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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

Lest you think that our Black Dog was always a goofy and easily-contained dog, check out his focus as a younger dog. He was in a "stay", waiting for me to call him. When I said the word, he'd run to me like a freight train, stopping for nothing in his path. I adored his intensity.

He had that same intensity for almost everything including eating a meal, getting a frozen kong, his "Manners Minder", greeting a friend either human or canine, going swimming, running through the flowers, trying to dig up a rodent, and playing in the snow. To the very end, he did nothing half-heartedly.

I wish that I could be more like him - finding joyful focus in everything. Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla and I had such a beautiful morning out in fresh snow a couple of days ago. We were out very early, just as the sunlight was touching our spot in the mountains. The forest was still dark but the open areas were bright. The white snow was fresh and powdery.

We were at our old place so we visited some familiar spots. This was a spot where Shyla often raced our Black Dog. It reminded me of how pleasantly surprised I've been that Shyla was ready to be the eldest dog in our pack. I feared that she might crumble when she lost her big brother but she did not. That doesn't minimize how much we all miss him. However, I am glad that Shyla has zoomed onward on her own. She is a reminder of how far a dog can come when they are given the time and space to grow.

Shyla makes every day brighter for the rest of us. I hope that we do the same for her. 

Happy Shyla Saturday.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Feline and Nature Friday - A mother bobcat and her three kittens!

 In the fast pace of our life this fall, I almost missed that my trail cam had captured a true gem. Somehow, a big family of bobcats had flown under the radar all summer!

Bobcat kittens are born in the spring, and they usually stay with their mom into the winter. In the past, I've seen a mother with one or two kittens. In this case, she has THREE! My first glimpse of this family wasn't until October in the video that I'm sharing here.

I love what a peaceful scene this is. It isn't close to a main trail so the bobcat family wasn't under pressure from humans. They simply moved as a unit through the forest, with two kittens pausing to investigate my camera. When they briefly exited the camera's view, they were probably investigating a rocky outcropping where bobcats sometimes hunt for rodents.

Check out the short video!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for my muse.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Snow!

Before Hachi got sick - he's still taking it easy



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A popular spot with foxes and lions!

Foxes weigh a small fraction of what a mountain lion weighs. Yet, they love to share scent posts with mountain lions. Both red foxes and gray foxes show up at mountain lion scrapes regularly. They move with such agility as they mark the spot and then disappear.

One of the scrapes that I've monitored for years was visited by red foxes, gray foxes, and a mountain lion over the past month. It's a great example of this mix of foxes and lions that I see so often. Also, you can see and hear the crazy wind that has dominated our weather this winter. It's been intense.

Check out the video if you have time!

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi made sudden improvements after we gave him fluids and medicine on Saturday night. It was amazing to see how fast he seemed a million times better. He started eating and drinking within about 30 minutes of the infusion. His eyes looked brighter and happier. Even his body language looked more energetic. We have our behavioral vet to thank for this. She went the extra mile to get us meds on Saturday after other vets wouldn't help us.

Hachi now has to rest for a number of days before he can exercise again. The tests did not show what caused his illness. My hypothesis is that he got very stressed out at Lab Valley last week. There were a lot of workers here, and they were all over the house and noisy. Outwardly, he seemed to be handling it well but perhaps it took a toll. We won't spend such a construction-heavy time here again.

This photo was from just before he got sick.

During the illness and afterwards, his behavioral issues got worse than they've been in quite a while. He's behaved aggressively toward Shyla on a number of occasions both indoors and outdoors. He was on a leash each time so he did no physical harm. And, to my surprise, Shyla didn't seem to take it seriously. 

For now, we are strictly separating them so that this behavior doesn't become a habit for Hachi and so that Shyla doesn't become afraid of him. We want them to play together again in the future.

Thanks for all of the good thoughts for Hachi. I feel as if the road to recovery will be pretty fast now. Let's hope that his behavior returns to where it was before the illness too.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

An Update

As we are still trying to help Hachi feel better, I thought that I'd share a few photos of young Hachi with our Black Dog.

Puppy Hachi loved to be as close as possible to his big brother. And R loved it too. He never passed up a chance to play or snuggle with puppies.

