01 Apr Three’s a Pack
It’s been more than eleven years since I set out one early spring day, only weeks after we first arrived at the ranch, to try and find a couple of dogs with whom to share our little wilderness paradise.
Three hours later, following up on an ad in the local paper, I picked out a small naughty dark pup and a large light-coloured male and paid $550 to the breeder. Two weeks later Kristin and I picked them up.
What a bargain they proved to be.
Masha and Karu turned into our most trusted accomplices in our wilderness adventure and both of them, now in their 12th year, are still healthy, if a little grey around the muzzle and slower than they once were.
During the intervening decade, they have charmed not only our friends and neighbours but many guests at the ranch, and more than one has returned home and subsequently bought a German Shepherd as a result.
Of course the squabbling pair – and sometimes they are a little like a long-married couple who bicker and nag each other but would be lost and miserable alone – have not been perfect dogs.
In one incident, memorable for all the wrong reasons, they humiliated us at a B&B in Alaska we were visiting for the weekend.
As we arrived Karu peed on the wallpaper in the living room. Not ten minutes later Masha did a large turd in front of the communal television. Needless to say we were not invited back.
Another time Karu, a little confused after a morning run in a local park, leaped into the back of the wrong pick-up truck just as a lady was sitting on the tailgate eating her breakfast.
Having a 100lbs of German Shepherd hurtling at you through the air as you munch on a bacon and egg sandwich must be a little disconcerting, but she took it in her stride.
For a year or two now we have vaguely discussed the idea that we might add to the pack. Masha and Karu are not going to last forever and, we argued, if we got a puppy they could teach her the ways of the bush. But we never took any serious action to follow up on the idea.
Then, out of the blue, a couple of weeks ago, we were sitting at a Starbucks when I got a text message.
A friend – another German Shepherd lover – sent a photo of a puppy that had unexpectedly become available in Cranbrook, a four hour drive away from us in the Rockies.
Katya – we gave her the name later on – had been due to go to another home but the lady who had booked her a year ahead got sick and had to cancel.
How could we possibly say no?
It has been three days now since Katya has arrived and, needless to say, she has turned our lives upside down. She is either fast asleep or charging around the house chewing and nipping at everything she can find like a minute axe-murderer.
Poor old Masha and Karu, who were looking forward to a dignified and well-deserved retirement, are having to deal with the canine equivalent of a hyperactive five-year-old who rushes around alternately snapping at their heals and peeing on their blanket.
Yesterday Katya took a run-up, and launched herself at Masha’s head like a cannonball. The impact nearly knocked poor Masha’s aging front teeth out. Then Katya bit into Karu’s extended paw. He howled and then snapped at her angrily but that did little calm or scare her.
For all the hard work – and there is plenty of that – she is one of the cutest little dogs you will ever see (and there a lot of cute puppies out there.) Her ears are not quite standing up and she has a face that is a cross between Chewbacca and an orangutan.
We are all still in Nelson right now but in a couple of weeks we will be heading up to the ranch to open up and the pack will be coming with us. There is still a good two feet of snow up there, but it is melting fast.
So for those of you booked to come this year we have a special additional treat awaiting you. And, if you can’t make it, we’ll make sure we keep you updated on Katya’s chaotic and rambunctious progress towards doggie adulthood.