December 1, 2014 § 1 Comment
Since we’ve been married, Eric and I have had a few dogs, but it would be the first that I miss the most.
In April 1990, we traveled to Northern Utah to get a German Shepard puppy. Eric had been on a Search and Rescue mission, in another county, a year or so before where Search and Rescue dogs were used. I started reading books and thinking that we could add that to our Search and Rescue group. So, we started with a puppy from Olympus Kennels. If you’ve ever heard of Onyx vom Olympus, she is one of the offspring with Amber vom Siegen. I’d seen a Charles Bronson movie, Kinjite, and thought that was a great name for a big dog.
Kinjite (Kin-ja-tay) was our baby. She was such a smart dog with a personality that reminded me of my sister, Caroline. For lack of a better description, she was so ‘human’ at times. Eric was working for UDOT and moving around to different jobs in the state, so it was just me and the dog at home. She was very protective and I felt safe with her there. She’d intimidate anyone if she didn’t know you, and she and Andrea clearly didn’t like each other. But, if you threw her toy and played with her, even a stranger became her instant best friend.
Kinji, as we called her, went everywhere and did everything with us. She loved toys and love to play ball. Often, during the night, you’d hear her entertaining herself on the front steps of the house, dropping the ball and running to the bottom to catch it.
She was so easy to train and was on her way to finding scent articles, tracking and learning when she became lame in her hind leg. We learned that she had hip dysplasia at 9 months old. We were devastated. I decided that she was just going to be a puppy after that and have the best life that she could. Surgery was an option, but we couldn’t afford it. Her other joints began to fail, and the vet was able to provide some relief for her, for a while.
Just before Christmas, 1990, a photographer was at a local store taking photos of kids. I called and asked if he’d take a photo of my dog. He didn’t hesitate. I also think he was prepared for a little dog, not what I showed up with. He had squeaky toys and Kinji loved it. She also got loose from me (leash and all) and explored a portion of the store. Luckily, no one saw us and I was scared that she’d find a little child to bark at, but finally got her back and no one was the wiser. I learned that a four-legged toddler listens and runs away like a human one!
In Fillmore, we had a retaining wall around the yard, and she had full run of it. When we moved to Kanosh, we had to leave her in Fillmore for a week to get a run for her. I hated that the kennel was so far from the house, but the house was much smaller than what we were used to. The neighbors had dogs and kids. I warned them that she was coming and that Kinji would likely eat their kids. As soon as they saw her, the kids climbed the fence and played with her like she had grown up with them her whole like. Needless to say, I was shocked and so happy. That was NOT the same dog I’d had in Fillmore. Kinjite was with us for two and a half years. Not long enough. She was miserable as her shoulders and hips made it continutally painful for her. I had to make the decision to have her put down as Eric was not here. That was the worst decision I’ve ever had to make, and the most painful phone call to make to Eric in St. George. We miss her alot. If I could be guaranteed that I could have a dog with the intelligence and the personality of Kinji, I’d pay dearly.
In our effort to have a Search and Rescue dog, we learned from a dog handler of a Salt Lake County police officer who was trying to unload a Belgian Malinois. The guy trained drug dogs for the army, so we thought this would be a good choice. We met the guy and brought the dog home. It didn’t take long to realize we’d bought someone’s problem for $500. This dog’s name was “Dude”, but I hated it. His new name was “Nikko” (sunlight). After a while, it became “Nikko, the Psycho Belgian Malinois”.
Kinji and Nikko lived together for a while. He annoyed her tremendously. Nikko was a prima donna and afraid of the sprinkler. I am not exaggerating when I say he would prance along the perimeter of the water while Kinjite would take all the toys and lay under the stream and play with them. It drove Nikko nuts, but no so much that he would risk getting wet. I am not saying that this dog was abused, but Nikko was frightened if you picked up a stick to fetch, and scared to death of Eric’s uniform shirt. It was draped over a chair, and that dog would instantly cower and get anxious. He would not go near it (it was the same color as Salt Lake County’s uniforms at the time). Interesting to me.
Where Kinjite was gun-sure, this dog hated loud noises. He was deathly afraid of thunder, lightning, gun shots and anything else loud. He’d scale the six-foot high fence around the kennel and run! We had to find creative ways to keep him in the 12′ x 12′ enclosure. Eric put electric fence wire on the top, but he could get under it. We had wire fencing around the corral, and had I not witnessed it, I would never believe it- that dog made one of the squares in the fence (average size) round. He was a wiry dog, much like greyhound, and fit one shoulder through, then the other, and just slick as slick he was out! He was an escape artist, so we had to electrify the entire kennel. If he could see the plug, he’d drag it to him, unplug it, and get out. I always said that if he was human, he’d be on America’s Most Wanted. Criminal smart dog!
I believe this dog was way too sensitive and his former owners knew it. Nikko was just different, and had some real quirks that should have been a red flag, in hindsight. Trying to work him was impossible. The worst was that he nipped three people, completely unprovoked. The breeder in Arizona tried to tell me it was ‘herding instinct’, I strongly doubted her and she didn’t like me. I’d finally had enough of him and he went to a rescue in Axtell. The owners of the rescue later told me, “That dog was nuts and we had to put him down”.
A couple of years later, we found a breeder in Brighton Hills, Utah and decided to try it again. Sekai was kind of a dopey puppy. He liked to eat cinders from the driveway and Box Elder Bugs off the floor. He was sweet and loveable. As he grew, and grew and grew, Sekai became the biggest GS I’d ever seen. His size was intimidating, but he acted like a dopey, gangly teenager.
I came home one day from work to find Sekai tied up to the truck bumper while Eric was working nearby. I went in the house and listened through a window (trying not to laugh out loud), as Eric lectured the dog like you would a 4-year-old child. “So, we are tied up, aren’t we? Do you know why we are tied up? It’s because we didn’t listen, and when we don’t listen, this is what happens.” Earlier that day, Sekai decided to follow some kids on a horse up the road. He wouldn’t come back when Eric called him, so Eric chased after him. Sekai just kept going. A few days later an electronic training collar arrived in the mail.
His name means “World”, and it seemed fitting, as he was kind of a space cadet. Sekai was a good example of what it means to trade temperament for brains. He was the complete opposite of Kinjite.
We adopted Kita, a smaller female shepherd/heeler mix that looked like a mini version of Sekai, and they would terrorize the yard and each other. Sekai was pretty lonely before she came along. Kita means North, and I went north, to Meadow, to get her from my friend’s house. Kita was probably the sweetest dog I ever had. She seemed to have trust issues and it took her a bit to warm up to men, but just wanted to love and be loved. The neighbor’s horses trampled our fence and made holes that Kita could get through and bring home chickens from the neighborhood, so we couldn’t let them out to run in the yard anymore. Our work life grew and we couldn’t give them the attention we should, so we sadly decided to give them up.
I miss having a dog, sometimes.