As of Saturday evening, Hachi has not yet started eating or drinking. He had one drink of water all day Saturday, and nothing more. A normal dog would be in the hospital but we and his vets feel that he's better at home in a low stress environment. We delivered fluids and anti-nausea meds under his skin last evening (Saturday night), and we hope that they help. I was very nervous about it but he was remarkably well behaved despite being afraid.

If you can spare some good thoughts for our Hachi, he sure could use them.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

What Happens when Hachi Gets Sick

After a very long Friday of worry, I am going to break from my normal posting pattern.

You might remember a fairly recent post about Hachi. It focused on how to take him to the vet given his extreme fear and reactivity. We decided to wait until the Covid risk had lessened before taking him for his annual exam so that we could be with him before and after sedation.

On Thursday-Friday, Hachi had extreme GI distress, including diarrhea and vomiting. By Friday morning, he was acting very subdued and was not willing to take a pill pocket. He takes behavioral medicines a few times per day so he was getting behind on those.

At about 5:30 AM, we realized that he truly needed to go to the vet. We feared an obstruction because of how much blood was involved in the GI distress. As early as possible, we called his regular vet and his behavioral vet. His regular vet basically said that her hospital could not help on short notice due to Hachi's special needs. That felt like a small betrayal, even though we understood the reasoning.

Our behavioral vet came through in a huge way, giving us her cell phone number for texting throughout the day and suggesting a course of action. That was to take him to an emergency vet hospital that is known for their ability to deal with almost anything.

Prior to leaving for the vet, the first task was to get a muzzle on Hachi. He was getting increasingly reactive because he felt so awful. But, our training came through! We've played the "muzzle game" with him hundreds of times. We set up in the place where we most often play it, and acted as if it was nothing more than one more game. He stuck his nose in the muzzle, we fastened it, and one problem was solved.

The next issue was how to induce sedation at the vet hospital. We've been playing the "syringe game" for that. Around the house, we fill a syringe with chicken broth and randomly squirt it into his mouth. That has made him want to lick all syringes. That game worked at the vet where the Runner gave him a very strong oral sedative via a syringe. The only downside was that Hachi was not very affected by the sedative so he eventually had to be given an injection. That upset him greatly but hopefully he won't remember it.

Then, he had an ultrasound which, thank goodness, showed no blockage of his GI tract. So, they gave him fluids to offset 30 hours of vomiting and diarrhea and gave him injectable meds to get his GI tract to calm down.

So, we survived an emergency vet visit with Hachi. To make it even more worthwhile, they also did all of the routine stuff that Hachi needed at an annual exam so that ordeal is checked off our list.

Until we adopted Hachi, I could not have imagined how much stress a simple GI issue can cause. Going to the vet is a traumatic event for him so we kept hoping that he'd naturally get better. Then, after deciding that we had no choice but to take him to the vet, we considered all of the worst possible outcomes to prepare for them. I am completely wiped out from it.

I sure hope that our little guy recovers fast and gets back to snow play.

Friday, February 19, 2021

A mother mountain lion and a trio of kittens!

I visited some cams that are usually impossible to get to at this time of year due to deep snow. I thought that there would be nothing on them because bears are usually their subjects - and they are asleep.

Much to my delight, a mother mountain lion was in the area with her three kittens in December. I believe that the mother had cached a meal nearby, and the family spent a couple of days eating it.

One fun feature of this video is the vocalizations by the mother and by the kittens. Be sure to have your sound on! And, check out the kitten scaring himself by breaking the ice on a puddle.

Seeing mountain lion kittens is a rare treat. Check out the video to see some!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thankful Thursday

Shyla is a light in the forest.

As long as she can be next to me or the Runner, Shyla is content. She always chooses to be close to us when she has the option, Her separation anxiety is ratcheting up with construction going on around her. We must sometimes ask her to be in a room away from us humans for her safety. She lets us know that she doesn't like it. 

It is amazing to have my presence make such a difference to a dog. Despite the rough parts of her anxiety, I am thankful for her and how special she makes us feel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

What happens at a bear-marking tree while the bears sleep?

