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Monday, September 20, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

When we arrived home from our trip, Hachi seemed to make a breakthrough almost right away. There was a new set of people working on the outside of our house. They were doing some demolition at the beginning. 

It was loud, and we thought that the noise would stress out Hachi. Instead, he lay on a bed on the other side of the wall where they were working and fell sound asleep! The Runner and I wondered aloud if he'd had a secret lobotomy!

It has been the same ever since. As long as the workers are outside the house, Hachi can snooze right through their time here. It is so refreshing to see a breakthrough like this!

It's especially surprising because we think that trips are stressful for Hachi. You can see in the photo below that his mouth is closed and his face is tight. He ran around with exuberance in our campsite but his body language said that he was nervous.

So, despite a somewhat stressful trip (for Hachi - not for the rest of us), Hachi made a big breakthrough when we arrived home. We'll take it!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Whenever I see Shyla play in the water, I am reminded of Black Dog Joy. Way back in 2012, Shyla joined our pack as the most fearful and timid nine month old dog I'd ever met. She was afraid of almost everything. But, her big brother started enveloping her in his crazy joyful attitude from the start. Within her first month with us, we went to a favorite place called "Dog Leap Lake". 

As soon as we arrived, our Black Dog wanted to retrieve sticks from the water. At first, Shyla stood on the shore watching and then assisting with the final bit of the retrieve. Our Black Dog didn't mind her biting the stick at all. In fact, he turned it so that she could grab it more easily (photo from 2012).

During that very first day playing in water, Shyla got the courage to retrieve sticks on her own. No doubt, her big brother's joy helped her to be so brave.

Over the years, Shyla and our Black Dog played in many lakes together, one more than any other. It's an unnamed lake off the beaten path in the San Juan Mountains. When we visited it this year, we decided to name it Black Dog Lake.

Fast forward to this year, nine years later. This year, we all missed our Black Dog terribly. However, in his tradition, Shyla was ready to be joyful all on her own. We humans weren't sure that she'd be able to find this happiness without our Black Dog's excitement. But she was, and it filled our hearts with joy.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Whenever I take out my camera and ask Shyla to be my model, she is overjoyed! When we're camping, she eagerly anticipates our sunset playtime/photo shoot.

This scene was in our campsite while we were in southwest Colorado. I love the sight of the reddish mountains on the horizon. They complement Shyla's fur so well!

Part of the reddish hue was smoke from western wildfires. I must admit that the smoke made me sad. It made me feel as if our destruction of the planet is accelerating.

However, I cannot stay sad for long when I'm with Shyla. She is, quite simply, my best friend.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Teeny Tiny the bear cub marks trees!

You probably remember that there's a bear cub in Tiny's territory who is most likely his son. This little guy has an unstoppable attitude for such a young cub. In mid-August, he and his mom repeatedly visited one of Tiny's favorite marking trees. Teeny Tiny marked it again and again. And, to really make me laugh, he marked it while sitting down on one occasion. Just like his father.

Check out the video to see this cute little cub in action!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the wildlife who we see from our deck. About three weeks ago, a bull moose sauntered by at breakfast time.


 He ate some breakfast too! What a rack.

Then, a couple of evenings ago, a mama bear and her cub dropped by to eat chokecherries. This was during their departure, heading down to the creek. I think that I have "seen" these two on my trail cam at a nearby water hole. I'll share that soon!

At this time of year, we are constantly scanning the hillsides, knowing that the chokecherries are there waiting for the bears to devour them.

The wildlife is one of my favorite things about Lab Valley!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

A bear cub tries to get her mom to play in the water

 A little while ago, I shared a video of Mohawk with her cub "Teeny Tiny". They were in a water hole, and Teeny Tiny wanted to play. Since he doesn't have siblings, he turned to his mom. She enthusiastically participated. It was heart-warming to see.

