She’s baaaaack

022815 Kyndall and SilkyI picked up Kyndall from her first-ever extended stay with a puppy-sitter (4 nights with our old friend, the highly experienced LeAnn), and it was gratifying that Kyndall seemed happy to see me again. On the other hand, she’s happy to see everyone, particularly Tucker (see below). I’m not convinced she has imprinted and considers me to be her Mom.

LeAnn’s impressions were reasonably assuring. She worked a lot on getting Kyndall to stay Down when commanded, and she reported that on Friday Kyndall remained in position for two hours straight at one point. (At other times, she comically stayed Down for only a few minutes before leaping up to chase her tail.) LeAnn also found her to be doing well at the Wait command and good at walking on her leash.

She was most concerned, she told me, that Kyndall might have a strong “prey drive.” Her attention evaporated every time a group of birds flew overhead, and she darted after blowing leaves. More bizarre was hearing about her going after the bees buzzing around one of the plants in LeAnn’s backyard. She didn’t get stung because of LeAnn’s strong intervention. (Later I wondered if maybe a close encounter with a bee might not have been an excellent lesson.)

LeAnn and her husband live with only one dog at the moment, Silky, whom they raised as a puppy for CCI. Despite initially being a “puppy on crack,” (LeAnn’s words), Silky somehow pulled it together to graduate and admirably serve someone. When that person died, LeAnn and her husband happily took her back.

Silky’s 12 now, and she looked pretty mournful about Kyndall’s presence. In contrast, I thought Tucker seemed reasonably happy when we arrived back home. His hackles were up, but his tail was wagging. Judge for yourself:


The birdcage cover effect

After I wrote the other day about Kyndall’s habit of waking at dawn, I got a very welcome suggestion from the person who’s raising Kyndall’s sister, Kihei. While Kihei also was early riser, her puppy-raiser described having luck at delaying the puppy’s wake-up time by covering her kennel to make it darker.

I expressed some concern about any such cover limiting the air supply, but Kat explained, “My crate is tucked in a corner so she can’t see anything through the back and one side but the wall but it’s far enough away so she gets air. Then I cover the front door and half of the other side with a sheet so it’s not too heavy and still breathes a little….if she is covered and the other dogs don’t need to go out she has slept until 9, but more normally she sleeps until 7-7:30.”

That sounded fantastic, so Saturday afternoon I pushed Kyndall’s crate into the corner and covered it with a woolen throw. Like this:

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The left side isn’t covered at all, so she certainly gets enough air to breathe.


Sunday morning she slept until 5:45 a.m. — better than 5:30, we reasoned. This morning she kept quiet until almost 6. Better still, we exulted!

We’ll have to wait until next weekend to continue trying to train her to sleep later, as while Steve and I go on a short trip, Kyndall will stay with LeAnn Buchanan, our original CCI puppy mentor. She’ll probably learn more from LeAnn than we could teach her in four weeks. And have more fun, to boot.


Kyndall goes shopping

With Tucker, our first CCI puppy, I couldn’t wait until he was old enough to 022215 listgrocery-shop with me. CCI says puppies shouldn’t begin going on such excursions until they’re at least 4 months old and fully immunized, but I thought it would be the coolest thing imaginable to have an adorable puppy trotting beside me as I trolled the produce or dairy sections.

Since Tucker reached those landmarks almost 10 years ago, I’ve spent more hours than I can begin to remember shopping with a miniature canine companion, and the charm has faded. I’ve learned that taking one’s pup on such outings means combining a fairly complex chore (the shopping) with an even more complex one (dog training). It doubles the work! That’s if you’re doing it right. It’s tempting, sometimes overwhelmingly, to plough through the shopping as fast as possible, while doing the bare minimum to instruct the dog. Kyndall got the last of her puppy shots on February 12th, and she reached the four-month-old mark on Wednesday, but since then we’d only taken her into stores for a quick purchase or two. Yesterday, however, she accompanied me while I shopped for everything on this list:

I did leave her in her kennel in the van while I ran into the bagel store and the fish store (both 5-minute stops), and I was pleased that upon my return, the vehicle was silent — she hadn’t burst into mournful howls or frantic barks in my absence.

