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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Shyla Saturday - Happy Leap Day

My early morning leaper...

She loves every day - but Leap Day suits her perfectly.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Nature Friday - Winter in the Mountains

I love the morning light in the winter especially when I enjoy it with Shyla.
I keep reminding myself of what I love about winter because it's been a period of intense winter weather. We've gotten lots and lots of snow. If I step off one of the packed trails, I fall into deep powdery snow. I have spent hours and hours working on packing down trails so that I can still ride my fat bike.

A huge positive to fresh snow is that I absolutely adore playing in fresh snow with Shyla. Her happiness is infectious!

But even Shyla doesn't love the winter wind. It has felt as if each snow storm has been followed by gale force winds. It creates huge drifts and "wind pack", making riding my fat bike on trails impossible some days.

On the positive side, that blowing snow can also be gorgeous if you're in the forest at sunrise. The world glitters in gold. It feels like the beauty cannot possibly be real.

This winter has been an exercise in focusing on the positive since this intense weather almost always has at least one good facet to it. Finding the good parts of winter has kept me smiling.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thankful Thursday

We are still thankful for R and his fabulous recovery from surgery.

We do have some news about his tumor but it's not as definitive as we wish. We now know that the surgeons felt 99.9% sure that it was hemangiosarcoma based on what they saw during the surgery. So, you can imagine their disbelief when the pathologists said that the sample didn't have cancerous cells in it. That might sound like cause for instantaneous celebration but the surgeons want another analysis done on the tumor by a different lab. So, we are in the process of getting that set up - which means that there will be a delay before we get a more concrete answer.

For the moment, I am viewing us as having good news. We've gone from a minuscule chance of the tumor being benign to a much better chance. That's a big step forward!

In the meantime, R is getting stronger and friskier every day. He gets his stitches out tomorrow, and we are looking forward to him being able to hike further and play more. He loves snow, and we have tons of it for him to play in.

I think that Shyla has played a big role in his recovery. She watches over him. When he has to be home alone, we have to contain him in an ex pen. We assumed that Shyla would spend the time on our big bed on the other side of the room like she always does. Nope - she chose to lie on the hard floor next to the ex pen. Of course, I've added a bed in that spot for her.
We are thankful for R's recovery, and for the deep bond between him and his sister.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

First it was this... snow falling softly. Pretty and naturally black and white.
Then the 50mph winds arrived, whipping that new snow through the air.

All of that weather made me go back to look through images from earlier in the winter so that I could see some COLOR! This was the most colorful one that I could find from Shyla's and my sunrise outings.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Crazy, crazy moose!

Moose are not calm and docile creatures. Adding them to our ecosystem has been a huge change. They certainly have raised the ante for anyone exploring the forest.

Their craziness is apparent all year long but it's most obvious during mating season. Last fall, my cam captured a group of four moose who had breeding on their minds. The group consisted of a cow moose and her older calf, plus two bull moose. Here's the calf in the foreground and mom in the background.

The smaller bull took an interest in the calf.

Then, he decided to try to breed her. Mom didn't seem to have noticed yet.

But mom noticed soon, and moved fast in the direction of her calf.

For some reason, the bigger bull followed the action. I don't know what happened after he exited the view of the camera.

About two months later, a cam captured a trio of bulls who were lazily sparring. The clanks of their antlers hitting were loud! It was fun to see the relaxed demeaners of the bulls after mating season had ended.

I put together a short video of these two scenes that I hope that you enjoy.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

I had some time on the trails with Hachi alone this week. We did a snowbike ride together on a bluebird day. He's always been nervous during these solo rides but there were a number of competing factors that could have been the cause of his anxiety.
I was trying to take his photo but he kept being startled by sounds behind him.
Over the past months, we've gradually exposed him to most of the factors that might be worrying him during solo bike rides. He's now fine when he's out for a walk with me alone - he used to worry when we didn't have another dog with us. He's also now happy on all of the trails - none of them make him nervous under normal circumstances.

That leaves one thing for Hachi to be afraid of during our solo bike rides, and it's my bike. So, I need to get to work on teaching him not to be afraid of my bike. I have to admit that the thought of more work makes me sigh. There's so much to do with this boy. However, I am getting better and better at counter-conditioning. Moreover, Hachi now learns faster now than earlier in his life, probably because his anti-anxiety meds are helping him. So, conditioning him to like my bike should be doable. Being able to take him for little rides that he enjoys will be a great reward for the work.

During our short ride, we went to Hug Hill. Hachi seems to love the long view that he has from this spot. He could survey the entire world!
Hachi's color looks great with the mountains and sky  as his backdrop!

In addition to his usual training, Hachi still gets to play a lot most days. He plays with me at least once per day - and we both love it. And, he plays with his sister during our daily afternoon hike. They are still best friends.
Shyla is the chaser but they switch roles all the time.

I think that Hachi would say that his life is good. We keep working to rehab him, and progress is slow but it's happening. Most of the rehab work is fun for him. Moreover, everyone in our little pack is happy, and that's all that I ask.

