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Friday, July 31, 2020

Feline Friday - Mountain Lions in Closeup

Thanks so much for all of your kind comments yesterday. It's scary to make a leap like this one but I think that it will be a good choice. As you know, I am very attached to the wildlife who I follow. I will keep following the ones who I know so well, and I feel confident that I'll get to know new animals at our new place. It's actually better wildlife habitat than here but it will take time for me to learn where the animals reside.

Our mountain lions are awing me. For reasons that aren't clear to me, they are coming closer and closer to my trail cams to mark. Then, other lions want to sniff their markings so they come close too.

I usually set up my cams 15-20' from where I expect that the animals will appear. They are marking within a few feet of the cams (or 1' in one case).

It is really fun to see them so closeup. I think that this is one of our Toms.

He was close enough that we can see his drool!

Check out the video if you have time. It's the only time that you ever want to see mountain lions so close!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thankful Thursday - The Next Grand Adventure

The pandemic has accelerated change in so many aspects of life - including in the forest near our house. It is hard to find times of day when it's okay to have dogs off-leash because there are people everywhere on the land. Because I'm out early with Shyla and she's such a meek being, she has the best chance of off-leash time.

While nature itself hasn't changed here, the impact of humans on our world has escalated dramatically. Twenty years ago, this spot was paradise. We could wander out into the nearby meadow and peacefully hike without running into anyone except perhaps an elk. Road noise was minimal - we never noticed it on our dusty dirt road. People who chose to live here did so for quiet and nature.  So much has changed.

So, we had a talk back in May on our wedding anniversary, and we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our marriage someplace quieter and closer to nature. Amazingly, we found the right place in an online listing the very next day - making me feel as if it was destiny. We are "under contract" for a large plot of land (and a house) about 40 minutes to the north of here - and I'm starting to believe that the purchase is actually going to close (it's taking forever!). It is a place where even Hachi can have off-leash time every single day.
I never thought that we would leave this spot that we've loved so much. A piece of me is very sad about it - and especially about the friends who will no longer live within walking distance. However, the place has changed around us (and against our will) while we've tried to ignore the noise and "crowds". Inertia isn't a good enough reason to stay. So we are embarking on our next grand adventure.

And, our new home will be close enough that I can continue to keep tabs on the animals who I know so well. That's very important to me.

I am thankful that we've found the courage to do this. Of course, the deal still has to close, and something could go wrong. But, no matter what, it's time for a new adventure.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Beautiful Bathing Bears

On a hot summer day, I love watching trail cam videos of beautiful bears bathing almost as much as they love taking their baths.

The most popular bathing hole for bears has two marking trees near it. The bears tend to dance at these trees either on their way to the water or as they leave. In this video, I included the footage of them at the trees as well as during their baths.

My favorite parts include them blowing bubbles when their noses are blow the water and how they "clean" their heads with their paws as they bathe.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Whenever we can, we let Hachi and Shyla play together. They seize each day that they have a chance to play.
One evening when they played in a grassy meadow, Hachi started sneezing violently, one sneeze after another. My heart fell because I thought that it was a foxtail up his nose. That's a serious matter that can require a rapid visit to the vet.

As he continued sneezing, my mind started racing ahead. We'd have to take him to the emergency vet, muzzle him, and then he'd have to go into the hospital by himself (due to Covid precautions). My mind then visualized how terribly the vet visit would affect him especially without us being by his side. The emotional trauma would probably set us back months in his behavioral rehab. I then started fervently sending up requests to the heavens that he'd sneeze out the foxtail without needing to go to the vet.

As he kept on sneezing, I started wondering if there are things that can be done to help a dog like Hachi not be so completely terrified by a vet visit and then suffer for months afterwards. A few days later, when we talked with our behavioral vet, she said that yes, there's a protocol for pups as fearful as Hachi. It involves immediate complete sedation with specific amnesiac drugs before they even examine him at the vet hospital. She said that she'd write us a letter to take with us on an emergency visit to the vet to increase the chances that the ER vet would actually do it.

I was glad that there is a protocol for a dog like Hachi. I was a little surprised that I had to ask for instructions (rather than them being offered a long time ago when the degree of his fear became obvious). Regardless, I'm glad that there's an option.

On that evening walk, Hachi sneezed out whatever was in his nose so it didn't end with a fast trip to the vet. Instead, he got to play some more with Shyla. Phew - that was a close call.
I know that someday, he'll need a visit to the ER vet, and I'm glad that we'll be a little bit more prepared so that he doesn't have repercussions for months afterwards.

