Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Story Of Kory

LC has a friend in Florida whose name is Kelley.
Kelley is a single, successful business woman.  She is also a true animal lover.
She dedicates an amazing amount of time, energy and money to rescuing animals and finding homes for them.
Finding homes for the homeless and love for the loveless.
Frequently Kelley sends Face Book posts to many of her friends (including LC) that provide pictures and information on animals that desperately need homes.
That was the case with this particular dog.
The picture above was taken at the animal shelter in Tampa Bay, and the post title was the attention-grabbing URGENT.
Many of the posts are urgent.  
All of the posts are urgent.
I haven't sought out information on dog adoption in a very long time, and not long after Jamie died I started looking around.
I wasn't ready.  Anyway, I didn't THINK I was ready.  
It was too soon after my girl.
Too soon.
Too soon............

But I found myself looking around local classifieds and animal shelter sites anyway.
We found a jet black 2 month old lab mix on Craigslist, that was only 20 miles from the house.
The mother of this little black butterball was beautiful and so was tiny little girl.
The father of the pups lived next door and was an ugly basket case of the dog.
The family that had the pup was..........just very very strange...........and the front and back yards were filled with live stock and endless trash and smells so horrible that our truck stunk just from sitting in the drive way.
Answers to questions were smiling, overly friendly, obvious lies.
Beautiful, sweet little butterball was too cute to not be adopted.  She would find a home but not with us.
It just didn't feel right to either us................

We went to the Blackfoot animal shelter to see a Great Pyrenees and a huge golden Lab.
Both were almost two years old, both were incredibly beautiful dogs, both were huge dogs, and neither of them had ever received any training at all and therefore had no manners at all.
Beautiful and friendly dogs and I loved both of them, but it was all LC could do to hold onto them as we walked them in turn from their inside enclosures to the outdoor caged area.
Huge (75 and 90 pounds respectively) and very sweet animals, with boundless energy, they were not neutered and not house trained and had no idea how to behave.
They were both more than either LC or I wanted to take on.............. 

As I looked over the dogs at first local and then regional animal shelters my heart just sank.
It's easy not to think about all those animals, all that desperation, all that death.
It's easy not to think about the constant, never-ending, conveyor belt of animals in and animals out, animals wanted and animals unwanted, animals alive and animals dead, when you don't have to.
Easy to forget how so many people are scum.
Until you look at the little faces of innocent animals that need a home and love, and that have a finite amount of time to find it. 
I looked at the faces of these guys and wondered if I should really be looking at the faces of these guys.............

We had found a black and white, very sweet, beautiful little one-year-old border collie at the shelter in Pocatello whose name was Camo.
We never saw her in person, but kept coming back to her picture.  Half black, half white face, black and white body in sections that looked as though it had been done deliberately, as opposed to being a happenstance of birth.  Tail wagging happily in all of her pictures.
She looked like a sweet heart.
After we had committed to Kory we called the Poky animal shelter (while hiking up on Big Butte as a matter of fact) and found out that she had just been adopted.
Good.  We had been worried about her.............

And then LC received one more of many URGENT Face Book appeals that come across his computer screen.
The information from the shelter said:
1. She had been at the shelter since sometime in September and was going to be put down in two days unless someone adopted her.
2. She was a 3-5 year old spayed female Shepherd mix.
3. She was depressed.
4. Someone had recently adopted her, but she jumped their 5 foot fence, and so they brought her back.
5. She was micro chipped but the phone number on the chip had been disconnected.
6.  Her original name had been Lily but she did not respond to that name.  The people who had briefly adopted her renamed her Korea. 
7. Everyone at the shelter loved this dog and desperately wanted her adopted (so why didn't somebody THERE do something for her??).
"Karin!  Come look at this".
LC showed me her picture.
Where was she located?  Tampa Bay, Florida.
I smiled, non-committedly said that she was a pretty girl and then walked out of the office, instantly forgetting about her.
They're ALL pretty.  They're all cute.  They're all desperate.
This pretty and desperate girl was on the other side of the country............