PS We await R's pathology report sometime this week. He had a good weekend.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog is doing really well. He's happy and he's enjoying his short walks more than he did before his surgery. He's even been mischievous during them.

I know that he loves rolling in the snow. I decided that I wasn't going to let him do it for a couple of weeks after his surgery, primarily because he throws himself onto the ground quite hard. I didn't want any internal damage from the impact. Until yesterday, I'd see him adopt the body language that he uses just before rolling, and I'd hurry him along.

My rolling prevention efforts worked for a week. Then, the sneaky Black Dog tossed himself onto the ground without doing any of his usual pre-rolling behaviors. It was too fast for me to stop him. By the time he was on the ground, I couldn't think of any reason not to let him roll. So he did - and he was overjoyed about it.

I think that he loves how the crusty snow scratches his back.
No harm was done, and our Black Dog seemed very happy about his illicit roll!

I love this guy, mischief and all.
Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Shyla Saturday

In the wake of R's cancer, I am holding all who I love a little closer these days.

My Shyla is my partner in nature adventures. We both enjoy exploring our forests and our mountains so much. We spend lots of time together, just us two girls, traipsing through the forest. We follow tracks in the snow, both of us curious about what the wildlife have been doing. And Shyla uses her nose to show me things that I wouldn't otherwise perceive. We are such a team.

I am sure that some of you remember that Angel K died quite young. She was eight years old when osteosarcoma took her. And, that is the age that Shyla is. That realization pierced my heart when Shyla turned eight. I am greedy and want a long time with this girl.

Shyla still has some issues with fear and anxiety which we continue to work on - but she has gradually become the best friend who I can imagine.
Hold your pups tight. Hug them, love them  - and I'll do the same with sweet Shyla.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Nature Friday - A Bluebird Day

It felt as if we had days and days of little sunlight, very cold air, and snow falling from the sky. Both Shyla and I were drooping, getting tired from the cloudy skies during our morning rides every single day.

I wanted to see the sun, and today it happened. This was the path into the forest.

When we arrived up a little higher, the blue sky stopped me in my tracks.

Shyla frolicked in the snow with the high mountains and a ski area visible behind her.

And she surveyed her kingdom as we prepared to ride home.
It was one of those precious winter days when the beauty of the mountains in winter was on full display. It was glorious.

P.S. R had a peppy day, happy to go for his little walks in the sunny winter world. These are wonderful days with him.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Thankful Thursday

I think that you all know what I am thankful for today.

Our wonderful Black Dog is still with us. He's recovering stupendously well. He's even regaining the weight that he lost in the weeks before the surgery. He's so hopeful and happy - a perfect example for how to handle the hurdles that life throws in our way.
We are thankful for every single day with him.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

A tiny fraction of our herd.

Galloping through our new snow!

R is continuing to improve. His spirits are amazingly good!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Magical Wildlife Clearing

Years and years ago, when I was first starting to use trail cameras, I found that my cam had been rearranged on a tree so that it was twisted 180° from how I'd left it. I leaped to the conclusion that someone was trying to steal it.

I made the snap decision to move the cam to someplace safer. I took it down from the tree and stuffed it in my backpack. I hurried toward another section of the forest with no real vision of where I planned to put it except that it needed to be well hidden from humans. So, I hastily chose an almost random spot but I figured that I'd move the cam again soon.

That spot was a pocket in the forest with a big Douglas Fir tree in the middle of it. I didn't know enough to recognize the animal sign in that small clearing - but the hints of animal activity are everywhere.

Much to my surprise, a mountain lion sauntered into that small forest opening within a week. The rest is history. I've had a cam there for close to a decade now. There are phases of little carnivore activity there but I know to patiently wait - because the bobcats, lions, coyotes, foxes and other animals will be back.

After about 6 months of little wildlife activity last summer, many species have come through this winter. As you know, I love my mountain lions. One female has come through three times. She is hilarious because she dislikes anything wet on her paws so much. Here she is in mid-paw-shake. She spends a lot of time trying to clean her paws.

Not only does she shake them, but she also licks them.

I have a short video of some of the wildlife who visited this forest opening including this female lion, bobcat, bull moose, and red fox.

P.S. For those who are wondering, R is doing well. His energy level made a big step forward yesterday.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle (with a short Black Dog update)

It has been quite a week. Just one week ago, we didn't even know that R had cancer. We got his diagnosis, he had more tests, he had surgery, he spent time in the hospital, and he's now is home. Whew, no wonder I am exhausted. He must be even more exhausted.

One good thing about having dogs in your family is that they need to play and run no matter what else is going on in your life. So, I had some fun time with Hachi this week despite all the other stress.

It snowed seemingly every other day so our world was white!

He is doing really well. It feels as if he's on the right meds for him, and he's finally relaxing. Not being on high alert all the time must feel great to him. By no means is he a normal dog but he's moving in that direction, inch by inch.