Close to Lab Valley, I found a water hole that bears love. A mother bear brought her two cubs to cool off. One appeared to try to get her mom to play. Please check out the video to see what happened. It was different from any mother-cub interaction that I've seen before.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It's been a long time since the last Hachi update. Since then, we took an almost 3 week trip in our LabMobile with him and Shyla.

We finally realized that Hachi has a history of become very stressed during our trips. It's been hard to see that pattern because the trips have fairly long breaks between them. This time, we were ready to carefully manage him to avoid having him take out his anxiety on Shyla. We did things like making sure that the dogs were far apart when a stressor happened like a bicycle going by our campsite. Another example was keeping Hachi well under control when Shyla was retrieving balls from a lake. Although Hachi doesn't want to dive into the water to get balls, he realizes that balls are valuable objects and he can snark (snarl/bark) at Shyla due to wanting to take the ball that she just retrieved.

These issues have become so much better during our normal life at home that it's rare that Hachi will react to them. However, when you add the stress of being away from home, he reverts to his old ways.

The great news was that our management worked. There were very few (and very minor) incidents. Hachi seemed to relax into the trip. By the last day, we were parked next to a forest road, and ATVs started going by. Hachi didn't react to them at all. That showed us how far he'd come due to our counterconditioning every time one went by throughout the trip.

Hachi had some fun too. The Runner and I played with him in our campsite around sunset some evenings. He loves to run - and does so with amazing intensity. We love that we know of campsites that are far enough off the beaten path that even Hachi can do some off-leash running!


We are lucky to have Hachi in our life. Sometimes he acts like a punk but he's *our* punk. We love him.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Our Black Dog was with us in spirit on our summer trip as we visited places that he'd loved. Because he was on my mind so much, I made a collage of some of my favorite photos of him. The one on the left was from the lake where Shyla joyfully swam this summer. She learned how to seize every single day from her sweet brother.

While we were away, we passed the one year anniversary of our Black Dog's death. Very soon, I'm going to change the format of Black Dog Sunday posts - so that it's less about specific memories of our Black Dog and more about the joy for life that he had. I'll write about sights or events from the previous week that reminded me of his amazing spirit. Believe me, I am reminded of his spirit every single day when I see beauty or happiness.

I haven't figured out what to call the posts yet - perhaps something like "Black Dog Joy on Sunday". Do you have suggestions?

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Shyla Saturday

During our time in southwest Colorado, Shyla loved taking huge leaps into the lake to retrieve tennis balls.

 She was jumping for joy because she got to play in a lake almost every day!

Friday, September 10, 2021

A sweet oasis in the dry forest

 Around mid-July, I headed out on my bike in search of a new-to-me trail that I'd seen on maps. I knew roughly where to find it. As I got close to it, I noticed a well-worn path heading in the right direction. I blindly turned onto it. It was not the correct turn but it was a LUCKY mistake.  I found myself in a sweet oasis in the midst of a pine forest.

I immediately noticed the "stomp" indents in the dirt made by bears who were scent marking. That sight stopped me in my tracks. I dropped my bike in excitement and started exploring.

I noticed that a spring comes up from the ground there, creating a small pool of water in the midst of the dry forest. As I explored, I also found several bear marking trees. I knew that I'd hit the jackpot. If I'd had time, I would've put trail cams up on that very day. Alas, I didn't have time so I did it the next day.

Within the first week of putting up the cams, four bears visited the area. That was at the tail-end of mating season so I was thrilled to see them. After that, the bears didn't visit as often because they'd headed down in elevation to find food for their late summer fattening phase. However, lots of other animals did visit. 

As you watch, imagine this spot as cool in the midst of a dry and hot forest. Imagine the nearby pine needles crackling under your feet as you approach because they are bone dry. Then, you come upon a pool surrounded with green grass! It's an amazing spot. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Thankful Thursday

During this blog's break, our pack took a trip to the southwest of Colorado. We packed up the LabMobile and visited some of our favorite places up high in the mountains. It was wonderful to be outdoors under the stars for a few weeks. The sky was dark but the stars were somewhat obscured by smoke. Nonetheless, it was glorious.

