Dog Days of May

It’s only the end of May but you wouldn’t know it by the weather these days.  It already feels like we’re in the midst of summer!

Kona loves the outdoors, but she really isn’t well suited to the heat.  She still needs her exercise, so we try to compensate for the higher temperatures by cooling her down with water both before and after her walks.  We’ll either turn on the sprinkler and let her play for a minute, or just hose her down.

This weekend as Kona and I were returning from her afternoon walk we passed by Pippa and Emma’s house.  Pippa saw us through the window and started barking.  B and H came out with the dogs and invited us to their backyard for an impromptu play session.

They have a kiddie pool set up on their deck and Kona was in heaven.  Watching her, Pippa and Emma frolic in the water was hysterical.

It was also “dangerous” to be next to the pool if you didn’t want to get wet!

In between “dips” in the pool, B tried to do a bit of training with all three dogs.  Emma and Pippa sat nicely and waited as B slowly walked away from them.

Emma (left), Kona (middle) and Pippa (right)

Kona?  While sit/wait is a trick she knows very well, the excitement of being next to her BFF and the smell of a treat she doesn’t normally eat was too much and she was always the first to break the wait.  Something to work on!

Thanks to H & B for the very fun play session, and to H for the photos!

The Original K

While this blog is dedicated to our adventures as new puppy owners, I thought it was about time I introduced you all to the four-legged furball that stole our hearts long before Kona came to live with us.

I brought home Keegan in the summer of 2000, before I started my final year of university.  He lived in a house of 7 girls for that first year, then spent the next year and a half in Oakville with my parents and sister.  He moved with me to Toronto in the fall of 2002 and has been there for many of the milestones in my adulthood.  Luckily, P is a cat person, and Keegan is a people-cat and the two of them got along famously once introduced.  In fact, ever since P and I moved in together, Keegan has felt like he is more P’s cat then mine at times!

We’ve always said that Keegan is more like a dog than your typical cat.  He always has to be nearby wherever the humans are in his home.  He is a big snuggler, and is content to spend an evening cuddled on your lap.  This can be a bit of a challenge because he is not a small animal.  For the longest time I claimed that I could never get a dog that was smaller than him, which ruled out a lot of breeds.

Keegan checking out our new family member, back when Kona was half his size

One of my biggest concerns when we were deciding to get a puppy was how Keegan would adapt to life with another animal in the house.  As you can see from the photo below, he was not impressed when Kona first arrived.

Other than a few mishaps, we’ve managed to create a peaceful co-existence between the two of them.  This is mainly due to the use of a number of “baby” gates sourced from Kijiji and strategically placed around our Ground Floor.  Keegan has complete control over the living/dining room, foyer and all of the upstairs.  Kona’s territory has grown from the Family Room to include the Kitchen and Laundry Rooms.

Since the only way for Keegan to access his (basement) litter box is through the kitchen, there are some occasional run-ins.  They usually happen when Kona is out for a walk with one of us, and the other person lets Keegan into the kitchen and forgets to let him back out again.

Kona’s breeder had a kitten when Kona’s litter was born so she spent her first 8 weeks playing with a kitten.  She would love to play with Keegan but he has no interest.  If we say Keegan’s name, Kona goes rushing to the gate separating the Kitchen from the foyer with her tail wagging excitedly.  Sometimes Keegan will swat at her nose, but since he has no front claws this isn’t a deterrent.  Poor puppy just gets even more excited.

Why won't Keegan play with me?

It will be a long time before we can let them share the same space.  Kona has to develop enough self-control that she will not only listen to our commands when she is excited, but also be able to sit patiently in a room when Keegan is present.

The Gang

In some earlier posts I have referred to the weekend dog gatherings in a nearby park that we bring Kona to.  I thought it was only fair that I share a bit more about these play sessions, as they are normally a lot less eventful than the Rolo incident!

While the dogs present for the gathering each morning may change on a given day, the routine is the same.  Lots of fetching, some tug of war over prized balls and Frisbees, begging for treats, and always lots of fun.

The core group of dogs includes:

  • Piper – a white poodle cross who loves his Frisbee and rolling around in the mud.
  • Max – a golden retriever / poodle cross who is also equally adept at finding mud puddles.

Max

  • Jackson – a black lab/irish setter cross who is the lead treat finder.

