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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thankful Thursday

I could be happy never going into a town or city. Alas, that's not possible but I always feel grateful for coming home to our more peaceful part of the world after a day in more urban places.

As I drive home, I let out a sigh of relief as I pass this sign. To me, it symbolizes leaving the concrete world and entering a more peaceful world.

A short distance later, I pass another sign that I love.
Yes, that's an elk. A jokester added a funny fart sticker to it.

Just after the elk sign, the elk herd loves to cross the road. I have waited for 5-10 minutes for the herd to pass in front of me on multiple occasions. That's the best kind of traffic jam.

Then, I pass this sign.
It's been hanging there for decades, and some of the print has faded too much to read. However, the point is obvious even without reading the sign. There are bears here, and please don't let them get into your garbage.

It is so peaceful to pass this scene on my way home.

Or to see this scene. If you look closely, there are elk at the edge of the forest.

No signs warn of this one - but I absolutely adore that the Continental Divide peeks through the trees near home.
My gratitude for having a home surrounded by nature is boundless. It feeds my spirit and happiness.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Throwback/Look Ahead to Summer

This is the point in winter when I need a reminder of what the future holds. All that snow high in the mountains will eventually melt, making the flowers bloom endlessly! I had fun going through my images from last summer, choosing some "rejects" to share. I hope that it helps you smile today too!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Juvenile and Adult Golden Eagles at an Elk Carcass

I am still over the moon about the footage of Golden Eagles on the elk carcass (Part 1, Part 2). As an aside, I just discovered that I have footage of the feline character who killed the elk but that's for another day.

When I first saw the two Golden Eagles, I hoped that they might be a breeding pair. An expert reader pointed out that one of the pair was a juvenile. This photo is of the juvenile - who has the characteristic white feathers on his tail that indicate that he is younger than "several" years old.

The other thing that the reader pointed out was that the juvenile was forced off the carcass by the adult. In this photo, the adult (closer to cam) has just swooped in landing almost on top of the juvenile. You can see the white feathers of the juvenile's tail to the right of the adult.
Juvenile Golden Eagles usually leave the area where they were born to settle someplace else by November of the first year of life. So, this juvenile may be settled here for the long-term. That's good!

Here is a video of another set of interactions between the two Golden Eagles. Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a happy week. Every morning, he wakes up happy and bursting with anticipation of what might happen that day.

My instructor from the rehabilitative play class kept referring to the "magic" that might happen if you play with your dog every day. I think that we're seeing a bit of that - Hachi feels "lighter" to me, as if he's not worrying all the time.
We are continuing to play, usually twice per day. I am looking forward to the day when it's warm enough for us to move outside onto the deck or the porch for play. The idea is that, by playing in environments where he is just a teeny bit worried, he'll learn to worry less about the world around him.

I love when I can write a good report about our boy! There was a time, early on, when I couldn't visualize what our life with Hachi would be like. Now I can, and it's good.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

I won't lie - it hasn't been an easy time for our Black Dog or for those of us who love him. It seems as if he has no vision. He's very tentative about moving around inside the house. We are teaching him some cues like "step up" and "step down" at stairs, and "follow me" while we walk loudly just ahead of him. He is learning those words fast.

We still find him stuck in corners of the house, which breaks my heart. Yet, he doesn't want to be constrained to stay in a single room by a gate (most "lost" incidents are happening as he moves between rooms). Constraining him often brings howls of protest so we give his freedom back.

Our Black Dog visited the veterinary ophthalmologist this week, and the pressure in his eye has tripled recently. It's not quite in the danger zone where the eye would need to be removed. However, the vet is worried that the pressure may be fluctuating so R will be having regular ocular pressure checks.

Why, oh why, does one of the sweetest dogs in the world have to endure so much? I wish that I could make it different for our Black Dog. All that I can do is make his life as fun and happy as possible, within whatever constraints he is facing. And we promise to do that.

We are continuing to play nosework games, and R absolutely goes wild for them. When he's searching for the scent, he doesn't care if he walks into walls (but oddly, it's infrequent). When he's doing a nosework search, I feel convinced that he's going to adapt to total blindness.

Shyla has been especially affectionate with our Black Dog. When I get home in the afternoon, they are often snuggled together. They melt my heart.
Happy Black Dog Sunday. We will have fun this week, even if the type of fun is a bit different than in our Black Dog's past.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Shyla is my guardian.  Although I rarely show them here, I have been taking a lot of photographs that are not of dogs. I know - shocking!

