from the mountain lion family we've been following were exploring together around mid-morning. When they arrived by my cam, one stopped in front of it. You can see the faded spots on his neck and shoulder.

He's incredibly handsome...

Then, his sibling arrived, and the two of them sniffed a lion marking area in front of the cam. I'd never noticed how lion kitten tails are banded, with stripes above the black tip.
Daytime sightings like this one are wonderful!

I have a short video of the bobcat and mountain lion kittens. Enjoy!

Thanks to the LLB Gang for Hosting Nature Friday and to Comedy Plus for hosting Feline Friday.

Thankful Thursday - For Shyla!

Each and every day, I am thankful for the time that I have with sweet Shyla out in nature. She is the best romping buddy that I could ask for. She is so enthusiastic!

I love playing "snarf the treat" with Shyla. She is so intense about snagging the the treat out of the air. Her eyes make me smile!
Shyla makes every single day brighter for me.

Thanks to Brian for hosting the Thankful Thursday blog hop!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Outside a Coyote Den

As Shyla and I rode through a meadow one morning, she was in the position that I want her in - next to my rear wheel. Suddenly, she yelped. I can't turn my head very far due to my fused neck bones so I had to hop off my bike to see what had happened.

I was shocked to see an adult coyote directly next to her - close enough to touch her. I instinctively yelled at him. He didn't react. So, I yelled, raised my hands over my head, and ran straight at him. That got his attention, and he began to run away.

As I watched him cagily trot away, I saw a group of coyotes up the hill in the trees. Due to my worry about Shyla, I didn't notice whether they were adults or pups. Soon, they all disappeared. Meanwhile, Shyla had been standing next to me... just standing there. She didn't defend herself or even think about chasing the coyotes. For once, her fearfulness was a big asset because chasing a lone coyote into a group is very dangerous for a dog.

After the coyotes disappeared, I checked her over very carefully. No wounds or injuries. Either the coyote nipped her lightly or he startled her, causing her to yelp.

When I talked with neighbors, I learned that one had spotted coyote pups earlier that morning near where Shyla and I had encountered them. I suspect that the pack had moved their den overnight.

Some of you probably have already guessed what I did next. Yes, a trail cam... This was the first sighting of pups by the cam.

Based on video captured by the trail cam, I know that there are at least five pups.

I compiled the clips into a video for you. Be sure to watch to the end. In the one night clip near the end, it's fun to watch the interactions between the adult and the pups. The behavior really reminds me of dogs.

This is a new situation for me - my first coyote den!

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a fun week, playing in the yellow flowers with me or with his siblings.

When I play with him, he melts my heart by showering me with kisses at the end of every recall. He makes me laugh and laugh.

Prior to this week, he seemed a bit subdued or worried when I took him out into the meadow without his siblings. This week, he seemed much happier. He was truly a goofy puppy as he ran through the flowers.

In terms of training, we worked on three things this week, all designed to help him with his "issues". First, we are working on helping Hachi be comfortable wearing a muzzle. Wearing a muzzle will be the first step in having Hachi be loose in the house with the Duo. At this point, he can wear it for a couple of minutes without pawing at it. He can respond to verbal cues while wearing it and walk on a leash for about 30' while wearing it. The second thing is teaching him that R getting a treat always means that he will get a small jackpot of treats - to condition him not to resource guard. And the third is something called "engage/disengage", which involves him learning to first look at and then look away from things that scare him. That helps him not to get obsessed with scary things.

And, of course, we "worked" on him playing with his siblings outdoors. That is simply wonderful.
It was a good week with solid progress forward and lots of fun!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Black Dog Sunday - In a Sea of Gold

I had a wonderful week in the yellow flowers with each of our dogs, including our Black Dog. Getting to the yellow flowers turned into a bit of an adventure though, when our local coyote pack decided to move their den onto our path. I'll spare you the stories about them for now but there will be coyote pup videos coming up!

Our Black Dog is the easiest to pilot through the coyote zone and into the sea of gold. One day, before I changed my route, a coyote pup sprinted across our path... which our Black Dog did not see due to his near-blindness. The younger dogs would have had fits if a coyote pup had tried that same thing near them!

But, we made it to the meadow of yellow flowers. I was so thankful. We had such fun playing there.

Despite the attack on his vision by glaucoma, he loves romping through the meadow. The pressure in his remaining eye has remained very low due to the eye drops that he gets twice daily. However, the vision in that eye has definitely dwindled. The amazing thing is that our Black Dog doesn't seem bothered. He's as happy as ever.

He has mellowed just a tiny bit with age, and I love that soft edge around the highest drive dog who I've ever known. I used to be able to handle him only in small doses because he was so insanely driven about whatever caught his fancy on that particular day. Now, we can lie in the flowers and play, and he seems absolutely content.

Look how bright eyed and happy he looks. This is a wonderful phase of life for him, despite all of the physical challenges that he's faced. I enjoy every moment that I get with him, one-on-one. He's so loyal and sweet.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Adventures of a Young Sow and her Cubs

Our local bear family - mom, a black cub, and a brown cub - was near my cams again recently. First, the black cub appeared all by himself. He's been on camera a number of times now. He is definitely the bolder of the two cubs!

In contrast, the more timid brown cub stays near mom. In this photo, "Brownie" is running down the hill to look for his sibling. You can see mom up above him.

Eventually, Blackie galloped up the hill to chase down his family.
It's rare that we get a view a fairly wide area to watch the whole family at once. I enjoyed seeing it.

Then, one week later, mom led the family to a water hole so that she could take a bath. She carefully cleaned her face, again and again. She was so blissed out by her bath that she seemed to forget about her cubs.

When her long bath (4 minutes!) was over, she went to look for the cubs. She had to look for a while. In this photo, she is looking directly down the slope where the cubs eventually emerged.
Mom exited to the right of this view. (As an aside, I now recognize this sow. Her name is "Mohawk", and this is her first litter of cubs that I know of. She's a young bear.)

After Mohowk was out of sight, her cubs filed up the hill. The cubs didn't seem to find her immediately. They sprinted back and forth a few times but I am sure that they found her.

I put together a video of this family during these adventures which I hope that you enjoy. I find baby animals to be the most fun to watch!