Gotcha!

Today is Koda’s gotcha day. Or maybe it’s mine…. I’m not sure who got who but we’ve got each other now. After two years our (almost) two and half year old Golden Retriever puppy has finally begun growing out of puppyhood and into… well whatever comes next.

Like many other things Holly and I do we decided to rescue Koda on kind of a whim after Holly gave into my obsession with looking at Golden Retriever puppies on Facebook and Instagram. And also my incessant nagging about how we needed another dog. Sitting after dinner or at breakfast or anywhere else when I would see a picture of a puppy and say, “Look a puppy!” Or, “We need a puppy; Kali’s getting old and Koda needs an active playmate”. Or… “Can we please please please please please get another puppy?”. I may have exaggerated the “pleases” but you get the idea. I was begging!

So one night when I showed Holly a picture of a puppy on the facebook page of the rescue group all my girls have come from she says, “Michael if you want another puppy, get one.” Holly and I almost always make big decisions together but in this case I really wanted a pup and Holly was reticent. She must have thought it would be better to have a puppy in her face than my laptop or iPad with pictures of puppies in her face. I called the rescue group organizer and said I was in. The next day I drove to pick up my sweet sweet Koda and the rest, as they say, is history was a lot harder than I had planned.

Koda totally changed the dynamics of the pack. She was, and still is, tenacious, fearless, and had mouth on her that would make your English Mastiff blush! She was four months old when we rescued her. When I brought her home she was intimidated by Kloe and Kali for about 3 minutes. She tried to take charge and they kind of let her. At the time I thought she’d be the alpha by the time she was six months old. Kali was nine at the time and slowing down. Kloe was two and not quite ready to be the mother authority figure. Kloe also has such a gentle demeanor she let Koda walk all over her at first. They eventually worked it out – sometime around last week ūüôā – and Koda has grown into a lovely young lady loving dog full of piss and vinegar. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Happy Gotcha Day Koda, Koda Koda Koda, Kodachrome, Kode-red, Suger Pie Honey Bunches of Oats, Suger Beets. And all of the other goofy names I have for you. You have made me better at being a doggie parent and probably a better human being too. But dogs have a way of doing that to us uprights, don’t they?

Kloe Hates Cats

So Koda pretends to hate cats. Mostly I think because she knows Kloe hates them. When Koda sees one of the feral cats before Kloe does, she’ll sound the alarm with her high bark and then immediately look at Kloe. “Kloe, there’s a cat. See it? See it? C’mon, lets go get it.”

Read more ›

Falling In Love With Koda

I’ve always taken for granted that I love all my girls desperately and without reservation. ¬† ¬† ¬† So I caught myself by surprise recently when I was looking at Koda and realized that I had fallen in love with her. ¬† Not at that moment, or even on that day. ¬† But over the months I had fallen head over heals in love with the youngest of my three girls.

That’s not to say that I don’t love my other girls with equal passion. ¬† I do. ¬†But I realize now that the dynamics of adding a third dog placed more demands on the pack than I had anticipated. ¬†Like children to some degree adding numbers to your family has an exponential effect. ¬† One dog is like having one dog. ¬†Two is like four and three is like nine. ¬† Or at least that’s how it feels at times. ¬†My love is bottomless so it’s not really a problem. They put more in my tank than take out…

Koda, now 21 months, joined our pack at four months old. ¬†From the moment I brought her home it was clear that she was going to be a force to be reckoned with¬†a handful. ¬†She had tenacity both physically and vocally. ¬†In play with her big sister Kloe – who outweighed her by almost 60 pounds at the time – Koda never backed down even when Kloe tried to tell her enough was enough. ¬† When I told her I didn’t like something she was doing she would slink her body around puffing up her cheeks and letting out a stream of profanities vocalizations that sounds like “A rooo rooo rooo!” ¬†If I were to ¬†translate those sounds into words they would have to be written something like, “#@%&#*!!”.

Koda’s tenacity and determination was evident from day one. ¬† The Golden K sits on five acres and the girls have designated fenced areas for their safety. ¬†Koda quickly found that she could slip through the bars of a wrought iron gate that leads out of one of those fenced areas. ¬† In some ways it was endearing because the only reason she wanted to escape was to be me with who at the time was doing some work in another part of the property. ¬† I put chicken wire on the fence the next day to keep her from slipping through the bars. ¬†No problem for Koda – she scaled the fence, again in an effort to follow me to where I was going. ¬†There were several iterations of this as I experimented with various methods to keep her inside the safety zone. ¬†With each escape she would come trotting up to me smiling as if to say, “I found you. I’m here. ¬†I figured out how to scale the fence”, or “I missed you and I was able to slip under the bottom of the railing” and so on.

