Our puppy-class teacher, Kay, is a fan of field trips. We went on another one to Mission Bay Park on our last class day (August 20), and I was impressed again by how many learning opportunities arise simply by moving into a novel setting.
Out in the evening light, surrounded by new sights and smells, the puppies have to work extra hard to control themselves. But they responded well.
The stairs of this play structure looked a lot like the open-tread variety that until recently struck fear in Adagio’s heart. But he mounted them without hesitation.
Going down the slide was scarier, but he managed to do that too.
He walked across a wobbly bridge……did an Up on a turtle. (We don’t have those in our regular classroom.)…and an Under under a concrete bench.
Thick green grass is particularly alluring to puppies, but none of the class members flung themselves onto their backs in a fit of wriggly ecstasy. They Downed and Stayed obediently.
A couple of picnickers were eating something that looked and smelled interesting. But no one lunged to help themselves to a taste.
The dogs walked calmly, then Kay directed us to a little dock where more strange sights and smells surrounded the crew.
Dark had descended by the time we broke up. Everyone looked a little tired but content.
We should have class again this coming Monday, but because it’s Labor Day, it will be postponed until the following week. However, Adagio and Steve and I have signed up for an extracurricular activity that promises to be at least as educational as our field trip by the bay. We’re going to the Del Mar Racetrack with a giant group of puppies and puppy-raisers. Should be another winning excursion.
Back in June, I wrote about what appeared to be a new hobby of Adagio — diving into Steve’s recycling bin and fishing out papers to tear into pieces. We had barked “No!” at him several times, but mere reprimands didn’t appear to be deterring him. I resolved to start squirting him with a spray bottle whenever we caught him in the act. But, no sooner did I make this vow in my blog than he…. stopped doing it!
I breathed a happy sigh of relief. Then the day after our recent houseguests departed, I walked into the room where they’d been staying. I found the debris shown in the photo. For a second, I didn’t recognize it. Then I realized it was pieces of the charming lion Steve and I had brought back from East Africa 5 years ago. He was made of recycled flip-flops, cleverly transformed into blocks of colorful rubber and sculpted into beastly forms. I loved that lion and his zebra companion. But Adagio evidently had wandered into the room (probably looking for his little friend Emery), spotted the rubber animals, and savaged them.
We had only the one lion and one zebra, so there will be no catching Adagio on any future hunts for African prey. I am sad about the loss of these, but I’m trying to think of it as a reminder of what Steve repeats too often: young puppies can destroy new things at any time. We cannot let down our guard.
Sometimes I don’t blog as often as I want because not much is happening. Adagio is growing and learning things, but the changes are barely noticeable. Sometimes, however, we hit a patch where too much is going on, and time for writing is scarce.
We’ve been in one of the latter patches for the past two weeks. First we were happy to welcome my nephew John from Chicago, who arrived for a four-day visit with his wife Lydia and their 15-month-old daughter, Emery. Emery has met several dogs in the course of her short life, but at first she seemed a bit intimidated by our two hulking canines. She’s a happy, determined little toddler, but the emphasis is on little — she’s less than 18 pounds. Together, Tuck and Adagio weigh more than 8 times as much.
They thought she was fascinating, and in their excitement sent her plopping down onto her diapered bottom a few times. But they never made her cry, and Adagio and Emery soon shifted into viewing each other with calm curiosity.
It was hard to tell for sure what either side was thinking……although Adagio clearly decided she smelled intriguing.
Tucker has long adored little kids, so although he’s more than 95 in dog years, he looked happy every minute he was in Emery’s presence……and she was soon responding with hugs.By the end of the four days, Adagio also seemed content to let Emery treat him like a king-sized stuffed animal.
Our entire pack was sad to see them go. But Steve and I had to scramble to ready the house for termite fumigation (a huge disruption that we had not undergone for 20+ years.) We timed the tenting with a trip to San Jose for a convention, to which we planned to drive. Tucker is too ancient to accompany us on such an adventure; he stayed with friends. But we wanted to road-test Adagio, who reached his 9-month birthday during Emery’s visit.
We planned to drive up the coast on Highway 1, something else we had not done for decades. Steve and I had tried to take that route last October, when we drove up to Steve’s high school reunion in the Bay Area. Beverly (Adagio’s half-sister, and our last CCI puppy) came along with us on that trip. But a huge landslide had closed Highway 1, forcing us to use another road.
The news that Highway 1 had at last reopened at the end of July delighted us. This time we traveled north on it. Steve and I loved both the drive and the convention, but Adagio clearly found it vastly inferior to hanging out with Emery. He experienced a few brief interludes of ecstasy, like the walk we took on the deserted beach in San Simeon. We slipped off his halter and let him briefly experience the beach, unfettered, for the first time in his life. It drove him wild with excitement and he zoomed around at top speed over the sand for about two minutes, then returned to us, docile and content.
He also got to walk along a foggy clifftop……and check out Nepenthe, a legendary Big Sur restaurant and bar that Steve had visited as a child.
At the convention, he mostly had to curl up and be quiet on the convention hall floor and in panel-discussion rooms and under restaurant tables, for hours on end.
He didn’t love that, but he did it remarkably well. We returned home feeling optimistic about his future. He returned home overjoyed to see his buddy Tucker again.
Adagio’s incision from his recent surgery has fully, beautifully healed, but his digestive system was disrupted last weekend, so we decided to skip the puppy “social” held out in Santee last Saturday, just in case his gut problems were contagious. Happily, he’s back to normal after being dosed with Pro-Pectalin, the pills recommended by CCI that are a mixture of doggy probiotics and clay (kaolin). They stopped him up nicely.
But I feel sorry about all the confinement he’s had to endure recently. There was no puppy class scheduled for this past Monday night, and to my astonishment, I missed it! Although many of the classes have been tedious, over the years, they’ve gotten markedly more fun and interesting since Kay Moore became our regular instructor. Kay likes to shake things up. For our class 10 days ago, although the day had been sweltering, she goaded us all into going for a little outing.
We usually work outside in the parking lot for at least a part of every class. But on this occasion, we strolled for a few blocks through the residential neighborhood adjoining the building where the class meets (on Aero Drive, across from Montgomery Field).
We were able to practice several CCI commands along the way. There were interesting things to go Up on, for example:
At an intersection, we had the dogs Sit on the bumpy surface of the wheelchair access ramp.
Back in the parking lot, we practiced having all the dogs respond to “Here” commands from handlers other than their regular people. It was all entertaining, and the time sped by.