LC posted on Kelleys' page that the dog was a pretty girl, and too bad she wasn't closer because he would love to have her.
He didn't think anything of the comment.
It was just a simple, nice, superficial response.
Not long after LC posted that comment though, Kelley wrote back and said "Do you want her?  If you want her, I'll get her and fly her out to you".
LC called me into the office again, pointed to the screen, and said "Read that."
I read Kelley's message and was speechless for a moment.
Caught so off-guard that I had no idea what to say.
LC looked at me and said " we want her?"
I had been so taken off guard that I wasn't sure what to say.  
I didn't know.
I looked at the picture again.
We talked.
LC asked Kelley to go to the animal shelter and take a look at her, find out if she was house broken, find out if she was healthy, interact with her to see if she had any sort of behavioral issues.
Busy with work the next day, Kelley couldn't make it to the shelter. 
Time was running out for this dog and we waited nervously for Kelley to finally make it to the shelter the following day.
She took these pictures............... 
The dog responded well to Kelley, but was really drawn to the colleague she had dragged to the shelter.
The dog was friendly, sociable, healthy, and house broken.
In those couple of days - from the time LC had received the first Face Book notification, from the time we anxiously waited for Kelley to check out the dog, and in the time when she finally made it to the shelter, LC looked more closely at the one picture we had of the girl.
He was convinced that she was not a shepherd mix at all, but rather a Belgian Malinois.
LC had had two Mals while working in law enforcement.
And I think that's why he might have been so drawn to this depressed little girl, who was sitting forlornly on a bed in an animal shelter down in Tampa, Florida.
House trained.  Friendly.  Loves to be touched.
All good.
We told Kelley that we wanted her, and she bailed her out of doggy jail............
Over the course of the next week, Kelley gave us regular updates on the dog we had now named Kory.
She loved to ride in the truck.
She cleared Kelley's six foot fence, and when Kelley whistled Kory jumped right back over the fence and into the yard again.  As Kelley said "She jumps like a kangaroo".
When a friend of hers was putting the crate she would use fly to Idaho together, Kory immediately wanted to get into it.  Kory had been crated before.
Kory needed a medical certificate to fly.  She was in good health, and was estimated to be three years old.
She was indeed house trained.
She initially cowered to Kelleys' dog and we were concerned that perhaps her spirit had been broken.  A few days later Kelley took both dogs out to the lake close to a large piece of property she owned.  Kory had the first opportunity to run - and she is a running and jumping machine.  
During this same trip Kory ran circles around Kellys' dog, jumped over the dog and bumped the dog with her chest.  She became Top Dog at that moment, and they became buddies for the rest of the trip (with Kory even backing up the dog when ANOTHER dog confronted him).
Her spirit had not been broken..............
In truth, and although she did look like a beautiful dog, I had no emotional investment in her (aside from wanting SOMEONE to save this dog and give her a good home)  when I looked at LC and told him "OK - let's get her".
But that changed over the days before she arrived in Idaho.
Every story Kelley told us about Kory made me smile, and picture her as she was, and then picture her in our lives.
I could see her jumping the fence.  See her swimming in the lake.  See her running rings around Kelleys' dog and then bumping him with her chest.  See her sleeping in her crate, that must have felt like a safe cave to her after being in the shelter for so long.
See her running on BLM land, and hiking mountains with us, and camping with us.
A Florida dog living in Idaho.............
On a cold and snowy and rainy day, a couple of days ago, we excitedly drove to Boise to pick up our girl.
Everything we had heard had told us that Kory would be a very good fit for us, and led me to believe that we would be a very good fit for Kory.
LC and I had listened to Kelley for a week, telling us stories and happily telling us what a great and wonderful dog this was.
It was obvious that KELLEY loved the dog as well, and so LC asked her if she wanted to keep Kory.
LC felt obligated to do that, and reminded me that the goal had been to save her.
We were both worried about how a dog (who had already gone through so many changes in her life, and who had obviously bonded with Kelley over the past week) would fare on the plane, would fare in the early winter conditions of Idaho, would fare at 5000 feet instead of sea level, would fare without the Kelley she had gotten to know and (I think) love.
Kelley loved her, but:
1. Her work schedule made it impossible to give Kory the time and attention that she needed
2. Kelley had taken Kory out of the shelter with the intention of the dog being ours.
Kory was OUR dog and not hers.
We had never been to Boise before and weren't exactly sure what kind of weather or traffic we would run into, and so we left early and (with the exception of the last 40 miles) took all secondary roads.
Road conditions were good and the passes were still open.  
It was a beautiful, quiet, empty-road drive almost the entire way to Boise.
A couple of pictures taken during a brief stop on the side of the highway............
We arrived at the airport in Boise with 2 1/2 hours to kill.
After driving around the confusing airport for a few minutes we found a parking spot, walked into the airport, found the United desk, and learned that the cargo section of the airport was about a mile away.
Some pictures I took at the airport.............
It cost us $2 in parking fees to find out that we were in the wrong place, but quickly and easily found the cargo section of the airport.
When we walked in to make sure that the flight was still on schedule the guy behind the counter was sleeping with his feet propped up on a desk.
Startling himself awake he confirmed that the plane was still on schedule.
We still had 90 minutes to wait.
I was feeling very nervous.
We were now the caretakers of a dog that we had never met.
The hundreds of things that could go wrong with that situation ran at freeway speed through my brain, and I worked hard at hanging onto the belief that we would all be fine together.
And hoping that our girl (who had gone through so much to get here) was not too afraid of the experience in the plane.  I wanted her to be OK and not scared.
Driving down to a pawn shop close to the airport, LC and I looked at guns and sporting goods.  Just killing time and looking but not really seeing.............

By the time we got back to Cargo we thought we would have another 20 minutes to wait, but quickly learned that the plane had already landed.
She would be inside Cargo holding in just a few minutes.
And a woman who takes hundreds and hundreds of pictures of just about everything, I have to say that I have no pictures of Korys' arrival.
Everything happened so fast.
One minute we're standing in the office.  The next minute someone is driving a trailer filled with boxes into Cargo holding.  Boxes and one dog crate.............

We were the only members of the public at Cargo holding, and after the doors were closed up the employee picked up the dog crate-filled-with-dog and placed it gently on the concrete floor in front of us.
I could see Kory through the gate and she looked beautiful.
LC opened the gate and grabbed her collar as he attached a leash to it.
As he did that I softly talked to her, and greeted her, and told her how beautiful she was.
LC was kneeling on the floor, and when Kory walked out of the crate she reached up and licked LC on the nose..........

We stroked her, talked to her, called her name, and she accepted it all easily.
We were complete strangers to this dog.
If any dog had reason to be stressed out it was her, but she seemed to take everything in stride.
Food and water that were attached to the top of her crate had not been touched.
Realizing that she likely needed to drink, we got her a bowl of water, but she had no interest in drinking.
While LC loaded the crate into the back of the truck I walked in the parking lot with her.
Kory was intent only on looking around her, trying to make sense of her new world.
Maybe also looking for Kelley.
I didn't know.
There was a lot I knew about this dog, but also a lot I didn't know.
She was very thin and I didn't know why.
She embraced touch and was not afraid of people, so she had not been abused in her past.
She had been spade, she was healthy, she was house trained, she willingly rode in trucks and slept in a crate.
At some point this dog had been loved.
What happened to her people?  Those who had called her Lily?
I don't think we'll ever know.
But now it was time to get our girl home................