Koda was destructive at times chewing on furniture and finding her way to clothes, shoes, and other personal items. ¬† Some of that’s on me of course but still Koda seemed to set new household records for finding her way to trouble. ¬† The drip lines in the garden? ¬†No matter how deep I buried them Koda found them. ¬†Sprinkler heads? No problem. Apparently she knows how to twist them off the risers and with her jaw. ¬† Last summer was dry and brown in the garden to say the least!

Koda Koda Koda! ¬† The typical third child who believes the rules don’t apply to them. ¬†But over the months this tenacious pup has fallen into line (mostly). ¬† ¬†Through maturity and a lot of time and training on our part Koda has tempered her “enthusiasm” and is learning to respect the pack. ¬†She and I recently completed intermediate obedience training with our local AKC group. ¬†I was so happy and proud to see how eager she has become to learn and please me as her handler and as her dad.

Throughout much of last year Kloe was injured or recovering from her bi-lateral TPLO surgery. ¬†During much of that time Koda was challenging the status quo and finding new ways to test our patience. ¬†Much of our energy went into “managing” Koda and nursing Kloe back to health. ¬†Plus Kali is getting on in years (almost 11) and sometimes needs special attention and help. ¬†Distraction was definitely a theme for 2019!

I now realize that throughout these past and sometimes tumultuous 17 months I was falling in love with Koda. ¬†Maybe it was the aforementioned distractions. ¬† Maybe I simply took it for granted. ¬†Certainly I didn’t expect this deepening of love to be a journey. ¬†¬†I don’t believe Koda will ever lose the tenacity she displayed from the moment she arrived home. ¬† Nor do I want her to. I believe it will serve her well over the years even if at times it is a challenge for me. ¬†In many ways it has helped me to be a better pup-parent.

As it turns out falling in love doesn’t happen over night. ¬† It really is a journey and I’m ¬†blessed to have Koda as my guide.

Koda then and now

 

 

Koda Gotcha Day

Koda’s “Gotcha Day” was this past Saturday and it came and went without fanfare or much excitement. ¬† The same can’t be said for the first year she’s been with us. ¬†It’s been quite the year of the puppy around the Golden K… ¬†In many ways the Year of Koda!

We adopted Koda at 16 weeks old through the same Golden Retriever rescue group all our girls have come through.  As soon as I got her home I realized we had one tenacious pup on our hands.   Upon getting home I introduced her to our other girls who were only mildly interested.

Upon arriving home with Koda, Kali – almost ten years old at the time – had the same reaction she had when we brought Kloe home two years before: alternating looks between Koda and me,¬†“Sniff, sniff…. WOOF, BARK, WOOF”. ¬†Translation: ¬†“Oh no no no. ¬†You take that little pup right back to where you got her! ¬†I will not stand for that in my house.”

Kloe was much more interested sniffing Koda up , down and under. ¬†They began running and playing and it was now evident to Kali, and much to her chagrin, that this pup was here to stay. ¬†Kali was probably thinking, “Great Kloe, we had it pretty good here just the two of us and now because of your open mindedness and welcoming demeanor this pup is probably going to stay”. ¬†But Kali being Kali who above all is a gentle and loving soul quickly accepted Koda and has even taken on the occasional role of mom to her.

Koda was not shy about immediately exploring her new surroundings and getting in the face of her new sisters. ¬†If her sisters tried to “school” Koda she would put her head down and her butt up in the air, puff up her mouth, and make this “aroo roo roo” sound as if to say, “bring it!”. ¬†This has become a signature trait for this fearless little girl.

Koda’s tenacity was also immediately evident in her play, in her response to being scolded, and in her unrelenting desire to engage in rough play with her older sister Kloe. ¬†She quickly learned and seem to accept that Kali was not going to play with her. ¬†But as long as Kloe responded to Koda’s overtures that was fine for Koda. ¬†As most puppies will do Koda initiated play with Kloe often by blind-siding her and jumping on her back or with a head crashing ¬†tackle to her face. ¬†The thing about it was that Koda at that time was just 22 pounds and Kloe was 80. ¬†It didn’t seem to phase Koda.

Most older dogs instinctively are aware of their larger size and will go easy on a younger smaller pup. ¬†Kloe started out this way but quickly learned that Koda was not your normal little pup who acquiesces to an older and much larger dog. ¬†When provoked Kloe would thrash Koda around pretty good but each time Koda went back for more usually with an extended “aroo roo roo” head low to the ground and butt in the air tail ‘awagging. ¬†“Bring it ! ¬†You’re not so big. ¬†I can take it and give you some right back….a roo roo roo roo…”

Koda has been more challenging than her sisters ever were. Kali was a mature five year old when we adopted her and she demonstrated immediate respect for authority and her surroundings. ¬†Kloe was a normal puppy with normal challenges but she is a rule follower by nature and therefore has always been easy to manage. ¬†Koda on the other hand? ¬†Well, “aroo roo roo” says it all!

