Dog is the complete package

The traditional game of chess probably wouldn’t do much for Karina the dog. At least not when played according to conventional methods. But throw in an obstacle course or a few sprints up and down a mountain between moves and she’d be a grandmaster champion in no time! Karina is one smart cookie — make no mistake — so long as her energetic nature doesn’t get in the way.

Energetic dog

Karina the dog and woman

Karina came to Best Friends as a stray. Right from the start she showed all the signs of a high-octane dog who tries to burn off enough energy in a single day to power a small village for a week. She’d do laps around her play area, she’d jump up for kisses and attention when anybody dropped by, and she more or less never stopped moving. A great way to help dogs like Karina, as it turns out, is to give them something to do with their minds. They’ll always need physical exercise as well, but mental stimulation is a great way to channel excess energy.

Mental stimulation for a dog

Best Friends dog trainer Ann Allums started working with Karina two years ago. Karina ended up being a star pupil. She picked up tricks in no time and remembered them almost immediately. She sailed through many of the standard to advanced tricks without incident, but one of the most basic skills presented a challenge: sitting still. To her credit, Karina is now willing to exert self control and sit on cue, but you can tell it’s not something she seeks out on her own. She wants to shake and shimmy!

Karina the dog giving woman a paw to shakeIncidentally, she’s also much more motivated by attention from people than by treats. That said, Ann decided to try something with Karina recently. She took her over to the Village lunch room during lunch hour to practice sitting, staying, and all the rest with lots of people watching her and with other distractions at every turn. If that wouldn’t give Karina’s brain a good workout, nothing would.

It looks like this superstar was up for the challenge. Karina did great! She not only zipped through the normal routine without a hitch, she even pulled off one of her greatest, all-time-favorite maneuvers; flipping a light switch on and off. As further proof to the caliber of brainiac Karina can be, while Ann was demonstrating Karina’s repertoire she decided to try a trick Karina hadn’t done in over a year: the commando crawl. Without missing a beat, Karina responded perfectly. It’s not hard to see there’s a whole lot of brain power just itching to be put to good use.

Dog looking for a home

Karina the dog playing tug with another dog, while a third dog watches the fun

Truth be told, there is one environment where Karina could probably play chess (or any other low-key activity) without even glancing around for the nearest hillside to dash across: namely, a home all her own. There’s a funny side to Karina. Whenever she goes on a sleepover she calms down and turns into a different dog. She can finally relax. There’s no doubt she truly craves her own happy ever after: a place where all that formidable mind power and enthusiasm for life can finally meet in harmony.

Until then, all the training and socializing with staffers and visitors at Best Friends gives Karina a way to hang tight until that dream comes true. Of course, if anybody out there is already looking for a light-switch-flipping, sitting-and-staying, gorgeous sweetheart of a genius dog, Karina wouldn’t mind packing her bags a little sooner than planned.

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff and Molly Wald

Did you know that Best Friends offers all kinds of tips for training your dog, correcting problems, and just about anything else?