We love our Hachi, fearfulness and all.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

It was a good week for our Black Dog. He enjoyed lots of runs and hikes. He barks with happiness or anticipation of good things a couple of times each day.

Much of this is thanks to CBD oil which has put the spring back in his step. We are learning that he needs it within a few hours of a run or hike for it to help. By fine tuning the timing of it, he's been happy about most outings.

One night when we went to see Comet Neowise, we brought our Black Dog. It was so wonderful that he wanted to do the short hike with us to see it. The Runner brought a La Fuma chair to recline while watching. Our Black Dog climbed up onto it, lying on the Runner's lap to enjoy the night.

The only hitch was when law enforcement was trying to make all the comet-watchers leave. We humans were trying to stay below the radar. Our Black Dog heard all the activity and started barking. Fortunately, no one noticed before we quieted him down. He's not a "stealth" dog!

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Who else could this be other than Shyla (and Comet Neowise)?
This is a composite image, meaning that I captured Shyla howling in one exposure and then captured the comet in another exposure. I could not find a boulder with a view in the direction of the comet to do this in a single exposure. Believe me, I searched and searched.

By combining the two exposures, I could make this image. It fits my vision perfectly.

Shyla is my muse, my model, and my best friend.

Friday, July 24, 2020

The Voice of a Bobcat

My trail cams have heard a lot of mountain lion caterwauling over the past year. In contrast, our bobcats have been mute. That recently changed.

Starting around mid-June, a bobcat first let out a "meow" in front of a cam. She sounded just like a house cat. Then, later that night in June, that bobcat started calling in earnest. She yelled and yelled.

She was still calling in mid-July much to my surprise.

I first thought that perhaps she had lost her kittens and was trying to call them. This is the time of year when this particular bobcat usually brings her kittens out onto the trail to move them to a new den, and I've had no kitten sightings. I tend to doubt that she'd continue calling over three weeks if it was mis-placed kittens.

Another thought is that she's in estrus. That would be unusual - bobcat estrus is usually in February or so here. Over the many years that I've had trail cams, I've never seen a bobcat looking for a mate in mid-July. However, the literature says that it's possible.

I hope that the reason becomes clear from trail cam footage. Maybe she'll be kind enough to bring her mate to show to one of my cams!

Check out the short video if you have time!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Thankful Thursday

Earlier this week, we visited a huge open area near the Continental Divide. We wanted to see Comet Neowise in this dark and picturesque setting. We brought along our Black Dog as a special treat for him and because we are so happy that he can hike again.

We'd seen the comet from other places. Due to light from towns, it was hard to spot with the naked eye. When we arrived in this mountain spot, it was completely different. The comet was bright and big - and it was gorgeous over the mountains. And it had zillions of other stars twinkling around it.
We settled in to take in the beauty. Some other people were doing the same thing. A comet overhead draws people outdoors to see it. Then, a sheriff's deputy arrived. Unbeknownst to us, the area was supposed to close at 10PM. He made almost everyone leave but he didn't see us sitting quietly a fair distance from the parking lot.

I did have to wonder, with all of the problems in our world right now, why was law enforcement so concerned with stopping people from quietly watching the sky? I'll never know the answer.

Having been overlooked, we stayed a while longer, soaking up the glory of Mother Nature. And,  for that, I am so grateful.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Comet Neowise

The comet seemed to be pointed straight at our little world.
Nature never ceases to wow me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Bear Cubs On their Own

Do you remember our tiny bear cubs from last year - Brownie and Blackie? They were a colorful pair last summer. They played crazily, with Brownie mostly winning their play fights.

They split from their mom back in May. She had several beaus during mating season so she is now fattening up to give birth to cubs this winter.

Meanwhile, both of the yearling cubs are still in the area. Brownie is definitely a male - his favorite thing in the world is marking trees! In contrast, Blackie (now called "May Belle") has never marked a tree. She loves baths, just like her mom does.

The great thing about May Belle being a female is that she will stay in the area. We need more sows as we have about a 10:1 male to female ratio. I hope that she grows up safely and that we get to watch her for a long time.

Both cubs appear to be confident and are navigating the world on their own really well. They are not together - which is not too surprising because Brownie was quite a bully to his sister. However, my cams have picked up footage of both of them over the past month.

It's fun to see them growing up. Enjoy the video.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had another great week. Watching him open up, ask for affection, be playful, and be confident - all normal things for most dogs - fills my heart. I didn't realize how shut down he was previously until he began to change. I think that he is happier than he's ever been.
During the day, he sometimes comes to me to request affection or play. He and I have lots of spontaneous fun. It used to be that I had to work hard to draw him out of his shell. Not anymore.

