One year ago today, Kyndall arrived in our home. I recently heard this milestone referred to (by one of Kyndall’s sisters’ puppy raiser) as the Gotcha Day. I like that.
It’s a little enigmatic. But what simple phrase could capture all the ground we’ve covered in this past year? Traveling from this:
With this particular girl, it’s been an almost purely pleasurable journey so far. Part of what we have to celebrate today is that we have almost five more months together. Also: no sign of her going into heat yet.
All I want for Christmas (well, almost all) is for her to hold off another week or so before she goes into heat. Then she can share a second Christmas with us. Our fingers are crossed.
Last year we got Kyndall just one week before Christmas. The tree was already erected on the day she arrived at our house, and the thought of her tugging at a branch and bringing down the whole thing terrified us. Our solution was to erect a barricade. Though ugly, it worked well enough, and no harm ever came to tree or puppy.
This year we were still a little nervous about the combination of huge and not-all-that-stable tree with very young dog, particularly when the former is adorned with shiny, dangly objects. But aside from chewing on some of the fallen pine needles, Kyndall has shown no interest in destroying any Christmas ornamentation, arboreal or otherwise.
What worries me more is that Kyndall might miss Christmas altogether this year. She went into heat on June 15, so in three more days she’ll be exactly six months out from that. Although we’ve seen no clear signs yet that she’s ready to go into heat again, I’ve been told (by one of the puppy-raising managers) that many dogs cycle every six months, like clockwork.
I have my fingers crossed that she’ll hold out a wee bit beyond that. Both our sons will be arriving home next week to celebrate the holiday. It would be a shame for them not to get a bit of puppy love for Christmas.
We walked with Kyndall into the big party at the Hard Rock Hotel Thursday night and knew immediately we’d made a mistake. This was no place for a puppy, even the best trained and behaved one. The din was stunning, and the party areas so jammed with people it was hard to move.
There were freakish sights, but what freaked me out the most was seeing all the morsels that partiers had dropped and Kyndall kept lunging at. We wheeled around, took her back to our van, and secured her in the kennel, while we returned to the madness, though not for too late. We needed to hit the road early to drive back to San Diego.
What made the return drive more pleasant for all of us is that we’d planned to stop along the way to see if we could obtain our Christmas tree. Steve and I are partial to the harvest-your-own variety, but it’s become harder and harder to find tree farms in San Diego County. Knowing that we’d be driving back through Riverside County, I’d investigated and found a couple of promising candidates. So it was that just after lunch, we pulled into the Sand Haven Pines property in Perris.
This turned out to a huge and obviously well-managed enterprise, with acres of beautiful, reasonably priced trees. Best of all, the owners said it was fine for Kyndall to explore off leash. She did this with wild enthusiasm.
Yesterday, the opening of the Christmas season continued for us with Kyndall’s and my participating in the 80th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade. Only a small group of CCI puppies turned out this year, but our organizer provided awesome costumes.
The worst thing about the parade is always the wait for our contingent to march.
But this year it wasn’t bad; we took off just after 2 p.m. and were done by 2:20. And both during and after the parade, all the pups received lots of adulation. Kyndall enjoyed that.
When Conde Nast readers recently rated Las Vegas hotels, the Venetian came in third overall. The article in which I read this mentions the hotel’s re-creation of the Grand Canal, the gondola rides, the remote-controlled curtains, the 39 restaurants. But I know what Kyndall would mention: the doggy toilet.
It’s discrete, not marked on the property map. It runs behind a fence along the south perimeter. The only indicator for humans that this is, indeed, intended to be a place for canines to, ahem, do their business is a poop-bag dispenser and an injunction to “clean up after your pet.” But dogs instantly understand that this is the TRUE Strip: the mother of all fascinating smells, a veritable Library of Congress of odors, a mega-jackpot of intriguing aromas. It blew Dionne’s mind when I discovered it with her two years ago, and Kyndall is similarly dazzled. I like it because it says to a dog, better than 100,000 rippling neon lights ever could: this is THE PLACE for you to pee and poop!
I appreciate that, but it still grosses me out. Although the area doesn’t strike my nose as being smelly, the artificial grass surface always feels squishy when I walk on it, as if it’s been peed on so much it can never, ever dry out. While most of the owners may follow directions and clean up after their furry friends, some have done so ineptly. I think some of the smears were here two years ago. Remembering this, I made a special point to bring rubber-soled slip-ons that I remove just inside our room when we return from every potty break. I immediately stow them on a high shelf within the room’s closet.
But I’m not complaining. From our current room, Kyndall and I can reach the Doggy Strip in less than 5 minutes, and she hasn’t come close to having any indoor accidents or even making me nervous that she might do so.
The other thing that entrances her about The Venetian is the view from our 31st story window. I haven’t the faintest idea what she finds so fascinating about it.
Having been introduced to casino life in Reno this summer, Kyndall has moved on to the big time.
Steve and I drove with her to the Las Vegas Strip yesterday afternoon, and she and I have settled into a little routine at the Venetian Resort and Casino.
Gambling wasn’t on our agenda. Steve’s here for work, and as I have done in the past, I packed up my computer and set up shop in our hotel room. I first did this with Brando six years ago (at the Mandalay Bay), and I was stunned by the reactions his presence seemed to generate. People fawned over him! They exclaimed and took his picture and all but followed us. I chalked it up to the startling juxtaposition of innocent little puppy with the anti-Nature vibe that’s the essence of Vegas. Two years ago, I returned with Dionne, who was then 14 months old. Somehow she didn’t get the same ardent reactions Brando got. I theorized that maybe it was her color (coal black instead of blonde). Still, she and I had some fun, so I decided to try it once more with Kyndall. It didn’t take me long to conclude: when it comes to puppies in Las Vegas, at least, blondes are more adorable.
Guards and security personnel wave us past with love-struck eyes. (Obviously no terrorist or thief would have a blonde puppy, right?) Gamblers stop in their tracks and ask for a “puppy fix.”
Kyndall has been flawless. I can’t count the number of times we’ve walked right by the spot where Dionne squatted down next to a bank of elevators here at the Venetian and peed a LAKE. So far, Kyndall seems light years beyond such a transgression. We’ve gone for a couple of long walks down the Strip and in the casino, and she’s been curious and interested at all the odd sights. But unflappable.
I’ll try to push her a bit more today and Thursday. But so far, she seems born to the neon life.