Our Black Dog isn't afraid of many things in life but one is flies and bees. You may be wondering how he looks so happy in the midst of a sea of wildflowers if he's afraid of the flying bugs that live among them.
I don't know the answer to that question. When I ask him if he wants to go to the meadow, he barks ecstatically. And he seems happy while we're there. So, I guess that having lots of fun can outweigh his fear of bugs.
If only everyone's fears could be washed away so easily!
Shyla and I spent many hours atop Hug Hill this summer. Believe it or not, we were not just playing.
A very aggressive noxious weed had completely covered Hug Hill at the start of the summer. It's called "cheat grass", and it's a problem throughout the Western US.
Every day, Shyla would lie in the shade covering my back as I pulled some cheat grass. I put it into bags that my neighbors hauled out of the forest and to a disposal site. For now, Hug Hill is almost completely clear of cheat grass. It feels good to see what we accomplished.
Shyla and I can now return to our "play all the time" ethic atop Hug Hill. I'm sure that we'll have to repeat these efforts for a couple of years but that's okay with me. If I love a place, I'm willing to work to keep it beautiful.
The bear family is staying in a fairly small area where my cams see them regularly.
Brownie is now a lot bigger than Blackie. Brownie also plays very aggressively. Whether s/he is leaping out of trees onto Blackie or hitting Blackie in the face, I find myself incredulous that this is the same cub as the very timid Brownie who we first saw in May.
This is a really fun video of the two cubs playing. Be sure to notice the first scene in which Brownie ambushes Blackie, and then the scenes where the pair are like a pair of boxers.
Late one afternoon, a male mountain lion began walking along a ridge from west to east.
It took him about 2 hours to cover a mile. That is very slow walking for a big animal.
Then, I checked another cam on that ridge that usually does not feature lions. It showed a mother mountain lion and 2 kittens walking the same ridge *at the same time as the male was walking in the opposite direction*. These were younger kittens than in the family who we've followed recently. Their early life spots are more visible than the spots on the other kittens.
Here was the first kitten just ahead of mom.
The second kitten was lagging behind mom. Here he was when he caught up.
They almost certainly came close to the male. Believe it or not, male mountain lions kill kittens - even their own. So, this was a scary scenario. When the male appeared after his path had crossed with the family, I didn't see any sign that he'd hurt them. No blood was visible. Moreover, Shyla didn't indicate to me that there was a dead animal anywhere along that ridge. So, perhaps it turned out okay. Here he was as he reached the end of the ridge.
I compiled the video clips of the male cat and the family into one video which I hope that you enjoy!
Every evening, Hachi and Shyla play together off leash during our hike.
Hachi loves to be chased by Shyla.
Much to our surprise, Shyla gets pretty rough when she catches him. She sometimes "tackles" him. They both fall into the grass in a tumble of legs. I always hold my breath, afraid that Hachi will get mad. But he never has.
They get up and happily chase each other again. We smile. We feel so happy that these two enjoy playing together.
Shyla wants nothing more than to make the people around her smile. I think that's why she and I have so much fun doing photography together. If I ask her to sprint, she sprints as fast as she can - every single time.
That's how Shyla lives - trying to make everyone smile. We love her.
Mama bear went for a swim by herself in deep water but, very soon, her cubs had splashed toward her.
They swam a circle together before heading toward shore.
I compiled a video of mom's and the cubs' water fun from one recent weekend day. You'll see that the black cub is still hanging close to mom while the brown cub is off exploring. Moreover, the brown cub is now bigger than the black one. It's been an interest role change.
For most of the summer, I had breakfast with the Flycatchers. Like every summer, they had a nest under the deck. Due to our very late spring (remember the snow in June!), they were late with starting their family. Their first nest failed. I think that a predator got their eggs.
They started a second one very very late, with 3 eggs on July 5. They persevered, and three little Flycatchers fledged on August 5.
Here was the father, on one of the last days that the babies were in the nest. He snatched a fly out of the air and sat on a perch next to our deck. He wouldn't take it under the deck to the babies until I pretended that I wasn't looking. Then, he fed them.
Without fanfare early on August 5, the three babies took their first flights. I can hear the family in the forest around our house calling to each other. It makes me smile to know that they've had a fruitful summer.
Soon, they will fly south. Safe travels, my friends.
I am so thankful for these birds that captivate me with their determination every summer.
We are feeling the dog Prozac kicking in as Hachi is acting much more
mellow around non-family members. He also has recently been able to
recover when surprised by strangers outdoors. He lets us lead him
further away, and then he plays our engage/disengage game. That involves
looking at the person, then disengaging to look at us, and finally a
treat. The fact that he can play that game after being surprised is a
big step forward.
We did have one bad moment this week.
Hachi was coming in the door from being outside. R appeared nearby, and
Hachi behaved aggressively, snarling at R. That was a truly
discouraging moment. That's the part of Hachi that we most want to
change. We work on it almost every single day with games where R appears
and Hachi gets treats to help Hachi associate R with good things.
weirdest part is that R is one of the easiest dogs on Earth to get
along with. Yet, he is the only one who Hachi seems to have simple
aggression toward. It could be a male-male territorial thing. All that
we can do is hope that the Prozac will eventually help with that
aggression. Apparently, the dose can be increased yet again in the fall.
the fun side of life, Hachi did his first mountain bike ride up to Hug
Hill with me. He was nervous up there, frequently glancing over his
shoulder. I got one good image of him, and then we played a bit to help
him feel better.
I think that the Hug Hill mountain vista suits him well. Do you agree?
That's the chronicle for this week. Some good, and some not so good - just like life.
Every single morning, my alarm goes off at 6AM. The reason is that Shyla has epilepsy, as many of you probably remember. She gets five pills every day, spread out throughout the day, to control her seizures. The first one is at 6AM. I shuffle to her pill box, grab the pink football shaped pill, and give it to her.
Then comes the nice part. I almost never stay out of bed because Shyla loves to snuggle. She moves next to me, puts her head on my shoulder, and lets out a contented sigh. Who could possibly get out of bed with Shyla softly resting her head on you? She is so sweet.
The snuggling is a good part of Shyla's pill regime. Another good part is she has averaged only one seizure per year since starting the medications. That's not just good - it's great.
Blackie and Brownie, the cubs, played lots and lots in the water over the past week. They both seem to love it like their mom does.
Brownie continued her rise in confidence which bordered on rebelliousness and bullying on this day. Brownie went in the water to join her mom, and her mom gave her some soft bites that appeared to be trying to correct Brownie.
Brownie responded by again trying to bite her mom. Look at Brownie's hand on her mom - it looks a lot like a human hand.
When mom decided to walk away, Brownie took a flying leap at her brother.
And then they both stood to spar. Brownie is now bigger and almost launched Blackie out of the water, thereby ending the play.
I am a worry-wart, particularly about aggression in animals given my recent life experience. However, despite that, I'll admit that I started to wonder how normal Brownie's behavior is. I'll try to find out, and I'll let you know if I do.
You can watch the video that I compiled of their play here.
I had a lot of time with Hachi outdoors. I am struck, again and again, at how hard he tries when I ask him to "come" or any other cue. Because he tries so hard, he can look very serious.
He can also look zany!
I can feel him softening still more toward people who aren't me or the Runner. He seems to want to interact with them. A friend dropped by who he hadn't seen in a while and he showered her with kisses. He greeted another friend on the trails with great enthusiasm. I am getting the feeling that he will someday get over the worst of his stranger fear. He is moving in that direction, one person at a time.
In terms of his interactions with R, he didn't have any closeup ones inside the house this week. He did go for off-leash runs with R and the Runner every morning, and they got along well outdoors. I keep reminding myself that slow and steady is what might eventually win in terms of Hachi's attitude toward R. So, we do our behavior modification exercises with Hachi and R every day, and I try not to ponder whether I have a clue about what the future holds.
Life is full of twists and turns. I don't know when it will happen but I predict that I will temporarily be forced to post less frequently in the near future. Please bear with me when that happens. Also, please forgive me for having trouble visiting all of the blogs that I want to visit. Life isn't easy right now.
It is the summer of endless wildflowers. It's been so special to be able to go rejoice in the summer beauty with our Black Dog.
R loves going to the meadow so much that he sings (or hums) as he runs along side my bike. I've even wondered if the sound helps him navigate around obstacles. Perhaps he hears it echoing off of trees and boulders that are alongside the trails, and thus is a little like a bat using sonar to weave his way through the forest. In any case, I love R's joyful soundtrack to life.
Shyla is still growing in confidence. Many of you remember how down-trodden she was when I first met her. She was terrified of everything. Now, look at her!
Just the other day, we were out for a bike ride on a weekend day and saw a few strangers. I knew that running into strangers was a possibility on a sunny weekend day but I really wanted to see the wild Columbines.
As we came around one curve in the trail, we saw a family was just ahead of us on the trail coming toward us. Usually, if I see strangers from afar, I discreetly turn around because it can be too hard to coach Shyla through passing a group on a narrow trail.
Turning around wasn't an option without being very rude in this case because the people were so close. So, as Shyla hid in the forest, I stopped and explained that my dog was fearful and might not be able to pass them easily. I was preparing them to watch me encourage and cajole Shyla to get her past them.
The family was SO nice, offering to disappear off of the side of the trail if Shyla needed them to do that. I guess that Shyla sensed how kind they were because she suddenly emerged from hiding and walked toward me and the family. Then, she truly surprised me when she chose to meet each member of the family one by one. They petted her so gently and sweetly, and Shyla seemed to truly enjoy meeting them.
I smiled for the rest of the ride. I love when Shyla surprises me with her courage!
A few weeks ago, a mountain lion started a walk well to the west of us. A trail cam recorded video as he walked past it.
I've spent many years figuring out parts of the favorite route of male lions as they pass through our area. I still have more to figure out - there are some big gaps in the route where I haven't figured out the scent posts. But, I do know parts of it well.
About a mile after the first footage, the lion passed another cam at a scent post.
Then, after another mile, covered in about 23 minutes, he passed my favorite scent post under a Ponderosa Pine tree on the saddle of a ridge.
Covering a mile in 23 minutes is a decent pace. Along the route that the lion would have taken to get from one scent post to the next one, our dogs found a freshly killed fawn that morning. At first, I assumed that the lion had killed it. However, after looking at the time that the lion spent traveling from one scent post to the next, I don't think that he had enough time to have done it.
After the dogs found the carcass, I placed a cam by it to see what animal came to eat it. It was a bobcat. And, the bobcat covered the carcass with dirt to save it for later, I began to wonder if the bobcat could have been the one who killed the fawn. I have trouble imagining the bobcat fighting off the fawn's mother... but perhaps he did.
Here's the bobcat hiding the small carcass.
With that side tale told, I'll go back to our lion who continued on his route to the east even as the sun rose and lit up the landscape. I love this bird's eye view - it feels as if I could be sitting on the hillside watching the lion through binoculars.
My last view of him that day was well to the east of here. First he marked the spot....
... and then he walked away.
I have a video that I compiled from all of the clips. I hope that you have time to check it out!
Thanks to our friends at Comedy Plus for hosting the Feline Friday Blog Hop and to the LLB Gang for hosting the Nature Friday Blog Hop.