Yesterday afternoon I dropped off Dionne at the home of Betty and Michael Makowski (hosts of the wonderful Bellini party a couple of weeks ago). They and their Change of Career CCI dog, Harrison, will be taking care of Dionne for a couple of weeks, while Steve and I journey to East Africa. Since this trip will be extraordinary (in length as well as ground covered), Dionne will move in a couple of weeks to a second puppy sitter. I’ll expect she’ll have a blast.
We, in the meantime, hope to be reporting on our adventures in my travel blog, travelsoutsidesandiego.wordpress.com. If all goes well, I should resume reporting on Dionne’s adventures at the end of June!
Last night Steve and I dined with our friends Howie and Donna at a new Russian restaurant in Golden Hill. We took Dionne with us, and although she of course was wearing her cape when we entered, I braced (as I always do) for some challenge to her presence. There was none. The charming hostess didn’t bat an eye when she directed us to our table. And Dionne’s behavior was exemplary. She settled into an Under and barely moved.
I was startled a while later, when the hostess appeared at our table with a large bowl of water and a huge dog biscuit. She squatted down and presented both to Dionne, who turned her attention to them with gusto. Later, the obviously dog-crazy hostess returned with yet another biscuit. Dionne got yet another when we departed.
|Not a great shot; she was busy wolfing down the biscuit. Then she lapped up a bunch of the water.
On the way home, Dionne confided to me that she’d heard something about being a service dog. But if THIS was they meant by service, we could count her in!
Steve and I have learned over the years that puppies vary in the degree to which they’re affectionate. Yuli was a 10. She wanted nothing more than to worm her way as close as possible to the nearest human who might pet her, and then snuggle. She could be content, burrowed in like that, for hours.
Darby came next on what I might call the Snugglepup scale. Her craving for affection approached that of Yuli; maybe it was just a hair less blatant. We’re thrilled that she’s now the only dog of our dog-loving friends Joe and Kerri. They have a little girl, and judging from the Youtube video that Joe just posted, it appears that Kayla and her friends love Darby as much as Darby loves being loved.
Dionne is different; a bit more self-sufficient. She likes attention; likes being petted, and she’s happy to settle in for a nice cuddle, as seen here:
But after a minute or so, she’ll jump down and be off to see what other amusements might be at hand.
Much to my surprise and delight, my friend Kathy presented me with a couple of very cool t-shirts inspired by this blog.
One is about the right size for Dionne. Here we are, in our matching gear!
I’ve heard back from the CCI Southwest puppy coordinator, who informs me:
1) Smiling is not a very desirable behavior just because it can be
misconstrued by people who don’t know what it is and think the dog is
snarling. But, luckily, most CCI dogs who do it typically do it most when
being greeted by someone they know. I’d just not encourage the behavior,
and unless she’s doing it really often out in public, it shouldn’t be an
issue for her in the long run. We’ve had a number of dogs graduate who do
This is reassuring. Even Tootsie usually reserved her champion smiles for loved ones. If Dionne’s incipient smile does become more practiced, I would expect her to do the same.
Becca also answered another question I’d posed. I’d explained that we always kept a puppy crate in our bedroom, but we recently had our bedroom painted, and when everything was torn about, we had Dionne sleep in the large kennel that’s always in Steve’s office. We had Tucker sleep there too, on his dog bed, to keep Dionne company. And we soon realized, we liked this arrangement! Although we never sleep in very late, it’s a little more relaxing not to hear the two of them rustling around in the morning. We even think Dionne prefers to sleep in the office kennel because it’s roomier.
But I had a memory of hearing somewhere that CCI disapproves of older pups sleeping in separate quarters from their puppy raisers. I assured Becca we would always have tiny pups sleep near us, so we could bond with each other and be available for nocturnal outings. But what about the older dogs? I asked.
“As long as you would be able to hear Dionne in the middle of the night if she were in distress of some sort, it’s fine to have the crate in the other room,” she said.
We still mulling over that one…
Steve and I have only had one dog who smiled. That was Tootsie, the chocolate lab whom we acquired in 1990. I don’t know when we first noticed the little scrunch-up of her muzzle, but I’m pretty sure it took us quite a while to recognize it for what it was. We couldn’t believe it at first; it astounded us. But eventually, her facial expression was unmistakable. Her smile grew in complexity as she aged. By the time she was 10 or 11, I could glance at her in my office as I worked, and she’d flash me the quickest of grins. But if we returned after being out for several hours, she would beam long and broadly and toothily.
I think Dionne may become a smiler too. Two or three times now, I’ve noticed that quick wrinkling of her muzzle when she greets me. Steve has never seen it, and it certainly has never lasted long enough for me to capture in a photograph. But I suspect she’ll get more and more proficient at it.
I’m not sure this is a good thing, from the perspective of CCI. Someone once told me that the organization dislikes the behavior because members of the public can misinterpret it as a snarl. I’ve written the puppy program coordinator to ask if this is true, and if so, how a diligent puppy raiser is supposed to react. I haven’t heard back from her yet.
Actually, Dionne hasn’t had much to smile about in the last day and a half. I fed her rice for dinner Friday evening (after she threw up her breakfast Friday morning.) She kept it down through the night, so I fed her rice mixed with dog food yesterday morning, and she then proceeded to throw up THREE times in the ensuing hours. She wasn’t the least bit mopey or listless, and she was drinking and eliminating normally. So we weren’t too worried about her. But we went into Extreme Tummy Control mode — i.e. giving her nothing at all to eat for 22 hours. Then just a cup or so of boiled rice early this afternoon. She got more rice for dinner. If she holds it down, we’ll slowly add boiled puppy kibble in the coming days.
This program distresses me. I know she must be hungry, yet there’s no way to communicate why we’re not feeding her. At least the torture usually doesn’t last that long. Something to smile about!
I’ve been feeling so smug about Dionne’s apparently new capacity to root around in the compost out back, chew on some of it, and NOT throw up. We’ve been testing this out for maybe two weeks, and she’s been great. So I’ve been allowing her to spend a little time (maybe a maximum of 10-15 minutes a day) in the yard, unsupervised. Steve’s been skeptical, but the theory I’ve been advancing is that she needs to do this in order to get tired of eating things that will irritate her stomach. I.e., in order to become a normal adult dog.
But this morning, I found this tableau under our dining table:
|Surely you don’t think I deposited that nasty mess. Not moi!
It pretty much all looked like undigested dog kibble, with a few dog treat bits mixed in. Closer inspection revealed one of my earplugs, which she must have snatched from my bedside. But surely that wouldn’t have made her throw up. God only knows what did.
What’s most obnoxious about this turn of events is not cleaning it up. We’ve become inured to that. But deciding what to feed her for the rest of the day is a pain. I’m leaning toward giving her some well-boiled rice for dinner (though I may live to regret not making her fast for 24 hours).
Even worse is that we now feel we need, once again, to cut her back to no time alone in the yard. At least for a while. That’s a sad turn of events.