Kodi De-Coded

Since we adopted Kodi a bit over a month ago, I’ve come up with many questions about his past, and his behavior. I didn’t think we’d ever have the answers to those questions, and my guesses would have to be good enough.

Enter Facebook and a wonderful, dog-loving woman named Danielle, who friended me and proceeded to answer all the questions I had. The answers were very helpful in gaining insight into what has made Kodi behave the way he does. She was even able to provide me with a picture of Kodi as a puppy:

Kodi as a puppy

Danielle rescued Kodi in early June, after seeing him at a friend of a friend’s house. He was just over a year old – his birthday was 4/15/10. He was the offspring of a purebred Rottweiler mother with a Tibetan Mastiff father. The people who first owned him got him at 6 weeks of age.

He was never an inside dog, the poor boy was never tied or anything. He was locked on a back porch with no way getting to the ground – the back porch was very high and there was no steps leading to the yard. He didn’t even have a dog house… (The owners) are going through a divorce now so there’s no one home at all during the day so he was always alone.

Danielle kept Kodi for 2 weeks, even though she already has 5 dogs of her own. But she couldn’t keep him as one of her dogs didn’t get along with him. During the time she had him, she walked him 4 times a day – which explains why he is pretty good on a leash – and gave him his first ever baths:

He was really kinda thin then when we got him, and his coat was really badly matted from where he was shedding and was never brushed, and he also smelled really bad. I don’t think they ever gave him a bath. I know he smelled so bad I had to give him 3 baths just to get him from not stinking, lol, poor guy, but he did good with the baths and the brushing, he loved to have his belly brushed.

Danielle didn’t want to take Kodi to the shelter, as our shelter is not a no-kill shelter – they do their best, but when they get too full, if they can’t find fosters for the dogs, they are forced to put them down. So she arranged to have Kodi taken in by a rescue group, and on June 27th he was picked up by his new foster mom. However, within a few days, his new foster mom evidently died, and some of her dogs got loose – including Kodi. That was when he was picked up by animal control and delivered to our shelter.

Lucky for me, the shelter posts pictures of the dogs on their Facebook wall, and Danielle saw Kodi there, and contacted the shelter and explained his situation, but not much of that got to us. Some of his paperwork had him listed as a Rottweiler Mix, his rabies form says Tibetan Mastiff, and we were told not much about his previous owners, just that they didn’t want him. Danielle saw that we had adopted him (also on the shelter’s Facebook wall) and that’s how she wound up contacting me and kindly telling me Kodi’s history.

So, thanks to Danielle, I’m sure, Kodi knows how to sit, and walks pretty good on a leash. He also is very fond of the bathtub, and did great with the bath we gave him. He also loves drinking out of the tub faucet and will get in the tub when he wants a drink.  We thought Kodi hadn’t been brushed, but apparently he had been, but in the month of so he was at the shelter, his belly fur started to shed out.

A Tibetan Mastiff

Learning about Kodi’s actual heritage – the cross of a Rottweiler and a Tibetan Mastiff has brought a lot of insight into his character and behavior. I knew nothing of Tibetan Mastiffs before this, so here’s a little info for you:

Tibetan Mastiffs are a primitive bread of dog, now almost non-existent in their homeland of Tibet. They were used as guard dogs as well as flock protectors. They are big, big dogs, with some weighing in up to 180#. They are known in part for their coat –  they carry a very thick Winter coat, which is shed in the Spring during their “molt.” In the Summer, they are much lighter in coat, as Kodi is now – he’s quite short haired and sleek. They usually only shed once a year, and shed very little the rest of the year. The two dogs shown are colored very similar to how Kodi is, but they come in many colors. Unfortunately, Kodi is lacking in these dog’s crowning glory – his tail – as someone docked him.

Another Tibetan Mastiff

At first I was worried, learning that these are big, big dogs, as generally speaking, the bigger the dog, the younger it dies, and we’re hoping to have Kodi around a long, long time. However, Tibetan Mastiffs usually live to 14 or 15 years of age. Being such a large breed, they mature quite late – they are “emotionally mature” by age 2 but not physically mature until age 3. Kodi is now almost 17 months old. and weighed 80# in early August. How long he will continue to grow is anyone’s guess – canine genetics when crossing two breeds does not result in an offspring that’s 50/50 – the offspring of such a cross can turn out to express more of one breed than the other, or can express more of one breed in it’s appearance and more of the other breed in it’s behavior.

Like the typical Tibetan Mastiff, Kodi is very much still in puppy-mind, and expresses this through his chewing – he really loves chewing up wood items, so has been provided a number of branches, some  of which he has chewed effortlessly all the way through in a short span of time – and we’re talking big branches! He’s currently working on a section of 2 x 4. Tibetan Mastiffs are known for their love of chewing on wood, so his heritage is showing up in this respect.

Laying snuggled up with Kodi, it’s fascinating to study his head shape, his coloring, the looseness of the skin around his face and neck, those stocky legs and large feet, even the shape of his teeth (he has curved fangs), and wonder if those are his Tibetan Mastiff genes showing. Whatever genes they are, I think he is an exceptionally beautiful dog, and love his coloring so much.

Kodi on 08/21/11

Thanks to Danielle, Kodi has been decoded – we now know how he was treated in the past, the neglect he suffered through, the kindness of Danielle who taught him about being a family dog, and the trauma of his foster mom’s passing and his being a stray for a short time, followed by the stint in the animal shelter. A long hard road he’s had on his way to us.

I think Kodi understands that this is his home now, and we are his family. There was a shift in his behavior about two weeks ago. Hard to describe, but you could see he was considering this home, and he even started to get protective of it, barking at the neighbors. He certainly seems happy here, and we’re slowly working through his issues, such as his fear of a hand grabbing his collar, and his rough play involving biting. He’s loving the attention, the daily brushing, the frequent tummy rubs (we call this “sunny side up” – his belly is golden), the toy-throwing and tug-of-war, and he is pretty much housebroken (finally). I love him more with each day that passes.

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