Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Hearts Hurting, But it is the Right Thing

Kobi is a home dog. For years we have tried to fool ourselves that he is an adventurer, an explorer, a travel dog. But he is not! We thought he would learn that going places always resulted in a fun and relaxing stay; that he would enjoy the end even though the travel part terrified him. This has never happened
Our first photo of Kobi.
It’s hard but in life, all your dreams don’t come true and you can’t explain why. When we lost Sebaca, our other dog, to cancer we vowed that he was our last. Then we started talking about another dog. One of the strong underlying items we talked about as we convinced ourselves that we needed another companion was that of a buddy to travel with. A pet that would ride in the Jeep, go fishing with me and be with us on our travel adventures. Our hopes led us to find a pup and that guy was Kobi.
We did everything we could do to introduce our pet to the travel bug. For a time when he was a pup, he was good to go and was always eager to jump into the Jeep for a ride. But something that we cannot figure out slowly changed in our friend. As years went by he became more insecure about moving objects, the sounds associated with traffic, fireworks, gunfire, strong winds and thunder and lightning.  We have tried everything to make him comfortable around these sounds, but Kobi is Kobi and nothing really helps.

Kobi in the field this week.
Kobi does not like getting into the truck or Jeep. When we load him up, we call it “Dead Dog Walking!” He hangs his head, tries everything he can to avoid the door and then when he gets into the vehicle he shakes uncontrollably. Once in his crate, he will eventually stop shaking, but he sits stoically like the Sphinx, unmoving and tense.  We observed this behavior thinking that the truck was making him sick and that is why he does not like it, but he never shows signs of being physically sick. No vomiting, no change in his poop. He just hates to travel.

We have learned that if we take him out of the crate for a bathroom break, he has to stay on lead so that he won’t go and hide. This we learned the hard way. We cannot count the times we had to crawl under trucks or cars to pull him out. Bushes are his favorite hiding place. At first, we used his toys to draw him out where we could get him on lead. Now even that doesn’t work. Our only proven way to draw him out is to get our chairs out, sit down, and act like we are there to stay. This can take a while, but eventually, it works and he comes out to sit by our side.

To complicate things more, he is not comfortable going to the bathroom with the lead on.  It takes forever for him to relieve himself while tethered. Heaven forbid that we would try to get him to poo while attached to the rope. While traveling, if we let him off lead, he will do his duty and then head for a picnic table, car, truck or bushes to hide. Timing is everything and we have learned how to accomplish these bathroom breaks without incident, most of the time, but we still find ourselves pulling Kobi out from under things on occasion.

Our travels are important to us and now that we are retired, and have worked hard to give us the resources and abilities to accomplish these explorations, they become more and more numerous.

Each time we go somewhere we make all our plans with Kobi as our number one concern. We have to consider where we are going, how long it will take, where can we rest and walk the dog, the list goes on.  National Parks and many areas we want to visit have strict policies on dogs on trails and in campgrounds. We are continually thinking about how we can visit these areas with Kobi and have him safe while staying within the regulations posted for those areas. Many times we have ruled out an area because we are unable to provide Kobi a safe, shady place to stay while we toured a national monument area. This has always been ok because it is what it is and Kobi is family.

When we retired one of our dream trips was to drive down to Melaque, Mexico and stay the winter in our camper. We accomplished this, and we did it with our little friend along. It was so hard on him that we now would never even consider a journey like that.  Mexico is a wonderful place, but part of that mystique is their love of fireworks and loud celebrations. Poor Kobi was a mess. He spent weeks wearing a long sleeve shirt protecting areas on his legs that he rubbed raw trying to climb under our bed or the truck when he heard fireworks. Kobi’s fears and his inability to get comfortable made us feel so bad about this adventure that when we returned we said we would never put him through something like that again.

This lead us to our past couple years and the discovery of Kobi’s amazing second family.

Diane, Al Dee and their two children, Kenyon and Alayna, knew Kobi from visits to our house and several trips down to their house in Eugene, Oregon. The kids loved to play with Kobi and Kobi really loved them, too. We got the idea that when we went to Mexico for the winter we would have Kobi stay with them and when we returned we would take him back home to be with us.

After two successful years of this dog sharing success, everything was great, but Linda and I noticed something and Linda started calling it the Perfect Storm.

Linda’s sister and the family had had pets before. They had adopted a couple dogs; the first one was a great friend that passed away too young. Their second dog turned out to be a nightmare. After that dog, Diane said that they would never have a pet dog again.

Enter Kobi. He is such a great dog that the kids automatically fell in love with him. Al Dee was captured after the first year. It took Diane a while longer, but by the end of last year, she had fallen for Kobi as hard, if not harder, than the rest of them. It was hard for everyone when we picked up Kobi this spring and that, honestly, was very hard on us.

Last year the family also saw a big change in Kobi and how he acted. Kobi made the kids his job. He woke each one of them up in the mornings and kept an eye on them constantly. He was happy being in the family and you could tell that. We noticed this when we were staying there the days before we brought him home.

When we left with Kobi and we traveled up and down the Oregon Coast, he was more subdued than usual during a trip. We arrived home and it took a couple weeks for Kobi to get back to his normal self.

Now here is the Perfect Storm part. Diane, AL Dee, and the kids really missed Kobi. Kenyon and Alayna started asking for a dog more often and with a greater urgency. Diane and Al Dee started thinking hard about getting them their pet.  They even started looking into pet adoptions again. Because of Kobi, their choice of dog breeds became a Golden Retriever. It was looking more and more like they would be getting a dog sooner than later.

We were watching Kobi adjusting to being home. Plans were in the works for several big adventures that could not include Kobi. We knew we needed his second family to be able to take him and this might not be an option if they had their own dog. Linda and I had several heart-wrenching talks about Kobi and how we could fulfill our desire to travel without hurting him.

Kobi needs a home where his family will always be home; a place where a weeklong trip comes once a year, not every other week, a place where his family is there after school and work, a place where he is comfortable 24/7, 365 days a year.

We called Diane and asked if she and Al Dee would consider maybe taking Kobi on a permanent basis. We wanted them to talk about this possibility without alerting the kids and getting their hopes up. Diane said “yes” right then but thought they should take some time and talk this out. They let us know the next day that Kobi would be a welcome and much-loved addition to their family. He would be loved and cared for just as we have loved and cared for him.

The next two weeks were the hardest two weeks Linda and I have ever had, even worse than when Sebaca had to be put down because of cancer.  His passing was so quick we had little time to think about it. We listed the pros and cons dealing with Kobi’s possible new home. We discussed options and looked at our future schedule. We cried a lot. We talked to Diane and made our decision, for Kobi, to let him go to his new home. We cried some more as our hearts broke and we second-guessed ourselves.  Several times I backed out of the idea and said it would not work. I was being selfish.

The decision has been made and we will be traveling to deliver Kobi to his new home and family. We are still crying every time we think or talk about this, but we know it is the best for him. We will see him two or three times a year during our family visits. The kids will keep us posted on his family adventures and they will definitely be sending pictures and stories.  They will love him as we have. Doing the right thing shouldn’t be so hard…

Tuesday Afternoon:

Last night we stayed on the Columbia River. Kobi hated the ride down but loved playing ball till sundown. We both took turns, losing it, crying and then pulling it together. We got on the road by 9:00 AM and arrived in Eugene at about noon. Kobi hardly moved on the ride down.
Al Dee met us at the house and Kobi immediately jumped out of the truck and ran into the house, made an inspection, looking for the kids and then grabbed his ball and started playing. There was no hesitation, he knew where he was, he was happy and relaxed. Linda held it together while speaking with Al Dee. I unloaded the truck and lost it about three times.  We wanted to stay, but without communicating with each other, we hugged Kobi and got into the truck. We drove off; found our way out of town and headed to the Sisters Oregon area.

Right now we have found a spot for the night at Tumalo State Park. We have cried a couple times more. We talked about what was right and have fully agreed that this is the best for our Kobi. We will call tonight and I am sure the kids will be over the moon excited.  We know we will see him this summer and again in the fall. Tomorrow we move on to visit friends and life will continue. We were so fortunate to have been able to have raised the best dog ever.

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