Sunday, February 24, 2008


We got Coulee from an ad in the paper. They were advertising border collie/retriever crosses for $50. (I know now, that isn't necessarily the best way to adopt a dog!) I really wanted a golden retriever as that is what I grew up with. Marlin wasn't as convinced and he wanted a shorter haired dog that didn't shed as much. We had looked at a few golden retriever/lab crosses the week before but there was something "off" about them - they were 8 weeks old and didn't even want to play. They just sat there looking sad which was no way for a puppy to act.

When we went to meet Coulee and her siblings I was pleased to see them all racing around like maniacs. Marlin barely noticed - he was too busy checking out the mother (the border collie) who didn't stop vertical jumping the whole time we were there. While we were looking at the puppies, another man came to look at them. He hadn't been there for more than 30 seconds when he asked us which one we were taking. We told him we hadn't even decided if we were going to take any of them. When a puppy ran towards him, he just scooped it up, passed over his money and walked out the door. You could tell the sellers were a little shell shocked (as were we) but they took the money and didn't say a word. So that left Coulee and her brother (who had already been "reserved").

Marlin and I went for a walk to talk about what we wanted to do. He was quite concerned about the mother's energy levels and I assured him that she looks like her father so that she'll probably be more like him. I know, I know - stupid.

So we decided to take her. We left her there, ran to the pet store and bought a crate and collar and leash and dishes and food and treats and toys and... so much for being a "cheap" dog. We couldn't fit the crate in the car so we had to go home and get our other vehicle just so we could get all the stuff home. We picked her up that night and the fun began.

To say that Coulee was a difficult puppy is a bit of an understatement. We could rarely give her enough exercise to even take the edge off her. We would go to the dog park for an hour and she would run the entire time after a ball and that would calm her down for a few hours. Every night she would act like the devil for about 10 minutes and then crash - much to our relief. We finally figured out that she was just over tired and that if we could stand it for those 10 minutes it would be over soon enough. She made us laugh until we cried and was a lot of fun except for those times when we wanted to kill her.

She seems so grown up and "old lady-like" to me now that she is 3 years old. If we skip a walk one day, she no longer drives us insane and she can even get by with a leash walk in the neighborhood.

She developed some people and dog issues as she aged. We started to struggle at the dog park as she became protective of her toy. So we started to stop throwing it when other dogs were around. She quickly figured out the pattern (other dogs = no game) so she started to get mad at the other dogs in an attempt to get them to leave so we could go back to our game. So then we had to stop throwing things all together. She still gets a little weird when we go to Popson (which is where we normally played fetch) but seems better at the other parks where it wasn't as routine. She likes to be the dominant dog and will not back down if another dog snarks at her. She does okay at the daycare on most days but we need to keep an eye on her and she gets riled up whenever I am in the play area with her.

The people issues are a little less clear cut. She doesn't like people at the dog park without dogs but usually if they have a dog she is fine. She loves people that come to the door, even if they are total strangers but is a little scared of strangers on the street. If people "unexpectedly" come around a corner on a hiking trail, she gets freaked out and starts barking but if she sees them coming she is usually fine with them. She pretty much doesn't like the unexpected or anything out of the norm.

I started agility with her about 2 years ago. I think she is great at it, but I don't really have the passion or the time, to train to her potential. I just do it so she can use her brain and because she seems to enjoy it. I never had plans to compete, I just wanted to give her a job.

Apparently I could go on forever. :) But I'll stop there for now and will write about Lacey next time.

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