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August 27, 2014
The Graduates

Dog Dish Kollee and company have beauty, brains and the degrees to prove it

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Posted: Sunday, March 2, 2014 1:10 am | Updated: 11:30 pm, Sat Jun 14, 2014.

When Kollee came tearing into the Dog Dish family last fall, I knew the quiet little existence Koops and I had cultivated over the years was a thing of the past.

It’s been a learning process for all of us. Koopa is getting better about sharing his momma’s attention, if not his squeaker toys, and I’m making slow but steady progress on this whole two-leash dog walking thing.

As for Kollee, her transition from rescued shelter dog to pampered pooch has been for the most part no sweat. She took to adventure fielding, sleeping on a pillow-top mattress, and eating Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Caramel Buzz straight off mom’s spoon so fast you’d swear she had some Tinkerbell Hilton in that mixed-breed lineage. But I’d be lying if I said there haven’t been a few hiccups.

For one, I’m pretty sure the thing tripping me up on our two-leash walks is the greased pinball on the end of leash No. 2 ricocheting off parked vehicles in search of the cat she saw hiding underneath that car that one time.

Two, my sweet Kollee Wolly Doodle is still learning to use her inside voice and save the impression of Cerberus guarding the gates of Hades for more imminent threats like nighttime prowlers and, you know ... squirrels.

Three, and most perplexing, is that despite a steady diet of Purina One SmartBlend and the aforementioned Ben & Jerry’s, Kollee seems compelled to swallow anything even remotely edible she might encounter. This includes but is not limited to: an unopened mustard packet, any loose item within three feet of a dumpster and the SD card storing all of our not-yet-uploaded Snowpocalypse pictures.

Of course, no furbaby is perfect. Even Koopa, my shining beacon of good behavior, has a whine that could shatter glass and a stubborn streak the size of Texas. (You should see how long it takes him to get in the car — dog smells every blade of grass on the way, then acts like it was his idea to go for a ride in the first place.)

Kollee, happy-go-lucky girl that she is, wouldn’t know a stubborn streak if it hit her with a squeaker toy — which it has. But much to my distress, she seems to have picked up her brother’s high-pitched whine. She doesn’t have quite the operatic range that Koopa’s working with but she’s getting there — so there’s that to look forward to.

I guess I’d thought through sheer exposure to her brother’s exemplary track record Kollee would just naturally follow suit. I should have known you can’t homeschool a social butterfly. So off we went to school — or in our case, Basic Dog Training with trainer April List on Tuesday nights at Piper’s Playhouse.

On the first day of class, I was surprised to find Kollee uncharacteristically subdued — you might even say studious. The very picture of academic pursuit, she had “sit” down cold before the first class was dismissed.

Now don’t start thinking I’m one of those crazy dog ladies who believes her furbaby can do no wrong. Did Kollee’s focus ever stray from Miss April (or “treat lady,” as she was better known) to her fellow classmates? Perhaps. Did she do some howling? Of course. But come on, there were other canines about. It’s not like she went all Cerberus on them, so cut her some slack.

Besides, we can’t all be like Ginger, who was breezing through “drop it” before the rest of us could even get ours to “take it.” I have to give it up for our effervescent valedictorian, though. She even made loose-leash walking look easy, and loose-leash walking, if you didn’t know, is like the differential equations of dog school. Besides, April abides by a strict “No Pup Left Behind” policy so we all got there eventually. Still, way to blow the curve.

Kollee was no slacker, though. She took her studies very seriously, and not just because there was a pocket full of positive reinforcement (aka pumpkin and blueberry fruit snacks) on the line. It threw me at first to see my fun-time girl trading in her party hat for a thinking cap — they just grow up so fast, you know? But luckily she looks just as pretty concentrating as she does carousing, and MacKenzie was happy to fill the vacancy left at the center of attention.

As reigning life of the party, K-Mac’s mix of friendly greeting and enthusiastic learning proved delightfully distracting. As did Kollee’s new BFF Rosie, a blue-eyed bundle of fun whose eager, animated playdate invitations would have been impossible to resist if not delivered during school hours.

Of course, things were not any less distracting at home. Koopa seemed to make up his mind from the get go that homework was for suckers, deciding instead that this would be the perfect time to request mom’s full attention by standing as close as caninely possible and bopping my knee with his paw.

But no sooner had I held up a piece of blueberry-flavored reinforcement than Kollee’s training kicked in, her booty hit the ground … and so did her brother’s.

Turns out Kollee’s not the only one with something to learn.

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