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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!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Wordless Wednesday

Blue Flax Flower


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A cool swim and marking with gusto by a big bear near Lab Valley

In a new bear hot spot that I recently found near Lab Valley, a big Black Bear thoroughly enjoyed a swim in a pond. Then, he rubbed his back on a marking tree with gusto. He also repeatedly did "straddle marking" on a small spruce tree. That means that he walked over top of it so that he left his scent on it (both from his skin and urine).

One person joked that she'd never again look at her small Christmas tree cut from the forest without remembering what bears might have done to it!

Check out the video!

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

This was the week of Hachi's vet appointment.

On the Hachi grading scale, he did really well. Our vet made so many accommodations, and I was deeply grateful. Hachi went into a larger than normal room via an external door so he didn't have to go through the reception area. He was wearing a muzzle, which he is totally comfortable with after years of training him to wear it. 

He hesitated to go through the door into the room due to fear but he eventually chose to cross the threshold. Our vet was standing in the corner of the room, not making eye contact or talking to Hachi. Despite that, he had a couple of outbursts toward her, barking at that fast cadence that he uses when he's stressed. For the first 30 seconds in the room, it felt like it was all that we could do to keep him under control.

Then, we got into the rhythm of the game that we use in these situations. It's called "engage-disengage". He looks at the person that is scaring him and then looks back to me ("disengages" from the trigger) which I reward with a click and treat. That game was working beautifully. Then, he took a couple of longer looks at the vet, and he managed to disengage before he went over threshold. That was the most encouraging part of the visit. 

Then, with him calm, we tried to play the bucket game with the Runner holding the treats and me examining Hachi. That was too much for him - he was too stressed to take his eyes away from the vet and keep them on the bucket. As we tried, he had one more outburst at the vet, and we decided to take him back out to the car.

So, I call it a good visit on the "Hachi scale". The good part was that he managed to calm down for long enough to visually examine the vet and then look back at us without outbursts a couple of times. However, it certainly hammered home to me that Hachi is still a long way from normal.

A piece of good news is that there haven't been any very bad lingering effects of the visit. He seems just slightly more stressed than usual, and I think that it'll pass. If our behavioral vet agrees, we will start doing happy vet visits. Hachi will go into a room where there's a tech or vet and get lots of treats to help him to feel better about going to vet offices. The bad part of this is that it requires close to 2 hours of driving for each visit.

We love our Hachi, and we'll keep working at helping him with his issues.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

I remember this day well. We were camped just below the Continental Divide. We'd heard that the wildflowers were stupendous up near the Divide. The Runner and our Black Dog left the LabMobile first, planning to run along the Divide. As they departed, R did his usual celebration - leaping vertically into the air while barking as loud as he could. He was happy to be going running in the mountains.

Shyla and I left a little later under cloudy skies with thunderheads already starting to form. The trails were so steep that I was pushing my bike up some of them. We met the boys after they'd turned around and were running toward our campsite along the Divide. This field of Asters was next to us when we met. I convinced the Runner to take a short break to let me take photos of our Black Dog frolicking in the flowers. Oh, what fun!

Our Black Dog was so happy to be running through the flowers. He made me smile ear-to-ear. He was the definition of joyful.

Happy Black Dog Sunday.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla and I found a meadow of yellow flowers. And this one has the Continental Divide in the background!

We've already had such fun there! Our wonderful neighbors own this meadow but have enthusiastically welcomed us. We are lucky to have such good new friends.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, July 2, 2021

Tiny and a Tiny Cub both at the same marking tree!

 There's a bear marking tree next to a small stream that Tiny loves to cover in his scent. After he marked it in June, a cub was fascinated by it. He sniffed it, almost climbed it, and even tried to do a stomping gait like the big bears do. It led to a very funny gait because the indentations made by Tiny's paws were very far apart for a little cub.

I believe that this was Mohawk's cub. I suspect that she was foraging down by the stream very nearby. You may remember that Mohawk traveled with Tiny during last year's mating season. Therefore, this cub may be Tiny's son!

Check out the video to enjoy the cuteness of this little cub!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Thankful Thursday

I needed a break from the endless series of tasks that trying to make our new place into a home has entailed. So, I rode my mountain bike almost all day.

Storms chased me all day, and at times, it seemed as if the heavens were about to open up onto me. I'd start to hurry toward shelter. That's what I did right after taking this photo.

Then the storms would recede. After one of the storms, I veered off onto a path that I've never taken before as a whim. It was so worth it. The path and the places that it took me are going to be favorites of mine for a long time.

I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the tasks again tomorrow. I am so thankful that I have this mountain world to explore and make me feel light again.