Occasionally, the smoke lifted to let bright colors shine through.

I am going to be trying to take it easier on myself in the coming months. We still have a lot of construction going on. Today, it was a "three ring circus" with three different contractors working on our new place. I know how fortunate we are to be able to have this work done but it's still stressful - very stressful! Moreover, my Dad's cancer is back, and the doctors say that there's nothing more that can be done for it. I know that journey is only going to get harder.

But, through it all, I am so thankful that we have a pack that makes me so happy. And we have the amazing mountains that never cease to astound me with their beauty.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Almost Wordless Wednesday - From High in the San Juan Mountains

From our visit to southwestern Colorado... In the first one, notice the "layer cake" mountain on the left of the image.

This photo is from the base of that mountain. You can see the same layers. And I was overjoyed to find some flowers blooming there!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

A menagerie of wildlife visit a bear marking tree

We are back after a lengthy break. I think that it was the longest break that I've taken in more than a decade. I'll tell you more about it in future posts.

On Tuesdays, I usually tell you a wildlife story. This one includes a huge variety of wildlife. Earlier this summer, I was riding through the forest, and I noticed a faint path going off to the left. I stashed my bike, and I followed it. It was an animal trail and not a human trail. 

Along the path, I found a towering Ponderosa Pine. I noticed that the area at the base of the pine was trampled to the point that the plants and grasses were dead. That led me to look closely at the bark to see if bears had been marking it. Indeed, there was black fur stuck in the bark!

I returned the following day with a trail cam, and I discovered that the tree hosted a fun menagerie of wildlife. Check out the short video, and especially notice the fun climbing by the bear cubs.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Teeny Tiny Cub Plays with his Mom in a Water Hole

Teeny Tiny, our bear cub, played with his mom in the water. I think that it's hard work for a sow having a single cub because the cub needs someone to play with. On this day, mom took a bath while Teeny Tiny milled around the water hole. He eventually decided to join his mom and also challenge her to some play fighting. Check out the video!

We're going to take a break to slow down and enjoy summer. We'll be back! I hope that you all have some relaxation time too!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for views like this one that I can see on everyday bike rides.

I am also thankful for the easy and relaxed days of summer. Are you enjoying your summer?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

 I had no idea that the center of a wild geranium looked so magical until I pointed a macro lens at it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Teeny Tiny, a bear cub, took his first very cute bath!

 Teeny Tiny, a local bear cub who is probably Tiny's, took his first bath! He hadn't gone in the water prior to this. When he and his mom arrived at the water hole, he amused himself while his mom took a bath. Then, almost on a whim, he sprinted back to take his first bath. And he was CUTE!

Check out the video!

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It was a rough week for Hachi.  The work on the house got louder and more intrusive. I twice found him having what looked almost like a panic attack. He was startling at each loud bang, and he was panting as if he'd just run a very hard sprint. The good news is that he was very receptive to his humans comforting him. Moreover, his anti-anxiety meds helped a lot. The poor little guy is wired so tightly - I wish that he could learn that we'll keep him safe.

He had fun this week too. He did a great run with the Runner, up to the top of one of the mountains behind him in this photo.

He also was always friendly toward Shyla even when he was trigger-stacked by the noise. We'd take them out for a romp after the workers departed, and he hung out with his sister just like usual. I haven't been getting any photos of them playing because the meadow grass is too high for us to even see them! This photo is from a different meadow.

 We love our Hachi!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

I often write about our Black Dog's exuberance and wild joy. But he had another side. He could turn off his high energy side and quietly relax. He loved relaxing on his dog bed that was often bathed in sunshine. His brown warm eyes calmly watched the room and invited others over to snuggle with him. Neither Shyla nor I could resist a Black Dog snuggle when he looked like this.

I hope that you have a peaceful day, like our Black Dog knew how to do. 



Saturday, July 31, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Since moving to Lab Valley, I've been able to do my daily rides with Shyla in places where we see absolutely no one else. It's so peaceful. Amazingly, Shyla's behavior during our rides has improved dramatically since the move. I didn't put two and two together until this week...