Jackson, being harassed by Kona

 
  • Henley – a golden retriever who has shown more patience for Kona’s puppy antics than any dog or person we’ve met.
  • Bailey – a border collie mix who is by far the fastest dog I have ever seen.
  • Coco – a medium size rescue who is Kona’s favourite playmate.  When they first met Coco was twice Kona’s size but Kona has gradually surpassed him.

Coco and Kona playing tug of war

  • Ivy – the yellow lab who likes to explore the brush beside the park and who Kona will follow just about anywhere,

Ivy and Kona retrieving the frisbee

  • Fry – a golden retriever who is part of Ivy’s family.  On cold days Fry will keep me warm by leaning up against me for a snuggle.
  • Sadie – a chocolate lab that represents all we hope Kona to grow up to be (sweet, friendly, and moderately mellow).

Sadie, about to be attacked by her mini me (I love this picture)

  • Dance, Mac, and others

Just as Kona’s manners with humans has greatly improved, so have her dog manners.  When we first started bringing her to the park she would try and tackle / wrestle with any of the dogs that were at least twice her size.  Lots of nipping at their ears.  As you can imagine, many of the older dogs have no patience for this (and who can blame them), so at times we had to step in and redirect her.

These days the tackling, nipping and wrestling is at a minimum and she spends most of her time chasing after Coco and Ivy when they play fetch, and then trying to steal the frisbee or ball away from them.  She has a great time and we end up with a nice, relaxed, tired dog!

When we first brought Kona to this park we thought all the adult dogs were huge.  Now we are realizing that Kona isn’t far off from their size and they don’t seem all that large anymore.

Not only have the get-togethers been great for using up some of the infamous lab puppy energy, but the owners are a great resource for us.  We’ve received many recommendations and tips to help us as we raise our first dog.  I’m very grateful that my co-worker, Max’s owner, told me about these gatherings!

Meet the Neighbours

P and I have lived in our neighbourhood for more than 3 years now.  In that time we have gotten to know our immediate neighbours, but not many other people.  We kept hearing that the way to meet people was to have a dog or a baby.  With Kona’s arrival that certainly became true for us.  We have met many more families on our street, as well as on the surrounding streets. 

Two people we have been very lucky to meet are H & B, who live only a few houses away from us.  P first met them on a walk with Kona when they were in their front yard with Emma, their 9-year-old yellow lab. 

Emma is an absolute sweetheart.  The second time we met I greeted her with a “Hello Emma”  as she, H and B were walking towards our house.  As soon as I spoke, Emma came bounding over to say hi to me and that was it, she had me wrapped around her paw so to speak. 

Emma

Pippa joined their family not long after we met them.  Pippa is an adorable chocolate lab and is only 2 months younger than Kona. While Kona started out much larger (2 months vs 4 months), Pippa is quickly closing the gap. 

It’s been fun watching them both grow.  Now that they have reached 4 and 6 months old they are starting to develop different features.  Kona looks like a traditional English Labrador Retriever (broad skull, solid / stocky frame) while Pippa is beginning to develop more of the American look (narrower skull, trimmer frame).  Both are a gorgeous dark brown colour although I *think* Kona is a bit darker. 

Pippa

Pippa is finally big enough that we can let the two of them play together, and it is just too much fun to watch.  If we let them, they would wrestle and nip at each other for hours.  As anyone with a puppy can appreciate, there is no better way to exhaust a puppy than to let them play with another puppy!  Emma and I are perfectly content to sit and snuggle while the two little ones play. 

Pippa (red collar) & Kona (purple collar)

As you can see from the photos, the puppy playing can be pretty frenzied – we have to make sure and step in and give them breaks every so often so that they don’t get too wound up. 

Kona + Pippa = Puppy Chaos

Puppy watching aside, it has been great getting to know H & B.  They’ve given us many recommendations and tips for nearby hiking trails, pet foods and treats, pet shops, and the all important grooming tool to deal with shedding.  They seem to share a love of food and cooking with us (I hope to investigate that further), and I know P is thrilled to have someone he can get woodworking tips and advice from.  It is great to be able to speak with neighbours on non-puppy related topics!

Emma and Pippa relaxing before our walk

My apologies for the less than stellar quality of the photos.  P and I were dog-sitting last Sunday and took all three to the park for some playtime.  With 3 dogs, including 2 wound-up puppies, our hands were full and the SLR was left at home.  I tried to capture a few moments on my iPhone but as you can see, they ended up rather blurred.

Emma & Pippa