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Fierce in Seattle: A Dog’s Life


A blogumn by Kelli Bielema

I could hardly wait to get a dog once I moved to Seattle. In L.A., I had a rent-controlled apartment for about 7 years in Los Feliz  that did not allow mutts.  A 900 square-foot 2-bedroom with carport and garage trumped my canine jones, but I was ready to get a Fido of my own. And did I mention rent control? My $1100 2 bedroom I hear now goes for $1700.  Zoinks.  About a year after arriving in the Pacific Northwest, and living in another cat-only apartment, I eventually found a pet-friendly rental house in the Ballard neighborhood. Within a few days of my move, I picked up my Australian Shepherd puppy. At 10 weeks old she was about 8 pounds of fluffy fur and insane amounts of cuteness.  Between unpacking and laying down piddle pads, I was suddenly overwhelmed with my new responsibility. Not only did I need to make sure she knows that rugs are not to be chewed or used as bathrooms, I needed to feed her, exercise her, socialize her, groom her, and first of all, name her.

After a list that included Olive, Agent Clarice Starling, Rhoda, Phyllis, Pickle, Pentacostal (that one was not in the top 10, but a suggestion nonetheless), I picked the perfect moniker. Everyone has a comment when you mention you’re getting a dog, but if you are getting a working dog, like an Aussie, everyone’s an authority on how you need to get that dog a job, and keep it busy. Australian Shepherds are bred for herding cattle, sheep, or other farm animals that travel in, well, herds.  If you don’t keep these dogs busy they can become nervous wrecks, whiney stressballs, destructive obsessive compulsives or worse, can nip or bite.  Gotta keep ‘em busy.  Busy.  It couldn’t fit her more perfectly, because Busy certainly is.  Bizzity-Biz, Bizzers, or simply The Biz, she is such joy and spunk and fun.  It’s easy to share that joy in the world, and especially in dog-friendly Seattle.

Seattle is often noted for being one of the top U.S. cities for dogs & their owners. In fact, the 2000 census reported fewer than 90,000 kids and according to the Seattle Animal Shelter’s independent study there are about 125,000 dogs in the Emerald City.  Probably time for a new survey on both ends, but you better believe there are more pooches out there for sure.  There are entire books about where to take your dog on a hike. There are nearly a dozen off-leash dog parks, and my spoiled pup goes to one daily.  Oh yeah, she has her own dog nanny who takes her Monday through Friday for about 3 hours of play group.  There’s an outdoor mall that allows dogs, and the Biz is quite fond of Barnes & Noble, but not their escalator. Scary! She’s the “Norm” of the bar in our neighborhood. That’s right, I can bring my dog to the bar.  Beer, tater tots, and dogs. Nearly heaven.  The Sunday Farmers Market provides lots of opportunities for strangers to ask “what kind of dog is she?” or “can I say hello?”  She eats it up.  I’m training her to be a little more discriminating and start targeting the cute single men.  There. That’s her job.  Get busy, Busy.

In between puppy class, basic manners and other assorted canine-schooling, I’ve become quite successful in training her to be a good pup.  We just finished an agility class (not winning any blue ribbons any time soon with that skill) and up next are some herding lessons.  As much time as I spend with her, she’s now old enough (at a whole 17 months) to be home with free reign of the house, which means mommy can go out without worry. But when I come home, it’s that wag, those jumps, those kisses that make me never want to go out again. But then I remember, she can come with me…

Final note: For more Busy puppy porn, check out her spread on The Daily Puppy.