We stopped a couple of times on the way home to see if she needed to "go".  
We offered her water while on the road and while stopped.
No and no.
And then while I was driving and LC was digging out sandwiches, Kory finally stopped looking around at her new world, and for the first time really focused on us.
Or rather, she focused on a bologna and cheese sandwich.
She ate the entire sandwich, one piece at a time while LC broke it off for her.
And then she ate another.
And then she drank water.
Kelley was right.  She loved riding in the truck, sticking her nose through the open back window.
When she climbed into the truck it was with one effortless bound.
She was thin.  And in my untutored experience she looked and acted younger than three.
A stop just off the highway on the way home............
I don't believe that she's a full Malinois because she has funky ears.
But as she was standing beside LC on a cloudy late-afternoon in the middle of quiet nowhere, I looked at this girl and I knew that she was beautiful............
Kory spent the entire trip alternating wandering from one side window to the other side window to look out, all the while trying to process what was going on around her.
That morning she had left palm trees and water and 90 degrees.
By afternoon she had arrived in cold, high desert plains surrounded by snow covered mountains.
I continually looked back at her.  Checking on her.  Stroking and reassuring her (and me) that everything was alright.
As I looked at this sweetheart of a dog I kept wondering what had happened to her.
How had she initially ended up at the shelter?  
How could adoptive parents take her back just because she jumped their fence?  One look at her body and it was obvious that she was a running and jumping machine.
Why had the animal shelter kept her there for so long?  Kelley had told us that all the staff and volunteers loved this dog and really wanted to find her a home.  They had even put her in a separate room from the other animals, just so people could focus on her away from the noise and chaos of "general population".
But this shelter had over 1000 animals and it made no sense that they would have kept her for so long, no matter HOW sweet she was.  
Especially after already being brought back once.
I would never know the answers to those questions, but as I looked back at this sleeping animal I again realized that she would have been dead by now if not for us and Kelley.
Throw away animals in a throw away society.
People just threw her away...............
Driving through Craters of the Moon at dusk.
We could see Big Butte from here...........
We arrived home around 7.
It had been a 11 hour day for us, and an even longer day for Kory.
I watched her closely as she ate and drank.  Lots of both and it was all good.
When I sat down on the floor at the edge of the kitchen she approached me and licked my face.
How could this dog be so kind and loving to complete strangers?
I had grown more and more fond of Kory with every story about her that Kelley shared, but I had now known this dog for 5 hours and by this time I was all in..............
Early the next morning I took Kory for her first walk in her new (and permanent) home.
The first test occurred immediately.
There was a herd of deer grazing at the edge of the road directly across from the house.
I held tighter to her leash, unsure of how she would react and unsure whether or not I would be able to hold her back if she tried to bolt after them.
I had seen them from the mudroom window.  Kory saw them as soon as we walked outside.
She took two steps outside, looked up, and instantly froze in place, staring at them.
We stood like that for over a minute - her watching the deer and me watching her.
She didn't bark.  She didn't try to run.  She just stared in frozen wonderment at these strange creatures...........
Before walking down the road, I prompted her towards the back yard.
A momma and baby deer in the yard instantly stood, began to wander towards the fence, stopped for a moment to take a second look at us, and them jumped the fence and disappeared down the alley.
Kory wandered through the yard sniffing every square inch (the yard is full of deer droppings right now)...........
If you click on any picture it will enlarge.
As we reached the back yard Kory looked up and instantly froze again.  A handful of deer on the far side of the neighbors' fence.............
After investigating the back yard we both walked to the front of the yard again, just in time to watch the herd across the road wander away into the empty field, before disappearing into the trees of an adjoining abandoned home.
We had bought a heavier duty leash than the one we had used for Jamie.
The dog only weighed 53 pound currently, and needed another 10 at least.  She was the same as Jamie in that she was extremely nose driven, and although she didn't make any sudden movements she was a strong dog.
I held onto her tightly, still unsure of how she would respond on leash, but so far so good...........
A whole lot of random pictures taken on my first (very cold) walk with Kory.
She walked well.  She sniffed everything.  She found out that sage bushes are prickly.  She was a graceful and athletic pup.  Unlike Jamie, she did not mark everything as she went.  She is mesmerized by deer and would catch a rabbit if given the chance..............
Where's Waldo?
Two deer silently watching us from the alley way............
Kory greeting the yappy little pup that lives next door...........
A long and cold walk, some water and a couple of licks on a rawhide bone, and our new girl was ready to sleep.
By the end of the walk she had still been with us for under 24 hours, but already the rhythm we had established with each other was comfortable.
Within the first day we had found out many new things about our dog.
She comes running into the kitchen when she hears either LC or I in there, somehow instinctively knowing that something good happens in that room.
She sleeps mostly in her crate, which seems like a safe and secure place for her, but also sleeps in LC's office on the orange/yellow/brown/green ugly 70's carpet, in the hallway, or in front of the front door.
She barks when she has to go outside - but many of those trips outside are not for physical reasons, but are rather excuses to go see the deer.  She can sense when they are in the back yard, which is often. 
She will chase a ball and return it, and play tug-of-war with a piece of rope, but only for very short periods of time.
She comes when called.  She already knows her name and responds to it.  She loves to have her belly rubbed.  She is very very smart.
And loving.  And accepting.
I have already wrapped my arms around her neck and kissed her on top of the head.
I never imagined that I would be able to do those things so quickly.  
Kelley told us why she was underweight.
When Kory was quickly brought back to the shelter after being adopted and then clearing their fence, she stopped eating.
Just stopped.
We had read in the original URGENT post that the dog was depressed.
I think maybe she was more than depressed.  
I think that she had given up.
Volunteers at the shelter had specific dogs assigned to them, and Kory's handler kept treats in her pocket hoping to be able to give her something.  Anything.
So many unanswered questions that will always be unanswered questions...........
We'll have to let her off leash at some point.
Way out on flat BLM land where she has a lot of space to be free but also where she can't get lost.
She is a runner and jumper by birth, and needs to be able to do those things.
When LC and I have gotten her a contact info tag, when we have updated her chip, when we feel confident that she has bonded tightly with us................

This could all never have happened if it was not for a retired law enforcement officer who recognized Kory for what she was and who was drawn to a dear, sweet face with floppy ears.
It could never have happened if a woman in Florida did not love dogs so much, and was prepared to do anything to make Kory ours.
It could never have happened if the folks at the animal shelter were not hoping so much to find her a home, and kept her alive longer than they normally would have.
It could not have happened if I hadn't opened my heart wide enough to let this dog inside.
It could not have happened if Jamie had not died when she did.
It could not have happened if a wonderful little girl, who so desperately wanted to find a home, and humans to love and be loved by, had not opened up her own heart and accepted us.
By the end of that first full day with each other, we all knew that this was right.............

We took a trip to Idaho Falls yesterday to pick up a used table saw and chop saw, and after picking them up stopped at a park along the edge of the Snake River.
Another blog for another day.
We have our new girl..............

Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love.  They depart to teach us about loss.  A new dog never replaces an old dog.  It merely expands the heart.  If you have loved dogs, your heart is very big............Author Unknown


  1. Happy..Happy..Happy
    Wegian .... Thanks for sharing.

  2. She is a beautiful, sweet, loving dog, and over the past couple of days we have found out just how smart she is. We are all bonding together very quickly. I'm glad we all found each other.

  3. Can't agree with that comment. You can buy a dog, but you can't buy their love.