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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.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla and I have been playing games like this one for close to ten years. At the beginning, I had to be so careful not to scare her. She was afraid of almost everything - and I didn't want to be included on the list of scary things. By steadfastly being her trustworthy human, I eventually earned her trust. Now, she loves games like this one, knowing that there's no "wrong" way to behave. We're just a pair of girls having fun together.

I didn't bring a remote trigger for my camera so I'd set it to take a photo 10 seconds later, and I'd sprint around to Shyla to see what she did. This one was a "high ten". We both laughed after the camera took our photo.

Happy Shyla Saturday!

Friday, November 12, 2021

The Return of Mountain Lions

 After getting a great start in tracking mountain lions and videoing them near our new place, they disappeared late last winter. I stayed the course, keeping my trail cams in the same spots where I'd gotten video of them previously. Finally, last month, my cams picked up footage of two or three lions.

This video is from one spot where they returned. You have no idea how glad I was to see the long graceful form of a lion!

During the lions' hiatus, a human spotted my cam and messed with it. That's why it's set up oddly - to keep it out of sight. I may try moving it back into the open this winter.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Thankful Thursday

The autumn colors in the desert were amazing this year. Most of the colorful leaves were in the washes, areas that are dry between rains but fill with torrents of water in storms. The trees and shrubs love these areas.


This was a wash that still had some water in it. The animals certainly appreciated it - I saw many tracks heading for this pool. And the reflections of the golden leaves shimmered on the water.


I was so thankful that we could travel to autumn by visiting the desert. It inspired my photography - because the colors made me want to figure out how to capture the desert beauty. I had so much fun exploring the desert washes to find good views of the colors.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

A bobcat's trail

In the summer, I found a very steep path in the forest. I spotted an area where I thought that a bobcat had marked but I wasn't sure. So, I put a camera near that spot to see what happened.

It did turn out to be a favorite trail of a bobcat. He's such a cute little guy. A young bear also liked the trail and seemed fascinated by the area that the bobcat had been marking. I suspect that this cub had run away from his mom to check it out.

Here's a short video from that spot. Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi is doing really well. Over our three years with him, we've learned that camping in our LabMobile stresses him out. Due to his anxiety, he tends to get a short temper with his sister. He explodes into a snark right at her face when he goes over threshold.

Not on our recent trip! We could feel that he was less tense than usual, and his behavior backed that up. He snoozed in the sun next to Shyla, and then he played with her on our evening hikes. I know that his face looks crazed in the next photo but it's due to pure and happy play.

I'm sure that part of his huge improvement is that we have learned to "manage" his triggers much better. We know what parts of camping life can make him lose his cool, and we are careful to avoid them. As an example from the past, he likes to block the LabMobile door when Shyla is about to come out. If we proceed with bringing her out, he'll get in her face in a noisy way and perhaps give her a soft muzzle bite. Now, we know not to let that happen - so he's not practicing that behavior anymore. If it's like other behaviors, it may fade with time if he has no chances to rehearse it.

We also were able to practice some of his formal training, like the Bucket Game, in our campsites. He could focus, relax, and do a good job with them. That seemed impossible as recently as a few months ago. Yay for Hachi!

We feel as if he's ready to work on more of his fears. We have plans to work on them steadily. I'll write more about that soon.

I like this next photo because it shows a very relaxed dog. His eyes were soft as he looked up at the Runner. His tongue was hanging out. He looks happy to me!

It is a Happy Hachi Chronicle this week!

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Black Dog Joy

We visited a place in the desert where we had many joyful times with our Black Dog. He and Shyla used to chase each other across a mesa with a dramatic desert backdrop. They ran with wild abandon. Our Black Dog sometimes burst out into wild barking because he was having such fun. Then, his barks would echo off the canyon's cliffs. He'd hear the echoes, and he'd have to answer that other dog who sounded just like him. His wild joy was infectious.

His joy engendered adoration from all of us. You can see that in Shyla's eyes as they raced side-by-side. This is our calendar photo for this month.

His spirit will always be with me when we visit this spot. Last year, I moped a bit, wishing for more wild races between him and Shyla. I had trouble figuring out how to have fun without him. This year, I tried to make new games that we could play with Shyla and Hachi. We had fun but I still missed our Black Dog's joyful barks. I always will.


Saturday, November 6, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Shyla loves to howl in the desert. Her voice echos off the cliffs, and she thinks that someone is answering her.

That leads to more howls and gives me time to make fun images of her howling! Believe me, I made lots of them during our recent getaway.

She is doing well. I did notice that she'd slowed a bit in the desert. I think that the rocky surfaces are tougher on a dog's joints than soft grassy surfaces like we have in the mountains. She'll be turning ten soon so I am grateful that she can still run with me!

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Cats, bears, elk, and moose all share a forest path

Our break is over. It certainly gave us a good breather to gain perspective on all that we've done in the past year. We are both really liking our new house - it feels like home now, and that's a great feeling.

For a blog restart, I'd like to share a video from a forest path near our new place that is used by a lot of wildlife. Cats of all sorts tend to strut along the path. However, since late last winter, mountain lions have been rare in this spot. My cams used to pick up a lion every two weeks or so.

When I checked this cam, I was overjoyed to see that a mountain lion had used the path. As he walked down the path, it became clear that he had a big limp in a hind limb. I hope that he can recover quickly. He needs full use of his hind limbs to capture prey.

You'll also see a Mama bear with her two cubs. My cams have seen this family all over the area, moving from one chokecherry hot spot to the next. The cubs are almost always incredibly well behaved, trotting along behind their mom. I'll share some highlights of this family's summer sometime soon.

Enjoy the video.