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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

An Update

I am sorry to have been missing for a while. My father died on the 26th of December. The week leading up to it was heartbreaking and emotionally draining. Now, it is time to grieve and heal.


Tomorrow, I have surgery on my left wrist. It has been a long time coming (and was scheduled a long time ago without any idea that it would be so soon after my Dad's death). I have suffered with carpal tunnel syndrome for many years. It's time to get it fixed so that the damage to my hands does not become permanent. One month after the left wrist surgery, my right wrist will have the same surgery. And then there's the issue my shoulder injury - that may be fixed at the same time as my right wrist.

I am feeling pretty down. I am so deeply sad. And, I have the orthopedic challenges just ahead of me. I will resume blogging when my body and soul allow it. I hope that it will be soon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tiny the Black Bear and other bears head to their dens

It is the time of year when almost all of the bears have headed into dens. However, we still get treated to seeing some videos of them because I am visiting the trail cams that they passed back in October.

One trail cam captured my favorite bear, Tiny, marking a tree before he headed for his den. I thought that he looked really good. He's super fat, and his limp looks just a bit less bad than in the spring. He's certainly flourished despite the injury that he sustained a few years ago.

On one ominous note, the road-building is continuing into the core of Tiny's territory. I've mentioned this road-building project near our old place in the past, and it breaks my heart to watch the wildlife scattering as their territory is destroyed.

But, for now, Tiny is still doing fine. Check out the video to see that with your own eyes!

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi did well with his training this week. 

We had a session with our trainer. Despite spending the earlier part of the day being somewhat stressed by having a worker in the house (yes, the house remodel is still going on), Hachi was less reactive with the trainer than in previous sessions. The main goal of these sessions is to help Hachi learn to be relaxed around her. We discovered that he is much more relaxed when her back is to him than any other time. When she had her back to him, he could approach within 6' or so while remaining relaxed. That's a big victory.

He also made a "happy visit" to the vet hospital. He did superbly outside the vet hospital, watching other dogs going in and out of the doors without stressing out too much. The staff opened an outside door to an exam room. The Runner and Hachi easily entered and hung out in the room for 5 minutes or so. Hachi got tons and tons of yummy treats in there. That was a great session!

Hachi did have some trouble handling having our friends in the house this weekend even though the setup was the same as previous successful visits by friends. That setup is that he's gated on the top floor of the house while we hang out down in the living room (within view of Hachi). This time, Hachi got stuck on staring and barking at our friends. By adjusting things just a bit so that Hachi couldn't see our friends, the Runner managed to get him to calm down. He then spent the rest of their visit snoozing.

We love our Hachi!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Memories of our Labraduo racing through the snow make me smile. I always felt so lucky when I could have both Labs playing with me in the snow.


Our Black Dog was intense. Despite his almost blind single eye and elbow replacement, he raced his sister as if a gold medal was on the line. His intensity was inspirational to all of us. He lived his life by the motto, "Don't ever give up". 

He never did. Never ever.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Shyla Saturday

For me, one way of coping with the hard parts of life is to carve out some time outdoors with Shyla every morning. With sunrise so late at this time of year, I try to be out for it. It's so peaceful to be out as the day begins.

My camera is always with me for these outings, and Shyla loves to perform for it. She howls and she leaps in the air. Sometimes she does both at the same time which makes me laugh.

She is a joyful dog who loves when her antics make me chuckle. I love my Shyla.

Friday, December 17, 2021

A Bear Path in Autumn

By now, the vast majority of bears are snug in their dens. But there is always a couple of weeks when bears move with purpose along every animal trail. I always think that they are moving from the lower elevation areas where they gorged on their last berries to the higher elevation areas where they will den.

Near our new place, that happened in late September. It was so much fun to see the bears who I'm getting to know all pass my cams.

If you have time, check out the bears in this short video. Then, visualize them slumbering in a dark cave on a hillside. That's what they'll be doing until April or May!

PS Thank you for your kind comments yesterday. Every word makes a difference.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Thankful Thursday

We get but one walk on this Earth.

My heart is aching. My father's walk is winding toward its end.

What am I thankful for? His life and the life that he gave me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Not-so-wordless Wednesday

This is one of my favorite buttes in the desert areas that we visit. It catches my eye every time I pass it.

It's also a butte where Shyla loves to howl.

Happy "not-so-wordless" Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Predators and prey atop a windy ridge

Google Earth led me to a spot high on a ridge in search of mountain lions. My first camera placement there was a total bust with very little activity for months. But then, I moved the camera about 25 yards. What a difference that small move made. Within weeks, I was seeing activity by all sorts of animals, including a gorgeous mountain lion.

