Great dog info

Great dog info

Just read a fascinating article on the Quartz website: “Stop coddling your dog — he’s 99.9% wolf.” Written by Kevin Ashton and focused largely on the recent work of famed dog trainer Cesar Millan, the piece contains more information about dogs that was new to me that anything I’ve read in a long time.  Among the interesting tidbits: A century ago, there were about 1 million dogs in America, one for every hundred peopleFifty years ago, there were 30 million dogs, one for every six peopleToday, there are 80 million dogs, one for every four peopleEight million (one in 10) of these animals are in shelters.” And the fact that Hitler slept with a German shepherd.

More important is the bigger theme of what’s the best approach to dog training. The article should be of interest to not just puppy raisers but anyone who lives with — or just likes — dogs.

Tucker’s in touch with his inner wolf (sometimes)

Apres Christmas

The tree’s still standing. We won’t have time to take it down until next week, but it seems pretty clear it will live out its days without being knocked over by Dionne. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t cause for any… unfortunate incidents. I’ll confess now what I was too horrified to admit before: Steve and I think there’s a possibility she ate one of the ornaments. About two weeks ago we found the hanger and tiny shards of glass under the dining table. We couldn’t believe she would actually chew and swallow glass. But we never found the rest of whatever it was. For days we anxiously watched her and her droppings in the yard, but we never saw any signs of blood or debility (or sparkly dog feces). If she DID eat the ornament, it doesn’t seem to have hurt her. We doubt that she buried it, but it’s a possibility…

Also on the list of taboo munchies — normally — are rawhide chews. But for years Tucker has gotten a little stash of goodies on Christmas morning that includes at least one item of that sort. This year I forewent the actual pig’s ears that are so dear to his heart. But I couldn’t resist buying at least one rawhide chip for him and Dionne.

This annual treat makes Tucker so happy that for 20-30 minutes, he just walks around with it in his mouth, wagging his tail.

Now THAT’s one happy dog!
Dionne seemed stunned by hers. But eventually, she sneaked away from us and hunkered down under the dining table for a good long chew that — for once! — was sanctioned at least by us.
It doesn’t seem to have done her any harm. (But then any puppy that can eat an ornament wouldn’t be fazed by a little scrap of rawhide.)

Malls and Tucker-mauling

Malls and Tucker-mauling

Steve witnessed Dionne trying to push Tucker into the pool the other morning. That’s what it looked like, he says. She jumped up on Tucker and shoved; he was on the edge of the pool. He avoided going in, but she attacks him a lot. You’d think he would be happy at those times when she’s gone out.

Nonetheless, this is what he looked like when Steve took Dionne out Friday one one of his rare sorties into a mall. Sad!

Dionne, for her part, seems to have a limited appetite for the Christmas hustle and bustle. There are interesting sights to see….

And lots of folks eager to shake her paw….

Still, much of shopping can be a bore.

She always seems happy to get back home.  And Tucker invariably prances up to her, wagging his tail vigorously. Proof that there’s no accounting for some dogs’ (and puppy-raisers’) taste.



Steve and I don’t want to say Dionne misses Darby (who went back to her own family Tuesday, after her vacation stay here.) All we can say is: since Darby left, Dionne’s behavior has taken a turn for the worse.

She’s engaged in frenzies of racing around and attacking Tucker; barking at us; snatching shoes and sponges and my portable keyboard cover.  This morning we found her with a GLASS ornament in her mouth. (Thank God she relinquished it in exchange for a Charlie Bear.)

Then there was this, discovered by Steve underneath the dining room table:

On the right is a Scotchbrite pad, ripped in two. On the left (foreground) are the remains of a candle. We have no idea where she got it. But it took a loooooong time to clean up.

What she probably needs is to run around outside for an hour or two. But it’s drizzly and muddy outside. And she has little interest in running round by herself. (With Darby, it was a party!!!)


Same old same old

Same old same old

Darby just left. It’s hard not to think Dionne will miss her. The two girls played for hours — chasing each other around the house and yard, wrestling and keeping toys away from each other. I wasted time trying to photograph them. Their speed and extreme blackness made it hard, plus they seemed keenly aware every time I picked up a camera. They would instantly stop whatever they were doing and either come to me or skulk away.

Happily (for us) Darby didn’t end up getting in the pool very often, and for all their mayhem, she and Dionne avoided knocking over the Christmas tree. In general, we felt encouraged by seeing how rarely Darby got into any trouble in the house.

Dionne’s a different story. During our outing to the fire station, Dionne’s sister’s puppy-raiser commented to me that she and her husband finally could leave their shoes on the floor. Until recently, Demi would snatch them up and run away. But Dionne still snatches shoes and runs, while also finding new sources of mischief.

