Sunday, November 11, 2007


Kona is my dog. She is a beautiful border collie that just turned 1 on Halloween. We didn't get her until she was 6 months old. My brother in law has a male and female that he bred and Kona was one of their puppies. She was a bounce back- meaning she was sold and brought back. She was an unwanted puppy.

My wife, Amy, and I have a pet rule; we never buy our animals, we prefer the ones no one else wants. I suppose in some way it makes us feel that if we give an animal a home that we are doing a good thing inviting another creature into our home. Unlike purchasing a pet which feels more like you own the animal. Somehow, the invitation makes it seem like you have a new family member. This is important because it allows you to accept the flaws and the option to return the animal when it doesn't meet your unrealistic expectations is not present.

Kona is a wonderful dog. High on energy, and a fantastic companion. She is sweet and sensitive and will play fetch all day long. Kona is smart. I am pretty sure she is smarter than me, but she lets me think I am in charge (there must be an alpha dog in the pack and I am it, although my family constantly argues about who is the lead dog).

Border collies have been bred to herd sheep. I don't understand how a trait like that can be passed through genes, but she does this herding behavior without any training. When my 3 kids are running around she will try to herd them. If she finds a frog, she tries to dictate where the frog should go. Sometimes I take Kona to my friend's house, he has her brother, Jackson. Kona and Jackson will herd other dogs that come over to visit and they will work as a team when they do it. It is really fascinating to watch.

Kona notices everything. Movement is key- if it moves, she is on it. Some dogs bite. Kona nips to try to get you to move a certain way- she is herding. I have tried to take her to the baseball field more than once. It is too much for her, she can't calm down. Balls are flying every which way, kids are running, there is simply too much for her to deal with and process.

She is a guard dog in the sense that she is a barker. Any noise at the door will set off the alarm- Kona rushes to the door barking. The TV always throws her off. A doorbell sound from a TV show will send her scrambling for the door barking like crazy. It's pretty funny.

I said she is a guard dog, but there is not a vicious bone in her body. She is really quite timid. Vacuums, handheld or upright, will send her cowering in a corner as far away as she can get from the noisy machines. Loud noises, like fireworks will cause her to run away. This past August, we went to a redneck firework show (fireworks in the backyard after a few beverages with few safety controls- the danger makes it more fun) and she ran off for about almost four hours. She does not like balloons. They scare her.

She does have some bad habits. Kona is a chewer. She has chewed on the dinning room furniture, molding on the wall, the banister rails on the stairs and any toy my kids leave on the floor (and some they don't leave on the floor). She still poops in the house- it is always the same spot, so at least we can find it.

People who don't like dogs, well, I don't understand them. I can't say they are not to be trusted because there could be a perfectly good reason as to why they don't like dogs. Dog attacks are more common than most people believe, but the cause of that problem is people. People who don't care for their dogs properly and don't train them to behave. But people who don't like dogs for any good reason, are just people who have never been around the right dog.

Dogs are like love with hair on it. When they accept you as part of their pack, it is unconditional. The love they give is completely disproportionate to the love they receive. I could list many dog stories to illustrate dog's devotion to people, but the improvement in the quality of life of a person who finds a dog friend is more important than depending on a dog to save your life.

Before we got Kona, the morning wake up routine was tough during the school year. Our youngest, Sammy, was a complete grump in the morning. Everyday was filled with screaming and ugliness. But after we got Kona, things changed quickly.

My morning routine is to come downstairs and let Kona out. Then I make the coffee. Next I make the rounds, waking up the kids. This has become Kona's favorite part of the day. She runs to Calvin's door and waits with her tail wagging and a little, "woof," to tell me to hurry up and open the door. When the door opens, she runs in, jumps on his bed and licks his face. He hates this, but he gets up.

Savannah is next. Kona jumps up on her bed and licks her and then she likes to play, "Don't Touch My Baby Girl." This is a game she invented were she blocks me with her body and nips at me until Savannah is awake. Savannah loves this game, it makes her feel special and protected.

Sammy is last on the wake up list. It used to be that he would wake up screaming and angry at me and the rest of the world. Now, Kona jumps on the bed and flicks that little pink tongue across his face and a smile always greets me. Some days are still bad days, but everyday starts with a smile.

There are many more reasons why Kona is my special little girl. She can tear up the house and drop the occasional load, and it will still bother me, but that one smile first thing in the morning makes everything else insignificant. She has left her mark in the kid's play room, and on all of our hearts.

Kona and Sam

No comments: