Pro #2 – The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been an outdoorsy kind of girl.  I like the idea of being outdoorsy, but it’s just never been part of my lifestyle.  My idea of a perfect winter day involves a mug of hot chocolate or tea, a roaring fire in the fireplace, a comfy couch and a good book.  In the summer, swap that to an iced tea, remove the roaring fire, and the rest is about the same.

But over the past 9 months (yes we’ve had Kona that long now!) I’ve found that outlook changing.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that regardless of the weather, our dog loves and needs to be outside.  She is filled to the brim with energy and must be walked twice a day, or she’ll drive us nuts.  Which means I am going to be outside, whether I like it or not, at least once a day for a solid half hour or more. 

Granted, knowing that I’d be outside in all types of weather I’ve made sure to invest in some quality outdoor gear.  From my yellow wellies and raincoat, to my new winter parka and snow boots – I’ve got the right clothes to keep me dry and/or warm as the case may be. 

Via.

Back at the end of summer I mentioned how much i enjoyed the serenity of our morning walks.  As winter approached, there was less and less light during those walks and for the past few months they are in complete darkness.  Despite my morning-person tendencies, lately I’ve found myself dreading getting up on the weekday mornings.  The 5:30 am alarm has not been kind and the thought of the cold or rain hasn’t inspired any excitement on my part. 

But then I head downstairs to receive the most rambunctious, enthusiastic, happy greeting you can imagine.  If that’s not enough, once we get out on our walks any remaining negativity disappears.  It’s peaceful, and some days are especially beautiful – like last Tuesday when Kona and I were the first animal and human to walk on the freshly fallen snow along our route. 

Via.

So who knows.  Maybe Kona is making me not just a dog person, but an outdoors person too!

Con #1 – Picking Up Garbage

I like to think of myself as less squeamish than the average girl.  In university when there were mouse corpses to dispose of, I was one of the lucky housemates who had to take care of it.  Later, when I shared an apartment with another friend I was often the one who did the “dirtier” jobs. 

And then we got a puppy and I realized my limits. 

Cleaning up messes, while not pleasant, really doesn’t bother me all that much.  It’s part of the job.  But there is one aspect of puppyhood that I really disliked. 

Puppies, especially lab puppies, like to explore the world with their mouths.  They will also eat anything and everything.  When we first started taking Kona on walks in our neighbourhood I became aware of how much littering our neighbours did.  I lost count of the number of times I had to take a cigarette butt out of her mouth (thankfully, she stopped doing that fairly quickly). 

We were lucky in that she was never one to eat another dog’s leavings.  But there are two particular events where I was completely grossed out.  The first was having to remove slugs from her mouth.  I just can’t bring myself to touch them on a normal basis and in this case I didn’t realize what they were until after I removed them. 

The second was early on in her puppyhood, and thankfully something she has not repeated since.  Puppy reflexes are fast, and in the time it took me to realize she was sniffing some goose droppings she had already engulfed one.  I’ll be honest – I did not have the stomach to try to pry that little goodie out of her jaws. 

Thankfully she grew out of those phases fairly quickly.  We still need to be vigilant to make sure she doesn’t ingest anything bad for her.  Kona loves the crabapples that squirrels like to bring into our back yard, but unfortunately they make her ill if she eats too much. 

These days on our walks she is mostly attracted to pop/beer cans and plastic water bottles.  Those I can deal with if needed, but most of the time she will respond to either a “leave it” or a “drop it”. 

Thank goodness for progress! 

Of course, just after I wrote the draft of this post she managed to outdo herself.  I wasn’t quite focused on a recent walk.  When I saw a light brown fluffy thing on the sidewalk ahead of us, it reminded me of a plush toy we had for Kona when she was younger and I didn’t react to it. 

Not what she picked up.

Of course, she was intently sniffing and made a beeline for it which is when I realized it wasn’t a toy – it was the dead squirrel that our neighbor H had warned me about just 2 minutes earlier.  I told Kona to “drop it” and she looked up at me with the squirrel firmly in her mouth (and looking very proud of herself).  I reached down to open her jaws and she released it without any protest, and off we went.  Fingers crossed someone else deals with that squirrel so I don’t have to see it again!

Pros #1: Sisterly Love

I’ve decided to incorporate a new ‘theme’ of posts on this blog – pros and cons of having a dog.  Fingers crossed that the amount of “pros” post far outweighs the “cons”!

One of the big upsides to bringing Kona home has been the amount of visitors we’ve had that want to see the puppy.  In particular, it’s been the amount of visits we’ve received from my sister, A. 

A's first visit with Kona, Easter Weekend 2011

I only have one sibling, and A is five and a half years younger than me.  Which means that growing up, we were always in completely different stages in life.  13 year olds and 8 year olds don’t really have much in common.  By the time A was a teenager, I left home for university.  Now that we’re in our late 20’s / early 30’s we’re beginning to have a lot more in common. 

Growing up though, one thing we did share was a strong desire to have a family dog.  As the older sister, I started bugging our parents for a dog and when I gave up A took on the task.  Our mom recently went through boxes of our school work and found projects that both of us wrote about our desire for a dog.  Mine was a report on “my greatest hardship” – not being able to have a dog.  The type of dog varied for me: beagles, border collies, labs were all on the list.  A always wanted a dalmation (her dream was to have a dalmation plantation, just like in the movies).  We even had a name, Dinah, for the dog we wanted so desperately.

Since Kona has arrived A has made a point of coming to visit us at least once or twice a month.  She’s got a very busy schedule, but when she can she’ll stop by our house in Markham.  Since she’s been living in Oakville, and now Etobicoke, travelling to our house in Markham is quite an effort. 

A swim at our parent's house, Summer 2011

A’s visits are great for Kona.  A has helped us work with Kona on her behavior with people other than P and I.  She’ll discipline Kona, and reinforce all the training we’re trying to instill.  But the greatest benefit for me is spending more time with A, and hearing all about what’s going on in her life. 

On her last visit, A giggled after Kona went up and started licking her feet.  I asked P if she and I laughed the same.  He said no, but that we did sound the same when either of us told Kona to “sit”.  A and I looked at each other, smiling, with the identical thought in each of our heads.  Both of us use a stern tone and really enunciate our words when we give a command to Kona.  We know EXACTLY where we got that from – we’re just like our mom! 

One of the reasons my sister is very busy these days is she is embarking on a new career path and starting her own business as a free-lance make-up artist.  If you are in need of a make-up artist, please check out her work on her Facebook page, where you will also find her contact information.