One of his favorite things in the world, just as it's always been, is playing with his sister in wide open fields. They both play with utter abandon. We are still having some trouble finding times when the trail system near us is quiet enough for them to play - but we have a plan to improve that situation.
I love when I have a happy report about Hachi. We love him.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Black Dog Sunday - A Turnaround

Our Black Dog had a jaw-dropping turnaround this week after struggling with pain. We had a phone conference with his vet mid-week. Due to a lack of other good options, we asked about CBD oil and whether it might help R's pain and possibly his reticence to try things since becoming blind.

Our vet said that it was worth a try. She suggested a couple of CBD companies, and I immediately ordered some CBD oil from them. But, it seemed like it was going to be slow in getting here.

Then, I remembered that I'd purchased some veterinary CBD oil a while ago but decided not to use it. I dug it out, and it hadn't expired yet. So, I gave some to R that very day.
The change in him was miraculous. Suddenly, R was ZOOMING on walks, including our evening trail hikes. I was having to hustle to keep up with him! Then, he enthusiastically RAN for 20 minutes the day after starting CBD.

This naturally skeptical person is convinced that CBD has some amazing effects. I didn't want to be too negative in last week's Black Dog Sunday (pre-CBD) but R seemed almost depressed. I think that severe pain on top of being newly blind was really weighing down his spirit.
His spirit is back to its usual buoyant state. He's a happy dog, and we humans are overjoyed.

It is indeed a HAPPY Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Loyal is one of the first words that comes to mind when I think about Shyla.
She will loyally pose for me for as long as I ask her to.

And she loyally covers my back whenever I have the camera to my eye, even if I'm photographing a thunder cloud.

She will run to me when I call her as many times as I ask her to. She seems to understand this silly photography game, and she participates with her whole heart.
Most people don't understand Shyla, not at all. She is sometimes meek when out in the world. But she's not meek when it comes to living in our family and expressing her love for all of us. She is a bonding force within our family, pulling all the canine members together.

Happy Shyla Saturday.

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Bear Waking up from a Nap

I cannot resist but share the second part of the bear's nap. This is such relaxing footage to watch, giving an intimate view of a very relaxed bear.

In this part, he was waking up. He yawned a few times and he stretched. At one point, he got that look of inertia that I always feel when waking up. He seemed to think, "I know that I should get up but I'm not sure that I feel like it yet".

Enjoy this short video. Let's hope that we witness another bear nap sometime this summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Thankful Thursday

I am so filled with gratitude for the inspiring sights around me in the summer. Much to my utter delight, some forest lilies rallied to bloom despite our drought. I've been taking a water bottle for the ones in my "secret stash" each day - trying to help them keep blooming. Maybe it has helped.
These are among my very favorite flowers. Part of the reason is that they are so rare!

Sadly, I couldn't carry enough water to help the huge meadow full of yellow flowers survive the drought. We had some yellow flowers blooming but absolutely nothing like the number we saw during last year's wet summer. This one was from last year.
I love seeing our "Browns" (that's what we call Hachi and Shyla) playing together, especially in the yellow flowers.

Mother Nature makes me smile so much! I am thankful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - A Blur

Life is going by in a blur. But time is slowing down when it comes to Hachi.
He is astounding me with how his heart is opening up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Bear Takes a Nap in Front of my Trail Cam

We have vernal pools that start the spring full of nice, cool, and refreshing water. Then, they start to shrink until they finally become a dusty spot that does not look at all refreshing. Some years, they never go dry (the last year for that was 2016), and other years like this one, they go dry in May.

I love these pools because the wildlife love them. A parade of species, including bears, visit them regularly. You can imagine my disappointment when one was already dry at the end of May. I had two cams there, and I planned to move at least one of them in the near future. I simply didn't have time to move it on the first day that I saw that the pool was dry.

I'm so glad that I hadn't moved it yet when a bear moseyed up to the still slightly muddy vernal pool, lay down, and snoozed on and off for the next couple of hours. My trail cam kept triggering and triggering, and I have a complete record of his nap! Ha ha! That's not as boring as you might think because he didn't sleep deeply. He fidgeted, stretched, and yawned on and off the entire time.

Because I have so much cute footage of him, I will divide it up into at least two videos. I'll spare you watching him sleep (that is boring!) but I'll share the parts when he was fidgeting.

For some reason, he almost always propped one hind leg on a downed tree like in this photo. I am not sure why but it looked so human to me.

He rolled, sleeping on both sides at various times. His sleepy movements reminded me of myself when napping!

This is a fun video so check it out if you have time!