He still has the capacity to be a 10,000 Volt dog, and we see that in him every day. He adores recalls, and he runs to us as if there's a lion nipping at his heels.
On the less good side of that high intensity ledger, he has the loudest and most intense bark of any of our dogs ever. When he thinks that it's time to go outside for a hike, he blasts the inside of the house with that bark, and it's migraine-inducing. We need to figure out how to stop that.

In other news, R continues to slumber almost all of the time, as expected post-surgery. We have him wrapped in a sleeping bag, and he seems utterly content. He doesn't seem to have much pain. He's happy to go for tiny slow walks outside the house. He does want to roll in the snow - which we can't let him do. Soon, buddy, soon.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon. He's doing well, although he's very sleepy.

It goes without saying that we are all thrilled to have him home. He has two weeks of recovery (lots of sleep and not much else) ahead of him. We'll spoil him as much as we can.

And his sister will nurse him. This was their position very soon after he arrived home. Shyla hasn't moved. I doubt that she will move for as long as she is needed. R is her rock.
R is one of those special dogs who floats through life in a perpetual state of hopefulness and happiness. His disposition has barely changed throughout his life - he was born happy and he still is.

I am so glad that it is a Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Wild Ride

In the end, yesterday was a good day but it seemed like it took a long time to reach that conclusion.

An early surgery time required a dawn departure to drive to the vet. There is a huge construction project between us and town with long delays daily. Yesterday, during one of those long delays, the car conked out in the construction zone.

There is no cell service in the construction zone so the process of getting help was very slow and frustrating. A construction worker eventually radioed for a tow truck. That got the Runner and R (plus the disabled car) into town but not yet to the vet, and it was already hours after R's surgery time. Then an Uber finished the trip. That was not the way that anyone wanted the day to start.

Along the way, the Runner handed a note to another driver sitting in the construction asking that they call the vet hospital to explain that R would be late. That was brilliant, and it worked.

Fortunately, the surgeons were able to wait for R and started his surgery soon after his arrival. For me, that was when the wait seemed to start dragging on forever. They ran into some unexpected complications with a tumor adhering to the body wall which added a lot of time to the surgery. We had tried to prepare ourselves for the possibility that R would not make it out of surgery. With that looming in the back of my mind, the wait was agonizing.

In the end, sweet R did make it. They found a large mass on his spleen (that was the one adhering to the body wall) - and they removed the whole spleen. It will be analyzed by pathologists. They didn't find other obvious tumors in his abdomen, which was the best news of the day.

That means that there is a chance that we will get more months with our Black Dog. That's why we chose the surgery so I am smiling. So are his siblings.

R will stay in the hospital, coming home today or tomorrow. I can't wait to see him. I took care of Shyla and Hachi during the crazy day. Both of them need meds throughout the day (Shyla for epilepsy and Hachi for anxiety) so they can't be left home alone all day.

Now, onto the healing phase!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sibling Love

I don't have many words today. I am falling into spells of staring mindlessly at my computer screen as my heart is in a surgery suite with R.

But, I ran across this photo from last summer. It's two coyote pups, siblings, who obviously adored each other.

It reminded me of our sibling Labraduo, and how much they adore each other.

Shyla is beseeching all who will listen to take good care of her brother in surgery today.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Thankful Thursday - For You

Today, I am thankful for all of you and for your kind comments. We will find our way through this, and you have no idea how much your thoughtful input means.

By way of thanks, here are a few images from a snowy snowy week.

Whenever it is storming, I notice the beautiful orange bark of our Ponderosa Pines as I ride through the forest. These pines are like beacons in the forest on otherwise monochrome days.

Every snowy day is followed by incredible beauty. This morning was one of the prettiest of the year.

A bluebird sky tops off the beauty when we are lucky.

On "powder days", Shyla adores playing in the snow. She makes me smile no matter what.
This is going to be a very hard phase for Shyla. More than anyone, she'll need extra love and attention because R is her absolute best friend. Perhaps she has become even stronger than we think. I hope so.

I cannot say "thanks" too many times because you all make such a difference with your support.

I am linking to Brian's Thankful Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wednesday Black Dog News

Our Black Dog had an ultrasound on Monday to try to figure out why he has too few red blood cells. The news is not good.

He has a tumor on his spleen that is bleeding slowly. It's almost certainly cancer - and a dastardly bad kind called hemangiosarcoma. Our hearts are shattered by that news. It has been a tough 24 hours. But, our boy is still with us so we'll enjoy every single day with him.

We needed to make a decision fast about whether to treat it because the tumor is in danger of rupturing. After lots of thought, we finally decided to do so. He'll have his spleen removed on Friday. Depending on what the pathology report on his spleen says, we'll choose what comes next.

I spent some solo time in the snow with R the other day. He still loves life and loves snow. And his soulful looks melt my heart. 
We'll make all decisions with an abundance of love for R. Please don't worry - his happiness is what will guide us.