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Monday, January 31, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi had another excellent week. I remember when "an excellent week" meant that he hadn't acted scarily toward one of our other dogs or had a meltdown when he needed to go outside his comfort zone. Now, it means that he made forward progress in his training! What a nice change.

When Hachi is happy,  he leaps rather than runs when called.


Hachi's breakthrough this week was with our trainer who is helping train Hachi to be more comfortable with strangers. For now, the trainer is the stranger.

We've been working with the trainer for a couple of months. In the past few weeks, Hachi has begun to do a "happy bark" when she arrives at our house. A happy bark is high pitched, and is extremely different from his warning bark.

Up until now, happy barks were reserved for Hachi's family and a few close friends who met Hachi when he was a tiny puppy.


Up until this week, all of our sessions with the trainer have been outdoors. The trainer tosses him treats in a specific pattern (called "treat-retreat") that first brings him closer to her and moves him away from her with a treat tossed behind him. This week, we took that game INDOORS! The trainer was in our living room, tossing Hachi treats in exactly the same way as she's done outdoors for weeks. Hachi did GREAT!

He woofed a few warning barks when she first came into the house. We immediately launched into the treat-retreat game. Soon, Hachi was within 6' of the trainer, and he was following her cues to sit or down while he waited for a treat. At the end of the session, the Runner and I played the bucket game (for a vet exam) while the trainer watched. It went great.

Happy Hachi


In the long-term, we hope that Hachi will let the trainer join the bucket game, substituting for the Runner or me. But that will happen at Hachi's pace. We are not in a rush. Hachi needs a slow and consistent approach.

We are overjoyed to see the pieces of our training starting to come together! Maybe, just maybe, Hachi will someday be able to accept strangers near him and be able to go the vet for an unsedated exam. Those are our dreams. In the meantime, we'll keep enjoying the process of rehabbing him.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

A sweet memory

 A sweet memory that appeared on our electronic picture frame.

I just had to share the joy in this trio.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Shyla Saturday

Shyla makes me smile every day. We are out in the inky darkness before sunrise to catch the beautiful colors as the sun peeks over the eastern horizon. It's been very cold recently at dawn but Shyla enthusiastically poses for me.

My left wrist is feeling better every day so we can ride to our favorite spot. That will continue until Tuesday, when I get surgery on my right wrist. Then, I'll start the healing process again.


I still cannot do snow activities that might hurt my wrist so Shyla has been romping with the Runner and Hachi a lot. She is an amazing dog. She started out so timid but now she is the instigator when wrestling with her brother. Over time, I've learned more about the situation that Shyla was born into, and it was very unstable and scary. I'm glad that she was resilient enough to leave it behind and now live her best life.

Tomorrow is Sunday, which is traditionally Black Dog Sunday. I am so sorry to say that, since my father's death, I have not found that my heart can handle writing Black Dog Sunday posts. For now, I'm going to pause those posts, even though the memories of him that flit through my mind during an average day do make me smile. They always will.

Friday, January 28, 2022

The tail end of autumn on a bear path

Thanks for all of the good thoughts! Hachi is back to being his normal very energetic self. Part of why we worry so much when he's not feeling well is that taking him to the vet is such a hard thing. He'd have to be knocked out for an exam (although, if we keep working at it, we hope that someday that won't be needed).  We are so relieved that he didn't need the trauma of a vet visit to get better.

I'm sharing an autumn wildlife video. Late autumn was a phase when I was not keeping up with my cams besides making quick visits to put in batteries for the winter. When I finally was ready to check out the memory cards from the cams, I was happy to find more bear antics! This video was from the tail end of autumn. It's up high in the mountains, well above our home elevation, and I'm guessing that there are no animals in that area now. So, this was the last of the elk, bobcats, and bear for the season. The bears were looking fat and ready to sleep away the winter. 

Knowing that these animals are part of our world makes me feel peaceful and happy. Check out the video if you have time!

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for Shyla every day. I know the fleeting nature of life, and I am so grateful to have this sweet girl by my side. I also am grateful that she can have so much fun running around in our meadows. She loves playing in the snow here at Lab Valley.


