It was late morning at the puppy play session, when one of the puppy-raisers commented dryly that she hadn’t yet had her morning coffee. I’d already consumed a large cup and as always had enjoyed the subtle but uplifting feeling of caffeine meeting nervous system. However, I got a much bigger jolt of adrenaline and pleasure from taking Kyndall and Tucker to the party.
The gathering was hosted at the home of longtime puppy-raiser Cyndy Carlton, who started raising CCI dogs a couple of years before Steve and I did; we first met her about 10 years ago, when Tucker (our first dog) was little. At some point over the years, she invited us to her regular Saturday-morning play groups, and for a while I attended often. Then we got out of sync with Cyndy and her pups, and I lost contact with the group. Now, however, she’s raising 15-week-old Hawk. They’re both in our Kinderpup class, where I was delighted to learn that Cyndy is still hosting the twice-monthly events.
Kyndall, Tucker, and I arrived about 10:15 this morning. Cyndy has rigged a double-fencing system (like what you see when entering dog parks), but even with that, it was hard to control my two — both were beside themselves with excitement. In the yard, they joined a throng of more than a dozen other canines ranging in age from 13 years to less than 3 months. All the littlest ones were naked — freed of not just their leashes but also their collars to avoid any choking accidents — and for a few minutes, I feared I might actually lose Kyndall in the fray. Here’s a glimpse of what the scene looked like:
It’s not so easy to tire out a CCI puppy. They’re not supposed to go out in public until they’re fully immunized (around 4 months), and even then, they’re not supposed to go to regular dog parks. We can’t let them frolic out in the yard, unsupervised. So one of the reasons the play group seems so wonderful to me is that they provide an opportunity to tire out the little ones. They’re also a place where the puppies can practice playing nicely — with no growling or barking or other overly aggressive behavior. Yet another benefit is the opportunity to hang out and chat with other folks who are grappling with the same challenges you are (or have confronted at some time in the past.) For example, one of the brand-new puppy-raisers asked Cyndy and me if it was normal for her little female to be waking up and whining to go out several times a night. An extended discussion ensued. Later I asked Cyndy and two other veterans how many puppy toys they own (a lot, was the consensus.) I got some inspiring ideas for what else to stuff Kongs with (besides peanut butter or cream cheese.)
As for Kyndall, she ran around. She played tug-of-war with another dog who looked like a lanky teenager. But most of all, she appeared dazzled by Meri, the little golden on our Kinderpup class with the luxuriant coat of fur. They hung out under a bench swing for at least half the time we were there, chewing on each other, wrestling, licking each other’s ears. On the drive home, Kyndall told me she wants to go back and play with her some more. I’ve put it on my calendar.