Nikita loves snow!
Before we moved here to our Peaceful Forest Homestead, we rented a house on a farm in Bainbridge, N.Y. It was at the very end of a dead end road. In fact, if you went to the end of the road you would be in our driveway. It was on 150 acres and our back yard was a huge hay field and acres of woods. It was a good place to live while we were trying to figure out how we could find the type of place we were looking for. But that is another chapter of my life..............I felt I could finally get my own dog. I had never had one of my own since I was a child of ten.
Nikita prowling around the yard
My husband was driving a truck at this time for a living. Not an over-the-road truck this time, but through New York state. So now he could be home a couple nights during the week and every week-end. In our Pennysaver, there was an ad for a puppy that seemed just right for us. It said the puppies were part Lab, Keeshond and wolf and looked like little bears. So when he came home we went to see them.
Nikita was the runt, out of the four puppies. I had intended on getting a male, but when she crawled up the front of me out of the box, she was our's! A few weeks later when I went to bring her home, she howled like a wolf the whole ride home. I thought she would always howl like that........no, never again.
She's a hunter!
We used to walk all over the fields and the woods on this property. It was great for a little puppy. Especially a Lab. They are very energetic puppies and I'll tell you in those early months she often tried my patience! I had to get a book from the library to see if it was hopeless or not. The book said if you can get through the puppy period..........you would have a great dog. Well, that book was indeed correct. Nikita grew to be an awesome and extremely intelligent dog.
She was potty trained within three weeks of bringing her home. She learned things so quickly and I had fun teaching her when she wasn't attacking me. It wasn't that she was a bad puppy, it was just that she felt like her and me were equals and she would pick on me and my stepdaughter, Hollie. Not on my husband at all. She watched for that truck to drive in the drive way! She became devoted to him immediately and he was afraid that she wouldn't be that close to him because he was gone most of the time. Not at all! And she has been that way with him her whole life.
Learned about horses right away!
The horses on the property next to us became a favorite of Nikita's right away. She loved walking over to see them every day. The colt especially liked playing with her. Maybe because they were both babies. It was a good thing because eventually my husband went on to training horses. And we got our own, so she knew how to behave around them. Many dogs cause horses to go after them because they do not know how to be around them. Of course, Nikita never was or has been a barker. She has never had to be leashed or tied up at home. So she has been lucky that we have lived in the places we have where there was no need for that.
Bailey was her mentor!
Our landlords' dog, Bailey became her teacher. Bailey taught her whatever it is that other dogs teach young dogs. Bailey was a wanderer and tried to get Nikita to wander from home, but Nikita has always been afraid to do that. Even back then, she'd come in and watch out the window for Bailey to come back. In her whole life, she has never done that. Always stayed at home and her dog friends will try to get her to go with them but she never would.
Nikita LOVES water!
There was a pond on this property and we left her on the shore and went out in the row boat, then all of a sudden there she was in the water trying to get to us! We had to quickly row to her and get her in the boat. She could never stand to be left behind! Plus, she loved water. It is only now in her later years that she doesn't get in water anymore. I kind of miss that about her.
She never chewed anything but a piece of firewood. She did that all on her own. We had the firewood stacked in our front room where the wood stove and her kennel was, and she would just go to the pile and pick one out. Chew on it for hours. Until she was potty trained we kept the front room with a little gate over the door so she couldn't come in the rest of the house. She could not wait for the day when we put a bed for her in our room! If I told her "stay" she would stay put for hours. Still to this day she will mind me. If I just motion to her to get out of the road or somewhere, she knows what I mean. If I tell her her treats are on the coffee table without motioning toward it, she will glance at it or go to it. She truly understands whatever we say. We don't talk baby talk to her, she actually knows what our words mean.
One night when my husband was working, the field next door caught fire and she woke me up. I would have never even known about it if it hadn't been for her. I called the landlord and he already had the fire trucks on the way. Whew! I was impressed by my puppy greatly after that night.
Nikita at twelve, has slowed down.
Now she is twelve years old and is still as smart and lovable as she was as a pup. I value every day with her as I know dogs don't live a long time after they get to be about ten or so. She has spoiled me as far as dogs go. But I will never get another one as it is too heart breaking knowing you only have them for a short time. Our horses are 14 and 15 years of age and seem frisky and lively at that age. She has given us so much in return that I could never explain it in this blog. I will probably write again about her as she is one of my favorite subjects!
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole