How to change the one you love

122114 Kyndall

Steve and I are both smitten by Kyndall. Her cuteness is a force of nature, and so far she’s easy to live with. At the same time, many of our most urgent waking thoughts are devoted to changing her.

She comes to us, as all puppies do, a creature that has spent almost every moment of her existence in a puppy mosh pit — a fragrant, wriggling mass of soft fur coating warm little bodies. They eat, pee, and defecate whenever they feel the urge; fall into deep sleeps when they’re tired and wake when they’re not. Whenever they want a buddy to chew on or wrestle with, they can always find one within the reach of a small paw.

122114 Kyndall basket
The napping basket that we’ve improvised is working well. (She likes to be close to us.)

Then one day, they’re separated (forever) from their doggy family — scooped up and into a hard, cold crate, and loaded onto cars and a plane for the journey to the Oceanside facility. In their puppy-raiser’s homes, they’re immediately expected to pee and poop only outdoors and to adapt to an entirely new schedule for sleeping and playing. Later we’ll think about refined activities such as Staying and Rolling and Jumping and Speaking. For now, it’s more primal.

Four days into it, this is going well. Kyndall has only had 3 or 4 small accidents in the house — a much better record than we’ve ever experienced with any other dog we’ve raised. We wonder: who gets the credit for that? Over the years, Steve and I have grown skilled at reading puppy body language, and we’ve been scrupulous about taking Kyndall out at least once every hour that she’s conscious during the day. On the other hand, she seemed to understand from the moment she arrived that when we told her to “Hurry” that meant she should squat down and pee. (How did that happen?)

Making her conform to our sleeping schedule is still a work in progress. Our hopes soared Friday night when she slept from 10:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. without an accident. But last night she woke at 3 a.m. (when we both got up to go to the bathroom), and her moans and whines sounded urgent, so Steve carried her downstairs and outside into the cold. Back in her crate, she conked out again immediately but woke around 5. Now I’m lobbying to move the little kennel to a different spot in our bedroom, where our movement might be less likely to disturb her. (Having her sleep in another room is not an option, according to CCI’s rules.)

Sooner or later, we know, she’ll get with the program. She’ll also stop looking like a tiny beautiful doll. We’ll love her less then for her beauty. But we’ll feel more and more connected to the increasingly well-behaved member of our pack.

 

 

 

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