Puppy dreams, puppy nightmares

Kyndall and I share the same fantasy. In it, the doors from our house that lead to the backyard are always open. Whenever she tires of lying quietly near one of us, Kyndall wanders outside and strolls around the property. She smells everything, and all of it is fascinating. She might drink a little water from her bowl or take a moment to relieve herself or simply flop down in the sunlight, to feel the breeze ruffling her whiskers. Or she might find a sturdy stick and chew it.

In my version of the fantasy, she never, ever swallows an102915 digtemptationy of the objects she chews. The reality, however, differs. A few minutes ago, while I was watering a few plants, I found her chomping away on — and swallowing — chunks of painted particle board that she picked up somewhere. I scraped all the bits I could out of her mouth, and then I followed her around for a while. Mostly, she did the things in my fantasy. But she also lingered in a spot far in the back of the yard where she has come to believe something important is submerged. She started digging until I interrupted that.

Now we’re back up in my office, where she again looks bored. 

102915 upside down

I’m sorry she can’t live out our fantasy. But in the first place, service-dog trainees are supposed to get used to a life of patient repose next to their masters. She is, after all, in training.

Also, the report from the vet’s office the other day declared no evidence of intestinal parasites or other bacterial trouble-makers. Steve and I continued feeding Kyndall the rice and cottage-cheese for a bit and then tapered off. We’re delighted that her digestive system once again is functioning normally. But if she starts eating particle board and whatever’s the bottom of that hole she was working on, we’ll all be back to the Diarrhea Diet. That would be really tedious.

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Rice and cottage cheese

102615 rice and cottage cheese

Our last CCI puppy before Kyndall threw up so regularly that vomiting almost came to seem like her hobby. Dionne wasn’t bulimic, of course. She would have been thrilled to eat so much that she lost her girlish figure. Her problem instead was that she ate all manner of things that didn’t agree with her, prompting her to regurgitate them. The whole time she lived with us she never outgrew this pattern.

Kyndall is different. She’s the most aggressive, ardent chewer we’ve ever raised, but she typically does not swallow the things she chews,and moreover, she almost never chews our belongings, preferring her own toys and miscellaneous detritus in the yard. Few things have upset her digestive system. That’s why the events of the past few days have been worrisome.

Because Steve and I have been recovering from jet lag and colds, Kyndall and Tucker have been sleeping in Steve’s office. Last Thursday morning, Steve went downstairs shortly after dawn to give both dogs their potty break and breakfast only to discover that Kyndall had had a massive attack of diarrhea in (and next to — ugh!) her kennel. It took him almost a half hour to clean it all up, but then he fed her breakfast as usual and we gave her dinner in the evening too, figuring the attack was a fluke.

Wrong-o! There was more Kennel Diarrhea Friday morning, and Kyndall didn’t seem to normalize throughout the day, although she didn’t act the slightest bit sick or mopey. By Friday night, we decided that a 24-hour fast might be what she needed, so we fed her only ice cubes for dinner.

She was horrified but has had no Kennel Diarrhea since then. Still, her eliminatory products have looked sufficiently abnormal that we decided on Saturday to switch to the tried and true regime that we came to no so well with Dionne — first plain rice, then plain rice augmented with cottage cheese. By this morning (Monday), Kyndall’s diarrhea still had not returned, but her feces still looked abnormal enough that we felt afraid to feed her regular dog food again. I volunteered to collect a fecal sample. It’s at the vet’s now, undergoing analysis. The staff promised to call me back with results soon.

102615 K on the DDSuch is the puppy-raising life. Steve and I would be a lot more perturbed if Kyndall
were acting sleepy or unlike herself, but she’s been bounding through the house with more energy than usual (if that’s possible.) She gobbles down the rice and cottage cheese with gusto. No one ever said puppies don’t like that combination.

More CCI puppies to take to the sky!

102015 pup in suitcaseThe chances that Steve and I will someday fly somewhere with our current CCI puppy just increased substantially. I learned this in an otherwise routine-looking email from CCI this morning that announced  Southwest Airlines has at least tentatively changed its longstanding policy regarding CCI puppy-raisers and their charges. Although all US carriers must allow working dogs to accompany their owners aloft, they don’t have to welcome pups in training, and Southwest has been among those that don’t.

Now, according to the announcement, Southwest has undertaken a 6-month trial in which CCI puppy raisers who present a valid ID and vaccination letter will be welcomed aboard with their dogs at no additional charge. Some minor restrictions will limit where they can sit, but the human-canine teams be allowed on after passengers with disabilities (in other words, before everyone else!)

Steve and I have never been tempted to take any of our puppies on an American Airlines flight (our main carrier for longer trips in the US), although I know some puppy raisers report great success with even cross-country flights. We might, however, consider taking one of our pus on a flight under 2 hours long — for which we almost always use Southwest.

We have no such travel planned in the immediate future, so who knows if Kyndall will benefit from this policy change? But at least I can salute Southwest for being flexible and generous in this way. (It’s just one more thing to make us want to fly them whenever possible.)

Happy Birthday, Kyndall!!!

101815 Birthday girl

We thought we would have to miss Kyndall’s first birthday; originally we weren’t supposed to get back from our recent travels until tomorrow. But one small side effect of Steve’s mother becoming ill is that our earlier return home has allowed us to be here for Miss K’s big day.

With some chagrin, I have to admit we’re not doing anything very special. We did take Kyndall on a long w101815 Kyndall and Grandmaalk up the hill this morning. And then she got to accompany us to the nursing unit where Steve’s mother is being cared for. Kyndall’s very fond of Carol, and she was eager to sneak a quick cuddle and a kiss.

We also took her to the school field near our house for an off-leash romp, something we rarely do. We rarely do this because she won’t chase and retrieve balls there but prefers to  run wild. And that’s not part of her Program.

Finally, looking at our remaining 7 months together, Steve and I took a hard look at the areas where we think Kyndall most needs improvement. As wonderful as she is in most ways, we’re still concerned about her resistance to getting caped. And she still seems prone to being distracted by other dogs.

We’re not sure how to work on the latter. But I have an idea for some Positive Cape Conditioning. I’ll be reporting here as we put it into action.

Home again, home again

Steve’s mother became ill when we were in Asia, so we cut short our travels after two weeks to come back and help her out. This mean we collected Kyndall much earlier than anticipated from her gracious puppy-sitters. We were delighted to hear the positive comments about her behavior in our absence — and delighted to have her back again. We missed her on the road.

But I suspect if she could talk she’d be less than enthusiastic about returning to her mundane routines around here (particularly when we’re still dealing with jet lag and re-entry.) Although she wasn’t staying with another puppy, life away from home was probably less boring.

101415 Kyndall 2

I’d like to point out to her that things could be worse. All over Bangkok and Bhutan  we saw lots of dogs who looked like they were dead. They actually weren’t dead but were sleeping in dead-dog positions. You can walk right up next to them and they don’t so much as twitch. Our friend Howie was so struck by their appearance he began a series for a photo essay.  Here are two examples:101415 Dead dog1

101415 Dead dog2
Photographs by Howie Rosen

I showed these to Kyndall, who told me she was pretty sure she would enjoy the roaming-around-free and pack barking sessions and scavenging enjoyed by the faux-dead Asian street dogs. But she doesn’t have a choice. She’s not going to Asia. Moreover, now that we’re back in the groove, we have no plans to place her with any puppy-sitters again until her Turn-In next May.

101415 Kyndall 1
Turn-in will probably be very exciting. But it still seems like a long way off.