Shortly after we found Lab Valley, I discovered a leaning aspen tree that has bear scratches and fur all over the side that faces the ground. That tells me that bears have marked it, which I am very excited about. It's close to our house so it will be fun to use a trail cam to see the bears' antics there.

Because there were so many bears around late in the summer eating the chokecherries, I put up a trail cam right away. Late summer and fall are not popular tree-marking times for bears but it seemed worth a try. It turned out that no bears marked it before going into hibernation. However, the bear scent on these trees seem to attract other wildlife so I left the camera up.

It hasn't been a hotbed of activity but a couple of fun animals have visited. First, a big buck decided to rest under the tree during hunting season. It was a good choice for him because we don't allow hunters on our land. The second animal was a bobcat, and I'll let you see him strutting around that area. 

Check out the video!

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi is so loving toward me and the Runner. It is a special feeling to win the love and trust of a dog like Hachi because we know that he views so many people with extreme distrust.

When Hachi sees me and gallops over while wagging his entire body, I feel so happy - even more so than if it's with an easy-going dog. I laugh and smile, knowing that we've given him safe harbor in this world.

Hachi's heart is brimming with love yet he rarely can overcome his fear to express it. Count me as someone who finds that being one of Hachi's chosen humans is a treasured role.

Hachi sends all of you belated Valentine's virtual kisses.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

He was like sunshine on a cloudy day.

I'm so glad that we had that summer of amazing wildflowers to enjoy with our Black Dog. It's been 6 months since he left us, and I am so filled with gratitude for the life that we had with him.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Shyla Saturday

We spent some time at the old house this week as the construction started to take over the entire new house. It was so nice to have an oasis from the chaos. Despite that luxury, I was hit with a train of migraines that has continued. So, I'll keep this post short and try to get some rest tonight.

Shyla and I visited our old haunts during our early morning bike rides. It was a cloudy time so we didn't find great golden hour light but we still had fun.

I was feeling the stress of having such an unpredictable life. While we have a great construction crew, it's hard to predict how disruptive their work will be. So, we cannot predict which house we'll be living in on a given day. And, our old place is moving toward sale even though it's not on the market yet. Feeling the squeeze between the remodel schedule and possibly selling the old place has put me on edge. That's probably part of the reason for the almost daily migraines.

Shyla could feel it too. She woke us up in the middle of the night looking for reassurance. She reads us humans so well. There's no hiding anxiety from her, and she takes our emotions as her own.

We did the best we could to have fun during our morning time together. Shyla sang out her worries from atop Hug Hill.

The cloud bank behind her completely covered the snowy mountains. The clouds are now finally bringing some snow, and that's a good thing during this incredibly dry winter. Plus, Shyla loves playing with her brother in the snow.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Nature and Feline Friday - A Huge Male Mountain Lion in Full Sunlight

Close to a human trail but hidden from it, a humongous mountain lion appeared around noon on a Sunday. He was in an area where groups of mule deer pass on a regular basis.

At first, the lion seemed primarily concerned with sniffing the scrapes in the spot, perhaps checking whether other lions had visited the spot recently. Then, he looked pointedly to the left of the frame where the trail is. I wonder if he heard some people passing by. They could not have seen him. As a lion should, he seemed to note their presence but wasn't too interested. I'm sure that he's seen a lot of people in his day.

When he finally turned to exit the frame to the right, you can see that his stomach was very full. He must have been feasting on a deer or elk shortly earlier. 

I also noticed that he might have been favoring his left front paw. I am wondering if others notice the same thing.

Check out the video if you have time. It's not common to get such a great view of a mountain lion in broad daylight!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for early mornings, Shyla, and my camera. When the sun first kisses Shyla's face, it's a sight to behold.


Often it's painfully cold with the wind whipping the snow around but Shyla's enthusiasm makes me smile. She is so expressive with her voice and her body language. Trying to capture her spirit with my camera is fun.

For me, it takes some effort to stay happy in the winter because I tend to have trouble with the short days of winter. One of the efforts that is always worth it is being outside with Shyla at sunrise, and I am thankful for that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Almost Wordless Wednesday

It snowed this week, just a little.




Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Prey and predators in Lion Gulch

We humans tend to think of the Earth as our world. It is easy to forget the wildlife who live almost invisible lives in the wilderness. They work hard to find enough to eat, have social networks and families, and need the space to do these things.

Deep in a gulch, there's a spot that is adjacent to a meadow where deer and moose like to browse. Mountain lions cruise through here, leaving scrapes and hunting those herbivores.

This video is special because it includes a mother mountain lion and her kitten. The kitten has well defined spots which tells me that he's young, probably 2-3 months old. It's amazing to see them pass through this spot, especially since a big male lion marked there before they arrived and then again afterwards. In all likelihood, the mother and the male know each other. In fact, the male might be the father.

It's a fun little video. Enjoy!

Monday, February 8, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi and I went for a sunrise bike ride this week, and it was wonderful! He looked so very serious as the sun peeked over the eastern hills.

Then, he burst into action when I called him.

It is such a joy for me to be able to take him for a trail ride. With nobody around Lab Valley, I don't have to worry about whether we might see the wrong people. Instead, we can relax and have fun.

Hachi did really well with hanging out in the new house while construction was underway. He seemed relaxed when he was tucked away in his safe place.

The one down moment for the week was when someone who was working on the house came outside even though we asked them not to for a few minutes while we let Hachi and Shyla play. It turned out fine but I hate it when Hachi "reacts" without thinking.

Overall, it was a great week for Hachi. I love weeks like this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

There is joy to be found in every instant. That was our Black Dog's life motto. I thought of him today as a frigid wind swept off the Divide whipping the falling snow into my face. I imagined asking him if he wanted to go outside with me. Wild happy barks reverberated through my head. That's our Black Dog.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Almost every morning, Shyla and I set out into nature around sunrise. Recently, the sunrises have been spectacular.

 The spruces and pines lining Lab Valley make a jaggedly beautiful silhouette against the sky.


Shyla also makes a glorious silhouette.


I am so glad to have this sensitive and wonderful dog by my side.


Happy Shyla Saturday.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Nature and Feline Friday - A Cold Spot in the Forest that Bobcats and Moose Love

It looks like any other spot in the forest with a big spruce tree and a rock along side a stream. At this time of year, it's a very cold spot because cold air settles down by the stream. I have a cam there but I have to check it fast and then get moving. Otherwise, I get too cold.

Despite it being cold, the animals stop by it regularly. Over the past two winter months, moose and bobcats have dominated the spot. And, a bobcat put on an especially athletic show, as you'll see.

 It's a fun little video. Check it out if you have time!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Thankful Thursday

Ever since Hachi joined our pack, Shyla has watched out for him. When they are together, her eyes are often on him, trying to get him to play.


She is the master of carrying a stick in a tempting way while looking back at Hachi.


It usually works!

I am so thankful that this pair has the freedom to run and play together at Lab Valley. It builds their bond, and it makes them both happier. Most of all, I am thankful that Shyla is the perfect sister for Hachi.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Wordless Wednesday - Hachi at Sunrise

The first moment of sunlight. I am so happy to be able to take bike rides with Hachi at Lab Valley. He glows at sunrise!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

A Coyote Pack in a Snowy Meadow

When we first started spending time at Lab Valley, I was surprised by how few coyotes I was seeing either with my own eyes or with my trail cams. I heard a vague rumor of someone killing them but I had no idea whether it was true.

Then, I started exploring more, and I began to figure out where they travel and spend their time. Now that I have a trail cam in the right spot, I know that at least one comes through Lab Valley almost every day. But, the best place of all is a nearby meadow - where my trail cam recently captured five of them together. My research says that it's probably a pack - which is very cool!

The five of them came out on a snowy day which made for some beautiful footage.


Monday, February 1, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

We've had lots of time at Lab Valley this week, which makes for a very happy Hachi. Do you see him and his sister in this photo?

Sometimes he hangs out mellowly when outside and, at other times, he sprints like the wind.


He also likes to meditate with the warm sun on his face.


No matter what, he's happy at Lab Valley.

There's no real news to report except that our vet suggested waiting to have Hachi's annual exam until after the Covid danger is decreased so that we can be with him before and after he's sedated. That sounds like a good plan to me!

He's a happy Hachi!