Koda’s name means Little Bear. When we were deciding on names we were studying the pictures of the puppies from the breeder. Koda, who weighed less than ten pounds at the time, was round with all black smooth puppy fur. I kept telling my family he looked like a little bear in the pictures. I came across the name Koda and thought it was perfect, a nice masculine two-syllable name but also included the meaning of the little bear that he resembled. This could not more perfectly describe Koda. His face is still round but is much larger, and is on the head of a tall muscular male dog. Koda’s voice changed a few months ago (when he hit dog puberty I guess). His bark is deep; it more of a “Roaff! Roaff” than a “yip, yip.” His features have grown and filled out, larger paws, thicker chest, marbles to walnuts, this sturdy male is quite the dog. I’d probably be afraid of him if I didn’t know him simply hearing his loud bark.
But I do know Koda, and he is a big softie. He is afraid of many things, and barks just to hide it. Other dogs, people, squirrels, acorns falling from trees, sounds outside the window… If Koda senses movement or noise, he feels it’s his job to sound the alert. He has been shy since day one. He was placed in my arms and I remember looking into his black eyes and feeling emotional. I knew this little sweetheart of a puppy was going to be a lover. He was timid and unsure in my embrace. His nervousness caused him to poop inside the crate when we had driven less than a mile away from the breeders house, causing us to pull over and clean the stinky mess. He was reserved around our family initially. That is where having his big sister there helped. Summer was always first to check something out, and then Koda followed.
At puppy socialization class, Koda was very good on the mat with me as I practiced the settle hold. But when it came time for free naked play (without collars), Koda stood off to the side trying to be unnoticed by all the hyper puppies racing around the room. He did not like the butt sniffing activity of greeting the other puppies. I worried that he would only like playing with his sister. Eventually, with a few more socialization experiences, Koda grew to relax around other dogs. He loves his poodle pals up the street. On walks he barks at passing dogs, but it is never an aggressive growl more of a show to say, “I’m tough. That’s right. Don’t mess with us.”
Around new people Koda is as affectionate as can be. He loves the attention from visitors, sometimes almost so much he pees on the floor in excitement. Koda cuddles next to me on the sofa every morning just like Kitty used to on my lap. He gives kisses and over the back hugs. One of my favorite things about Koda is how hard he tries to please. If I say sit, he is quick to drop his butt to the floor and sit up nice and tall very still. While we are on walks, he repeatedly glances up at me as if to say, “Like this? Am I doing this right? How about now?” There is one peculiar part of his training. Both dogs learned from their teacher to “climb” onto their raised bed. For some reason, Koda has a weird hang up about the climb command. When I say it, he runs to the other side of the room and jumps up to the sofa looking at me with big eyes. Other times of day, I see him go lay on the climb bed. But if I were to say, “Look at you Koda! You are on the climb,” then he’d bolt upright and move over to the sofa. I’m not sure what that is all about.
At least he is sweet, smart, shares his toys well, and is a happy dog. Who can ask for more than that? And if I haven’t said it enough, he has one of the softest fluffiest coats ever. I love ruffling the curls on his head and snuggling with him on the sofa. Koda is a big teddy bear.