I am also grateful for Hachi but I'm feeling a tiny bit worried about him today. He didn't want to go for runs in Lab Valley today. He's subdued, and I am hoping that it's nothing serious. It's really out of character for him. He normally loves to run more than anything.

I hope that these two pups are running and playing again tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A mama moose and her brand new calf

A brand new moose calf appeared with his mom at a pond last summer. He was so new that an umbilical cord was hanging from his belly. It is rare to get to see a calf so young.

Check out the video of the pair that includes some sweet moments between them. This was just what I needed in the midst of the coldest part of winter.

Monday, January 24, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

We've been working very consistently with Hachi and seeing some results. Our biggest goal remains being able to take him to the vet without him needing to be heavily sedated.

We've been approaching that goal in two different ways: 1) Visiting the vet hospital, 2) working on his fear of strangers.

A classic Hachi play move!

About a month ago, we had our annual in-person visit at Hachi's behavioral vet. This combined both parts of our training (a visit to a vet hospital and meeting a stranger). Their head trainer said that she wanted to interact with Hachi in a training room. I'll admit, right up front, that I did not predict that he'd be capable of that because of the tight quarters. Fortunately, I was wrong!

The trainer played a game called "treat-retreat" with Hachi. She was at one end of the room while we were with Hachi at the other end of the room (Hachi was on leash). She tossed him treats in a pattern that gradually brought him closer to her and then led him further away from her to relieve his stress. It went beautifully. Then, while playing the game, she asked him to sit a few times when he was within about 6' of her, and he did it! Finally, she had us do a vet exam on him using the bucket game (just like we do daily at home). That went well too!

That was the very best that I could have imagined our visit going. It showed us that all of our hard work is paying off, and Hachi is moving in the right direction. Since then, we've been so motivated to keep moving forward with his training because we know that it's working. 

Hachi glows at sunrise!

Training involves nothing but teeny tiny steps with Hachi, and we are fine with that because we love him.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Shyla Saturday

I am grateful for Shyla every single day. She brings us such joy with her soft sensitive nature and her love of her brother. I never expected their bond to be so strong. Shyla is amazing.

My wrist and hand are sore this evening so that's all that I'll say. It sums up our perfect Shyla.

Friday, January 21, 2022

A Christmas Day Mountain Lion

We had a sad holiday season so even the smallest thing helped a bit. One such thing was discovering that a mountain lion had made the rounds of my trail cams on Christmas afternoon. Daylight videos of lions never fail to make me smile. This is a short but sweet video.

This video triggered me to reread one of my favorite books about mountain lions, "Ghostwalker" by Leslie Patten. Even on my second reading of it, I learned a ton. If you are interested in lions, you might enjoy this book.

In the meantime, check out this short daytime video.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Thankful Thursday

The fires near Boulder were the stuff of nightmares for those of us who live in the west. Fires these days seem to rage through the land so rapidly that my fear is not being able to get out in time. I also can deeply feel the terrible pain that seeing your home and land burn up would bring. These fires happened so soon after my Dad died that they hit me even harder than usual.

So, you can imagine my relief when it finally snowed. And I mean it really snowed a lot. I'd just had my wrist surgery so I covered my cast-like bandage and headed out for a walk on our driveway with Shyla. We were both so happy about the snow. It was beautiful and was giving the world some water to drink.

Shyla may be ten years old but she frolicked like a puppy in the snow. We'd all been waiting too long for our first real winter storm.

Shyla made me smile when she came up from under the snow looking like Frosty the Snow Dog.

We'd didn't walk too far but I was cold by the end. At the end of our walk, I was so grateful to see our home through the trees. It truly feels like home now. This place, including the land, is where we belong.

I am so grateful that it finally snowed. This snow has stayed with us and probably will persist as our bottom layer of snow until April or May. It reduced our fire danger so much, and for that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Not Wordless Wednesday

I am recovered enough from my left wrist surgery to be able to type for short periods of time and edit some photos. That's progress! I have two weeks until my next surgery so I'll be able to post until then!

It's been a rough time emotionally since losing my Dad but getting back to my usual favorite things will probably help.

Shyla and I spend time out in our winter wonderland every morning at sunrise. Our time together is so healing.