Check out the short video if you have time!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It was a good week for Hachi. We had friends and their dogs visit for a hike. They were people and dogs who Hachi knew from his puppyhood. We were so happy to see that he remembered everyone very well. And, he acted like a perfectly normal dog. He was off-leash during the hike cavorting around us as we hiked. He didn't bark at the people even once, and he played with the other dogs. It felt amazing to us!

Over the years with Hachi, we've learned not to project one good encounter into the future. Indeed, the next day, he reacted with barking when he saw someone who he doesn't know so well. But, that good day did show us what it would be like if Hachi were "cured" of his fears.

We had our trainer over to our place. We worked outdoors in frigid temperatures with a howling wind. The reason for being outdoors is that it gives us more space so that the trainer doesn't need to be close to Hachi. On the Hachi grading scale, it went well. He's learning to look at a stranger and then return to his handler to check in with them. He was less reactive than in past sessions, and there were moments when he even seemed relaxed.

Maybe, someday, he'll be able to accept more people into his life as friends. I sure hope so.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Black Dog Strength

This is one of my favorites of the Labraduo. Our Black Dog was such a strong big brother for Shyla. She seemed to gain strength from simply lying next to him. She always wanted to be touching him.


When he left us for the Rainbow Bridge, Shyla was ready to stand on her own, perhaps because R had spent so many years helping her learn to be confident. There's no better testament to the role that he played in timid Shyla's life.

I've been needing extra strength lately. Remembering our Black Dog's strong love helps me. He never let circumstances knock back his optimism and happiness.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Howl if you love the desert!

Shyla howls under the Milky Way

Friday, December 10, 2021

Life within an elk herd

My friends have a pair of ponds on their land, and they kindly let me have trail cams there. In the fall, an elk herd comes down from the high mountains. Most years, the area of the ponds is one of the first that they visit.

They arrived around the third week in October when the rut was still in full swing. As you watch the herd, you can feel the electric energy of the herd. A big bull is near the center of the group, and a couple of smaller bulls are on the periphery. The cows and calves seem to fidget with excess energy.

Then, a little later in the fall, the pond began to freeze. The energy of the herd is much different - as if they are steeling themselves for a long winter.

Check out the short video!


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Thankful Thursday

It's been such an odd start to winter. Very warm and almost no snow. And a wicked wind. The world is in that drab in-between state with the vegetation dead but no white snow.

I am grateful to be able to look back at my autumn photos and immerse myself in processing them. It was a brilliant leaf season. The colors were glorious just outside the house. At sunrise, the reds in the grass complemented the golden leaves.


When I walked just a short distance into a meadow, the colors looking toward the house awed me.


While I was out there, I turned to look in the other direction, and it was glorious too!

I hope that we get snow soon. In the meantime, I'll be at my computer looking at my photos of autumn.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A close call for an elk

There's a spot where three gulches converge deep in the forest. Elk and deer wander through. Hungry mountain lions pass through regularly, probably as they search for their next meal. It's a great spot for a trail cam.

In this video, you'll see an elk have a close call with a pair of mountain lions. Check it out!

Monday, December 6, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

In terms of training, it's been an uneventful week for Hachi. We had to hold off on some kinds of training because his muzzle is causing a scrape on his chin. We now have lots of moleskin lining the muzzle but his chin must fully heal before we can go back to the muzzle.

We had a weekend full of holiday visitors. He did great on Saturday even though the visitors were inside the house while Hachi was relaxing on a different floor. But, on Sunday, he had a rougher time even though the visitors didn't come in the house. He broke out of his favorite soft crate because he was anxious. Then, he got an upset tummy after everyone departed. I sure hope that it turns out to be minor. Last year, he got horrific hemorrhagic diarrhea after a lot of stress. My fingers are crossed that he bounces right back this time.

I think that dogs like Hachi don't love the holidays since they have to cope with the social parts of it. He'd prefer to never have visitors!

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Black Dog Love

Our Black Dog was so snuggly and loving with Shyla. I'd often arrive home and find them cuddled together as they snoozed. I miss seeing their bond so much.

Shyla adored him. She wanted to be leaning on him whenever possible. That was when she was the most relaxed.

The love between them was one of a kind. I think that our Black Dog's support was essential to Shyla in her early days when she was afraid of all people. He taught her so much with his steady love.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Shyla Saturday - The Birthday Edition

Happy Birthday to Shyla.

 She's 10! The years have flown by.

Friday, December 3, 2021

A surprisingly cuddly pair of mountain lions

A pair of mountain lions appeared in front of my trail camera. They were on the edge of a large meadow probably hunting for deer or elk. They were very curious about a scrape. As they sniffed it, they began rubbing their heads together. It was a sweet sight in our apex predator.

I think that this pair was a mother-daughter team. The daughter is probably a year or older. Check out the video to see this bonded pair.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Thankful Thursday

There's so much good in a day at Lab Valley.