This is a favorite view along our route - it gives a glimpse of the Divide off in the distance. It is replete with wildlife so it pays to stay alert here.

Shyla always has her eye on me. I don't even need to ask her to do it. Here, she sat like a guard next to my backpack while I took photos.

After passing through that meadow, we usually return to the forest, where the pine bark glows in the early morning sunshine.

I do love the beauty of the forest but none of it would mean as much without Shyla by my side.
Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Nature Friday - Magpies and Ravens vs. Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagles and the corvids (magpies and ravens) both wanted the elk carcass to themselves. When an eagle was on the carcass, the magpies would get upset if they couldn't nibble along side him. You can imagine that one whack by an eagle wing or tail would flatten the smaller birds.
So, the magpies started pulling on the tail feathers of the eagle, which seemed to upset him a great deal. Sometimes, he'd actually fly away, leaving the magpies to eat in peace.

The ravems also got in on the act. They'd go behind the eagle but the video didn't give a clear view of exactly what they did back there. Nonetheless, the eagle would get upset, flapping his wings and causing them to scatter.

Check out the video if you have time. I found the clips to be fascinating. I have a whole new respect for magpies and ravens.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thankful Thursday

Life isn't easy, as we all know. I suspect that many people are like me - they embrace their favorite part of life as a way of coping less easy parts of life.

I make sure that I don't miss my mornings with Shyla. They recharge my energy and optimism so that I can do my best with other, more difficult things, for the rest of the day.

I took this photo this morning, just as the rising sun touched our neck of the woods and Shyla's beautiful face.
Thanks for putting up with me, Shyla.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Almost Wordless Wednesday - The Lion Moon Sets over the Mountains

This month's full moon was obscured by clouds when it rose and set for two days in a row. I decided to try once more to photograph it as it set over our mountains after the official full moon had passed. As Shyla and I pedaled out of our clearing early in the morning of that day, I was certain that the moon wouldn't be visible because I could see the pinkish glow of a cloud bank over the Continental Divide.

But, as long as we were up early and out on the trails, it seemed worth taking a look. My studded tires crunched on the hard pack snow as we made steady progress toward my favorite lookout point. We crested the ridge and coasted downhill toward the exposed western view.

As the moon came into view, I gasped and said "wow"! I didn't have much time to set up my tripod and my camera before the moon set below the clouds. Meanwhile, I was also supervising Shyla so she stayed very close (I worry about wildlife early in the morning).

I managed to get everything set up while the moon was still barely above the orange-pink cloud bank.
And, it was worth keeping Shyla close as we watched the beautiful moonset. My trail cam showed a mountain lion was in our neck of the woods as I photographed the moon. I know that this full moon was officially called the "Wolf Moon" but I'm calling it the "Lion Moon".

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Pair of Golden Eagles at an Elk Carcass

Sometime last week, a cow elk was killed in the forest nearby. When I find a carcass like this one, my first reaction is feeling sad for the beautiful animal that is dead. I think about whether she had offspring and how the death happened.

My melancholy is always helped by realizing how much life will come from the dead animal, especially in the middle of the winter. The body becomes a hub for scavengers, who seem to see it as a gift from the heavens. Within a week, the carcass will be down to bare bones. Nothing is wasted.

This time, I felt very fortunate that a pair of Golden Eagles fed on the body. These are magnificent birds. They weight up to 15 lbs, and their wingspans are around 6-7'!

Here is one standing on the elk carcass. The rib cage of the elk looks small by comparison to the eagle.

I've seen single Golden Eagles at elk carcasses near here before but I have never seen two Golden Eagles! In this photo, a second Eagle had just descended from the sky almost on top of the one who was feeding there. I know that it's hard to tell that there are two - but it will be obvious in the video.

When I saw two Golden Eagles, I jumped to the conclusion that they were a mated pair but, as you'll see, they didn't behave as cooperatively as you might expect.

Check out the video if you have time!

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

It's been a good couple of weeks for Hachi, despite him having to cope with the obliteration of our normal routine due to the flu. Things are very slowly returning toward normal.

We finished up our rehabilitative play course, and I learned so much. Hachi loves to play and so do I. It does seem to "lighten" Hachi's attitude toward unexpected happenings so he can think.

Daily play will stay a part of our lives, and I bet that it makes a big difference for Hachi over time.

The only "not-so-good" aspect of the past couple of weeks has been that R has accidentally wandered straight into the side of Hachi's ex pen a couple of times. It's totally due to his blindness. R gets flustered, and Hachi gets scared. I think that we've mostly solved it with a guiding runner carpet to lead R past the ex pen.