This week, I decided to do a ride to a lake with Shyla. We've done this ride before, and it's always been completely quiet with no other people around. This week was different. As we got close to the lake,we saw some people. A couple were fishing and another couple were hiking. And a dog in a nearby house was barking anxiously.

I let Shyla cool off in the lake, and then we turned to ride back home. 


As we were leaving, we saw two more hikers. Then, all the way home, Shyla refused to stay on the trail near me. She'd fade backwards behind me, and then she'd go left or right off the trail into the forest. I'd have to stop, call her, and then try to get her restarted in the correct direction.

This behavior was her hallmark at our old place. I am embarrassed to admit just how much it drove me crazy.

Then, I finally understood it. Although Shyla is much better with people than in her younger days, it is still obvious to me that she gets anxious around them. If she is very afraid of a person, she steals off into the forest and hides. I think that seeing non-family members makes her anxious for a long time after she sees them. That is why she continually went off the trail into the forest during our lake ride. And that is why she did this behavior almost every day at our old place. The trails near our old place had become progressively busier - and so we saw other users almost every day. Hence, Shyla's undesirable behavior was almost constant.

I must say that the transformation in Shyla's behavior at Lab Valley is one more reason that I love it here. I rarely have to call her or remind her to stay near when we ride here. Both of us are so relaxed after our daily rides!

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Bathing Bears!!

We are in the warm days of summer, and bears LOVE to bathe in a secluded wallow. I find nothing as relaxing as watching bears roll around in the cool water. They so obviously completely enjoy themselves. Seeing them bathe has become one of my favorite aspects of summer.

The wallow in this video has been so popular - many bears have bathed in it so far this summer. Check out these two big male bears enjoying the water. Note that one has a damaged ear, probably from a fight with another bear. The other bear is a little smaller but is getting close to being one of the bigger bears in the area.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for everything in this image - the flowers, the green grass, the sky, the trees, and, most of all, Shyla.

I have found it to be too easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of how lucky we are to have so much good in our life. I find my mind grinding through my "to do" list as I'm riding my bike with Shyla instead of reveling in our ride. As I realize that I'm missing out on the wonderful aspects of life by letting my mind spin too much, I often stop and look around me while talking to Shyla about the beauty. The flowers are so incredible, and Shyla is the best friend who I can imagine.

In the news department, we sold our old place. We are renting it back for a while just in case the work on the new place becomes too much for us to handle. I am thankful to have a quiet place to go, even if just for the day.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Little Bear Wins the Dance Contest

 Late this spring, a young male bear arrived in Tiny's territory. I think that he'd very recently dispersed from his mom's territory as all young male bears must do. I'm not sure why he chose to linger in this territory because there presently are a number of big male bears residing there. But, he did. And his amazing enthusiasm for life may help him to make it among the big bears.

As an example, he visited a bear marking tree that has been very popular this year. Lots of big bears marked it but none had the spark and crazy energy of the youngster. The young bear definitely won the dance contest! Check out the video.

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had a good week. He had lots of challenges but usually kept his composure. 

We had strangers working on the house, banging so hard that things fell off of shelves. They also began appearing outside of 2nd story windows - and that surprised even me! Hachi startled and barked many times. His startles were not at the loud bangs but at the sight of people where he didn't expect them to be. Even after some rapid fire barking, he recovered and relaxed again pretty fast.

We made sure to keep having fun with him. Our kind neighbors let us play in their amazing meadow. Look how happy and relaxed Hachi was! The loose tongue tells the story!

We continued our usual training, and he seemed relaxed in the evenings after everyone departed our house. During the day, I also took him outside to observe the workers from a distance. The hard part is getting him out the door because the workers are focused on the house. After we successfully get outside, we walk away from the house to observe from a distance where he can handle it. 

He generally stopped paying intense attention to them after we got far enough away. However, I did have to stay on my toes. Whenever he stared for too long, I needed to get him moving and redirect his attention to avoid him going over threshold. Overall, I get the sense that he's learning to accept that strangers will sometimes be inside our bubble. He may never learn to love those strangers but he may learn to ignore them.

I kept trying to spend one-on-one time with him outdoors. I think that his photos in the meadow show how much more relaxed he was about that than in the past. That makes me very happy.

It was a happy week for Hachi.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

These are a couple of moments of joyful mayhem from our Black Dog's life. 

I loved the days that I could ride up to Hug Hill with both halves of the Labraduo. I'd try to get them to pose for me but R's joy would overcome him. After he launched into action, his little sister did too. They'd run straight to me, jumping around asking for treats. I'd end up laughing so hard that their mayhem was rewarded!

I love when Shyla shows signs of that crazy spirit that R infused in her.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!


Saturday, July 24, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla and I have delighted in the wildflowers near Lab Valley. She runs with abandon through the brilliant flowers.

I feel so fortunate that Shyla still wants to run and run at age 9. She's the best companion who I can imagine.

Shyla has had some trouble handling the ongoing noisy construction. When the banging is loud, she tends to hide in the basement. Our behavioral vet prescribed an anti-anxiety medicine that helps her to snooze through the noise. I am so glad for that.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, July 23, 2021

Nature Friday - Dancing Bears!

 I love watching bears dance at a marking tree. Different bears are widely different in size and in dancing style.

Check out a lot of bears mark this tree and enjoy their antics. Here's the video!


P.S. You won't believe this but our internet went bad back around July 6, and the company has not yet sent anyone to work on it. We get a connection every now and then, and I hop on quickly to post or do other important things. It is so frustrating.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the wildflowers and the mountains.

And, most of all, for Hachi. He was so happy to run in this meadow for me. He made me smile.

Last but not least, I am thankful for the kind neighbors who let us play in their meadow!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Mama black bear and her cub near Labrador Valley

Near Lab Valley, a Mama bear has one cub. We've spotted them previously, and it seems like they are staying in a fairly small area. At another marking tree, a male bear did his dance to mark the tree. Then, the mom and her cub came along. The mama bear marked the tree while the cub climbed it! It was so fun to see.

It's a short video. Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

It was a week of taking it easy for Hachi. We had construction going on every day so we didn't want to push Hachi in any other way. He did well with the construction. All week long, I felt that he was pretty relaxed. I could actually feel how relaxed he was when we played the Bucket Game - he wasn't stiff or resisting me when I poked and prodded him during the game. That is great for Hachi!

We spent one-on-one time together when the Runner was home to hang out with Shyla (to prevent her from being upset). Hachi and I spent time in the most spectacular meadow in Lab Valley. The yellow flowers there are stupendous.

In the past, I've had the feeling that Hachi was a bit tense about our solo flower time. This time, I brought lots of very tasty treats, and we played treat games in the flowers. One game was simply tossing him treats to snarf out of the air. Another game was our "1, 2, 3" game where I say those numbers and always drop a treat on the ground in sync with the "3". Hachi loves this game. It's one that we're working on to use to help Hachi when we run into a surprise trigger like a person appearing out of nowhere.

This photo was just before I tossed him a treat. Look at that focus!

It was a good week for Hachi - and that makes us all happy.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

It was our Black Dog who taught me to seize the days when the wildflowers are blooming. Over his whole life, I loved spending time in the flowers with him. As you can see from this photo of a youngish Black Dog, he didn't become totally focused on me until later in his life. In this one, he is contemplating his next adventure which definitely was going to start over my right shoulder!

He was such a fun dog. As a younger dog, he always kept me on my toes because I never knew what he might do next. Of course, whatever it was, it would involve lots of happy fun. Sometimes it was digging dirt and sometimes it was greeting a human. He loved everyone although his black color meant that some people were wrongly wary of him.

Today, I spent time in the flowers with Hachi, in memory of the wonderful times in the flowers with R. I emphasized the fun, fun, fun, and Hachi smiled for much of the time! Black Dog memories are still shaping our lives.