One of my favorite things is that we can see the sunrise from our windows. We usually wake up before it's light. As I sip my coffee by the windows, the sky gradually gets lighter. Some mornings, like this one, an incredible sunrise lights up the sky.


Lab Valley has lots of cool birds but a recent sighting was the best yet. During a hike, we saw a small bird, tinier than a robin, fly out of the grass and onto an aspen branch. At first, I thought that it was a song bird. Then, I saw his head swivel like an owl. I pulled out my camera with a long lens, and we discovered that he was a Saw-Whet Owl. It's hard to tell how tiny he is in this photo - but he's smaller than a soda can.

We are so grateful for this place that we call home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A mother mountain lion and her kitten check out a scent post (and the mother vocalizes!)

I love when my cams see multiple mountain lions at the same time. In this video, a mother mountain lion checks out an area with scrapes left by male lions. As she's checking it out, she gives a bird-like chirp to call her kitten (at about 1:07). The kitten is big - almost full grown but he comes when called. What a gift to get to see them!

The video is short. Please check it out if you have time.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Last week, Shyla had a vet appointment, and we decided to bring Hachi to do some training with him outside the vet hospital. The first plan was that the Runner would do that while Shyla and I were inside the hospital. However, it turned out that Hachi was horrified that Shyla and I disappeared into the hospital for 30 whole minutes. He was too worried about us to do any training.

The next part of the plan was that the vet would prop open the door to the "reactive dog" exam room at the end of our appointment so that Hachi could try doing some training near the door. The reactive dog exam room has direct access from outdoors so that the dog doesn't need to go through the reception area.

As soon as Hachi saw us emerge from the hospital unscathed, he leaped up and down, and then he showered us in kisses. He was so relieved.

He seemed so happy and good after greeting Shyla and me that we went forward with approaching the exam room. Much to our surprise, he pushed through the only slightly open door, and he sniffed all around the empty room while the Runner gave him treats. It went better than we ever expected, especially since it was the exact room where he was very scared during an actual vet appointment back in the summer.

We are happy to have seen such a breakthrough. It will probably be a long time before he can handle the same scenario with a stranger waiting in the room. But we'll take our victories and celebrate.

We love our Hachi.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

We are still waiting for our first real snow of the year. As I thought about the recent warmth and dry weather, I realized that we had a really big storm on this date a couple of years ago. Our Black Dog was starting to slow down but he and I went out to play in the snow. The snow drifts were as tall as him!

He was almost completely blind at that point but he romped through the snow joyfully.

I'm so glad that we went out to play in that storm. Going out to play is never a mistake! 

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla is a bright light in Hachi's world. From his youngest days, she gently lured him into play. Often, these lures were soft looks as the two of them ran side-by-side. She still does the same kind of looks toward him to this day. It's because Shyla loves playing with Hachi as much as he loves playing with her.

Shyla is central to our dog-human pack. She is everyone's best friend.

From her difficult start in this world, Shyla has blossomed to an extent that we never foresaw. We all love her.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Wildlife travel a path deep in a gulch

 Deep in a gulch, there's a forest path used by all sorts of wildlife. It is fun to see each species travel past the cam. A mama moose and her calf passed it more than once during the summer and fall, and it's amazing to see how fast the calf grew! Other starring species include bears, one of whom had a couple of cute cubs.

Check out the video if you have time.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for every star in the sky and for the glorious desert landscape.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. It's a bittersweet one here with my dad's illness but we are making the best of it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

From the Utah Desert


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A pair of mountain lions out in daylight

 I am always so happy when my trail cams see mountain lions out in daylight. In this case, it was a pair of mountain lions. 

You'll see a pair who seem very comfortable with each other. My first guess was a family unit. If you watch closely, you'll be able to see faded spots on the first lion who left the cam's view. That's a sign of a kitten. I think that the other lion was the mother.

Check out the video. I was overjoyed to get this footage!

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi seems more comfortable in his own skin than ever before. He gives us the feeling that he's open to learning things that we'd put on the back burner.

Relaxed Hachi in the Desert

One of the first things that we'd love for him to learn is that strangers are not as scary as he thinks. That's an overwhelming task from the point of view of his humans. He thinks that all but about 6 people in the world are potential threats. That leaves billions of people for him to learn are not scary.

In my mind, I finally figured out a way to think about it. My mantra is now "one person at a time", meaning that we will work with him on getting to know a single new human at a time. We decided that a very experienced dog trainer should be that first person. She can teach us more about how to introduce him to strangers and how to respond when things go badly than we know now. 

Happy Hachi on the Slickrock

Our first session with her was at our place because that's where Hachi is most comfortable. We started out with "parallel walking" along our driveway. In this, we began with Hachi behind her on a leash with the Runner. They gradually caught up until the trainer, me, and the Runner/Hachi were walking side-by-side. 

