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Friday, April 29, 2022

Winter Travelers on a Mountain Lion Path

Last week, I made my way to a trail camera that sits next to a seasonal stream. I was shocked to see that it was not running. Last year, it ran from when the snow melted until September. This year is different. Water is going to be of paramount importance to our wildlife. I hope that some sources keep flowing.

The animals kept flowing along their trail throughout the winter. It's a trail that is dominated by bears when they are not in dens. In the winter, it is owned by mountain lions. Many different lions walked this trail over the winter.

Check out the video to see them all.

PS I'm going to take a little blog break. Typing has recently become harder again. I'm not sure why.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the joyful play that our pups love. It snowed this past weekend, and the dogs were ready to romp as soon as it stopped. Shyla has cultivated this playful friendship with Hachi since he was a young pup. Their happy play fills our hearts with joy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Wordless Wednesday - Song dog in spring snow

A beauty

Ready to pounce


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A mama mountain lion with three young kittens!

Last week, Shyla and I checked a trail camera that is pointed at an area where male mountain lions like to scrape. I was overjoyed to discover that a mother mountain lion with young kittens had visited the spot.

She had triplets, and they were about 4-5 months old. They are look exceedingly healthy!

Check out the video!

Monday, April 25, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

This week was mixed with Hachi. We had a great visit to the vet hospital. I've never seen him so relaxed in the exam room. We played games, let him explore, and did the bucket game. We were so happy with how it went!


Our trainer came to our house a few days later. We started with the treat-retreat game in a different part of the house than usual. It went well. However, in retrospect, Hachi was a bit amped - but he was very happy. He loves playing these games with our trainer.

Then, we moved to the room where we usually work with our trainer, and we tried moving her even closer to Hachi than last week during the bucket game. Last week, we had her about 2' away but in front and slightly to the side of Hachi. I was on the opposite side of Hachi, and the Runner was in front of him. 

Since we wanted the trainer to possibly touch Hachi this week, we moved her so that she was almost exactly opposite me on Hachi's side. Hachi (wearing a muzzle) then needed to walk directly between her and me to lie on his mat. That was too much for him. He did lie on his mat but then he seemed to realize that he was very close to the trainer and sandwiched in the middle of three people. He reacted with a round of barking at the trainer. After that barking, our trainer moved further away but Hachi was spooked.

To end on a good note, we all took a break, and then we went back to exactly the same setup as last week. It went great. That speaks to how resilient Hachi has become. We inadvertently took him over threshold but he was able to calm down very quickly. No long term harm to his training!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Tiny, the Black Bear, Celebrates Springtime!

Many of you know how I adore seeing Tiny the black bear. Recently, Shyla and I took a hike to check some of my cams in Tiny's territory. I was overjoyed to see that he is active and looking good! He's the only bear who my cams have seen yet. For years, he's always been the first bear to appear on my cams in springtime!

He still has that chronic hind limb injury that requires him to sit while marking trees. It looks no worse than in recent years so that's good news. He's an inspiration!

Check out the video and help me celebrate the start of springtime!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful for Shyla, the dog with the biggest heart that I can imagine. Despite her own fear issues, she took Hachi under her wing and has loved him ever since he joined our family. Even after she is the recipient of a growl, she instantly forgives Hachi. It almost seems like she understands that his growls are motivated by fear so she's kind to him no matter what.

Shyla did not have an easy start to her life. We adopted her at 9 months old, and she was the most fearful and submissive dog I'd ever seen. It fills my heart with joy to see that her heart is healed enough for her to be able to help Hachi gradually find his way.

Alas, that is an old photo. After Hachi's aggressive behavior toward our Black Dog, we are not comfortable letting these two be free together in the house. However, they do peacefully coexist on the deck - which is a fairly new discovery. They aren't snugglers on the deck but they do hang out close to each other.

I am so grateful for our love-filled Shyla.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

A bull moose and a bull elk meet face to face!

 It is rare to see two different species meet face to face. At a junction of two valleys near our house, a bull moose was walking downhill on a path when he met a bull elk who was coming up the path. There wasn't enough room for them to pass. What do you think happened?

Check out the video!

