It is getting cooler here in North Dakota and summer items are being put away until next year. Going through summer gear brought back memories of Katie. I was going through pictures and it looks like Kota is following in Katie’s footprints.
Kota and I recently went kayaking.
He learned very quickly to sit in the kayak and not shift his weight. This trip was not part of work, but rather a relaxing weekend trip. I paddled around the shore where we put in and let Kota watch the ducks, cormorants, butterflies, and algae. He was content to sit in front of me and watch everything, and when he got tired he just laid down. It almost seemed like he did this all before. I am very proud of Kota!
Kota did it!
We have been training to find mountain lion scent with Kota and I haven’t been seeing much progress, but the other day he proved me wrong! We didn’t find a mountain lion, but rather a bobcat trail. A family contacted our office with a concern about a cat like creature on their property. Bobcats are not common in this area of North Dakota, but observations have been increasing. When we got to the property, the owner pointed out that the cat creature was seen in the field and in the trees adjacent to the field, so down we walked to the area pointed out. It didn’t take long at all for us to start finding sign of predators in the area. Kota pointed out the coyote scat in the field about a minute after walking into it. Not what we were looking for, but good all the same. Then the bobcat trail caught his attention and he walked into the trees and proceeded to find a nice pile of bobcat scat. It was not too hard to determine what made this pile of poo. This was a major accomplishment for Kota! The trail this animal was using was evident, so the next day game cameras were placed in the area for visual conformation. The cameras will be picked up this week and the photos reviewed. Lets keep our fingers crossed we get some good images!
Now that Katie is gone, Kota is beginning to take over her duties.
Spring is a busy time in the wildlife field. We have been busy starting surveys, creating documents, and of course cutting grass. Our office is located within a small park, and cutting grass is a never ending job. Kota tries to help, whether it is digging holes for replacement fence posts, making sure there are no field mice returning to the grass behind the person with the weed trimmer, or putting the deck on the riding mower. Today we started waterfowl surveys. This is where we walk around and through wetlands to flush up the waterfowl to count. Counts are used for creating hunting limits and assessing habitat quality, the more waterfowl, the better. Kota did a great job! At first he was unsure what I wanted him to do, but soon caught on. When we first arrived at the first marshy area we didn’t see many waterfowl. I instructed Kota to begin flushing – he ran through the water and cattails like a crazy dog, making huge circles back to me. It didn’t take long before the waterfowl emerged. Our helpers were on the shore identifying the birds that flushed from Kota’s erratic running. My job today was to keep Kota focused in the right areas.
Kota also learned to swim today. He was trying to stay in the shallow water, but in the excitement got himself out in deeper water. At first he panicked, but soon figured out how to move his legs in the deeper water. From that point on, it didn’t matter where the running lead – he was having so much fun while doing his job!
Kota is being trained to located mountain lion scent. We are getting calls to do this across the state, so I am hoping he catches on quickly! His job will be to point out mountain lion trails, scat, and scent posts, not to chase them or tree them. This will help our office to locate mountain lion trails so that we can monitor areas for lions. Already he is following in Katie’s footsteps and is picking out coyote sign, so I might cross train him for that too. There is so much for him to learn!
Katiebird, Katie, passed away two weeks ago at the age of 10 1/2. Although she was diagnosed with liver disease and Lyme disease, it was her heart that failed her. On her last day, she got up and went to work with Kota and me, determined not to stay home. Throughout the day, as her body continued to weaken, she never gave up. As we made our rounds in the truck, she sat next to me, leaning her head on my shoulder to see out the window, while making Kota sit on the floor. By the end of the day, I knew it was her last. I carried her into the house when we got home and sat with her on the couch. All three cats and Kota willingly took turns sitting with her. There was no fighting between any of them that evening. Katiebird passed away peacefully in my arms.
Katie touched the lives of many in her career. She was a wonderful dog and will never be replaced. She was more than a dog, she was family. During our time together, there were few days she wasn’t by my side. Even though Kota is working with me (and learning) everyday now, it will take time for me to stop looking for Katie when I turn around. Wherever she is now, I know she is happy chasing chipmunks and rabbits and swimming in mountain streams.
Editor’s note: Katie was one of a kind. A truly special dog, Katie loved her family, life, and doing her job tracking wildlife and protecting Carrie as she did her job. One of Katie’s last jobs was training Kota. I have to believe that Katie’s passing is a sign that she thinks Kota is ready and worthy of taking over her role. I know that while she may have crossed the rainbow bridge, Katie’s spirit will continue to be at Carrie’s side, protecting her and helping Kota to fine-tune his skills. We are pleased that Kota will jump in as our new Dog with a Job. Welcome Kota – you’ve got some big paws to fill!
Spring is in the air. The snow is melting, the temperatures are getting warmer, the dogs are shedding! During winter we did a lot of office work and both dogs have cabin fever. They want to be out working everyday!
This past month has been a rough one. Kota got an internal infection and wasn’t doing too well. Things weren’t looking good for him at all and he lost a tremendous amount of weight. This delayed any training until he got better. Thankfully he pulled through and is doing wonderfully now! He is even starting to gain weight. Basic obedience lessons are still being learned and now we are adding a “find the mountain lion” command into it. He is eager to show me he can do anything I ask him to, and he even brings me the scent bottle at work when he wants to go outside and “practice” finding lions. Kota has also taken on the role of protector while out in the field. He watches over Katie and me all the time. Katie is showing him the ropes of how to do field work and he is paying close attention.
Katie was diagnosed with liver disease today. This was a surprising diagnosis. It was found on routine blood work when she went to the vet to have a tooth pulled. She is now eating Dr. Jean Dodd’s liver cleansing diet – white or sweet potato and fish – to help with her liver. Katie might be getting up there in age and slowing down a bit, but she is still anxious to go to work every day.