It is a year ago today that we picked up Kara in Vermont! I have been
meaning to write you for a long time to let you know how things are going. I
decided that I must do it today. We are sort of treating it a bit as her
birthday as we don't know her real date. Yesterday we gave her a bath (the
first she's had here) and then gave her a new bone which she enjoyed for the
rest of the day. I have just taken a photo of her with my daughter who now
has her out for a walk.
Kara has fit very well into our household and it is hard to imagine life
without her. When we remember the traumatized dog we met a year ago, we
realize how much she has changed. She still tends to get spooked easily,
especially by loud noises, and there are certain sounds which make her wary
such as kids voices and skateboards. However, she is certainly much braver
than when she first came. She has really been a very good dog and seldom
gets into mischief around the house. In fact I was leaving her with the run
of the house when I went out within a couple weeks of her arrival. However,
she has never made any effort to go upstairs to our second floor or down to
the basement. She is quite happy on the main floor. Partly I think that it
is due to a dislike of long stairways. She has never tried to get up on a
chair or couch. In fact, she tends to creep under a small table in the
family room and sleeps behind the chair and table. That is surprising in a
way as the table and chair legs are really in her way and prevent her from
stretching out but I think that they also make a sort of cage for her so
that she feels enclosed. Of course she sometimes sleeps out in the open
room or on a rug at the bottom of our stairs, where our previous dog often
At this time of year, Kara enjoys spending most of the day outdoors in our
enclosed yard (except for the really hot days last week when she was happy
to come inside to the air conditioned house!). She enjoys lying down
surveying the world, or exploring our yard, or chewing on a hard bone. I
have been unsuccessful in getting her to play with a ball or other toys. In
fact, if you roll a ball towards her she is apt to run away frightened! She
doesn't play tug-of-war either. What she loves is to go for walks,
especially in the woods. The winter months she only stayed outside for short
periods. The only time we had real problems with her was a week or so when
there was a hard glaze of ice over everything and she was afraid to go out.
During that period she preferred to use the carpet for her toilet. Otherwise
she in never a problem in the house.
Last year I registered her for a dog obedience class but unfortunately it
was cancelled. I got busy and never got around to finding another class.
This summer we decided that she really needed some help to deal with a few
unusual problems, mostly related to feeding. She is now partway through a
basic obedience course and is doing well, although we still have to deal
with the problems. When we first got her, it seemed that she preferred to
eat outside and even seemed to prefer her food on the ground rather than in
a bowl. Getting her to drink water from a bowl has also been a continuing
problem. We have tried an assortment of bowls, etc. Although I don't mind
feeding her outside at this time of year, I realized last fall that winter
would come and eating outside wouldn't be much fun. I was able to gradually
move her inside so that she ate inside all winter. For the water problem,
we started putting water in the bowl with her hard food and this works fine.
In fact, she drinks all the water before starting to eat! However, she
sometimes stands and barks at the food in the bowl, rather than just eating
it. It almost seems that she is asking permission to eat and she often
likes it if someone comes and stands nearby, although she usually will eat
without that. We seem to have less problems when she is eating outside.
However, winter will come again-----.
Kara is good with people and with other dogs but still likes her space. She
has never attempted to bite or snap at anyone and is really a gentle dog.
She doesn't bark as much as our previous Finnish Spitz although she will
bark at or chase a squirrel running along the fence. She doesn't usually
come to greet people when they come in but is friendly enough with visitors.
She has been fine with any children who have been here. She met my son's
cat, a playful kitten when she first arrived, and they have learned to put
up with each other when the cat has been here. In fact the cat tends to
tease Kara. Last time she was here I felt that Kara was actually being
protective of her. One day it started to rain and I forgot that the cat was
tied outside until Kara seemed to remind me. This week my oldest daughter &
fiance arrive with their cat who will be here for the next 3 weeks. The real
challenge for Kara will be next weekend when we will have up to 40 people
here the day after my daughter's wedding. She will likely find a quiet place
to hide behind the chair or the deck!
By the way, one event which made me determined to get obedience training
happened early in July. I took Kara with me to a cottage, about an 8 hour
drive from here. She had never been there and was good on the trip. Most of
the cottage grounds is enclosed by a low fence but Kara quickly found the
hole in the fence, shortly after arrival. She really enjoyed running free
for awhile. I was able to block the hole and Kara was good for most of the
week there. However, one evening I took her for a walk and was a fair
distance from the cottage when something spooked her and she somehow managed to get her head out of the collar and leash. Again she really enjoyed her freedom and I spent the next couple hours trying unsuccessfully to catch
her. That was difficult without a collar to catch on to and her
determination to remain free. I did manage to get her to follow me along the
road and we weren't far from the cottage when she ran into the woods again.
This time she didn't come out again when I called. Eventually it got dark
and I returned to the cottage with the hope that she would find her way
back. Later I even went out with the car and stopped and called to her but
she never even barked, even though I think she heard me. I had come to the
conclusion that she was lost in the woods and I would never see her again.
About midnight as I was getting ready for bed, I suddenly heard a bark from
the next property and sure enough it was Kara. She had found her way back
and eventually came back to the cottage when she was ready to! So we
decided that she has to learn to obey, not just when she wants to.
When Kara was at the vet this spring, both vets we saw thought she was a
nice dog and one of them even said to call her if we ever wanted to get rid
of her! I think we'll keep her! I hope that all is going well with Save a
Dog. Thanks for the newsletter.