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Sometimes I use a flower analogy for Hachi. He has spent most of his life so afraid that he's been closed off like a flower bud. Now, he's learning to relax despite the hills and valleys of life so he is just starting to open up and blossom. I thought of him today when I found a forest lily just starting to open.

It feels as if the solitude of the pandemic has been good for Hachi. Life has mostly followed a set routine. Many days, no strangers appear in his world. He is secure and happy. He gets to play with his sister most days, which makes him joyful.
Some things still throw him off his stride like a short camping trip or the "stress" that he seems to feel when a fun event is about to occur. For example, although he's relaxed about letting us put on his harness for most of the day, it really stresses him for us to put on his harness just before our evening hike. We are learning that we need to adapt when we notice an oddity like that one. Forcing it won't help but putting on his harness an hour ahead of time will help.

Who wouldn't be super excited (and perhaps a bit too hyped) when they know that they'll get to run like this in a few minutes?
We are continuing to feel as if Hachi is improving by leaps and bounds. The loving part of his demeanor and the hilarious side of his personality are shining through.

We love our Hachi.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

I'm not going to lie - our Black Dog has had a rough week. We had to take him off his NSAID that helps with his joint pain in order to test whether it was causing his low red blood cell count. He has been uncomfortable ever since. Hopefully, after another round of blood tests, he'll be able to return to his NSAIDs.

And, he will LOVE having the blood tests because he gets to flirt with everyone at the vet's office. And they flirt right back!

He hasn't wanted to do much walking or running since the NSAIDs were halted but we stole a brief time in the meadow. I love these simple little moments.

No matter what, this dog makes me grin when I have a few minutes alone with him. His happiness and hopefulness are contagious. He smiles endlessly.
We should all have a dog like R in our lives.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Shyla Saturday

Shyla had a bit of a rough week but is recovering. During our short camping trip, she somehow got two small punctures in her cornea.  At first, I didn't know what was wrong with her eye but a saline rinse seemed to solve it. Then, a couple of days later, she was holding the eye closed.

After the vet diagnosed her, the recovery was fast. I took these photos about five days after she saw the vet and started treatment.
Both eyes are open, and she looks joyful.

Last year, I played with Shyla and our other pups in the wildflowers endlessly. This year, we are having a drought. Blossoms don't last for long. Shyla and I have to search to find a few flowers every morning.

Also, it's been hot. We are trying to get out onto the trails early but it seems that everyone else is doing the same. Over the years, Shyla has overcome her fears enough that she likes lots of people and dogs. However, we seem to be running into the ones who scare her. When Shyla hears them coming, she lowers her body toward the ground and slinks off to hide in the forest.

Seeing her look so happy and confident in these photos makes that description seem hard to believe! Indeed, she is this happy about 90% of our time on the trails now.
We'll figure out a strategy for this summer. I am thinking that we need to get out even earlier.

Happy Shyla Saturday from summertime at 8200' in Colorado.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Feline Friday - Female mountain lion caterwauls and finds a mate

The female mountain lion who killed a deer in the meadow near homes and who circled our area in daylight for weeks had another surprise for us.

She began caterwauling at scent posts soon after she finished eating the deer. Then, I knew that she was in estrus. She was trying to call in a mate. I suspect that she had a specific male in mind all along, which is why she stayed in one part of his normal travel path for so long. She was waiting for him to come along.

I have two videos today. The first video shows the progression from the female's caterwauling to the two of them being together.

The second video is short, and it is spooky! When the lion pair first got together, they vocalized during a loud and scary thunderstorm.The scene sent shivers up my spine especially because it was so close to a favorite trail...

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thankful Thursday - A Full Moon Morning

I have a long streak of trying to photograph the setting full moon every month. That involves riding my mountain bike to a spot in our forest where I can see the mountains. Last month, the moon became full just as a local female mountain lion had killed a deer nearby. She was visiting it nightly to eat, and my cams showed that her route to and from the carcass paralleled the route that I needed to ride to see the full moon. I reluctantly decided to take a month off from photographing the setting full moon.

It turned out to be a really good decision. At almost exactly the time that I would have been riding to see the full moon, that mountain lion was walking within 30 yards of the route. This was that date and time... there she was.

This month, mountain lion activity in our neck of the woods has returned to normal. That means that there are occasional lions traveling through but, most nights, there are none. I am willing to take the risk on a normal night.