At Vons, we followed protocol and she peed (twice) in the parking lot, in response to my urging her to Hurry.

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Kyndall is excellent about Hurrying on command, on any kind of surface.

Then we swept through the automatic doors into the thicket of Saturday morning shoppers. I only had 10 items to get, and I paid a lot of attention to Kyndall as we moved up and down the aisles. I ordered her to Sit frequently and rewarded her quick responses. She didn’t look stressed (no ears back or unusual behavior), but rather intrigued to be in this novel environment. The Worst Thing That Can Happen in a Grocery Store (a pooping accident), did not happen. But it did — on TWO occasions! — with Tucker, and scarred by that memory, I started to stress out when I couldn’t immediately find the bacon. (Why does Vons insist on reorganizing its stores so often?) I was certain Kyndall had pooped once early in the morning, but usually she does twice (even, incredibly, sometimes three times), and if there had been a second poop, I had somehow failed to notice it, making me afraid that she was overdue. But again, she had no toileting accidents of any sort, either at Vons or when we moved on to Sprouts.

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I can’t say her performance in either store was flawless. I caught her licking the bottom of the  check stand at Vons, and she took a lunge or three at other shoppers (seeking to greet them). She wasn’t always in perfect position, next to and slightly behind my knee.

But this was only the very beginning of the long and winding road to graduation. As such, it was a promising start.



14 days until Kyndall achieves perfection?

We’ll all set our clocks forward 14 days from this evening (in the wee hours of March 8). I’m dreaming about it, not because I like the idea of losing an hour of sleep, but because I’m fantasizing that once we’re past it, life with Kyndall will be perfect.

There are already so many things to appreciate about her. Here are a few:

— She almost never has a toileting accident in the house; she sits by the door and whines when she needs to go out.

— She has never vomited as a result of eating something she shouldn’t.

— She follows us around the house and almost always races to us when we call her.

— For the most part, she’s stopped trying to bite and chew on us.

— She’s happy to lay by us or chill out in her kennel, playing with one of her toys.

— Only rarely does she try to steal one of our possessions and run off with it.

One of the only bad things about her, in fact, is that she invariably wakes around 5:30 and begins to whimper softly in her kennel. One of us (usually Steve) gets out of bed to take her and Tucker downstairs and out to the lower back yard. Sometimes Kyndall pees urgently or clearly has to poop. But more often, she doesn’t seem that desperate. (We try hard to cut off her access to water after 5:30 p.m., so that she doesn’t have to pee in the night.) We think instead she’s responding to the sky beginning to subtly lighten; hearing the first trills of birdsong. It’s time to get up and start LIVING! (Or so we imagine her thinking).

After being rudely awakened in this manner, whichever one of us takes the dogs out then confines them in Steve’s office (Kyndall in her kennel there; Tucker on his bed but nonetheless a source of companionship.)

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We crawl back into bed and try to go back to sleep, usually unsuccessfully, until 6:30, when we rise to feed the beastly ones their breakfast.

This is where my dream comes in. The upcoming time change will mean it will stay dark later. Kyndall won’t know anything about what the clock says! Maybe she’ll start her whimpering at 6:30 instead of 5:30!

Steve points out that as the days lengthen, this slim period of grace will soon evaporate. But in another six weeks, she’ll be a older and more mature perfect puppy, no?


Itchy or just tantalyzing?

We think we’ve never had a puppy so inclined to chase its tail as Kyndall is. Sometimes she reaches dizzying speeds and durations.

Here’s one instance where I succeeded, the other day. Note how once she catches it, she kind of sits down to play with it.

She’s an old-fashioned girl… running after sticks, chasing her tail. We find it charming.


How to greet a puppy

I recently posed a question about excitable greetings on the Facebook page that was started for those of us raising puppies from the same litter (the one that included Kyndall). Every dog that Steve and I have ever raised has been excessively excitable when greeting people (or other dogs. Or in some cases, any living thing.) Such greetings are annoying. Maybe some folks enjoy being jumped on by an adorable 15-pound ball of fur. But by the time that puppy weighs more than 50 pounds, it’s really annoying.