“Down Koda”. ¬†“Aroo roo roo”. ¬† “Koda leave it!” ¬†“Aroo roo roo, GRRRR, aroo!”.

Koda is still learning that every dog she meets is not instantly ready or able to play and that every stranger we meet is not a human trampoline for her personal use. ¬†She is also slowly learning that good things happen when she is calm and obedient. ¬†I’m growing too. ¬†I’ve had to learn and deploy different training and management techniques. ¬†I’ve had to develop more patience. ¬†And, I’ve become a bit more tenacious myself in my commitment to helping Koda become the best dog she can be.

So one year down – the year of the Koda – and God willing many many more to come!

Happy Gotcha Day sweetie girl Koda!

IMG_6088

Koda First day at the Golden K

IMG_6124

Koda at about 5 months¬†“aroo roo roo!”

 

IMG_7141

The heart of The Golden K

img_7484

Koda on her Gotcha Day

 

 

 

Christmas Trees At The Golden K

This will be our third Christmas at The Golden K., our mountain home in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.   When living in suburbia with our now grown children Holly and I  bought high priced Christmas Trees, usually Noble Pines, from various lots or drove miles to cut them down ourselves.  Later we invested in artificial trees that looked great until the lights started to go out after being wrapped back up and stored for a couple of years.

While packing up Suburbia three years ago we threw out the last artificial tree. ¬† When Christmas rolled around several months later, and now living in the mountains we went to a local nursery to see about buying a live tree. ¬† While looking at what was available we had a “duh” moment realizing that we have five acres full of trees. ¬†Why would we spend money on a Christmas tree when we have hundreds of trees of our own to choose from. ¬† Our pine trees are a hundred feet tall and we don’t live in altitude high enough for firs. ¬†But we do have a lot of cedars so choosing a small cedar for our Christmas tree each year from our own property has become our new tradition.

While cedars are not ideal for hanging ornaments it hasn’t mattered to us. ¬† This new tradition has become important to us as a symbol of our transition out of Suburbia and our new way of life in the mountains.

So today we headed out with the girls and a chain saw in tow to hunt for a tree.

After about 20 minutes of surveying our options we chose a tree on the edge of our property.   After giving the tree a sniff and once over the girls approved of our selection.  Good thing because it was already cut!

After some trimming of branches and securing the tree stand we were ready to trim the tree.

The girls were not to interested in helping with the trimming and almost immediately went into power nap mode. ¬†Kloe woke up briefly to “snoopervise” (thanks for the term Monika!) but it didn’t last too long.

After a couple of hours of trimming the tree was done.  The girls seemed to approve as they leaned into to get on their Christmas cheer.

IMG_6498

*Editors Note: ¬†The girls would have had on their Christmas scarves for this photo but that is just not possible with a six month old puppy who would rip her sister’s scarves to pieces as well as her own…..¬†

Life changes

Life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

On one hand things really shouldn’t change too much when you already have two other dogs that already dictate the flow of household. ¬†On the other hand when those two dogs are two and a half and nine years old it’s a little bit like bringing a new born home just after all your existing kids are out of diapers.

Kali, the nine year old and Kloe the two and a half year old are pretty self sufficient and respectful of the house and our belongings. ¬† When Koda – the puppy – came home the dog gates went up, regular trips outside for house breaking began again, sleeping in became a thing of the past, and all shoes and slippers had to be put away when they weren’t on our feet. ¬† Is it hectic? ¬†Duh! ¬†Is it worth the disruption to the pack? ¬† Absolutely!

Little Koda, now five and a half months old and 36 pounds is tenacious with attitude.

This is not a great combination when we need an immediate behavior correction. ¬†But I think in the long run it will serve her well once she learns how to pick her battles. ¬† She is quite vocal tells us in no uncertain terms that she is not pleased to know that she cannot jump on visitors or the furniture. ¬†A little yelp or “Roo roo roo” as she begrudgingly adheres to our request to behave is not uncommon.

For now (and hopefully not forever) Koda is binary. ¬†She is either on or off. ¬†When on, her energy level is 11 on a scale of 10. ¬†During play Kloe will wrap her entire mouth around Koda’s head to demonstrate her dominence and deliver a lesson. ¬† Koda will momentarily acquiesce to Kloe’s reminder of who is bigger and stronger before immediately striking back with her own gnashing teeth never for a moment acknowledging the 45 pound advantage Kloe has on her. ¬†Kloe does shoulder rolls landing on Koda like a greco wrestler pinning her down only for Koda to reemerge and perform the same move on Kloe.

