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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Thankful Thursday

Thank goodness for springtime knocking on the door at this place we call home. We know that it will snow again which makes these days all the sweeter.

As our last snow storm's deposit melted, it formed small streams in a meadow. The streams feed a pond that many baby animals - coyotes, birds, marmots, foxes - rely upon at this time of year.

On the edge of a meadow, my favorite bluebird couple continues to prepare for spring. The male is looking straight at the cavity that they hope to use for their nest. I hope that they can hang onto it but the tree swallows may outbid them.

And, if you look over the meadows toward the mountains, a ski area is visible. It's been closed since the pandemic began but that didn't stop the moon from setting over it a day after the last full moon.

Shyla regularly howls in gratitude for a life that she loves. She is a funny dog. I have to beg her *not* to howl whenever I point my camera toward her these days.
I am thankful that Mother Nature is marching forward with the change in seasons. It makes me appreciate this beautiful planet of ours even more.

Wordless Wednesday - A Bluebird Day

This Mountain Bluebird pair is tightly bonded. I watch them daily.

Despite a snowy spring, these Pasqueflowers are reaching for the bluebird sky.

Shyla reached for the sky too, ears flapping in the wind.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Popular Wallow

Last autumn, I took a break from a mountain bike ride to wander around off trail. I hid my bike and made a GPS point where it was. I've come close to losing my bike in the past after hiding it so I am now wise enough to let technology help me find it again.

Then, I started walking, looking for signs of wildlife activity as I walked. As I approached a stand of aspen, I heard the sounds of branches breaking. I stopped in my tracks to see what animal it was. I saw three moose hanging out. One was a big bull, one was a small bull, and one was a cow moose. It was moose mating season so I quickly slid behind a tree just in case a bull charged. We'd been in the midst of the aggressive rampages of "Cranky Moose" near my house so I was worried.

I stood still to watch for a short time. I saw that they were standing in water and mud - which I guessed was a huge wildlife attractant. I also saw that the big bull was indeed Cranky Moose. I backed away, and I vowed to go back when the water/mud had no visitors.

In an area like ours, water sources are rare for much of the year so I was very excited to find a new one. I went back the next day. It looked like a huge muddy puddle with all sorts of animal tracks around it. I rode to grab a camera from someplace else, and I posted it by this "wallow".

Very soon, Cranky Moose was checking out my camera. Fortunately, it survived his perusal.
Soon thereafter, winter began in earnest, and the moose no longer were interested in this wallow. The first real snow was on October 10, and a bear went to the puddle for a drink in the snow.

Then, our first really big storm was in November. A deer waded through the snow across the wallow.
Whenever the temperature went above freezing, somebody visited the water. Robins bathed in the water in January!

In March, an animal who I didn't expect to see there arrived. This lion drank for FIVE minutes - that is a long drink. She is such a beauty.
This is going to be a very fun spot for the summer. I predict that bears will love wallowing in this water and mud! Kind of like a spa treatment! I am excited about it.

I condensed all of those autumn-winter months into a short video. Be sure to have your sound on. It's fun to hear the forest sounds particularly in the spring.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Our Hachi had another up and down week. Just as we felt like he was relaxing a bit after the short-lived increase in his Paxil dose, he had a tough 12 hours with two aggressive acts toward R. I think that the reason was that we tried doing some training during our evening hike. We used food rewards while keeping the dogs well-separated. Perhaps the introduction of food rewards brought out his resource-guarding tendency which led to those two events after the food had been put away.

He had tons and tons of fun with his sister after a big snow storm. They love to chase and play especially in the snow.

I love how connected they are while playing. They have their eyes on each other most of the time. Their expressions can be fierce but it's all part of the play charade.

Their fierce expressions rapidly give way to camaraderie as they race side by side.

Hachi did wonderfully with counterconditioning for paw handling this week. We worked on nail clipping and on putting on his boots (with hope that we'll be in the desert where he needs them sometime this year). He was super relaxed and easy to work with during those sessions.

The Runner made a scratch board so that the dogs can file his own nails. It's a board with black anti-slip tape on it. I am not exaggerating - it took less than 5 minutes to teach him to scratch the board with his front nails using a clicker and treats. In that one 5 minute session, he filed his front nails down to the length that I usually clip them to. Hachi seemed to have a blast doing it. Aside from his front dew claws, we will be using the scratch board for his front nails from now on.

Teaching him to scratch the board with his hind paws will be a lot harder but I'll give it a try after the front paw scratching is a solid and stable behavior. Hachi learns incredibly fast so I bet that we can do it.

