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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

An Update

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


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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Tiny the Black Bear and other bears head to their dens

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi did well with his training this week. 

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

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

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

We love our Hachi!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Black Dog Sunday

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


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

He never did. Never ever.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Shyla Saturday

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

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2021

A Bear Path in Autumn

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Thankful Thursday

We get but one walk on this Earth.

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Not-so-wordless Wednesday

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

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

Happy "not-so-wordless" Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Predators and prey atop a windy ridge

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

Check out the short video if you have time!

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Black Dog Strength

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


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

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

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Shyla Saturday

Howl if you love the desert!

Shyla howls under the Milky Way

Friday, December 10, 2021

Life within an elk herd

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

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

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

Check out the short video!


Thursday, December 9, 2021

Thankful Thursday

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

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


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


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

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

A close call for an elk

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

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

Monday, December 6, 2021

The Hachi Chronicle

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

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

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

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Black Dog Love

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

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

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

Happy Black Dog Sunday!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Shyla Saturday - The Birthday Edition

Happy Birthday to Shyla.

 She's 10! The years have flown by.

Friday, December 3, 2021

A surprisingly cuddly pair of mountain lions

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

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

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Thankful Thursday

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2021