Steve and I departed for our adventure in the Amazon on Adagio’s 6-month birthday (May 12). We got home June 5, a week short of his 7-month milestone. We were groggy from our long flight that night, but when I looked at Adagio the next morning, I thought, “Where did our puppy go?”
This boy seemed to be all legs. He still loved curling up in his cozy bed, but he spilled out of it. Steve speculated that for Adagio it must be unnerving to feel the world around him shrinking.
We were happy with the reports from his puppy-sitters (two different sets of them). It sounded like he had a good time, as did they. Among other things, he got to meet the new arrival in the home of our CCI puppy-class teacher, Kay Moore.
We’re sure Adagio would NOT have enjoyed the long plane and riverboat passages we took. But we did chance upon one sight we’re sure he would have appreciated. We’ve never seen anything like it before in the course of our travels. In the tiny Colombian town of Leticia, which lies near the point where Colombia, Peru, and Brazil come together, we passed this public feeding station for the local street dogs:
We have no idea who stocks it — the town or some dog-loving local philanthropists (though I would bet it’s the latter.) We were impressed by how politely and calmly the fellow above ate for a few minutes… then ambled on. A minute or two later, this skinny girl strolled up and helped herself to some mouthfuls. But not all of it.
I’m pretty sure Adagio wouldn’t show such restraint. He looks not only lanky but skinny. He has a lot more growing to do, and it’s nice to be back watching him work on that.
The wildfires that ravaged Northern California earlier this fall forced the evacuation of CCI’s national headquarters in Santa Rosa, but I don’t know if the Oceanside center has ever had to abandon its facility at any point. If not, it has now.
No one could say they couldn’t see it coming. By 11 am yesterday, the temperature in Pacific Beach was mercifully cool, but the wind was snapping and puffing with maddening ferocity. “If the LA fires don’t spread to here, it will be a miracle,” I said to Steve. By late afternoon it was clear divine intervention wasn’t on our agenda; fire had broken out in the north part of San Diego County. At 4:52 p.m. my cell phone rang. It was Karla Stuart, our neighbor from down the block, who with her husband Mark raised and turned in Keegan, while we were training Beverly. Karla explained that she had been up at CCI in Oceanside earlier yesterday afternoon, working on a fundraising effort. The smoky air grew more acrid, and at some point, she and others present had been urged to return home. Now she’d learned that the staff soon decided to evacuate all the animals. Now 63 dogs were at the home of the regional center’s president, Pam Becker. Could Steve and I foster any of them? Karla asked.
I said sure. We have no puppy at the moment, and we own several kennels. Moreover, Pam lives less than a mile from our house. By 5:20, I was pulling out of our garage.
At the address Karla gave me, I thought for a moment that I must have gotten it wrong. When I parked and got out of the van, the night was quiet. “Where’s all the barking?” I asked a woman who emerged from the house. “They’re our dogs,” she said, smiling. I knew that “we” meant the CCI crew.
Inside the kitchen I found several of the folks who work up in Oceanside, including Stephanie Yocum, Beverly’s former trainer, with whom we had our emotional meeting Tuesday. Stephanie was pouring over lists of dogs. When she learned Steve and I were willing to take three, she assigned us three of the females from her current “string” — Beverly’s former training buddies. I didn’t know two of them, Stonie (a tawny, amber-eyed girl whose wrinkly brow often makes her look worried) and Tyne (a tall thin Golden mix whose nickname –Tiny — does not fit her.) I’ve known the third member of the trio, Mai-tai, ever since she was a tiny ball of black fur. She was raised by the Jedi masters of our local CCI community, Janice and Dan Flynn (veterans of more than 20 CCI puppies, the vast majority of whom have graduated.)
We loaded Stonie and Tiny into my car kennel, and I had Mai-tai ride on the floor of the passenger seat, next to me. Back at our house, all three of the dogs raced around the back yard in the dark. Tucker looked befuddled. But not unhappy.
Since then it’s been a little wild. Minutes after our arrival, I heard something smash against our glass sliding door. I saw nothing at first, then realized it was Mai-tai. I slid the door open to admit her, and too late realized she was dripping wet. (Of course she then raced all over the house, watering the surface of everywhere she went.) We weren’t sure if she fell in the pool by accident, or decided to go for a dip, but this morning, she has gone for a swim at least twice.
All the beasts, including Tucker, slept in Steve’s office last night. We have kennels for each of the girls. I’m amazed by how quickly their personality differences have become obvious. All three have been raptly interested, when Steve dished up their dinner and breakfast.
But Stonie acts like she’s dying of starvation. Any hint of a tiny morsel of food draws her laser-like attention. She and Mai-tai both walk nicely on their leashes, unlike Tiny, who tends to forge ahead. Tiny also keeps jumping up on my couch, and barking at the other girls. But she has a sweetly ingratiating cuddliness. Mai-tai periodically bursts with energy. But she complies with every command we give her.
One of the CCI staffers called this morning to check up on them and say that the center is still under evacuation. When the fire will be extinguished is anyone’s guess; I heard that it was “0%” contained as of 6 am this morning. But everyone at our house is fine for now. Having the whole gang here has reinforced our conviction that four large dogs is two too many to live with, full-time. But as a part-time adventure, it’s fine.
Living in the retriever world, as I have for so many years, my knowledge of corgis was next to nil until about 18 months ago. Then my son Michael and his girlfriend Stephanie acquired a corgi puppy whom they named Felina. She’s been a source of great entertainment for them (and the subject of many of Michael’s Facebook posts), but because they live in Reno, we had not yet met Felina in person. That changed this weekend, when they traveled to Southern California to participate in an event called Corgi Beach Day. I couldn’t resist making the two-hour drive up to Huntington Beach yesterday morning, and I took Beverly with me. (Mike said she could be an honorary corgi.)
Michael had said that as many as 1000 corgis might be converging. I was skeptical. The day started out gray and chilly, not exactly beach weather. But as Beverly and I approached the meeting spot, the clouds were clearing, and I could see people with leashes attached to little dogs with perky ears and stumpy legs streaming toward the designated dog beach. Beverly and I joined them, passing more than one car bearing a “Corgi On Board” bumper sticker. Sure enough, the beach held a large cluster of tents and people and frantic canine activity.
Beverly and I only stayed for about 90 minutes, but that was enough to get a taste of how fanatic the corgi crew can be. The theme of this day’s event was tikis, and many of the corgis were costumed to reflect that.
The tents were jammed with corgi-themed merch and services.…along with contests (for costumes, limbo ability, “cupcake”-eating prowess). Beverly and I caught the “talent show” and we glimpsed a tiny bit of the arcana of this subculture, in which dogs are known as “loaves” (because of their resemblance to the baked bread dough), their furry butts are commonly called “momos” (because of their resemblance to peaches, aka “momo” in Japanese), and the pose in which a corgi’s legs splay out from the dog’s prone body is known as a “sploof.”)
I learned that corgis come both with and without tails, and they come in various colors — even pure white and “merle.”We could have adopted a corgi, and brought it home. But I wasn’t sure what the rest of my pack would think of that.Anyway, since Michael and his gang drove down after the beach event and are staying with us for the next few days, we’re getting a brief taste of actual life with a corgi. To be continued.
I’m the one who dropped the ball of reporting on the life of Beverly. The life of Jeannette got super busy with travel and work for a couple of weeks, and then I sort of lost the habit of keeping up with posting.
But Beverly had a few excellent adventures during this spell. One long weekend, she stayed with Lisa Matthews, who lives in our neighborhood and raised Kora. Turned in last November, Kora appeared to be headed for graduation this coming May, but in the 11th hour, she was released for barking and a couple of other problems. Lisa had not yet gotten this news when Beverly stayed with her, but after Kora’s release, the two girls shared a fun-filled afternoon.
The next weekend, Beverly stayed with our long-time puppy-sitting heroes, Susan and Frank. They took her on some great outings, as usual, including a movie excursion.
As in the past, they had only the warmest praise for her.
Steve and I — and Beverly — will be setting off on more adventures eight days from now, but in the meantime, we have interesting activities plans. Stay tuned. (I will make every effort to report on some of them.)
We picked up Beverly from her puppy-sitters Thursday afternoon, just a few hours after our return from Asia. In some ways it felt like getting a new pup: “Wait! how many times does she need to be taken out daily?” I wondered. “How well will she sleep?” But in short order, we were reassured that a) this is the easiest puppy we’ve ever had the pleasure of living with, and b) if anything, she only got better in our absence.
She seemed mildly happy to see us, but I can hardly blame her for being less than wildly enthusiastic about returning to our rather dull household. In our absence, she spent time with five different families, three of which had young dogs for her to play with. Everyone seemed to love her.”I’ve never written the word ‘perfect’ so many times to describe a puppy,” one of her caretakers wrote in the Feedback Report. “It’s unreal how great she is.”
Steve offered a similar comment yesterday, after returning from a multi-hour grocery-shopping excursion with Beverly. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a better-behaved puppy than this one,” he said. “She seemed to be enjoying the outing, but there’s a serenity about her that’s extraordinary. She’s got an almost regal air.”
In our absence, she somehow learned to respond perfectly to the “Down” command (without any hand signals). We’d been struggling with that. Another change is that since she turned 6 months old in October, she’s now getting fed only twice a day, and we’re amused by how excited she gets every mealtime. She all but pirouettes as we fill her bowl. She looks bigger and lankier. More hungry.
Friday, Beverly and I drove up to Oceanside to attend CCI’s fall graduation ceremonies. We watched our friend Kora being turned in for her advanced training.
For the most part, Beverly stayed quietly in her Down position.
Although we didn’t know any of the 8 dogs from the Southwest region who were graduating into a life of service, we’d gotten word that TWO litter-mates of our previous puppy Kyndall (Kihei and Kimono) were graduating up in Northern California. Steve felt deflated by this news, seeing it as proof that Kyndall’s release from training resulted from something that we did.
I hope that’s not the case. With a puppy like Beverly, it’s hard for me not to feel new hope.
Kyndall went to puppy kindergarten when she was a wee little fur ball. But more recently, she was invited to visit the human kindergarten at Bird Rock Elementary School, located very close to our house. One of the veteran kindergarten teachers, Lorene LaCava, is a long-time acquaintance, but somehow we never before had shown off one of our puppies to her students. Friday we made up for that by taking Kyndall to two of the classes.
In each one, Steve and I briefly told the children what CCI is and what working dogs do. We explained our role as puppy-raisers, and we had Kyndall perform a number of commands. Then we gave each child a chance to come up and shake her paw.
Some kids preferred to forego the shake in favor of just stroking her velvety head and ears.
Throughout she was well-behaved and sweet. On any Cuteness scale, the interactions were definitely a 10. After shake after shake, however, Kyndall starting to look a bit tired. So we finished up by demonstrating how to cradle a puppy.
She looked like she could have been content to do that all afternoon.
Kyndall seems very perky this morning. Steve commented that maybe she was happy she finally had gotten us to feed her something better than Eukanuba Large-Breed Dogfood. “She’s probably thinking, ‘It’s taken me a year and a half to train them, but thank God they’ve finally come around,'”he theorized.
It’s true that she refused to even glance at the cup of dogfood I put in her bowl. So I fed her all the plain yogurt I had left (only a half cup or so), and she lapped that up eagerly.
I plan to go out soon and buy some cottage cheese for her (I can’t cook her plain rice until we get home tomorrow.) But clearly, I need to consult with the puppy experts at CCI in Oceanside about how to deal with this new wrinkle. Is it illness? Or culinary fastidiousness? I’ve heard from the folks who are raising Kyndall’s sister, Kimono, who report that “Kimono eats far more leisurely than any Lab we’ve ever known. It’s like she chews each individual kibble several times, instead of just inhaling the whole bowl as our Lab is want to do. At the same time, I can leave her in the car with a ziploc full of dog food in easy reach, which I could never do with the labs.”
Steve insists Kyndall just wants to be fed something more befitting a true Princess. Like live rabbits.