Beverly is the 11th dog Steve and I have raised from puppyhood — the 7th we’ve raised for CCI. Over the years we’ve acquired an article of faith about this enterprise: if you know what you’re doing, life with the puppy starts to become quite pleasant by the time they’re 4 months old. But from 2 months (when we usually get them) to 4 months, we resign ourselves to being in Puppy Hell.
Two main challenges make life hellish. The first is training the pup not to urinate and defecate in the house. While we’ve learned a lot about how to do this quickly and efficiently, the process (optimally) requires taking the dog out every hour or two during daylight hours, and a certain number of times during the night.
The second hellish thing about the first two months is related to the first: getting the puppy to sleep through the night. At first they wake up and cry because they’re lonely or they miss their litter mates. Then they wake up and cry because they have to pee or poop and, instinctively, don’t like to do that in their den (or kennel). When they’re really little, they lack the physical capacity to go very long without relieving themselves. So you get nights like our second one with Beverly. It went like this:
8:30 p.m.yesterday — Steve and I are having trouble keeping our eyes open, because we got so little sleep during our first night with her (Wednesday). Shortly before 9, he takes Beverly out, but all she will do is pee. We collapse in our bed; she in her kennel.
9:45 p.m. — Beverly’s shrieks penetrate my earplugs. Steve appears to be dead, so I drag myself out of bed to attend to her. Opening her kennel door, I sniff something alarming. Despite her instincts, she has pooped in the kennel. I go downstairs and collect clean-up gear, clean the kennel, and dispose of the poop. Beverly, in the meantime, has found her way up onto Tucker’s bed and is sleeping blissfully near him.
11 p.m. — This time she awakens Steve; I’m too deeply asleep to hear her. He takes her downstairs and out into the back yard, but all she does is pee.
1:30 a.m. — She wakes both of us this time, and Steve gallantly takes her out again. She pees and poops.
4:10 a.m. — She’s crying again. I order her to stop yowling. “Don’t!” I command, and amazingly, she quiets down and goes back to sleep.
4:50 a.m. – Unable to go back to sleep myself, I get dressed, take her downstairs with me, and begin my day.
To help our puppies get through the night, we’ve learned to cut off their access to water after 5 or 6 p.m. But we can’t (and wouldn’t want to) limit their food. CCI tells us to give our charges one cup of puppy chow in the morning, one at mid-day, and a final one at night. That’s as much (3 cups) as our elderly dog, 90-pound Tucker, gets. For most meals, Beverly has only consumed about 3/4 of what we give her.
She does something no other dog of ours has ever done: lies down with her head almost resting in the bowl. Then she eats slowly but methodically, chewing each piece of kibble.
Within a few minutes, she dozes off yet again, conserving her energy for the long night ahead.