On Sunday, for example, we somehow failed to close the door in the hallway leading into the bedrooms. Dionne got into the guest room, wiggled under its bed, and utterly destroyed something. We think it was some religious object that we brought back from Ethiopia two years ago. But the destruction was so thorough, we can’t identify whatever it was. (Or remember.)

The mystery remnents

Last night Steve took her to the last of the “Basic”puppy-training classes, where as usual, she did well. “She’d be the perfect dog,” he noted, not for the first time. “If she weren’t a monster.”

How to Exhaust a Puppy

How to Exhaust a Puppy

1) Wake her up at 6 a.m. and hustle her down to Balboa Park. Park a good half-mile from the starting area for the Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk for Arthritis. Try to control her overwhelming excitement at being in a crowd of weirdly dressed humans, French bulldogs decked out as Christmas elves, ubiquitous jingling bells, and other distractions.

Fail to do a good job of handling her. Race walk the course, then back to the car.

My friend Cathy took the leash so I could capture them in mid-stride.

2) Take her out for several hours of grocery shopping.  I don’t have any photos of this phase of the exhaustion process, since it was Steve’s week to shop.

3) Ten minutes after getting back from the shopping, load her into the van again and drive to the Del Mar Fire Station for a CCI puppy-training outing for which 27 puppy raisers had signed up. This was exciting for several reasons.
For one thing, it gave us the opportunity to see her litter mate/sister Demi.
Dionne seemed avidly interested in sniffing her sis. (But then again, she’s
pretty interested in sniffing most things.)
Demi lives in San Clemente. Her puppy-raiser Bonnie (for whom Demi is puppy #13!) says Demi is also quite mischievous.
But she seemed awfully well-behaved.
The firehouse sessions provided plenty of other learning opportunities.

The pups got to walk up to a fireman who was wearing varying amounts of gear.
Some of it was as weird as the costumes on the Jingle Bell walk.
The firemen also fired up a chainsaw and rolled a stretcher around the bay.
Most of the pups behaved pretty well.  I’m not sure how much fun it was for them. But the puppy raisers had fun posing their charges for photos.
Believe it or not, but his tail was wagging.
Dionne’s wasn’t. (Her expression read, “What DO you think I am? A Dalmatian?”)
Now her expression suggests she’s ready for a long winter’s nap.

Bitchy comparisons

Bitchy comparisons

If you have human children, I think it’s not a great idea to compare them — at least not often or obviously. But at the moment, we have under our roof 3 of the 5 CCI pups we’ve raised. The houseguest is Darby (#4), who’s visiting while her owners vacation in the East. Comparisons between her and #5 (Dionne) have been irresistible.


Our first thought when Darby arrived Sunday night was amazement at how similar she and Dionne look.  They’re almost the same size and shape and color — pitch black. But they feel very different. Although Dionne’s coat is not exactly bristly, Darby’s is much longer and silkier, almost as soft as I remember Brando’s being.

In the light of Monday morning, we were startled by how different their faces are. We’ve been trying to capture them well with our cameras ever since, but that’s surprisingly hard to do. Darby’s eyes are almost as round as Tuckers, and the color is a brown so warm it almost glows.  Her muzzle is shorter. When her ears are up, she looks cute, in comparison with Dionne seems to merit some other adjective. Maybe handsome.

We turned in Darby for Advanced Training less than a year and a half ago (in August of 2012), but somehow we’d forgotten so much. Within 5 minutes of going in the back yard, she plunged into the pool. Ah yes! we recalled. She was our only passionate swimmer. (Dionne and Tucker both looked at her paddling around in horror.)

We’d forgotten how Darby moans and emits other loud noises when she sees us first thing in the morning. Forgotten how she loves to walk around with something in her mouth — or her tendency to jump on us.

They’re all the sorts of things that give dogs very distinct personalities, things that non-dog owners can probably never understand (along with, maybe, single dog owners.)

This morning I took both girls for a walk. (Poor Tuck had to stay home. Three’s too much to handle.) With Darby on my left and Dionne on my right, it was shocking to see how much better Dionne walks on leash. Darb always liked to forge ahead, and she hasn’t lost this bad habit with age. Darby also bristled and lunged when we passed strange dogs. Dionne barely batted an eye.

They’re both hellions when it comes to playtime. But without sounding bitchy myself, I’d venture to say that seeing them side by side makes me feel maybe there IS hope for Dionne making it, after all.

Tuck says: life is REALLY rather stressful with two energetic female roommates.