This morning, Hachi went with me for a sunrise fat bike ride. It was super cold and windy but we played a bit. Hachi glows so brightly in the sunrise light!

I had to keep him moving so that he didn't get too cold (meanwhile my fingers were turning into blocks of ice).

He's a really fun and cooperative guy. He was somewhat scared because it was so new to him. He isn't used to being out with me at sunrise. I hope that we can keep doing this occasionally so that it becomes more relaxed for him.
I am feeling quite hopeful for our Hachi. In general, I think that he's feeling a bit less worried about life.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Winter! It hasn't snowed much in the past week but I wanted to share a favorite photo of our Black Dog taken late last spring. I love seeing him running with his sister.

This week has been lower key for our Black Dog. He is still grappling with the decline in his vision. We are learning to help him around the house. We are seeing the patterns in where and when he seems to get lost so we can anticipate it. We are working on placing guides like carpet runners for him to help him find his routes.

I am continuing to play games with R that I know that he loves. He's been doing his "chair crawling game" every few days, and I've been setting up nosework searches for him.

I videoed one of the nosework searches for you to see. In it, the metal tin with birch oil in it is stuck to the propane tank. The search shows how R's lack of vision forces him to use his nose, even when he's within a foot of the source. When Shyla did this same search, she followed her nose until she was close to the tin, and then she used her eyes to finish the search.

I think that nosework will be a big part of R's life. It really makes him happy! And that makes me happy!

In general, R has an exuberance for life that this latest hurdle has not dimmed at all.

Here is the video of R's nosework search.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Silhouette Shyla on Saturday

One dawn back before this dastardly flu, we stepped out the door to the very first hint of magenta sky. I pedaled so hard with Shyla by my side to make it up above the forest for the pink and purple part of the sunrise. It was so worth it!
For me, seeing the gracefulness of the canine form with Nature's sunrise painting as the background is sublime.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Sunrise in January

January is a month of beautiful sunrises.

Even after the sun rays kiss the world, it is still so cold.
In my mind, the blue in the last photo shows how cold it is. But, the warm hue of Shyla shows her big heart warming everyone around her.

Thanks again for all the well wishes. We both made strides forward yesterday although there is still a long way to go. Our house is a cacophony of coughing. For me, I really need to be able to return to my normal routine so that my spine stops hurting so much. Being sedentary is awful for it. We must be getting close... Hope springs eternal.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Thankful Thursday

As I reviewed my 2019 photos, a few leaped out at me as so special. This was one of them.

Hachi was about 6 months old and the true extent of his fears was becoming clear. During the weeks before and after I took this image, he had a few aggressive outbursts that scared me. Yet, our timid Shyla never withdrew her friendship from him. She steadfastly played with him and watched out for him like a big sister.
I didn't realize at the time that we were seeing the beginning of a beautiful bond. These two are so good for each other, and that makes me smile.

When I saw this image in my library, I felt so grateful for Shyla and for her friendship with Hachi.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

P.S. Thanks for all of the well wishes for a speedy recovery. Neither of us is a lot better yet. We are hearing that the flu been lasting a long time in most people. Maybe the Tamiflu that we are taking will shorten it some. Steer clear of germs!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Easy Tuesday

I'm still under the weather so I chose a few easy images from this winter to share with you.

From November, this was the last bear track that I saw for the season. His paw was bigger than my hand but not by too much.

I saw that track not too far from this view.

We live in a place where it's possible to go down 2500' in elevation in a short distance so it's much less snowy a short distance from our house.

This was from a bike ride to lower elevation. While down there, I looked back toward our mountains.

And this was from a trip down to the flats to take Shyla to the vet. I saw the sunset unfolding, and I had to pull over to take a photo of it. Those cloud shapes happen when it is super windy, and indeed it was incredibly blustery that day.
Although winter can be harsh, the beauty still shines through.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Flu and Hachi Chronicle

Despite getting flu shots, influenza has us humans very sick so this will be short. We got Tamiflu today so maybe that will help us to get better faster.
Hachi has handled us both being confined to bed way better than I would have expected. He’s a dog who likes his routine, and the routine has been blown to pieces. I’m really happy with him.

The photo was from our most recent desert trip. The warmth and sun of the desert sound like nirvana to me right now.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Black Dog Sunday - Never Say "I can't"

Our Black Dog has had a good winter week. He adores the snow. Perhaps his favorite part is rolling in the snow but he doesn't let me photograph that! He also loves doing recalls in the snow.