I set out in pitch darkness with a headlamp on my helmet. I was feeling a little nervous about the critters in the forest but I pedaled hard to make sure that I didn't miss the setting of the moon. Soon, I settled into a pedaling and breathing rhythm, and I forgot my worries. The Hermit Thrushes were singing their hearts out, with their flute-like voices rising from the treetops. They were spaced about every 100 yards along my route. I'd hear one singing, he'd gradually get louder, and then I'd pass him with his sound receding. Soon, I'd hear the next one. It was glorious!

When I popped out of the forest at a high lookout, I saw the moon still a bit above the mountains and arcing down toward them. I set up and waited patiently. This was my favorite moment.

I always hang around after the moon sets to watch the sunrise. I love watching the world slowly get light. On this morning, the birds awakened and started flitting around as I waited for sunrise. A lovely bluebird couple were busily finding breakfast. I am betting that their chicks were nearby being served by the grownups. The male had caught something just before this photo.
The birds capped off a gorgeous morning.  I am so thankful for the beautiful world around us!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wordless Wednesday - Love

My love for this zany dog is growing every day.
It has been, and still is, a bumpy road but love conquers all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Lion, Coyote, and Bear Pair Eat from Deer Feast (night 2)

You may remember that a mountain lion killed a deer back in June, very close to houses. The lion and two bears ate a lot of the carcass on the first night.

Because the carcass was in a dangerous spot for animals who prefer to avoid humans, I didn't expect either the lion or the bears to return for a second night of eating. I was wrong.

The lion arrived when it was barely dark, and she ate the paltry food left on the carcass. Because most people hadn't gone to bed yet, you'll hear the sound of cars and multiple different dogs barking. It looked as if these sounds made her nervous as she continually stopped eating to look toward the road or toward the multiple nearby houses. I suspect that her anxiousness was why she didn't stay long.

After she left, a lone coyote arrived. He was SUPER nervous. He crept up to the carcass, took one bite, and then departed. I think that he didn't want to meet a lion or bears. I'm sure that he could smell them from the previous night.

Finally, two very talkative bears arrived. The sow was the same one from the first night - "Mohawk". I am not certain whether the male was the same boyfriend as from the previous night or if she'd picked up a new one (sows do that without embarrassment during mating season).

My favorite part of the video is near the end when the sow picked up the carcass and left the camera's view just as the male was approaching. I could imagine her saying "MINE, MINE, MINE". He was a good sport about it and let her have her fill.

Please remember that our wild animals are trying to make a living on the edges of our human world. They deserve the space to succeed. I was so impressed with the nearby neighbors letting the wildlife devour the carcass with no interference. They kept themselves and their pets safe while staying out of the way. Here's the scene with only one of several homes visible.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi is doing wonderfully well.
He seems lighthearted and happy. For the past couple of weeks, he wags his whole body when one of us comes into sight after being gone. His wiggling gets out of control when we start petting him.

Hachi gives us both the feeling that he's more content than ever before.

We went for a short camping trip fairly close to home last week. Hachi seemed more stressed out during that trip than when we're at home. He got some bug bites on his abdomen that we tried to look at. Nope - that was not okay with Hachi. He growled to prevent it. I can handle small incidents like that one now that I understand that he's reacting to the stress of the situation. In that case, the main trigger was that we were camping in a new place.

When we got home, he relaxed back into the content and happy dog who we love more every single day. His big sister loves him too. They adore playing.
As I wrote this, Hachi charged over to request pats and play. I am starting to think that love is winning over Hachi's soul.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Black Dog Sunday

There was good news for us on Friday - an ultrasound and chest xrays did not show any tumors in our Black Dog. His blood work isn't back yet but we're hoping that iron and melatonin will bring his red blood cells back to normal. His energy has surged in recent days after a down period, which makes us think that things are going in the right direction.

Recently, I've had a few chances to be in the flowers with him. He smiles non-stop (and so do I) while we lie in the grass. He makes monkey sounds which crescendo into a husky bark, which makes me laugh out loud. He is a funny dog.
Our Black Dog wishes you a Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Frolicking Moose Calf

I saw a moose calf recently, one who had been born shortly before I spotted him. It reminded me of one of my all time favorite moose videos that my trail cams have recorded. It's one worth repeating so I hope that you enjoy it. To me, it's quintessential summer footage!

Happy U.S. Independence Day!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Summer Happiness

It is the time of year when the world is exploding with life. Everywhere I look, flowers are blooming. Yellows, whites, blues... And my sweet Shyla is full of happy energy.
I am filled with my usual summer joy. In the mountains, it is rarely too hot so I don't find there to be a downside to summer. Long days, warm sunshine, and happy mountain biking.

Life is little crazy right now with too much happening in our life. I hope to post daily but please don't worry if I miss a day here or there. There may be some big news in the near future. I hope so.