A harbinger of things to come?

Only one of our previous CCI puppies has been wild about swimming. That was Darby who, when she was little, stared at the water in her bowl in fascination and pawed at it. Before long she discovered the joys of paddling around in our pool. Despite their water-dog heritage, though, most of our other CCI pups have actively avoided getting wet. I’m not sure how Dilly will turn out.

He has slipped and partially fallen into the pool a few times, but that doesn’t appear to have freaked him out. At the same time, he’s never tried to walk down the steps into the water. But it hasn’t been swimming weather, and he’s never seen Steve or me (or any canines) swimming.

So I was startled by what he did Monday morning. We’d been invited to a little play session with Emmett, the pure-bred white Lab he played with last week. This time we met at the home of Emmett and his puppy-raiser, Mary Milton. Joining us was another even younger CCI puppy who also lives in the neighborhood, a feisty black three-month-old male named Corduroy.

The three guys seemed wildly happy to romp together.

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Their sizes are so different now, but that will quickly change.

They explored the great puppy play toys in the yard: a long fabric tunnel, a little raised bed…and a little blue plastic pool filled with a few inches of water. To my astonishment, Dilly stepped right into it. IMG_7108

He sniffed it a bit, then plopped down. IMG_7109

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Is that surprise on his face?  I can’t quite read the expression.

He seemed content to rest there for a moment, then he got out and played some more. But he returned to the water once or twice.

It wasn’t a hot day, though Dilly seems a bit more sensitive to heat than some of the pups we’ve raised. Steve and I speculate that maybe all his fur makes him warm. This experience makes us wonder if, come the true heat of summer, he won’t discover the pleasures of cooling off in deeper water. It will be fun to find out.

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THIS looks like one happy fellow to me.

Good news and bad news about turning 8 months old

What’s the different between the two dogs above? The one on the left is 8-month-old Dilly (as of yesterday). On the right you see the 7-month-old version. Not much difference. Older Dilly looks a bit more sleepy but he tends to get like that by mid-afternoon. He may be a pound or two heavier and a smidge taller. But that could just be a trick of the camera angle.

For Dilly, the BAD news about this landmark was it marked the beginning of his life without lunch. CCI puppy-raisers actually are supposed to eliminate their dog’s mid-day cup when the pup reaches the 6-month mark (adding a half-cup to the breakfast and dinner fare) but two months ago we were still fretting about Dilly’s delicate digestive system. Smaller meals — for a while — might be easier on him, we told ourselves.

This strategy seemed to work. He had no trace of diarrhea. In fact, he got to where  he was occasionally defecating only once a day, typically massive but firm deposits on his morning walk. Then about a week ago, we were awakened around 2 in the morning by the much-dreaded, high-pitched, pitiful sound of puppy distress. I took him out, and two hours later, Steve had to repeat the long trek with Dilly out into the darkened yard.

We have a theory as to what may have provoked this. The weather is finally warm enough so we can dine out on our patio, and a night or two before the digestive disaster struck, we got so caught up in talking that we failed to notice what Dilly was doing. Only when he had consumed the better part of the pot of kale nearby us did the carnage catch my eye.

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Ummmmmm. Would you believe me if I told you a gopher did it?

Can bunches of baby kale, seasoned with some kale roots and fresh compost, cause doggy diarrhea? Who knows. Thankfully, a few days back on the Diarrhea Diet (a melange of plain rice, cottage cheese, and Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Puppy Chow) straightened things out.

To be honest, this particular puppy has so completely stolen our hearts, we’re finding it more tempting than ever to coddle him. But we want to be good dog-raising citizens. So yesterday we served him a cup and a half of breakfast (that was the easy part!) and nothing at lunchtime. He looked a bit sad and hungry, but he tends to look like that whenever one of us is eating and he isn’t. We trust in a few more days, he will forget his lunches ever existed.

Compensating for this sad transition, he got to play with another puppy, only his second social date in a couple of months. Yesterday, the playmate was Emmett, a feisty four-month-old purebred Labrador male being raised by Mary Milton, who lives not far from us. Emmett still has a bunch of sharp little baby teeth, which he used to chew on Dilly. But Dilly chewed back. They climbed on top of each other; raced at top speed around our pool (miraculously avoiding falling in.)

I think the look on Dilly’s face says all you need to know about what a great present this was:IMG_7097 2IMG_7096 2

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Zooming to puppy class

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Eight weeks have passed since the last time Dilly and Steve and I have been to a CCI puppy class. Where has the time gone? (Oh yeah. I remember. We’ve ALL been kenneled.)

Steve and I have been doing our best to continue training Dilly during this challenging interlude. We’ve been walking him more than we normally do, and Steve takes him out for a separate training session most afternoons. Still, we’ve keenly missed the human interaction with our fellow puppy-raisers (and instructor). Without the twice-monthly reminders of what we should be working on, I suspect we may have lost some of our training edge. So with some trepidation, I signed up for Dilly and me to participate in an online Basic class that we attended yesterday.

Organized by one of the local puppy-raisers, it cost $10 to take part in the session (unlike our normal classes, for which we never pay). It was taught by a contract trainer named Chelsea Calabria. A few minutes before 5:30, I logged in and joined a group that included Chelsea and six other puppy-raisers (plus me but not Steve; he was working on dinner).

Earlier Chelsea had sent out an agenda, and we followed it closely. We took turns with each puppy-raiser having her dog walk over an unfamiliar surface (that Chelsea had asked us in advance to have available.) For Dilly, I used a large piece of cardboard, and it surprised me to see him shy away from it at first. But after a try or two, he was padding over it competently and sitting on it to receive a treat.

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This puppy-raiser practiced with bubble wrap. 

Later, we each practiced having our dogs walk past kibble scattered on the floor to get to their beds, then we put in some time showing off (and getting tips for improving) our prowess with the Heel command. Chelsea finished off with some advice for us to practice using the Under command during some meals, just as we would if we could go out to a restaurant. Which of course no one can do at the moment.

For me, this was all nowhere near as much fun as a flesh-and-blood puppy class. There’s a bloodless (if virus-less) quality to doing these exercises in front of a computer screen, an  inability to comment and get quick subtle feedback from several people at once. At the same time, going over the material did make me think about things I hadn’t considered in some time. So it certainly didn’t feel like a waste of time.

From Dilly’s perspective, I’m sure it was way more boring still. The images on my computer screen may have looked like dogs to me but not him. They certainly didn’t smell like dogs or offer what some folks think is the most valuable part of the real-life classes — practice at ignoring all the fascinating distractions.

Still he got to work on things he hasn’t done in a while. Not a bad use of a sleepy hour at the end of an all-too-quiet afternoon.

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Really? This is nothing like the real thing.