Dionne, with me, wore her cape, of course. But Darby, handled by another puppy raiser, got decked in a holiday kerchief.

Last year I marched in the La Jolla Christmas Parade with a loaner pup (O’Brien), and although we arrived later than instructed, we still had to wait around for literally hours, before we started marching. I found it agonizing and vowed never to return.

But I caved when I got this year’s e-mail calling for participants. Pattie Urie has worked so hard to create the Drill Team and get us entered into various events, I felt bad about letting down the group. As it turned out, the sun was shining, I arrived even later, and we had to wait only about 40 minutes. Did the organizers field a lot of complaints about how long last year’s parade ran? It seemed like they must have. This year we practically raced along the route, stopping only a few times to present our little routine. We finished only about an hour after we arrived. It was actually fun.

What also made it entertaining was that Steve tagged along not just with Tucker — but also with Darby, our last CCI pup, who was released from advanced training in September of 2012 and now belongs to our friends. While Joe and Kerri and their little girl are visiting relatives in Boston, we’re hosting Darby. She seemed to remember all our parade-drilling moves (Sit! Shake! Down! Let’s Go!). Tucker was a bit more recalcitrant, but he enjoyed getting petted by various children.

Less than two years apart in age, and Darby and Dionne are both live wires. Getting to play with each other is like Christmas coming early. Whether the tree and house will survive is not so clear. To be continued…

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