Much to Koda’s chagrin Kali is not interested in any type of play with her. ¬†At nine years old and visibly much slower than she was only a year ago Kali prefers sleeping to almost all activities other than eating. ¬†I’ve seen Koda sneak attack a sleeping Kali landing on her back and riding her like a bronco as Kali gets up trying to toss her off while she moves off to another corner of the room to sleep. ¬†Koda used to sass back Kali just like she does to us when being told no. ¬†“Yelp! Roo roo roo…! ¬†Play with me…” ¬†To Koda’s credit she now (mostly) understands that Kali is the big sister she sleeps next to when she is in the off position. Kloe, although sometimes a reluctant participant, is the big sister used for rough play when Koda is in the on position.

It’s striking how the dynamics of a family can change so dramatically when that newborn baby puppy comes home. ¬† I think it rocked Kali and Kloe’s world a bit to have a new little sister that seems to get more attention and more treats. ¬† I’ve been caught off guard from time to time realizing that Koda is not Kloe and training may be more challenging and that different techniques may need to be deployed. ¬†These pups are not plug and play. ¬†But I like it that way. ¬†Like people, dogs are unique and don’t fit into the same mold as the previous puppy. ¬†Life would be boring if all of your dogs had the same personality and demeanor. ¬† It might be easier but so much less “fun”.

So is it hectic?  You bet.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

So yeah, life changes just a little bit when a puppy joins your pack.

IMG_6301

Left to right Kloe, Koda, and Kali

 

Number Three

Why this yearning for dogs?… Maybe it’s the endless feed of Golden Retriever puppy pictures served up in a Facebook group I belong to. ¬†Or perhaps it’s because of an Instagram account I follow that posts nothing but Golden Retriever puppy pictures. ¬†Or maybe, and most likely, it’s a life force that pulses through my body physically, spiritually, and emotionally. ¬† Something in me that guides me and defines me all at the same time. ¬† I joke that if I have the chance to hang out with people or dogs I choose dogs. ¬†I guess its not completely a joke. ¬†I gravitate towards dogs over people if there is a pup anywhere I am. ¬†I consider myself to be a very social person so it’s not that I shy away from people. ¬†I enjoy people. ¬†It’s just that if there is a dog around it usually commands my attention. ¬†If there is more than one dog more of my attention (and joy).

So I guess it was inevitable that we would eventually add a third dog to our pack. ¬† This morning I picked up “Koda” from True Love Rescue (TLR). ¬†TLR is a wonderful rescue group in Northern California. ¬†It’s the same group that brought us Kali and Kloe. ¬†And yeah, it’s a “K” thing with the girl’s names and we call our mountain home The Golden K where it’s mostly about the pups.

As with many things in our ¬†life Holly and I don’t hesitate once we’re ready to do something; buy a car, buy a house, move from the Bay Area to the mountains, and adopt another pup. ¬†It was just four days ago that we decided the time was right, especially when we learned that there were two pups remaining from a rescued litter. ¬†We called the organizer, told her we wanted to adopt “purple” (the color of the pup’s collar in the picture) and here we four days later with our new pup Koda. ¬†The big girls, Kali and Kloe, were very welcoming and there was no drama when I introduced them to Koda. ¬†Kali was mostly indifferent but polite and accepting. ¬†Kloe, as she is with most new dogs she meets of any age or size, immediately engaged with Koda, with puppy poses, and sniffs of all the usual body parts. ¬†Kloe followed Koda around as she explored her new surroundings and ultimately they engaged in some light play. ¬†Kloe restrained herself appropriately and was instinctively aware of the 60 pound size difference between her and Koda. ¬†I was proud of the the big girls and I know they’ll both be great role models and teachers for Koda in the weeks, months, and years to come.

So yes, number three was inevitable. ¬†I can only ignore the aforementioned life force and pulse in me for so long. ¬†As I end the post I reflect on some of the things I know about dogs in general and especially my girls. ¬†They can lower my blood pressure simply by being nearby. ¬†They can calm me after a difficult day or negative experience. ¬†They can lick my tears away when I cry, and make me laugh when I’m sad. ¬† Sure they can try my patience at times but their patience with me is unlimited. ¬†And the unconditional love they have for me is humbling and consistently challenges me to be a better person.

I  look down and see that all three are now all asleep at my feet.  And for this moment in time I am harmonized with the world, The Golden K, and my girls.

KODA