Since this is the first entry in our new catahoula blog, I thought that I'd better start with our first catahoula, Katya.  I got Katya almost 11 years ago, after losing my very first dog to old age.  At the time, I lived out in the country, on a small horse farm by myself.  I wanted a protective dog, just in case.  And boy, did I get that in droves.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time, even though I had done some research.  I suggest if you are planning to acquire a catahoula,  do LOTS of research.  Anyway, I got her from a "breeder" who "accidentally" had a litter of 11 puppies.  She had a young female and a two year old male in an apartment together, and was surprised when the puppies appeared.  At first she was going to dump them at the vets, but then agreed to find homes for them.  Apparently she wasn't too picky about who she gave them to, because more than one became abused dogs, but I guess that is another story.  It worked out pretty darn well for me though.  My father went with me to pick them and and fell in love too.  He was adopted by Codi, who is one of my portrait subjects in our portrait gallery.  Codi was definitely the prettier dog, but Katya had curled up in my lap and taken possession of me, so she came home with me that night.

She was such a quiet little thing when I picked her out, but wow did she get a voice on the way home.  She yelled and hollered and carried on the entire hours drive home.  Nor, did she stop when she finally got there.  Guess you can't blame her being dragged away from her mom and litter-mates, but needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.  Katya grew by leaps and bounds, and was very soon to become the worst puppy I've ever seen.  I'd take her down to the barn with me in the mornings, and within two seconds, she'd disappear.  I'd turn around to find her gone and then frantically go looking.  I found her in one of my ex-racehourse thoroughbred's stalls, playing with their feet.  My horses were never quiet, gentle ones and I was always amazed that she never got hurt or stepped on.  After this happened twice, I got "wise" and put an exercise pen in front of the barn to contain her while I worked.  The ex-pen functioned for a couple of days tops, before she figured out how to climb out of it like a little monkey.Edited Katya laying in front of barn as a puppy

She also had a thing about biting.  She'd bite me and everyone else she came in contact with just for the fun of it.  And boy, did she have sharp little puppy teeth.  She even recreated the old Coppertone baby commercial when she grabbed a friend of mine's daughter by the shorts and pulled them all the way down.  This wasn't exactly pleasant behavior, and I did tons of research to try to cure it.  I tried everything from a squirt bottle, to a yelp, to biting her neck when she bit me.  The only thing any of these accomplished was to make her bite one more time, just to prove that she could.  I even brought over a friend who had lots of dog training experience, and all he could say is, wow, is she a little devil as he got bitten time and time again.  None of this was ever vicious biting to hurt you, but more of a dominance issue.  She wanted to be the boss and wanted everyone to know it.

Now, at this point, I'll bet you are wondering if this is the same puppy who became my first service dog.  You are probably thinking that in no way could this wild little devil of a dog become a friendly, ladylike canine, who is one of the most gentle dogs with her mouth that I've ever run across.  Well, the answer is yes, it is the very same dog.  I'll continue her story from "worst puppy I've ever seen" to the amazing service dog who saved my life twice in the next installments.

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