A couple of the people raising Kyndall’s siblings responded to my question, but the advice that captured my imagination came from Kat Greaney, who has Kihei. She responded, “For jumping I start with having people completely ignore her if she is jumping… If she doesn’t “get” it from [being ignored], they can take one step into her to cause her to become off balance. Then back to ignoring her. Once she is sitting, then they can pet her. If she moves from the sitting position, back to ignoring.”

I asked: should the puppy be told to sit, while being ignored in this manner, and Kat said answered, “No command, no speaking at all. Not even looking at the puppy. As soon as their butt hits the floor, mark with a yes they can pet as a reward. If their butt comes off the floor, back to completely ignoring.” She added, “We are boring to puppies if we stand there with no interaction. They quickly learn butt on floor equals attention.”

Inspired by this advice, I emailed everyone in our Friday night movie group, which gathers in the condo of a friend who graciously welcomes our CCI puppies. I asked everyone to try giving Kyndall the cold shoulder the next time we gathered.

Everyone cooperated, and it seemed to be astoundingly effective. Confronted with each person’s back, Kyndall just… popped down into a sit. I had to react quickly to everyone that they could turn around and reward (i.e. pet) her. It seemed like magic.

We’ve been trying to continue this regime in the days since Friday. Sometimes it doesn’t work. But at other times, it looks as if Kyndall understands what we want her to do. The  question that naturally arises: can we train the humans who interact with her to keep it up (including us)? Hope springs eternal.

Here’s what it looks like when she gets it right:

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The princess bathes

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Kyndall got her first bath in Southern California on December 17, the day we picked her up from the Southwest regional headquarters. I was talking to the puppy-program director when the bathing was going on, but my friend who accompanied me that morning watched it and later told me she seemed astonishingly calm.

Steve and I haven’t bathed her since. It’s been cold, and she didn’t look dirty. But the weather has been very warm for the past few days, and she’s been scratching a lot, reminding us that it’s almost time to treat her for fleas again. Moreover, a warm, sunny day is the perfect time to introduce a young puppy to the experience of at-home bathing.

So right after lunch, we hauled out the bathing gear. Kyndall was a princess. She stood still for the wetting and soaping and scrubbing and most of the rinsing. (When I hit the hose spray a little too heavily, she got nervous but seemed to quickly recover.) She loved the towel-drying, then lay calmly in her exercise pen, watching as Tucker submitted to his turn for bathing. (Or torture, as he tends to think of it. It’s taken years and years for him to resign himself to the experience.)

Now the two of them are racked out on the luxurious new dog bed I simply could NOT resist buying yesterday at Costco. Every princess needs to lounge on memory-foam, Kyndall assures me.

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How cool is this?

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Kat Greaney, the puppy-raiser who’s got Kyndall’s sister, Kihei, posted this awesome photo of Kihei and Kyndall’s grandmother, Patina Rose (on the far left), their mom Sophie (front and center), and Kihei (a virtual clone of Kyndall).  The fellow behind them apparently is a friend.

Three generations of happy girls!


She’s immune!

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Big day for a certain puppy: she received the last of her puppy shots — a fourth and final one to protect against canine distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, and parainfluenza, and her first rabies shot. As before, Kyndall tolerated being injected without emitting so much as a peep. And she seemed enthralled by the sights and smells of the vet’s office (a baby schnauzer! a fat cat!!, a standard poodle named Lucy!!!)

This was also a opportunity to check her weight: now 29.1 pounds.

But the immunity is the big deal. Now protected against some of the nastiest bugs that can sicken dogs, she can start venturing out in public more. Let the next phase of the puppy-raising adventure begin!

Fully capable, once more

While I’ve been struggling to get over the bronchitis and ear infection that’s been keeping me from blogging, we have been working on Kyndall’s recently developed cape-phobia, with excellent results. As many advisers pointed out, especially yummy treats have the power to entice puppies into doing all kind of things they might otherwise resist. Tiny bits of ham and pepperoni now seem to be entwined in Kyndall’s mind with the act of donning her cape. The result: she positively leaps in my lap to Dress. Her ears may pull back for a second when she’s being buckled into it.

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But then she seems oblivious to it.

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Next up: stopping her from jumping on people when she greets them. (That one is likely to prove more challenging.)