Understanding Koda

Competition

Although the youngest member of the pack Koda has never taken a back seat. She can be pushy when she wants attention. She can be loud when she has a point to make. She has always been willing eager to stand her ground. The first thing to understand about Koda is that she is competitive!

Kloe was just two and a half when Koda at four months joined the Golden K Pack. Koda never really considered Kloe a surrogate mom and Kloe didn’t spend much energy schooling Koda. I think part of the reason for this is that Kali was oldest. Kali was nine and Kloe still looked up to her as the alpha and mother figure she had always been since Kloe was 9 weeks old.

At first Kali wanted little to do with Koda. When Koda was first introduced to her new sisters, Kali gave out a little woof, briefly sniffed her and walked off and seemed to say, “Oh no no no. You take that whipper snapper away. Things were just fine – perfect in fact – when it was just Kloe and I”.

From day one Koda stood her ground, was first in line for treats, and first one out the door when it opened. She pushed herself in front of her two older sissies and had no idea how much smaller she was than them. In Koda’s mind she was the biggest and the alpha. If there was something to be won she was the one!

Tenacity

For Kloe’s part and upon meeting Koda she gave her the once over and expressed some physical dominance as she sized up the newest family member. And for a few minutes it seemed as though Koda would acquiesce to Kloe being older, and much larger. Koda was 22 pounds and Kloe was 75! And here is the second thing to understand about Koda: she’s is tenacious!

From the first day home Koda never backed down to Kloe. They played chase and Koda kept up. The wrestled and at first Kloe was gentle fully aware of her size advantage. As an older and bigger dog when Kloe had enough she tried to let Koda know with a firm gesture like a take down or firm mouth on the neck. But Koda wouldn’t let up. A less tenacious pup would acquiesce until the older dog was once again ready to play. Not Koda! She was like a heat seeking missile with endless fuel. Throw her down and she got back up. Throw her down again and she got up again this time with more determination. And on and on…. Her competitive nature coupled with tenacity made her a formidable playmate for Kloe even with the weight and experience differential. Kloe was never mom in Koda’s eyes. She was her big sissy and she was determined prove herself. Wrestling matches usually ended up in a tie, which was saying quite a lot for Koda.

Communication

Koda has a high pitched bark. Koda has a guttural play-growl. Koda puffs up her mouth with air and vocalizes, “A roo-roo-roo…” The third thing you need to understand about Koda is that she is a very good communicator. Because the high pitched bark is startling it would be easy to think that Koda is just being annoying. But I’ve learned that when she barks there’s a reason. For example if she is outside and wants to come in she barks at the door. Contrast this to Kloe who, when outside and wants to come in will sit in front of the door or window until she’s noticed. When Koda is inside and Kloe is outside if Koda sees Kloe at the door or window she’ll bark to let us know that Kloe wants to come in. If there is a toy under a table or chair that Koda can’t get to, and she needs help, she’ll come up to us with a combination of the guttural growl and her “Roo-roo”, tail flapping and butt swirling around. We’ve learned that this means she needs help with something. We’ll ask her to show us and she will take us to what she needs help with.

A couple of years ago, when Kali was still with us but becoming more and more feeble, Holly and I were sitting on the deck relaxing. Koda came up from a part of the property that was mostly out of sight. She was growling and a “roo-roo-rooing” and very earnest about needing our help. “What Koda, what is it?'” I said as I stood up and followed her. Koda led me to Kali who had become stuck in a hole in the ground and couldn’t get up.

Loyalty

Although Koda competes for my attention when Kloe is nearby and always wants the toy or bone that Kloe has, she transcends that behavior when it comes to family. And that is the fourth thing to understand about Koda: she is loyal! Kloe is our sentry and protector. If there is a perceived or imagined predator nearby Kloe will sound the alarm with her very deep bark. Wherever Koda may be at that time she jumps up and follows Kloe off into “battle”; many times without any specific knowledge of what the alarm is about. For Koda if Sissy is on the move so is she. As competitive as Koda is she takes her cues from Kloe. If Kloe goes outside Koda follows. If Koda wants to go outside and Kloe doesn’t follow Koda stays inside.

When I call Koda she comes. No matter where I am she follows my voice and comes to see what I want or need. Of all my girls past and present Koda has the best recall. To a large degree that is training. But I also believe a big part of it is loyalty. Koda and I have a bond and we are loyal to each other.

I think the reason for that, although not always but now for sure, I understand Koda.

11 Comments

Bless you for recognizing all the subtle differences between your Golden Girls. I see too many folks who ignore the simplest communication signs and wonder why their dogs ‘ignore’ them when in fact they were conditioned through that neglect. Koda is amazing with the way she communicates with you. Well done.

Koda has a big personality, and I love that you appreciate it! Too many people would see it as a challenge and want to “put her in her place.” Dogs like Koda are special, and they can spread a whole lot of joy when they land in the right home….which Koda did!

Koda was extremely challenging when we first adopted her. I’ve learned a lot about her over the past four years and there were times it was hard to look beyond her challenging traits and see the loving dog she is. But I’ve probably learned even more about myself during that period. Thanks Ann for always being so supportive!

Aren’t dogs fascinating when you take the time to know up; to understand them; to see their nuances; to really have them as a family member.

I know so many dog owners who never get beyond the “child to be constantly disciplined” mindset, without taking the time and trouble to understand why their dog’s behavior is what it is. I know so many who treat their pup like a human child without giving any consideration to the fact that they have a dog, and a dog is not a human child. So many people seem to think that intuition is all one needs, and so many others see professional guidance an unnecessary expense. I feel sorry for those people because they are missing out on so much, but I feel more sorry for the poor dog as he/she struggles to find his/her niche in their new home.

Michael: You will be interested to know that senior citizen Ray now often needs to go outside during the night. He has somehow found out that I do not react too well to being touched while I am asleep (“Startle Response” in dogs!), so last night at 2:30am, I am awoken by my pillow being nudged up and down! He pushes his nose under the pillow and then does his thing. He is a genius!

Nuances I think is the key word. So much alike but so very different as one begins to break down the layers. And like Ray they continue to get smarter with experience and through observing our every move. Good boy Ray for being so gentle with Colin! 🙂. And good boy to Colin 😉 for being so attentive to Ray, your senior, and love of your life.

I love your posts about your Golden Girls! In so many ways, Koda reminds me of Ducky … competitive, loyal, etc. A bit on the sassy side, but completely lovable.

I miss my Ducky so much that she sent me Zoey, who is like her in every way but their respective breeds. Zoey is as sassy as they come. Just like Ducky. And like your Koda, quite tenacious. Zen weighs at least 60 lbs. more than Zoey, but you wouldn’t know it from the way she plays with him. 😊

Once again, it seems we have a cosmic connection through our dogs.

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