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Monday, April 30, 2012

Springtime with the Duo, Bears, and Flowers

We've had another good day of rides and hikes in our forest. After talking with the vet, I have an even better understanding of how lucky we are that K can still be so active.
It turns out that K has an infection. We're hoping that her recent fearfulness will wane as the antibiotics do their work. Outdoors, where her fears take a back seat, she's charging full speed ahead!
We all wandered a big meadow at sunset yesterday, enjoying the golden light on the golden grass. Tiny green sprouts are poking out of the ground between last years tall brown grass stalks although they're not obvious yet.
This morning, I discovered that a bear had visited Black Bear Trail yesterday, showing off for a cam. I'll show you more of that ursine escapade in the near future, including video.
My wildlife cameras keep me amused, even in stressful times. I am fascinated by the notion that huge animals, including black bears and mountain lions, share our forest yet we rarely see them. I know how active the bears are nearby only because I have motion-activated cameras in key bear marking spots. The bear above is rubbing his/her fur hard against a marking tree, leaving a trademark scent.

It really must be spring! Bears wandering the woods and Pin Cherries blooming!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mountain dog

We had a visitor yesterday afternoon. As you can see, Darcy looks a lot like our R.
Darcy is about 1 year old. He and R play absolutely non-stop - completely wild, unbridled, top-speed playing - and they both love it.The photo below was of R during a play session with Darcy.
They move so fast that I normally can't get a camera focused on them. Yesterday, the Runner switched their collars. Normally, Darcy's is blue and R's is red, and that's how we tell them apart when they're moving so fast. Both Darcy's human and I fell for it. It wasn't until our friend started to take "Darcy,  the blue-collared dog" home that we realized the trick because R refused to go with him. That was the "ah ha" moment. Hehe.

Now, K gets worried about the raucous play when Darcy comes to visit. Her fearfulness around the house is still growing. She's recently become afraid of her food bowl. Sometimes, she refuses to eat from it unless I sit on the floor next to it. That's fine - I'll do whatever our girl needs right now. I think that the shifting of the bowl on the floor scares her so I'm going to get a heavy ceramic bowl that won't shift as she eats. And, I'm going to get the vet to check her out this week to see if there's anything fixable that might make her feel less afraid around the house. She's fine when she's snoozing... but, at other times, she occasionally becomes paralyzed with fear.

Throughout her whole life, fearfulness has accompanied illness for K. Consequently, it worries me that the fearfulness is growing. But, thank goodness, she's not afraid of anything outdoors.

When other dogs aren't around, she'll race her brother.
And, her soft eyes exude confidence when she's out in the mountains.
Out in the mountains is where we're both the happiest, even when storms loom on the horizon.
I think that K is a "mountain dog" and I'm a "mountain girl". A good match...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Never wait...

As bursts of spring have arrived interspersed in wintertime blasts, I've been reminded to never put off doing the things that make you happy on this Earth.
New aspen leaves
Last fall, K and I set out to climb a favorite mountain of mine. My spine was hurting so we turned back before the top. I confidently told K that we'd summit that mountain "next summer". I've learned a lesson from that confident statement of mine - don't wait until "next year" to do something that you love!

Here's the summit enshrouded in clouds during a recent sunset. The snow on its slopes is glowing golden.
As you can see in the photo below taken today, winter hasn't fled from the high mountains yet. That's a coating of new snow on the mountains that fell last night. And, K was romping near our house this morning, at much lower elevation than the high mountains.
Last summer, I never visualized that K would have cancer now. It didn't even cross my mind. I assumed that we'd have another summer to climb the high Rocky Mountains. Never wait to do what is important to you...

We'll enjoy what we can do now... and, perhaps a miracle will make a summit attempt possible for the two of us this summer.
In the meantime, our motto is "Carpe Diem", even if we can't climb that huge mountain right now. We can seize the day in other ways.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Friday

Thank for all of your kind comments yesterday. No doubt, this isn't an easy time but the supportive words of all of you help immensely.

The Duo and I mountain biked together this morning, in cool and misty air that is typical of spring here. After climbing up to Hug Hill, the Duo rested side-by-side. This photo is so typical. R is focused on K, and K is focused on me.
Then, I released them, and they sprung into action. K can stick with R for the first step or so. The first photo is the instant that I called them, and they'd both barely started to move toward me.
Later in our ride, some of the mist evaporated as the sun burned through, and the Duo ran together. K had a step on R this time! (but R says that he was "letting her win")
These two are such different dogs from each other but they've forged a bond over the years. K is getting more reticent about playing with rowdy R but they are still happy siblings who enjoy hanging out together.
Happy Friday, Everyone!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakfast on the Deck

The days of breakfast on the deck in the morning sunshine have begun. K loves to bask and snooze while I drink my coffee. The hummingbirds arrived about a week ago so the buzz of their wings, along with the singing of chorus frogs, provides the background music for breakfast. I can't imagine a better start to a day.
After our deck breakfast, both halves of the Duo joined me for a mountain bike ride.
It was a warm and sunny morning, with blue skies except for the tell-tale clouds hovering over the mountains. When there are clouds that early, thunder storms are almost always in the cards. It was true today.
We played on Hug Hill. I adore seeing the Duo together.
And, when the dark dogs got hot, we retreated to the shady pine forests.
After I left the Duo at home to snooze, I went for a ride by myself. I felt filled with angst about K. I'm seeing small signs of the advance of her disease, and it gives me a feeling like my stomach is flipping. As I pedaled and thought about it, I suddenly blurted out loud "I'm scared".