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Shyla Saturday

What a year for flowers! I've run out of adjectives to describe the overwhelming beauty. Just the other day, a new flower started blooming near an aspen grove in Labrador Valley. Shyla and I stopped our bike ride to go enjoy the magnificent flowers. The flowers were so tall that they almost swallowed her!

Shyla is the best partner for exploring nature who I can imagine. She's so happy to run with me and make frequent stops to enjoy the beauty. Along with the flowers, we do have lots of bugs but Shyla never complains about them. She's so happy.

Every day with Shyla is a gift.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Nature Friday - A little bear takes a bath

 After the big bear took a bath, a little guy came along for his own bath. I believe that he is a 2 year old male bear who has dispersed from his mom's territory. Male bears cannot stay in the area where they are born. Instead, they travel to find a place to call their own.

I'm not sure why he's settling on this territory. At last count, we have at least four bigger male bears there. That doesn't bode well for the little guy but I am rooting for him!

Check out the video of him taking a bath and see how much smaller he is than the big male who bathed before him.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Thankful Thursday

We had a long rainy period here, turning the grass green and making the flowers sing. It made getting out for longish bike rides hard because of the threat of getting caught in lightning storms. Early in the stormy phase, I got caught in the worst storm yet. As the storm hit, the air temperature plummeted. I had a rain jacket but hail and an intense downpour froze me anyway. I felt like I barely made it home before I completely froze. That experience motivated me to talk to residents who I've met on my favorite routes to ask if they'd mind me hiding from a storm on their porch, in their barn, or even in their outhouse. Everyone who I've asked so far has given me a hearty yes.

Despite that freezing day, the rain is/was worth it for the effect on our world. Look at the green grass!

When I finally saw a fair weather window to go far from home on my bike, I went up high. I love how the flowers are still blooming even on the rocky shoreline of an alpine lake. This was another stormy day, and booms of thunder sent me flying off the mountain.

Near Lab Valley, a bunch of poppies are blooming next to an old dilapidated cabin. I think that the cabin dweller probably planted them a long time ago, and they are still flourishing! I had lots of fun trying to photograph them in a fun way. Here was one try.

Although I hate getting caught in storms on my bike, I am thankful for how the rain makes the world glow with beauty. I also appreciate the reduction in fire danger. For now, we feel relatively safe.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Wordless Wednesday


My fascination with close-up looks at our wildflowers continues. Wild rose.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A Big Bear Takes a Bath

 No matter what, seeing bears take baths makes me smile. This is a big guy, maybe One-Eyed Jack, who is in Tiny's territory. I've known for years that the two of them somehow coexist. I hope that's still true. According to my cams, the two of them were in close proximity marking the same trees in mid-June.

Enjoy this guy's bath! He sure did! Here's the video.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

I spent some one-on-one time with Hachi this week, just him and me out in the meadows. He's started playing this funny game where he stops someplace behind me, seemingly begging me to do a recall. It's fun!

We hiked, cut down invasive weeds, and did a few photos.

We don't do much one-on-one time because it makes Shyla upset. I left her in the house, and I could hear her barking in dismay. I think that's part of why Hachi looks so serious in these photos. I need to try it at a time that the Runner is home to hang out with Shyla.

Despite construction ramping up again, Hachi had a decent week. He did get a bit tense when the work was noisy or he could hear unfamiliar voices. He also had a little fall-out from his vet visit. He suddenly seemed suspicious of the bucket game (which we tried to use at the vet office). We backed off on it, basically making it into a game where the "handling" is just petting. That seems to be helping.

I hope to find some one-on-one time with Hachi this week too! I realized that solo time was when our Black Dog and I built our bond, and that it would be fun to add that to Hachi's and my life together. I'd love to be able to get Hachi to play goofy little games outside. I'm going to try!

Have a great Monday!

