Tuesday, October 7, 2014

THREE YEARS WITH KAYA

When I first met Kaya, I just knew she was adorable, outgoing and sweet. I had no idea what a smartypants she was or what an incredible athlete she would become. I had no idea how much she would teach me and how much she would make me laugh. I had no idea how warm she would keep me at night and I had no idea of how many adventures we would go on together.


Kaya and I got off to a rough start...sort of. It just took me a long time to figure out how to get us on the same page so that I was not frustrated and she was not bored. For nearly a year there was a lot of leash pulling, whining, yowling, yelping, jumping and dog park humiliation. I wanted to take her to cafes for leisurely lunches and let her run free on hiking trails but know she'd stay close. I wanted her to show visitors her calm, cuddly side, not a Tasmanian devil impression. I wanted to let her run at the beach and not fear she would ruin everyone's picnic. I wanted her to be patient and loving to every dog she met, not to bug the living snot out of all of them.


But with all the treats and praise, all the discipline, structure, clicking and training tools I tried, none of it was coming true. There was only one other logical thing to try. So I got her a brother!


And everything started falling into place. Looking back, it felt like an overnight change. Without her puppy charm to get by on, many dogs and people were finding themselves overwhelmed or annoyed by all that was Kaya. With Norman she finally had herself a constant partner in life. The type of partner who laughs at all her jokes, who revels in any attention he gets from her, who always pretends to want what she has but doesn't really care, who follows her dutifully from place to place and curls up next to her when it's time to sleep.


Here's a video I took of them at the beach just a couple days after bringing Norman home. A week earlier, I was at the same beach with Kaya and spent the entire time chasing after her, tell her what not to do and where not to go. They still play the same way!



I know now that we still had a long way to go after Norman arrived but he certainly sent us in the right direction. Kaya and I have now found our sweet spot. And she can do all of those things I longed for her to do way back when. But it's not that she became this perfect dog that I imagined she would be. It's that I know her well enough to make it work and she knows exactly what I expect from her.


I won't take her to a cafe if I think she's going to be too bored or hyper. She knows to find a bone to chew on if she's too excited about company. And if they want her on the couch with them, I give her a calm down command so that she knows it's time to put her tongue away and relax.


Using fetch as a reward, I set up obedience drills that she couldn't wait to do over and over. She still makes a beeline for things that may get her in trouble but she turns on a dime when I call her name. She often puts herself in a heel without me asking so that she can get that sweet rush when she hears the word, "free!"


How lucky I am to have this special girl in my life. Still a free-spirit but now one that always wants to be by my side, whether she's running laps around me on a 2 hour hike, keeping me safe when I take the trash cans to the curb or burrowing her way under the covers at night, she's always there.


Related Posts:
Kaya's Adoption Story
A Year with Kaya
Two Years with Kaya
Norman's Adoption Story

12 comments:

  1. She's such a beautiful girl and so lucky to have a mom who lets her be herself and let that bright Kaya light shine.

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  2. Congratulations on all your amazing work with Kaya!!

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  3. BEST POST EVER! BEST! Petey was a Tasmanian devil too! Then I learned to make him tired, took him to puppy school and got a great dogwalker!

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    1. Thank you! Good job on figuring out Petey too:D

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  4. Yay for Kaya! Happy three years!

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  5. Oh what a sweet story. I'm so glad you shared that! Especially wonderful to hear how she and Norman hit it off immediately.

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  6. This definitely gives me hope that I'll be able to get Maeby to calm down one day soon...but this also encourages me to get a second dog, which is something I reallllly want but definitely can't do right now haha. Still working on those ideas you gave us to get her to stop barking at others and stop jumping on people. Also, I cannot get over how beautiful Kaya is. Every picture I see just melts my heart a little more.

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    1. Thank you! I've learned so much about my energy too. She is calm(ish) around one of my roommates, greets her normally and then goes back to doing her own thing. My other roommate immediately established himself as the fun and crazy guy even though I asked him to be calm around her. Now she is always jumping on him, acting over-excited and nudgy. I told him again to be calm around her or even ignore her 'til she's calm. But I hear him shouting "Sit! Off! Down! Out!" like rapid fire. And in the next breath, he's saying "Hey Kaya!" and petting her very enthusiastically. I know in his head he is thinking, I've given her a firm command and once she listened, I'll praise her. But then of course she goes crazy again. I think we need to have another conversation... But at least I know now what makes her tick!

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  7. Whenever I read about Kaya and Norman, my heart is filled with happiness and I can't wait to see the next photo of them together. So much love for you three!

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    1. Awe, thank you! I love Knox's pics too & hearing about all your great progress!

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