After a cold and blustery early part of the week, it suddenly turned much warmer yesterday. Thanks to the shoveling efforts of the Runner, we had a section of the deck ready for R to do his chair zooming game.

I was amazed and astounded that he can still play this game as a blind dog. To get us started, I showed him where the opening under the chairs was. Then, we did the same game that we've done for years since his elbow was replaced. He crawls forward under the chairs. I give him treats to reward that part. Then, I say "reverse", and he crawls backwards under the chairs.

I am overjoyed that R can do this despite blindness! R was ecstatic when he realized what we were about to do (before I turned the camera on). He barked his happy bark! You can watch here or at Youtube.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Shyla and I burst out into the frigid air before sunrise almost every morning. I ask her to sit and stay while I get on my bike. I start to pedal and she trots along next to me. Recently, much to my surprise, I've heard a chickadee singing his springtime song in our clearing before sunrise, I whistle his two note song back to him, starting a daily conversation between him and me. Perhaps he's singing because our days are now a couple of minutes longer than at the solstice. That's worth a celebration song!

Actual morning sunshine has been rare recently but it happens every now and then. Look at my girl as the first sun rays kissed her beautiful face on a sunny day. She is next my favorite type of pine tree - a Ponderosa Pine. I love it for its rough, aromatic, and deep orange bark.

As the sun gets a tiny bit stronger, I decide to ask Shyla to stand on Angel K's favorite perch. Shyla does not naturally love this spot like I do. After playing with Shyla a bit, I manage to coax a happy look from her. Do you see the snowy mountains behind her?
This morning photography session is an almost daily thing - it's a way that I can be sure that I spend some time with my camera every day. 2019 was a year of very intentionally trying to improve my photography - and one of the keys is spending time on it daily (in the beautiful sunrise light).

As the sun gets higher in the sky, we roll off to try to get some real exercise - me pedaling and Shyla running. I feel so lucky to have this wonderful girl as my partner in our daily mountain outing.

Happy Shyla Saturday.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Nature Friday: A Coyote Den in Winter

Last summer, our local coyote pack was spooked away from their usual den by some unprecedented activity near it. In their new spot, I was able to document about a month of the coyote pups' development and play (e.g., see this post). (I have to admit that this scene looks bucolic compared the harshness of winter).
Then, the coyote parents got spooked again by unwitting human activity near their new den. They moved yet again - back to the den that they'd used for years. Now, I am getting ready to capture their activity around when their pups are born in April.

One important aspect of this is to get my cam set very early so that the coyotes get used to having outside their den. It's been in that area since November so I am hopeful that they are acclimating to it. This shows an important aspect of trail cams - you need to plan ahead, set up early, and then try to stay away at the critical times so that you don't scare the wildlife. I still some work to do to be ready for April pups.

Some days, the weather near the den is pretty brutal. On this day in November, clouds were at ground level, and it was cold!

This was a rare warm and still winter day. The coyote rested atop the underground den for about 15 minutes, just soaking up the sun.

This day was super windy. On this meadow, the wind whips in from the west and steals all the body heat of a human very fast. I can attest to that. The coyotes seem better equipped for brutal winter weather than I am.
I wondered if the coyotes might use the underground den in bad winter weather. Although I don't yet have a great view of the den entrance, I haven't seen evidence that they do.

I put together the clips into a short video. I hope that you have time to watch it. It sets us up for the really fun phase after the pups are born.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Thankful for the Decade of the Duo

The 2010's were the decade of the Labraduo for us. They bring us so much Joy.

R arrived in our family in 2007, and Shyla arrived in 2012. In retrospect, these two defined a whole decade for us.
If I have one wish for the coming year, it is more good times with this Duo. R is reaching that stage of life when you never know what will happen but his spirit is still exuberantly happy.

My gratitude to them for their love of us and each other is endless.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year - Stupendous Sunrise

 The sunrise that Shyla and I saw recently seemed a perfect way to celebrate the start of 2020./

Before Christmas, we had a streak of beautiful sunrises. Shyla and I saw the start of this one as we crossed a meadow.

I pedaled as fast as I could hoping to photograph Shyla's silhouette against that magenta but it had morphed to orange by the time we arrived up higher. I cannot complain though - the orange phase of the sunrise was glorious too.

It was so brilliant that Shyla felt the need to howl about it!
Here's to lots of beauty in 2020! May you have a happy and healthy new year!