PS - Our internet has not been working. If I cannot get to someplace with internet to post, I may be absent. I hope that it's fixed soon.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

A young Black Dog romping in an incredible meadow of golden flowers.

This was before the stage when we'd have quiet little conversations in the flowers. This was when our young Black Dog wanted to run all day long. He'd gallop through the flowers with such verve that I couldn't help but smile the whole time. When he got to me, he'd leap into the air until I gave him treats. Then, he'd take off for another lap in the flowers. Those were the days!

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Shyla Saturday

One morning this week, Shyla and I were mountain biking near our fenceline that is closest to the road. We heard a pickup truck hauling an ATV pull up next to the fence. We stopped in the forest to see what was going on. In an instant, two guys hopped out of the truck. One pulled his hoodie up over his head and darted through our fence. The second looked for cars and then followed.

I was shocked, and I yelled to ask what they were doing. I fully expected them to run because I thought that they were up to no good. To my surprise, they stopped and walked toward me. Shyla immediately decided that they were scary and hid behind some trees.

To make a long story short, they were from the electricity company. They wanted to access a power line that was on our land. The problem was that the power line was a half mile away, and their easement runs only 10' on each side of the line. So, they bluntly told me that they had been planning to sneak to the power line under the radar. They said that it was more efficient to work that way than to find landowners and get permission. Meanwhile, Shyla was still hiding.

To make a long story short, I made them leave, and I told them to come back later in the day when I knew that Hachi would not be off-leash and the Runner would be around (the two of them were on an off-leash run on our land when this was going on). I am still aghast at the behavior of the electric company employees.

Shyla reads situations really well. Unlike Hachi, she hides if she doesn't like a situation. If it had been Hachi with me, it would have been a bad confrontation. Both of our dogs are fearful but they handle it so differently. Most of the time, Shyla's retiring manner is easier to handle than Hachi's feisty manner.

The rest of our week of rides was much more peaceful. We played in the flowers and enjoyed summertime.

That fearfulness is still deep inside Shyla. Usually, it is completely hidden because she knows that she's safe when navigating everyday life.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, July 9, 2021

A Bear Stomp Trail - Tiny and his co-stars of the ursine world

 Bear stomp trails are far less obvious than marking trees. About a year ago near our old place, I followed a faint animal trail that I knew that I'd checked out years before. This time, my eyes were ready to appreciate what was there. A stomp trail!

A stomp trail looks like very indistinct series of bear paw prints. There are indents in the ground where many bears have walked carefully placing their paws in the exact same spots. This one runs parallel to a creek. An acquaintance from that area recently told me that this stomp trail continues on and off for miles down a gulch. I hope to have the time to follow that gulch sometime in the future.

In the meantime, please enjoy watching the cast of ursine characters who used this stomp trail. Please watch to the end. I figured out how to simultaneously show clips of two bears walking the same section of the trail. You can see how precisely they place their paws in the same places. The one with the more awkward gait is Tiny.

Here's the video!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for all the things in this photo. Labrador Valley is spectacular with the flowers and the sky and the green grass. My greenhouse is newly in place, and it is making me so happy. After a foundation was put in, the Runner and his friends installed the greenhouse. Soon thereafter, I worked like crazy to move my plants from inside the house to the greenhouse. It is almost completely operational now. I love it!!!!

To the left of the greenhouse, you can see a rock wall. It is a retaining wall. This spring, the moose started going up and down the hill by tramping over the retaining wall. They caused it to crumble. A wonderful stone mason rebuilt it for us. Since the greenhouse went in there, the moose are no longer using that that route. They still go through the valley but they use different routes.

I'm also growing Columbines in the aspen groves in Labrador Valley. They are sprouting beautifully but they won't bloom this year. Fortunately, I've found other aspen groves with blooming Columbines. There is a special serenity to wandering in an aspen grove that is filled with Columbines. It makes my heart sing.
There is so much to be thankful for. It feels as if our outdoor work is starting to decrease (although invasive weed mitigation is accelerating). I hope to have a few free moments to sit still and relax each day very soon!