The most delicious flower

IMG_6861 2.jpeg

Dilly is our ninth CCI puppy, but only the second to decide the “Butterball” hibiscus blossoms that drop from our tree onto our patio are scrumptious. Several weeks ago he began pouncing upon them and snatching them up. Left to his own devices, he chews, savors, and swallows them.  He doesn’t care if they are dried and brown…

IMG_6943.jpeg
Like this

 

 

 

 

 

or fresh and golden.IMG_6856 2.jpeg

The tree is bursting with blossoms now, but it usually has some blooms all year. If you must decide one of the flowers in our backyard is a delicacy, the  hibiscus is a good choice.

IMG_6940.jpeg

When we went through this with Kyndall 5 years ago, we initially felt alarmed. Certain plants can kill dogs, including a couple growing on our property such as oleander (permanently) and poinsettias (often during the Christmas season). No dog has ever shown any interest in them, however. When Kyndall’s hibiscus hankerings became evident, we turned to the Internet and (surprise!) found conflicting information. But a common assertion is that “hardy” hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) is indeed poisonous, while the “tropical” varieties do no harm. And happily our Butterball was a tropical variety, a rosa sinensis.

IMG_5297.jpeg
Kyndall couldn’t resist them.

We made a half-hearted effort to stop Kyndall from eating them, but she managed to gulp down a fair number, and they never seemed to make her throw up. In contrast, Dilly’s digestive system has been more fragile, so we watch him like a hawk and almost never let him off the leash, even in the fenced back yard. When he gets something in his mouth, we pry it open and extract it.

The latest development is his learning that IF he can pounce upon one of the blooms on those rare occasions when he’s outside off-leash, he can dash away from us, and we will chase him!!! This makes for a game that is both hilarious (from a puppy perspective) and rewarding; it usually buys him enough time to gulp the forbidden flower.

Here’s a glimpse of the merriment:  

 

 

Correction: DO NOT spray your dog with Lysol!

I am concerned that my post yesterday might lead someone to spray their puppy with Lysol.  I’ve heard from Puppy Program Director Becky Hein that CCI’s vets do not recommend this; Becky is concerned it may be harmful as an inhalant or if the dog licks it.

Actually, as I told Becky, the only time I ever gave Dilly a quick once-over with a Lysol-bearing rag was just before writing the post, because I was afraid if I didn’t allude to being concerned, someone would chastise me for that. The photo was intended to be comic, but this is yet another reminder that I should avoid trying to be a humor writer. It’s never been my forte!

Becky also points out that puppy-raisers should be cautious about having their dogs out in the sun for too long, even on cool days. She advises having shade as an option. (Again, we only allowed Dilly to be out in the sun in his kennel for about 20 minutes. Steve and I intend to be very cautious about anything other than limited sun exposure.)

Dilly and I want all CCI puppies to be safe and healthy. I apologize for leading anyone astray!

 

My new strategy for fighting coronavirus on my puppy

IMG_6900.jpgActually, I have no idea if there has ever been a single Covid 19 particle on Dilly, but I admit to being creeped out by the warnings that if someone with virus on their hands touches an animal, the germs might possibly be able to live on the animal’s fur for some time. Dilly doesn’t go out and about that much. But even just a stroll to the coffee shop (back in the era when it was open) not uncommonly resulted in some petting. (“But only if he’s good and sits nicely!” we instructed his admirers.)

Alas, it’s not like we can hose him down for 20 seconds (singing Happy Birthday twice) every time a hand touches those golden curls.  Steve brushes him daily, and I confess to giving him a quick occasional once-over with a rag sprayed with Lysol. Still one wonders: is it enough?

My new solution: sun-bathing him. Researchers have reported that ultraviolet light can kill the virus; it allegedly has been used as a disinfecting agent in China. And sunlight delivers UV.

We can’t just allow him to hang out in the yard, where he would eventually flop down and snooze in the sun on his own because before the flopping and snoozing would come the plant-eating (followed some hours later by the whining to go out and have diarrhea in the middle of the night). But Dilly’s kennel is big and open and easy to move outside Steve’s office. Dilly seemed only mildly alarmed when we ordered him to get into it there this morning.IMG_6886.jpegHe quickly flopped down there, soaking up the rays.IMG_6887.jpeg

Let me hasten to add that no one has apparently studied the effect of actual sunlit conditions on actual Covid 19 sunlit conditions (which of course vary from day to day, season to season, and place to place). So in fact I actually have NO IDEA whether today’s dosage on our patio would be sufficient to be effective. 