Then, I wondered... What exactly am I scared of? I know where K's health is headed, and I know that we'll protect K from suffering. I realized that I'm scared of the uncertainties about how and when her decline will happen. I'm also terrified of the decisions that we'll have to make. Will I have the courage that I need, even when I desperately want to stay together with K?  And, after the ultimate decision, how will I make it through the grief? It's odd that, even when I know that grief is coming, it still hurts like hell when it arrives. Yes, I'm scared.
Somehow, acknowledging that I was scared helped me. Part of why my mountain biking habit is so good for me is that it provides time alone with my thoughts. That often clarifies my feelings... even if they are scary.

I think that my fear is why my back is screaming with pain today. I've managed my spine issues pretty well recently - until today.

Enough of the serious talk...(I promise to be less serious in coming days). Check out the Duo at sunset! Ahhhh.... Time to relax.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Springtime romp and wildlife by our house

Our early spring is continuing, and K's energy for romping hasn't waned.
I noticed in today's photos how much K keeps her eyes on me. I often shoot "bursts" of photos when she's moving, and she frequently glances at me while she goes about her business.
Somehow, over the years, I've forged an incredible bond with K. I'm not sure if I've told you about our first meeting but K didn't like me. When we first met, she tried to hide behind a washing machine and then the dryer. When I took her to my car to head toward home from the breeder's house, she caterwauled like she was being tortured. Based on that first day, I never would have predicted the deep love that grew between us.

On this fine spring morning, K showed off as I tried new things with my camera. As some of you know, I'm relatively new to using anything but a point-and-shoot camera. Today, I wanted to play with using long shutter times and panning with K as she ran.

The outcome looks a little psychedelic, almost like abstract art. But, you can see that K stole a glance at me as she trotted by.
I tried the same thing atop Hug Hill. This time, K was focused on the ground ahead of her, which is rocky and rough on top of the hill.
When K and I are out in the forest, I see very little sign that she's sick. She still seems to have energy-to-spare, and joyfully romps. It's only at home where I am noticing that her fearfulness is growing. She fears certain spots in the house and certain sets of steps. These scary places have bothered her throughout her life, with the fear waxing and waning over time. I hope that her recent bout of fearfulness isn't a sign that her illness is progressing (it's 2 weeks until her next checkup). The good news is that these fears disappear outdoors.

K has also been very interested in the scents being left by wildlife in our house's clearing. Since mid-March, a bobcat has come through every 2-3 days. Here he is outside our bedroom window captured by a trail camera.
I was relieved to see that he continued visiting even after I found a dead bobcat in the forest about 2 weeks ago. It wasn't "our" bobcat who died but it still made me sad.

"Our" bobcat has been marking our clearing as his territory regularly. He's peeing in the photo below (he's on the far left).
A few days later, the local breeding pair of coyotes passed the same trail camera in our clearing. First, the male showed off his rapidly healing wound below his left eye. I'm guessing that he's going to be fine.
After the male trotted through and peed in the same place as the bobcat did a few days earlier, the coyote's mate arrived. Look at her rotund belly! I think that there are pups on the way!
After sniffing the tree, she marked the same place as the bobcat marked. I've been seeing this pattern for years - that coyotes and bobcats respond to each others scent markings. They seem almost competitive about territory even though they're different species. I've read that they fight if they see each other and usually the coyotes win.
As you know, the behavior of the wildlife fascinates me... and the scents they leave fascinate K! In fact, K pees over top of the bobcat and coyote scent markings, adding her 2 cents!

Another gift of a spring day here in Colorado. These are special days, and we know it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Each day is a gift

Every day is a gift.
Time with Duo together.
Time with K on her own.
Time playing in the snow drifts that still inhabit our north-facing slopes.
When K was diagnosed with the evil C, I wished with all my heart to have one more springtime with her. Usually, spring doesn't truly begin in the mountains until June. We get big snowstorms in March through May. But, we've had spring weather very early this year. We'll pay a price later with fire danger but I do enjoy being out in the sunshine and warmth with my girl.

We saw blossoms today, some that we usually don't see until a month from now.
I hope that they can survive being buried in snow, because it's sure to happen at least once more!
In the meantime, we will all enjoy this glorious weather and give thanks for the gift of each day together.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Duo and Black Bear Marks Trees!

I've had the chance to spend extra time with both halves of the Duo out in the forest recently. The two of them have gone with me for short mountain bike rides in the mornings. It's a gift... because I love seeing the Duo together.

It's been warm and sunny - simply glorious weather.
These two dark-colored dogs believe it's been a little too warm so we retire to the shaded north-facing slopes when we can.
K had a blast, and that's what life's all about! R and I had fun too!

Today, after I rode with them, I did a solo ride that included checking some faraway trail cameras. Whoa - I hit the jackpot.

A male bear had ambled around a bear-friendly area that houses numerous marking trees that bears like to rub their scent onto. He passed three of my cameras, and the first one was shooting video! It's a super fun video... and here's one photo to give you an idea of what this male bear was doing.
I've made a short video of the behavior of this amazing bear (who might be "Tiny" from last fall). As some of you know, I adore bears, and I love capturing their natural behavior with my trail cameras. Today was a bonanza.

You can watch it here or at Youtube.
Enjoy. Happy Spring!