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Kootenai's Memorial
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Donations were made in Kootenai's memory by Shawn S. and Ant Flat Ranch D.. Her memorial was created on 7/14/2012.
Kootenai was born Feb. 10, 1997. My husband saw a show about Golden Retriever rescue dogs and suddenly we had to get a Golden. We wanted a female and Kootenai was the last girl of the litter. When we first saw her, she was lying on top of one of her brothers attacking him. Every few seconds she would lean over, take a drink of water and a nibble of food, then go back to biting her brother, all the while keeping him pinned down. We should have taken that as a clue as to what a dominant dog she would grow up to be, but we just thought it was funny.

Kootenai was always a bossy, head-strong little girl. We tried several things to stop her from being “naughty” when she was little. Shook a soda can filled with pennies. Didn’t work. Got her more excited. Squirted her with water from a bottle. Wrong. Goldies are water dogs. (Yay water!...bring it on.) The only thing that stopped her from being “bad” was being sent to the “dungeon” (which was just the laundry room). I never knew Goldens had hound in them until Kootenai was sent to the dungeon. She howled nonstop. She’d stay in her “time out” for just a few minutes, but later all you had to say was “Do you want to go to the dungeon?” and she would stop whatever she was doing. She was actually a wonderful little puppy, she just liked being the boss and telling everyone what to do. That willfulness continued throughout her life. She was always the mouthpiece for her “brothers” Tlingit and Shilo. When it was time to eat, Kootenai would start barking to let everyone know. Even when she went blind from diabetic cataracts she knew when it was mealtime and never failed to remind everyone.

When she was little, Mike thought it would be cute to teach her to come running and jump into his arms. It was adorable when she weighed 8-10 even 15 lbs, but when she weighed 50-60 lbs it wasn’t as adorable. So instead of jumping into your arms she learned to come running and go through your legs. Which was also very cute unless you didn’t know to spread your legs apart, in which case she would come barreling into you and you’d usually end up on the ground. Watch out Grandma and Grandpa!

When she was a puppy we lived in a house with a swimming pool, where she learned to love the water. She used to race me from one end to the other. She hated to lose so she turned into a cheater. We would take off at the same time, but if I got ahead of her, as soon as I touched the far side and turned around, she would turn around too and head back to the start. She always won.

Kootenai had a rough life health-wise, but she dealt with every medical issue like a champ. Before she turned one she was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Looking at the x-rays the vet said that Kootenai could be the poster dog for hip dysplasia, not really the fame you’d wish upon your dog. So for her first birthday she got TPO surgery at UC Davis Vet School. Soon after that she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. After those medical issues she had a relatively healthy young/middle aged life. But in her “golden” years she had Cushing’s Disease, then Addison’s Disease, strange head shakes, nerve problems, Diabetes, frequent bladder infections, blindness, and pressure sores. If there was an atypical version of any disease, Kootenai always had it. The last two years she had diabetes and was difficult to regulate. Although she was blind for her last 1 1/2 yrs, I never thought of her as a blind dog, but going blind was hard on Kootenai. She used to love to be outside. It could be 20° below zero and she would lie out on the deck until 2 or 3 in the morning. When she went blind I think she was scared to be outside. I’d take her out just long enough for her to go potty and then she’d want to get back into the house. Luckily in her last month she found comfort and safety outside once again and that seemed to be the only thing that calmed her when she was having a rough day.

Although she was a Golden Retriever, retrieving wasn’t her thing. About the only time she would retrieve was in the water, but you had to keep her brother, Tlingit, away because he would practically drown anyone who tried to beat him to a retrieve, so she wouldn’t even try.

Agility turned out to be Kootenai’s thing. She is my first agility dog. She loved to go to “puppy dog school” as we called it. We took classes for several years, just as something fun for us to do together. We never competed, although I wish we had just once. When we moved to Montana, classes were too far away so I started purchasing agility equipment just for my own use. People would drive by and were intrigued by what we were doing, so we started teaching introductory classes just for fun. She became my teaching assistant, introducing new dogs and their people to agility and showing them what to do. She especially loved teaching the humans how and when to distribute treats. She taught for 6 years until she was 13 1/2.

Kootenai was the first dog I “owned” as an adult and she taught me a lot. She was my sweet little golden girl and my agility queen. Thanks to everyone at Whitefish Animal Hospital for all the wonderful care they provided Kootenai and all the time and patience they offered me. Although we miss her immensely, we are so thankful to have had 15 1/2 wonderful years with her.

Shawn S.

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