Hi! I’m Tanya, from Dans le Lakehouse, where I blog about transforming the lakeside bungalow I share with my Handy Hubby and our Komondor, Szuka (pronounced Sooka). I’m so excited that Julia invited me to partake in Living Pretty with Your Pets because I love this series and eagerly await for each new pet tale (pet tail?).
Everyone has such touching stories for adopting their four-legged family members but it’s my intense fear of the woods that had me Googling “large dog breeds”. When Hubby and I decided to move from our city townhouse to a rural home on Lake Superior, I was adamant that I needed a dog who could protect me from the black bears, wolves, and zombies lurking in the woods behind our house. It was just a coincidence that as a child I had longed for a Komondor. I grew up speaking Hungarian, and so I dreamed of teaching my Hungarian dog Hungarian commands. When I suggested a Komondor, Hubby – knowing my childhood dream – just gave me the side eye. While researching dog breeds though, we both realized that the Komondor was actually a perfect fit for us: a low energy, but powerful and large dog that is deeply protective. Komondors have been bred for thousands of years to guard livestock, so they make excellent guard dogs (but are best suited to rural areas, thanks to their neighbour-annoying deep and loud bark). We planned to adopt an adult male Komondor, build a fence around the entire yard (plus build an outdoor, heated dog house), and have him patrol the property like a proper working dog. Hubby had grown up with outdoor, working dogs so it seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan and made me feel safer about our impending move.
The breed isn’t common in North America so finding a breeder, let alone a rescue Kom, was more difficult than we anticipated. After a few dead ends and missed opportunities, we ended up connecting with a couple of Komondor enthusiasts who had a small farm and a few Koms of their own. One of their gals had just had a litter, but there was only one female left. Something tugged at my heart and it just felt like the right decision. The couple who bred her had identified her disposition as better suited to a family – as opposed to the typical independent, livestock guarding Komondor (which was good, because Hubby vetoed my idea to get a flock of sheep and a goat). It was a nutty time: we hadn’t yet sold our townhouse, we were toggling between two homes 1500km apart (one of which we were renovating), plus we were getting more and more broke by the second, and I was about to defend my PhD dissertation. Despite this, we dropped everything and drove 16 hours without stopping to pick her up. I sold a bunch of furniture to pay for her first shots.
The breeder had guessed her weight to be 19 pounds, so we were shocked when she hurtled her 36 pound self toward us. She was HUGE already. But she was sweet – so sweet. From day one she was really gentle, even with my little cousins who poked and prodded her.
Although Szuka keeps a watchful eye on our property as we hoped – and can scare the pants off uninvited guests – with the people she knows, she is a total love sponge. We’ve been diligent about socializing her. She’s never spent an evening outside in her life. The dog house never happened. Instead, she’s become an indulged indoor dog (although we do spend a lot of our days outside together).
Even though she’s sweet, Szuka isn’t always the cuddliest because with her wooly coat she’s often too hot. When she is in the mood we’re all over her, even if she’s a little smelly.
(For size comparison, here she was around 4-5 months old):
The one guaranteed way to receive a little affection from her is to enjoy a tasty snack. Then we see this:
Or if we try to leave. Then all of a sudden she loves us a ton.
Even though she’s less of a working dog than we intended, she does an excellent job at guarding our home and property. A leaf can’t fall to the ground without us knowing about it. When she’s not staring out the window suspiciously, she follows me around the house just checking in.
Today Szuka weighs 93 pounds, but we’re hoping she breaks a 100. She hasn’t disappointed in height, though. Standing up, she’s almost as tall as my 5″9 self. She has to actually bend her head down slightly to nab something from the dining room table (bad girl!).
Before Szuka, blog readers used to ask for my tips on cleaning because even in candid photos our place was usually pretty tidy. I’m so happy I didn’t hand out any advice because I’d have to sheepishly retract it and admit that it was easy to keep the place clean because we didn’t have kids or pets! Now I’ve given up the battle because each time she comes in, Szuka drags in fresh detritus. She gets grass stains (from taking a tumble chasing geese away from our property)…
Occasionally she feels the urge to dig (she likes it best if the earth is damp and muddy), and then tracks that in…
She also loves living on Lake Superior as much as we do, so she smells kind of swampy all summer long and the leaves and gunk from the yard stick to her damp fur really well…
Unfortunately, she hates a bath but at least she gets in voluntarily. I can’t imagine having to lift her! But once she’s in the tub she’s the saaaaaaadest dog in the world.
After a particularly poofy visit to a groomer, we decided to save some cash (plus spare her some trauma) and give her at-home haircuts, because bathing her and cutting her nails were going so well.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but we’ll get the hang of it soon, I’m sure of it. It sure beats maintaining her natural coat: corded locks that would need a ton of shaping and maintenance to keep them tidy.
In some ways, she’s helping me embrace winter (a season I detest), because at least she stays pretty clean romping in the snow.
Did I mention she really loves the snow? She’s a perfect dog for where we live, where winter seems to stretch on forever.
Even though she drags in dirt, debris, leaves, and the occasional stick, it’s been easy to stay stylish even with her around. Although she’ll suffer from a momentary lapse of judgement, she’s pretty good about not munching on our stuff, which is a relief because a dog her size could do serious damage! We keep her entertained with lots of toys, which I store in a heavy ceramic planter that’s easy for her to access (you can spot it in the photos below). She has, on occasion, even put a toy back. She’s so well behaved for the most part, and she only knows Hungarian commands – my childhood dream realized.
The plain dog stuff I found at our local pet store was really cramping my style, though, so we DIY’d her a mid-century inspired food bowl stand:
My Mom and I also made her a quilt (to match the laundry room drapes, naturally) for the laundry room/mud room where she sleeps and eats.
Because she rides to town with us almost every time we leave the lakehouse, we made her a padded platform to make the back of the truck comfier for her.
Does this sound like the hard life of a working dog? Nope! In the unlikely event of a bear or zombie attack, I’m going to have to fend them off myself, because I just love this little (big!) girl so much.
P.S. Fortunately, our wildlife sightings have been pretty tame! A little black bear did stalk our apple tree and a fox let himself in, but other than that Szuka’s days are pretty quiet, except for chasing the pesky geese away, plus the terrible threat known as the neighbour cutting his lawn. Happily, no zombie sightings (but I know they’re out there)…
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