That's the Hachi report. I feel optimistic that we'll get back to a smoother trajectory at some point.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

I was dreaming of our Black Dog making it to the desert with us this spring. I'm embarrassed at how disappointed I am that we can't go. I know that it's a small disappointment in the big picture.

But, our Black Dog has shown me that I should look forward rather than back. So, now I am dreaming of summer days with our Black Dog.

Even better, says our Black Dog, is to enjoy today. He loves every season, even April snow!
So we are seizing these days, in Black Dog fashion.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Shyla Saturday

My muse...
My best friend.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Nature Friday - Desert Beauty and Bear Cubs Play

We love visiting the desert in April but, alas, that hasn't happened this year. For that reason, I've been motivated to go through my photos from past years and find the ones that I never finished processing.

The desert rock forms inspire me. I can gaze at them for hours, never tiring of how the sky and light change over the course of a day.

As the sun falls toward the horizon, I love to play with our pups. Our Black Dog probably won't run like this again because he's become completely blind since our last visit there. That makes the images of our Duo chasing each other across the sky so precious to me.

Although the desert in April is warm or even hot, winter has not ended at our home in the mountains. Indeed, it is the time when Mama Bears are supervising their new cubs as they first learn to walk and climb outside the den. That is happening nearby every single year but, one year, I happened to have a trail camera recording a family's play. If you feel like some fun viewing, check out this video from exactly four years ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Thankful Thursday - Signs of Spring

I am so thankful for the signs of springime!

While so much snow has fallen lately, the warmth of the sun has encouraged the meadow birds to keep pushing toward springtime.

The Mountain Bluebirds have formed pairs who stay close to each other almost all the time.

They are starting on their nests mostly inside boxes although some use tree cavities.

When one of the pair leaves briefly, he never goes far. This guy had his eye on his mate near the nest box.

He returned to the nest box with nest material, and she landed on his back, much to my surprise!

I adore these meadows. Often, the sun rises gorgeously over them. It did just that the other morning. I have a short video of the sunrise shot from the sky if you want a zen moment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Winter Wildlife Visitors to a Mountain Lion Scrape

The short window of time when I could visit some snowed-in trail cams gave me such joy.  I saw how normal life has gone on for the wildlife in our world even in the past month.

A favorite cam is pointed at an area under a pine canopy where mountain lions mark frequently. All sorts of animals visited and sniffed the scrape including a black bear with a pot belly. This was just before he went into his den for the winter.

We also had visits from birds, mice, fox, skunks, and deer.

Of course, mountain lions visited it. One video clip actually scared me. As I sat on the pine needles getting a first peek at the footage, suddenly a clip came up where the lion was SO close. His nose was just inches from where I was sitting. To me, it spoke of the raw power of these animals who avoid us so carefully. After the initial surge of adrenaline, my rational mind took over, and the fear gave away to awe. Here's a photo from that clip.

I hope that you have time to check out the video.

To those of you who have trail cams, this speaks to being patient. Over the whole winter, this cam got only 19 video clips good enough to share. If I'd been nervously checking it frequently, I might have been discouraged. A whole winter's worth of footage showed that it's worth giving it time.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi adores playing with his sister in the snow. When we first met Hachi, he didn't love snow. That has changed.

The two of them are happiest wrestling in deep snow or sprinting at top speed through it. This past week, it was too much snow for easy wrestling except on our driveway, which is where they played as the storm ended.

I mentioned last week that we'd tried a higher dose of Paxil, and it made Hachi more jumpy and reactive. We immediately reduced it, and we saw some fairly fast improvement. But, I still have a niggling feeling that Hachi isn't back to normal. For example, he presently does not like his paws being handled, despite being seemingly fine with it a couple of weeks ago. He's less playful and he's just a little aloof with me. I hope that all is back to normal by next week.

I trust Shyla's judgement. She's such a sensitive girl that I feel sure that she wouldn't play so enthusiastically with Hachi if his behavior were worrying her. She hasn't shown any sign of that - her love of playing with him is the same.

When his attention wanders to other stuff in the forest, Shyla finds an object to lure him into chasing her. This was a big object! Her ploy worked. Soon he was chasing her.

The looks on their faces show how much fun they were having.
The journey of rehabbing a damaged and fearful dog is a wild ride. Now, when I see people walking dogs like Hachi, I feel gratitude for their commitment to their dog. Prior to Hachi, I honestly didn't understand the process of rehab like I do now.

