Here Dionne is acting like a big old dog.
Hanging out and chilling with Tucker.
(But she’s faking it.  She’s still very much a puppy.)

I’ve been giving some thought to the difference between puppies and big dogs. I think it’s more profound than the latter having learned specific things that the former don’t yet know — e.g. not to urinate or defecate in the house, not to chew on things etc. It seems to me that the two behave in fundamentally different ways. All the big dogs that I know spend most of their time either sleeping or hanging out. Sure, they’re happy to get up and do stuff with you when you invite them —  to go for a walk, say, or play ball. Sometimes they actively solicit affection or ball-playing. But they’ve somehow internalized the knowledge that their main role in life is to… chill. It makes them easy to live with.

Puppies are different. (And it’s possible that what I’m going to say might not apply to other breeds of puppies. What I know are the labradors and goldens and mixes of the two.) They spend part of their days sleeping. But when they’re not asleep, they display a relentless, questing curiosity — moving from one thing to another and usually acting inappropriately as they go along.

Because it’s Sunday, I thought I would give myself the assignment of following Dionne around for a while, trying to document how inventive she can be about spending her time. I let her out on the patio, where she helped herself to a drink of water, then she wandered down to the three giant flowerpots next to the pool. Yesterday’s rain had caused the saucers that they sit in to fill with water, and this fascinated her. She circled and circled each pot, smelling the rainwater and every now and then trying to drink some of it.

She moved away. Picked up a leaf and chewed it. Moved into an adjoining flowerbed and chewed for a minute on one of the plants. She spotted a root and dug it up, then rocketed with it in her mouth down to the lower yard. Still holding it, she peed, then dropped it to snorfle around in the pile of leaves under the avocado tree.

I called her into the house, where her investigations continued. She chewed on the metal door of the small kennel that we just moved into the living room. She jumped up on the fireplace hearth and stuck her nose in the sand around the grate.

It goes on like this, sometimes with her picking up and playing with her dedicated toys, but more often not. Frankly, there’s a part of me that finds it hugely charming — all that spunky curiosity on display. I feel bad constraining it; but it’s also a big pain to try to monitor it. Soon enough, we confine her in her kennel or the exercise pen.

Spending time in the kennel also is part of the CCI pup’s training. It gives them less opportunity to be rewarded for doing things that aren’t acceptable. I guess it probably helps them on their transition to being a big old chiller dog. Simultaneously, I find a caged puppy to be both a sad thing — and a great relief.

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