Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An Ode to Miss Fluffyface

Last January, we tentatively walked into the dog section of the humane society to meet the creature we had excitedly placed a hold on the night before. We rounded the corner to see a little brown and black "bear" wiggling her whole body and trying to reach her paws under the fencing of her enclosure. We all immediately melted to our knees to meet her. She wriggled like a worm, wimpered, pawed at us and licked our fingers. We clustered around the shelter volunteer as she steered the little bear to one of the outside play areas. The volunteer explained that this little one was a stray in Pueblo and was likely behind schedule with obedience and house training, but she appeared healthy and had a good disposition. Meanwhile, the furball was jumping up and down from a bench, running around our feet and flopping on her back for bellyrubs while trying to chew on our fingers. I thought she was perfect!

We paced anxiously in the waiting area while the little one was blood tested, and her ID chip was implanted. The idea made me a little queasy but I understood the importance. Then a shelter attendant who was filling out the paperwork asked what we'd like to name her. We all looked at each other for a while and finally Mom recommended "Kona." She did look a lot like a hawaiian mocha latte-the pup that is. So those four furry letters were etched on a collar tag and after gathering some starter supplies from the shelter pet shop, we gleefully walked her out to the car. On the ride home, we learned that Kona does not like to ride in the trunk of a hatch back but she does like to chew on hair. I probably should have volunteered to sit in the back seat. I have to say that Dad was sporting an outrageous 'do' by the time we got home.

Our lives sure had an extra bit of excitement after that--both good and bad. We soon found out that the humane society volunteer's mention of lack of housetraining was not an exaggeration. She would make her presence known in private corners of rooms or on clothes, whether we were looking or not. She was really teaching us to pick up our things. We scoured the dog training websites and asked friends for advise. We decided to stick to the positive reinforcement method of taking her outside and offering lots of praise and reward. (Our neighbors probably thought were were nuts!) After a short while, she started to figure out what all the fuss was about and with a few exceptions, we could keep the bottle of carpet cleaner in the cupboard. We also soon discovered what a godsend a dog door is. Now we were all experiencing levels of freedom we never imagined in the first weeks.

Before long, little miss Kona became more sophisticated and excluding a brief spell of alcohol abuse, became a distinguished member of the family. She loves greeting people at the door, being chased, belly rubs, sitting at the table, and romping with other pups, as long as they are boys (or agreeable females). She also likes long walks on the lakeshore, watching sun rises, being goofy, and nudging milk cartons down the stairs repeatedly at night.

Now we don't know what'd we do without our cuddly sweetheart. We always look forward to the wiggling and kisses when we get home. She also helps us keep things neat by grabbing any loose items and pulling them through the dog door to the back yard. She's also helping us keep our energy costs down by acting as both a dish washer and a clothes dryer...a few fast whips around the living room makes the towels fluffy and dry. She also makes sure we're always sporting the latest hairstyles if we happen to fall asleep on the couch.
While we're not exactly sure of her breed--our guess is Rottweiler-Chow-Husky-Bernese Mountain Dog-Australian Shepherd with a touch of Pomeranian. It doesn't really matter though--she keeps us laughing, aww'ing, baby-talking, rolling our eyes, giggling (that's mostly just me), cooing (also me), and running. Here's to you, Miss Wiggles! May your food bowl stay full, your windows stay smeary, your teethers stay happy, and your humans stay loved and exhausted.

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