Still, we figure it can’t help but have some mild sanitizing and deodorizing impacts on our furry friend. So we’ll have him bask a bit at least until the clouds and rain return. (Tomorrow, according to the forecast on my phone.)IMG_6901.jpeg

 

Six months old!

Today Dilly is six months old. You can see the dog he will become pretty clearly now, I think.IMG_6875.jpegSo different from this little guy:

IMG_6034
His 2-month-old self

Normally this is one of the darker days in a CCI puppy’s life: the point at feedings are supposed to switch from three times a day to a paltry two.  (The pups get the same amount of food overall, but believe me, they LOVE having something doled out at lunch time.)

But Steve and I hypothesize that smaller meals may be easier for Dilly to digest than larger ones. He had so much trouble when he was very little, the last thing we want is to trigger a setback. We have worked our way to the point where he’s now eating two and three-quarters cups of expensive Science Diet and only one-quarter cup of the super- expensive Royal Canin gastrointestinally soothing puppy chow.

We plan to continue that mixture for another day or so, then to go to all Science Diet. We then will switch him ever so gradually to the reasonably priced Eukanuba, CCI’s dog food of choice.

For ridiculously emotional reasons, Steve and I have decided to continue feeding him three times a day until his very last baby tooth falls out. Over the past weeks, all the other razor-sharp molars and incisors and canines have given way to the more rounded adult dog teeth. I’ve found a handful on the floor…

IMG_6876.jpeg
Here’s my collection

But a single canine remains firmly lodged in upper jaw.

IMG_6879.jpeg
There it is, lurking behind the adult tooth. 

Until it goes, we plan to continue to feed Dilly at 6:30 am, noon, and 5 pm. And although most of America may be grieving about the toll of the coronavirus, Dilly is benefitting from that too (getting way more walks than usual.)

So all in all, it’s a pretty fine 6-month birthday for this (not so little) guy.IMG_6872.jpeg

 

Is Dilly a star pupil?

The other night we introduced Dilly to good friends who just returned to San Diego after some extensive travels. They seemed impressed by Dilly’s ability to Sit and Speak and Shake and respond to other commands. When I mentioned we would be going to puppy class Monday night, one of them asked me in an email, “Is Dilly a star pupil?” she wrote. “Do you feel he is ahead of where other of your puppies have been at five months?”

I pondered that question throughout the class yesterday evening, and what came to me is: it’s too hard to compare. Only four puppies participated in our session last night. One of them, Frida, is about Dilly’s age. But she broke her leg in a freak accident several weeks ago. She’s healed now, but she missed some training when she was healing, so it’s not fair to measure her performance against Dilly’s (except to note that she seems way more obsessed with toys than he is.)

The other two classmates were little ones, Wish and Chessie, both of whom must be about two months younger than Dilly. He’s thus more accomplished than them. But I can’t conclude he’s smarter. He’s had two more months to work on everything.

IMG_6822.jpeg
He was paying attention beautifully at this particular moment.

Steve and I find from one week to another that our dogs are more or less obedient. They go through developmental phases that change with disconcerting speed. Just a day or so ago, Dilly suddenly seemed to realize that when he’s outside and we call, “Here!” he can choose NOT to streak to us (and get a treat). If he happens to have a fallen hibiscus blossom in his mouth, he can prance AWAY from us; run in the opposite direction! Try to make US run after HIM to try and pry it from his jaws! (This is such a fun game!)

How long he’ll keep this up before returning to his instantly recallable former self we have no way of knowing. Could be tomorrow. Could be in six months. When I go further to try to compare Dilly’s overall intelligence level to all the other CCI puppies we’ve raised… it makes my head spin.

What I can say is that he seems at least as smart as them. In last night’s session, he blew the Wait command on the first try, but then he did executed it nicely. If he’d ignored our orders to come Here! out in the yard, he responded to them with alacrity in class. Our instructor, Kay, has a wondrous collection of dazzling dog toys, and she used several last night to command the participants’ attention.

IMG_6838.jpeg
This duck waddles along while emitting a wacky tune. Dilly seemed to find the sight of it even more stunning than the lovely young girl dog next to him. But both he and Wish just sat and stared.

Before class, Steve and I realized this would be Dilly’s final session of “puppy kindergarten.” He’ll be six months old in just 9 more days, and then it will be time to switch to the Basic instructional group. We chatted on the way home about how that would be a nice change of pace.

But this morning I got an email from the local puppy program manager announcing that “in an abundance of caution,” CCI is suspending puppy-raising classes until concerns about the COVID-19 virus have died down. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’ll have to work on our lessons on our own.