Ki Whitfield

2001 — Tue, Dec 15, 2015

Ki came into our life at the age of one, feisty, opinionated, and way too smart for her own good. She was anassumed-to-be Shih Tzu – though there was probably a little Lhasa in there, too. She certainly had Lhasa-tude. We soon came to know her bark of righteous indignation, usually in respect of something denied to her – a couch, a bed, an open door, a treat that Cally or Denzel just got, or just the right bit of attention at just the right time. We also heard it when another being got a little bit too close before she was ready.
This is some of her story.
I was deposited with my human in September 2002, and I adopted her later that year, after a suitable trial period. My first year with my human was full of what she called puppy adolescent games: of course I know what you want – but I’m not sure of the cost/benefit for me; do you really mean it? How far can I go? Can I wear you down? How about this instead? What do you mean this rug isn’t the same thing as the backyard? What do you mean, you’re the boss?? But once I adopted her, I did my best to work within her limitations.
We did ‘basic training’ and my human looked pretty proud when, faced with a squeaky toy I was trembling to play with, I held my stay, looking back at her repeatedly for the release to go and get it. We also did that game crossing that street on the way to the old local park, too (only on Sundays and when traffic was non-existent). My favorite moment was to get the ‘okay’ and then I bounded to meet her with a big smile. All my life, I always perked up at the word ‘okay’.
I shocked my human in the park, with my speed at chasing the ball. No shrinking violet, me – I put greyhounds (at least the Italian ones) to shame. I never saw the benefit to me of bringing the ball back, however: much better for her to get some exercise, too, I thought. Very proud of my skills at human training. But I was at my fastest when chasing those pigeons. Never caught any – drat – but loved seeing them scatter!
I did not approve of strangers coming to my home – I took my role as an intruder alarm very seriously. But once I warmed up to you, and you were in my circle of trust, I was a sucker for a good belly rub and a treat, and would wag my whole body when you came to visit (Uncle Glen, especially).Uncle Glen and I had long days of belly rubs on the couch, and playing with toys. I will always cherishthat, and the mornings that we spent sleeping-in together until Anastasia pried me out of my nest.
From time to time we had other visitors. I tried my best to keep up a front – kept a good bark up, and a bit of distance, but occasionally I gave in to a bit of a wag, took a treat and permitted a bit of a rub – one must keep up appearances, but make exceptions as needs must. Visitors, I like to think that I had my own special way with each of you, and that even when you weren’t a dog person, you came to conclude that I was ‘okay’. I hear a few of you adopted dogs after meeting me.
I mostly tolerated my canine neighbours - Google and Molson I tolerated only in the backyard, and from under a chair – and of course Cally’s best features were that she was as reserved as me and that she came with a human with treats. I enjoyed going nose to nose with Cally and giving a slight wag of the tail. But mostly it was the treats.
I’m so happy to have met you all, both human and canine, and to have spent time with you –despite my reserved behaviour.
I never warmed up to contractors though.
One day, a strange man let himself in and was carrying stuff around like tools, and something called drywall. Very concerning. I warned him off, but he didn’t go, so I high-tailed it out of there. Sometimes a strategic retreat is more important than a premature offence in the face of invasion. Got lots of exercise for the next 36 hours – crossing busy roads on my own was a trick, and I’m sure a few drivers had heart failure, but I mastered it. It was very important to cover all the bases looking for a safe place to hole up in until I could mount a counter-offensive. I looked all over: my favorite park across the way, my satellite camp on a street a few blocks south where I’d stayed overnight and most of the backyards within a one mile radius. The neighbourhood was very busy those couple of days -humans of all sorts running around shouting, yelling my name, pictures of me on telephone poles - all most unusual and surely a sign of Armageddon – so I kept running. One night it seemed quieter, so I crept into my back yard under cover of darkness and whined cautiously just in case a friendly could hear me. Success! So I let myself in with a bit of a wiggle and got a bite to eat and a drink, and then curled up to sleep - the homestead had been liberated and order was now restored. As I was drifting off to sleep, I overheard my human on the phone saying something like ‘the little * isn’t even dirty’ – but I really don’t understand – did she want me to be dirty?? I’ve always taken pride in my appearance, and I see no reason why I should let my standards down, even when on a special mission to restore the world order. Don’t really understand, as well, why my human wouldn’t let me cross those roads on our walks afterward. I was up for training her how to do that, now that I’d mastered it. But mission accomplished. I’m famous for it, actually. It wasn’t my only solo mission (sorry about that time in the park, Suzanne), but it was the most famous.
Summers we went to these cool places called cottages with familyand friends, including Lori and Denzel. I loved my time with Auntie Lori – I even let her call me Kiki-Dee. I first met Denzel when he was 11 months old, and just feeling his oats (put him in his place, I did, though). Neither of us liked the water that came with the cottages, but I loved playing Cleopatra on the barge, while the humans paddled me around in the canoe. Very appropriate, I thought. I also loved just sitting out on the deck looking out at the world. Important to keep an eye on one’s realm, even on vacation.
When my human disappeared for what seemed like forever, I moved in with
Anastasia and her pack. (My human was apparently away for a month in some place called Europe– though why she would do that is beyond me, and, frankly, I don’t understand this word ‘month’ or the word ‘Europe’ anyway). Soon had that pack sorted out – never met one I couldn’t whip into shape. I enjoyed helping Chris out on the computer, though I left him on his own to correct typos – some things must be learned on one’s own. (Thank you for getting used to my fish breath.) Other times, I got the chance to train other humans when my human was away, like Laura and Jackie - I took every opportunity to apply my expertise.
But most times were more routine.
When my human was at something she called work, I engaged and managed my entourage. We went on daily reconnaissance to the local parks first with Suzanne, and then after we moved, with Anastasia and her packs. I would climb trees (fallen limbs) and check out every corner. I never shared my secret life with my human, that was just between my packs, the parks, and me. Official secrets and all that.
I hated rain, and would refuse to budge if I even smelled it. But I adored snow. When it first arrived each year, I would dive head first into it, and bounce and bounce. Did that a bit with piles of leaves in Fall, too. I did like to bounce when I was happy – might be why my human called me bunny rabbit from time to time. Probably lucky she didn’t rename me Tigger. Or Kangaroo.
I had great times at the groomers – first Joan, and then Peggy. They always made me clean and pretty, and I enjoyed showing off on the way home. Okay, really, it was afterwards I most enjoyed. I could tolerate what it took to get there - most of the time - except maybe the nail clips. (The sacrifices one makes for beauty.) I also kind of liked being able to see out from under my bangs again. But I most liked the strut home with my tail up on those days, and coming home to my freshly laundered beds and curling up all fresh and clean.
When we moved to our new den, I raced around and around it looking for who lived there, and who I could visit with. I soon appropriated it as mine, although I did allow my human to live there. I settled into a new routine, acquainted myself with new squirrels and raccoons, established appropriate patrols and soon had the neighbourhood in hand. We did our patrols in a number of loops, my favorite being the ‘long’ loop – all the way around the road by the ravine, finishing up with a good belly rub, head massage and a snooze, on a bench in a local parkette. One spring, a number of wrens nested in the trees near our bench. Our snooze session upset them no end, and they dive bombed us for a good long while. At least, that’s how my human tells it – I opened an eye occasionally but I made a good show of being too blissed out to notice. Secretly, though, I was enjoying how much I upset them – another species conquered!
So many good memories.
I’m now curled up, freshly groomed, on a freshly laundered bed, dreaming of squirrels, pigeons, raccoons and running. And treats. And belly rubs. Thank you, thank you to everyone, thank you for every bit of those thirteen years. Except the nail clips. And the rain.