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

Hachi's brain seems to have opened up to learning. Here's what we did this week.

We went to the vet hospital for a Happy Visit. Hachi was relaxed despite a big German Shepherd barking at him as we walked into the clinic. Hachi barely reacted to that dog's barking. Inside the exam room, we played games with him including asking him to do all his tricks, tossing treats all over the floor for him to clean up, playing "go say hi" where one of us sends him to touch the hand of the other one, and, of course, the bucket game. He had one vocalization at a loud voice outside the room but he was not reactive besides that. I am blown away by his progress.

Then, later in the week, our trainer worked with us. We moved our easier games to a smaller space in our house - a hallway with open areas at both ends of it. Hachi was happy despite the new location. We also had the trainer leave and return via the front door several times. She talked to Hachi, looked at Hachi, and switched between sitting and standing (when we started these games months ago, she never looked at Hachi, moved or spoke). None of these things bothered Hachi.

Then, we did the bucket game in our biggest room. We did it there because we knew that we wanted the trainer to move closer to him than ever before. It went superbly. The trainer was within 2' of him, sitting on the floor next to him. She'd say "hand" and then reach into the air near Hachi but didn't actually touch him. He didn't even give her side eye! Woo hoo!


I know that reading these reports is a little like reading about paint drying - slow progress. To be honest, I've stopped projecting into the future for Hachi. I don't think about goals on a regular basis. Rather, I look at what he can do *today*, and we work from that place. This non-goal-setting attitude is new for me, and I adopted it as a form of self-protection to avoid disappointment. Surprisingly, the change in attitude coincided with things going much better with Hachi. Perhaps it is a lesson in the power of focusing on Now.

We love our Hachi.

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Animals of Lab Valley from Fall through Winter

There's a spot close to our house in Lab Valley where an aspen grove narrows the travel route to a thin path. Many animals pass that spot and then even cross the bridge by our house despite our presence in the valley. Within our first month here, there was a mountain lion but there hasn't been another since then. However, the variety of animals since then still makes me smile.

Check out the video to find out who we share the valley with.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Thankful Thursday

I'm starting to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel, and for that, I am grateful. It is 6 weeks since my surgery so things are close to on schedule. My range of motion improves day by day. I am starting some strengthening exercises. It feels so good to be on the road to regaining strength. The only worry is that I seem to have a nerve "entrapped" in the scar tissue of my surgically reconstructed shoulder. That hurts and keeps me awake at night. I am told that it should probably resolve as my range of motion returns.

I am allowed to take short bike rides outdoors. No trails or bumps or falling down are allowed. I had to smirk about the "no falling down" rule. I never plan to fall! But I am being very careful. My goal is to be able to ride on all my favorite trails this summer.

I also can pick up a camera again. I started with a little pocket camera, and I've progressed to my normal camera. I support it with my normal arm (left) and push the shutter with my surgical arm. Taking photos has made my heart so happy!

I am thankful. This has been a dark winter for me. I'm doing the work to feel better, and I am seeing results. Big smile.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Moose Alley became Coyote Alley in Wintertime

 The place in Lab Valley where the mother moose and her calf spent tons of time last summer turned into "coyote alley" over the winter.  I love these beautiful canines, especially in the crisp winter light trotting across the snow.

Check out the video!

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

This week saw more progress for Hachi.

First, we had a really good visit to the vet clinic exam room. Hachi had only one minor outburst at noises in the hallway. For the rest of the time, he relaxed more than ever before. We had him do his repertoire of tricks in the room. And, for the first time, he relaxed enough to want to explore the room. He sniffed all of the corners, furniture, and veterinary equipment. I thought that his ability to explore was a huge sign of his less-stressed state of mind. He did super well when we did a mock exam on him. Afterwards, we started talking about how to introduce another person into the room. That'll be a big step.

Then, our wonderful neighbors offered us the chance to use their house for our weekly appointment with our trainer. A new setting can be tough for an underconfident dog. Hachi handled it well. He was curious about their house, sniffing and looking around. But then he settled into our normal routine. We played all our usual games, and we also did the bucket game with our trainer. This week, she was within 4' of him (it was 6' last week), playing the role of the vet without actually touching him. She said "hand" and then reached toward him as if she was going to touch him. He was fine with it!

Weeks like this one are so rewarding! We love our Hachi.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Shyla Saturday

This was from one of our big snows last April. There was a big storm in the forecast for this week but, like our other spring storms this year, it seems to be petering out. While my heart yearns for true spring, I know that our huge spring storms protect us from wildfires and nourish our wildflowers. So, I am a bit sad that it's petering out.

This girl makes me so happy. She is still a very young spirit, and I want to keep her just like this. I cannot wait for the day that I can snuggle with her again. My shoulder is still too ouchy for that. The shoulder pain wakes me up every night and often keeps me awake. One night as I lay there in pain, Shyla came over and rested her chin on my belly - which was so soothing and did not hurt me at all. I hope that it becomes a habit!

Friday, April 8, 2022

A year in the life of a bear marking tree

I'm starting to think that I should not even try to post after physical therapy. I'm so tired every time that I make big mistakes. In this case, I posted the wrong video. I have fixed it. Sorry about that!

It's always fun to look back at a full season at a very popular bear marking tree. It's fun to see the big dominant bears, the female bears, and the cubs all interact with it. This one had a lot of visitors last season, and I hope that you enjoy seeing them all leave their scents upon the tree! 

Our bears are starting to emerge from their dens so they will soon be marking these trees again. That makes me happy! Check out the video if you have time.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Thankful Thursday

One morning recently, a gorgeous sunrise sky gradually appeared on the eastern horizon. I went to get my little pocket camera to photograph it. I stepped out into the chilling air, and a sound stopped me in my tracks. A robin was singing its heart out from the treetops. The sound of his song accompanying the brilliant sky brought such happiness to my heart.

I am thankful for every little sign of springtime and for the morning skies that delight me so often.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Wordless Wednesday

 The desert in springtime makes me smile, especially when it's blooming!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

A spot where the moose were as thick as mosquitos!

I've had some time to look through my footage of animals who were very close to our house in Lab Valley over the past year.

In one amazing spot, mama moose and their calves loved to hang out. Soon, it will be as green as in that video, and the moose will be as thick as mosquitos! Check out the video if you have time.

Monday, April 4, 2022

The Hachi Chronicle

Progress with Hachi continued to be slow and steady. Our session with our trainer went really well. Hachi is mostly relaxed around her. We are working toward having our trainer substitute for me in the bucket game. You may remember that the bucket game involves Hachi focusing his eyes on the treats being held by the Runner as a way to tell us that he's ready for me to touch him. After his eyes are focused on the treats, I say "hand", and then I put my hand(s) on him. We use this game for fake vet exams, for looking at any part of him that we're worried about, and even for clipping his toe nails. 

We are preparing Hachi for the trainer to participate by gradually playing the bucket game closer and closer to her. This week, she was about 6' away. After we did a few reps with me saying "hand" and doing the normal routine, the trainer started being the one to say "hand". After saying it, she reached toward Hachi but, since she was 6' away, she didn't even come close to touching him.

We will gradually move the game closer and closer to the trainer until she can reach out and touch him. That will simulate a vet examining him.


We are getting closer to our goal, one teeny tiny step at a time.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Shyla Saturday

After shoulder PT today, I am completely wiped out and so sore. So, I'll simply share a photo of my sweet Shyla. She is the queen of silhouettes!

Friday, April 1, 2022

Teeny Tiny Highlights Video

You might remember "Teeny Tiny" the bear cub from last summer. His name is based on the fact that I thought that he was the son of our biggest bear named "Tiny". He was a character right from the beginning showing independence from his mom the very first time that my cams saw him. Then, he started marking trees and stomp marking within a short time of leaving the den with his mother. 

He delighted me and made me laugh all summer long. If his mother is true to her usual schedule this spring, we won't see him before she sends him off on his own prior to her participating in the May-June mating season. Don't get me wrong - I hope that we see him but there's a good chance that we won't.

So, it seemed like a fun to put together clips of his antics from last summer so we can all remember this precocious cub. The final video made me smile and chuckle, and I hope that it does the same for you!