This is Katara.
Katara at approx 6 months old and full cuteness capacity.
She’s half chihuahua. We have no idea what the other half might be, though we’re pretty sure there’s at least a little alien in the mix.
She stands 8.5 inches high, is 12 inches around the deepest part of her chest and 23 inches long. About a quarter of that lenth is tail.
And yes, she is named after the female protagonist in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The animated series, not the movie.
Although she’s closer in size to a guinea pig than a full-grown doberman, she doesn’t let that stand in the way of taking care of her doggish duties. Guarding the property and house from burglars and meter readers. Terrifying birds that have the nerve to land on her grass. And keeping the cats in line.
When faced with a challenge to her dogly authority or dignity, this tiny dog morphs from floppy-eared cutie to pint-sized Cujo.
Hell hath no fury like a part alien, half chihuahua who spots a bird on her lawn.
She then proceeds to bark and snarl until said threat backs down. Grown men and large dogs have been known to back off with undignified speed when presented with her ferocity.
I can’t help but admire her. She learns from each encounter, adapting her next response accordingly. Should the challenge prove too much, she quickly executes a strategic withdrawal and regroups for the next go around. And no matter how many challenges might get the better of her, she never wastes time beating herself up over her failures but prepares to face the next with undiminished enthusiasm.
While our challenges rarely involve impudent birds and sinister meter readers and probably would not benefit from brute force barkage, we certainly could stand to approach each and every challenge with the kind of giant courage and boundless enthusiasm this tiny dog displays.
Never mind the nasty whispers of our inner critics and other naysayers, we could throw ourselves in each challenge. And, if we should fail, we could pull back, gather our strength, sort out what we’ve learned and try again.
As many times as it takes.
Maybe it doesn’t matter if we ultimately succeed or fail. Maybe it only matters that we harness our inner doberman and keep trying.
Since this was originally posted, the ferociously cute Katara has been joined by another brother-in-paws, Merlin. He’s a siberian husky/ german shepherd/ tornado mix. Though his pale blue eyes sometimes catch folks off guard, Merlin’s a very friendly fellow. His pure joy for meeting new people and dogs is matched only by his ability to find a stick in the back yard and reduce it to wood chips in minutes (my hubby insists the pup’s part woodchuck). And while Merlin heartily enjoys the no-holds barred wrestling matches with his litter mates (in which he usually ends up on the bottom) when they get together for play dates, he wrestles Katara with extraordinary gentleness.
Of course, if he accidentally nips Katara too hard, Merlin knows there will be chihuahua hell to pay.
Together, they inspire me to laugh more, play more, meet each challenge with joyful courage and hide the branches better after pruning shrubs and trees.
What about you? How do you face challenges? What life lessons have your pets taught you?