Hachi is worth the wild ride. We love our boy.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog's enthusiasm for runs and walks is still increasing since he had his spleen removed. We think that his hemoglobin levels are returning to normal after his slow internal bleeding from his spleen tumor. However, we don't really know because the pandemic is making trips to the vet rare.
In the very early mornings, he and Shyla go running with the Runner. He recently resumed barking and leaping in the air with happiness before his runs. It's almost unbelievable to us. He used to do that every day, and he stopped while he wasn't feeling well both pre- and post-surgery. Now he is doing it again!

He also loves his evening hikes with the whole pack. Sometimes, he and I linger behind the others.

As we lingered on this day, the rest of the pack ran into a friend. It's one of R's favorite people, and he immediately recognized the voice.  I had trouble keeping even a fraction of his attention on me.

He seemed to say, "let's go see my buddy - I don't want to be too late to say hi to him".
And, we hurried down the hill so that R could greet his friend.

R is one of the most friendly and outgoing dogs who we've ever had in our family. Before the world shut down to slow the pandemic, R was spending one or two days per week flirting with strangers in town. Even though he's blind, he listens for voices, orients toward them, and starts doing big loopy tail wags to draw them in to meet him. He gets tons of pats everywhere he goes. He leaves a wake of smiling people!

He's a lucky dog. He has never been given a reason to doubt the friendliness of strangers, and his personality doesn't have a shred of fear in it. In his younger days, his greetings were too exuberant for some people. Now, he greets people with gentle happiness. He spreads love everywhere he goes.

Happy Black Dog Sunday. Each one is a gift.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Shyla Saturday - Fun while Sheltering in Place

The skies have dumped lots of snow on us this week. It's put a damper on fat biking but I've found other ways to get outside with Shyla in the mornings. Despite being eight, she still has endless energy for bounding through snow or playing with Hachi. She and I are a good match in terms of our need to get outside!

Shyla still gets overwhelmed with anticipation when a walk, snowshoe hike, or bike ride is imminent. She cannot contain her excitement.

When we get out into the snow, Shyla is in her element.

She adores bounding through deep snow, and I love seeing her do it.

During one of the storms, we wandered the forest adjacent to our house. We found this pair of severely leaning pine trees that I'd never noticed before. They are so big!

For snow play, our absolute favorite location is the meadows with endless snow and beautiful sunlight.

Today, the meadows had endless wind too! Do you see Shyla out there?
It's been a good week with Shyla. I'll admit that I wish that we were in the desert, baking in the warm sun. However, for sheltering in place, we live in a good place where we can have so much fun just outside our door. Shyla sure knows how make the best of it!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Nature Friday - Winter Wildlife Parade

My “snowed in” trail cam had a parade of wildlife go past it over the course of the four months when I was absent. A bear busily marking a tree provided the “book ends” marking the start of winter and the supposed end of winter (ha ha - we are in the midst of a huge snow storm now!). Multiple mountain lion, frosty deer, foxes, skunks, and turkeys all moseyed or sprinted past it.

I put the Noah’s Ark of animals into one short video. It gives me an idea of what it would be like to sit invisibly in that spot where the cam and watch the animals go about their everyday lives.

I am putting together this post from my iPad because my computer is busy being backed up right now. I hope that the formatting turns out okay!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thankful Thursday and Blogville Iso-Olympics

Within our family bubble, our brown dogs have been engaged in a snow wrestling competition. This is a little known Blogville Olympic Event.

Every day, when we release them from their leashes, they bolt into action. Shyla usually takes the offensive immediately. On this day, you can see the look of utter terror on Hachi's face as the snow covered Shyla lunged for him.

 Ruh roh, within 30 seconds of the start, Hachi was going down.

But Shyla decided to toy with him, and she released him from near defeat.

She may have been over-confident because, soon, Hachi was on the offensive.
The wrestling match went on and on for about 30 minutes, with one dog almost taking down the other, and then their roles were switched. In the end, it was a draw, just like it always is. We have co-champions of Snow Wrestling - Shyla and Hachi!

As the snow seems to fall from the sky every day, we are grateful for how much the dogs love it. Another 15" is due in the next day so the snow wrestling competition will continue! Thanks for the smiles, Shyla and Hachi.

And thanks to our friends down under for organizing these Olympics.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Snowy April

Calm and beautiful start to the day.

Happy Shyla!

Then the wind started.

Soon, we were in a ground blizzard.

Blowing snow obliterated packed trails in five minutes.
This is April in the Rockies.