After Hachi seemed comfortable with that, we played a game called "treat-retreat", where the trainer tossed treats toward Hachi. After he'd eaten all the treats off the ground, the Runner helped him to "retreat" away from the trainer. Hachi could pick up treats about 10' away from the trainer without reacting.

And that was all that we did in the first session. We liked the trainer a lot. She didn't push Hachi too hard. That is the most important thing in helping Hachi get over his fears. We've seen it again and again.

Watchful Hachi

We'll keep on working with our Hachi. This is all part of the bigger picture leading toward him being able to go to the vet without being knocked out by sedatives. The vet is a stranger who he's afraid of. Perhaps our "one person at a time" approach will eventually help him to generalize enough that he can be near our vet without being terrified.

We love our Hachi.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Black Dog Joy

Our Black Dog was so intense as a young dog. His breeder said that he had the least intensity of any pups in his litter. We frequently joked that it must have been quite a litter to have in your house.

His intensity manifested in a lot of ways. One of the most frequent was in barking when he was excited. He barked and leaped in the air at the start of almost every morning run that he and the Runner did. He barked before his meals. He barked before all training, including the exercises that he and I did together. One neighbor who lived more than a mile away said that she knew when R and I were just about to do his "crawl under the chairs" exercise because she could hear his joyful barks. She said it with a smile.

He also loved to vocalize when I was taking his photo. It may have been him who taught Shyla to howl for the camera.

Try to live like our Black Dog - singing joyfully at every opportunity. Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Shyla Saturday

My best friend... Her face is getting grayer but our bond is getting deeper.

As Shyla has gotten older, we have become more in sync with each other. She can read my mind and I can read hers. Just like with all the dogs before her, the depth of our bond makes me want her to live forever.

 I love my Shyla.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Mountain lions leave their marks!

 Mountain lions!!! They are my favorite wintertime wildlife. After spending some time tracking one today, I remembered that I'd never shared the forays of lions over the summer. 

For years, I've monitored a series of lion scent posts that are packed into a small area. Usually, if a lion visits one, he visits all of them. That was true of the biggest male lion who came through back in July.

Other animals visited the scent posts too. My favorite was the diminutive bobcat who scraped where the lion had been. Bobcats are the most audacious of all of the animals.

Check out the short video!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Thankful Thursday

The bond between our dogs makes us so happy. They play joyfully. They enjoy each other's company so much. It is frequently Shyla who instigates play even though she's a lot older than Hachi. We are so glad that she loves her brother.

While we were in the desert this year, I kept remembering recent years when I'd dread going home because our area had become too congested with people for our pups to have off-leash play time. Now, they can play at home too, and no one can take that away from us. That made heading home a lot happier than in recent years!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A bull elk with a vendetta against my trail cams

All fall, we've had a bull elk living nearby. He's the one who bugled a lot near our house and who shepherded his harem through our valley. He also loves visiting a couple of wallows in a nearby valley.

It seems that he's taken a dislike to my trail cams. He attacked two of them in the past few weeks. He moved the first one so far that I thought that it had been stolen. I eventually found it. As for the second one, he snuck up from behind it and damaged it pretty badly.

Check out the video of this guy going after my cams.

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

During our time in the desert, the Runner found a deer antler. He decided that he wanted to hide it on our favorite secret slickrock to see if anyone found it before we returned. Hachi had other ideas. He watched where the Runner hid it and immediately stole it from its hiding place.

For his whole life, Hachi has buried all valuable things that he finds. At home, he buries antlers and bones all around our meadow. This slickrock threw a monkey wrench into his usual plan because you can't bury anything on it. So, he headed off.


It is a big place. A bit later, he was way below us. Do you see him?


He was heading for the edge of the slickrock. He knew that there was dirt down there so he could cache his treasure. For his sake, I won't show the photo of where the treasure is buried. I wonder if Hachi will find it again when we return?

With the antler buried, Hachi sprinted straight up the slickrock to us.

What an amazingly cute escapade!

Overall, Hachi is doing great. We can feel how open he is to learning so we're taking full advantage of it. He's been visiting the vet hospital parking lot and even the door to the exam room where he's gone in the past. He's been practicing his vet routine with us. And, he's meeting a new trainer early next week to work on getting to know a stranger (the trainer!). We are so optimistic.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

On the morning that we departed for the desert, we had the most brilliant sunrise in a long time. I loved seeing it over our meadow. It reflected off my greenhouse, making me smile.

The silhouettse of the treeline was glorious!

It immediately reminded me of a time that Shyla chased our Black Dog across a mesa in the desert. We had so much fun playing these chasing games every time we visited this spot. The memory made me smile!

Memories of our Black Dog still cut both ways for me. They make me sad because I miss how much fun we all had when he was alive. But, I can't help but smile at the way he embraced life.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.