Eight months old, that is — today.  And I’m taking a pledge to be more consistent about reporting her progress. 

Like all of our puppies have done, she’s succeeding well in puppy school.  She just completed the “puppy kindergarten” section two weeks ago, so next week we’ll begin the “Basic” instruction (already she knows about 20 commands).

But in some ways, Darby is uniquely Darby.  Let me count them:

— She’s the retrievingest retriever I’ve ever lived with.  She pretty much can’t go outside without snatching up something — a toy or a ball or a flower or a stone or a twig or whatever‘s on the ground nearby — and carrying it with her. I’ve had more ball-obsessed CCI pups (Brando first and foremost), but no dog who seemed to have more of a need to pick things up at random.  Often she’ll bring them to me, and if I don’t notice what she’s got, she’ll circle around and around, occasionally moaning softly.  She seems to want me to take whatever she’s got.

— She’s the biggest barker of any CCI pup we’ve had.  The strange thing is she only barks at Tucker, trying to get him to play with her.  While Tucker once in a while can be provoked in this way, mostly he just looks morose at having his eardrums shattered yet again. Annoyingly, we have not yet succeeded in teaching Darby to Speak.

— She’s the only puppy we’ve had who every morning delights in pouncing upon her water bowl and digging wildly at it, spilling all the water and then attacking the bowl insanely.

At eight months, her worst habits are jumping up on us (and others) — and baiting Tucker with that high-decibel barking. Like most of our CCI pups, she hasn’t yet learned to verbally alert us when she needs to go out to urinate or defecate.  So although she’s 95% reliable about toileting outside, we still find the occasional pile in a corner or puddle near the door.

But she’s a sweet and charming girl and a champion snuggler who’s easy to live with. We’re looking forward to the next 8 months with her.

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