We met this dazzling dog when she was a wee little tyke. And, even as a puppy, Kaia carried a lot of weight on her gorgeous shoulders. She absorbed every sound and sight that came her way and stashed them away in her canine crock. Fortunately, she landed in the perfect home, for her. We still remember saying and thinking simultaneously “that’s BRILLIANT” when her mom announced that she taught her to alert the train was approaching to help overcome her fear of the “L” noise in their neighborhood. Read on for Kaia’s story.
How did you and your dog find each other?
Online; after our last dog passed away from illness. I could not sleep without a dog in the house; and, wanted a dog that I could start agility with who had no genetic health issues. We were actually going to pick up her sister, but fell in love at first sight with Miss Kaia.
What is the biggest assumption people make based on your dog’s looks?
That she is friendly and enjoys being pet. She just wants to work. But, does snuggle with her people and on her own, innately acts as a service dog. If someone is hurt or sad, Kaia adores trying to comfort them. She is SO not into being pet on the street. I keep her a bit scraggly on purpose because it seems to prevent strangers from touching her. I tried to tell them “no” but it was not working. My dog is clean. But, a bit on the fuzzy side. My Shaggy Strategy works great to help keep random hands from invading my sweet girl’s space AND helps keep her in a better place. Kaia does not love intensive grooming as she was a show dog as a puppy.
What personality trait does your dog possess that contradicts his or her physical appearance?
She has the collie wobbles (physically shaky, fearful and uncertain) so we can not do agility; we do not want Kaia to get hurt or reinforce her nervousness. She also has food allergies. She is very well trained, but stubborn. Kaia can be sneaky when bored; with a taste for chocolate. She can open any fridge and climb any counter. She has even opened the refrigerator and pushed a chair across the room to get to sweet treats inside. We have to outsmart our dog DAILY to prevent her from figuring out our McGyver, steelproof containers and super-sleuth hiding places.
What are the biggest obstacles you and your dog have overcome together? And, what was most helpful in helping you do so?
Whew! We have dealt with a lot! A short list: collie wobbles, gastro issues (she is allergic to beef and gets pancreatitis flares easily), sound fears and reactivity, dislike of other dogs and strangers, a hearty, independent streak, consistent need to be mentally stimulated, sharing my attention and time with a child with a very physically and mentally active border collie and my own health issues.
Training, training, training and more training has and continues to help. Not so much for my brilliant girl, but for ME! I had to learn to adapt to situations as they come up and not walk around nervously anticipating what MIGHT happen or I make her more nervous. I had to learn to listen to what she wants and meeting that by giving her what she needs. She acts as a service dog to me with my health issues, and enjoys it although she would never pass training or be able to travel on a plane because of her sound fears. So, we have worked on the things we can do and with a border collie, the sky is the limit. For example, she would not walk under the L train tracks until I figured out to make it her JOB to alert me when she hears a train approaching. And, then we trained to not alert me to planes, ambulances, fire trucks and all the other city noises that are tough on a sound sensitive dog. It is always a work in progress. And, tons of fun.
If you could make a sign for the world to see to better understand your dog’s individual needs, what would it say?
Do not pet!
Anything else you want to share?
You do not always get the dog you think you want, you DO end up with who you need and who needs you. Had I not learned any of this from my pup, mostly by listening; I would not be as good a mom to my kiddo who has especially sound reactive SPD (sensory perception disorder). Had we not put so much into dog training and tried to do it all on our own; after I had a kid…wow, everything would have been so much work. My girls (pup and kiddo) though are the best!