Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hot Dog

I am not a dog person, but last fall we got a puppy, whom we named Kiva. D grew up near a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula named Kiva, and I thought that would make a unique name for a child. That is, I thought so until 1) my dad, who has an unusual German name, went off on a tirade about how wrong it is to give a kid a name that no one can spell or pronounce, and 2) a friend from Michigan who actually knows the place said, “Why would you wanna name your kid after a place full of drunken Finlanders, eh?”

So, we did not name The Girl “Kiva,” but I still had the name floating around in my brain when we got the dog. It follows the dog naming “rules”—two syllables, ending in a vowel, making it easy for a dog to hear and distinguish from one syllable commands. It’s unusual, as is our dog. Most people we know have labs or golden retrievers for pets. I wanted a border collie because they are supposed to be so smart and easy to train. Yes, they need a lot of activity, but I thought that keeping her busy would be good for all of us. And we may eventually get some animals for her to herd. After I made an offhand comment about wanting a border collie (“someday”), my dad found a breeder and said he was giving us one from their next litter.

She is a beautiful dog, with the classic black and white border collie look—think “Babe” the movie. There are many acceptable border collie looks—brown, red, blue, even mostly white, but I think black and white is perfect. My parents got a pup from the same litter, although theirs has a lot more brown. When we visit them with Kiva (we are not only dog people, we are People Who Travel With the Dog) and the two get to romp together, it’s a weekend of the two-headed dog—one entity constantly bounding around. At least there it’s outside—at the in-laws, it’s the two-headed dog bouncing off the walls.

She’s now about 10 months old, and is fairly well behaved, although of course we could spend more time training her. She and I took a six week basic obedience class, during which she performed pretty well; the trainer loved her, and Kiva performed exceptionally well for her—it was those sausage bit rewards!
Of course, the point of obedience school isn't to teach the dog things, it's to teach the owner how to train their dog.

Lately she’s gotten pretty shaggy, and with all the heat we’ve had, I thought she’d be better off with a trim. So yesterday, I took her to be groomed for the very first time. (We are making progress in behavior: she did NOT pee out of excitement/submission when seeing new people.) I answered yes when the groomer asked, “Do you want her pretty short?” Nothing was mentioned about s-h-a-v-i-n-g. Well, she now looks like a boxer, or even a pig, her hair is so short. I just hope it grows back before the cold weather.


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