Made for the shade

Kyndall hasn’t had gone on many hikes, a fact that Steve and I have regretted. On her one big adventure, last August when we were up in Squaw Valley, she dazzled us with the ease which which she clambered up the mountain trail we were following. She seemed to savor every minute of that, so we didn’t hesitate to take her along with us this past Sunday, when we headed with some friends for an outing to the high desert, just over the border into Imperial County.

Our guides for the day were Robert and Elizabeth, two old friends who are highly experienced backpackers, at ease far from civilization. They had suggested we head for a place called the Valley of the Moon located within some Bureau o032216 Hike 9f Land Management wilderness not far from the Mexican border and east of Jacumba. It’s an area where you can camp anywhere you want; let your dog run wild; shoot at random beer cans (or official signs — if you can find one). We drove our van as far as seemed prudent up a fire road and then set off on foot.

Although we leashed up Kyndall, this immediately seemed silly. There was no sign of any other hikers, and Kyndall isn’t the sort of puppy to bound off across country on her own. Once freed, she gamboled about for maybe… 45 seconds?

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Our friend Howie Rosen, who also came along, took all these wonderful photos. 

Then she settled down in the shade of our vehicle. We started hiking around 9:30, and she quickly confirmed she wouldn’t be taking off on her own, nor terrorizing any of the local wildlife. When Elizabeth spotted a horned toad on the path, Kyndall paid no attention to it. She likewise ignored this guy…

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…a harmless gopher snake (according to Bob and Elizabeth). Kyndall was much more fascinated when we came across some ice dumped by departing campers.

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And she was downright dazzled by a dried up cow patty (much to all our disgust).

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The most notable aspect of her behavior, however, was her obsession with finding spots of shade in which she could rest. She started doing this immediately, when the temperature must have only been in the low 70s.

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It never went over 80. Rather, it seemed like what she wanted to escape was not so much the heat as the sun. (We were giving her regular drinks of water.) If there was absolutely no shade at all, she would flop down in one of our shadows. She did this here, when we reached the actual Valley of the Moon.

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This was the point when we realized we were actually OVER the border, a few feet into Mexico. (At least according to the awesome app on Bob’s i-Phone.)

With all the boulders, there were plenty of nooks and crannies for her to seek out.

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We covered almost ten miles in all. This included a couple of hours of bushwhacking and bouldering, so by the end we were all pretty tired. Throughout it all, Kyndall seemed intrepid (if a bit obsessed with keeping out of the sun). I did think she might be limping just a tiny bit toward the end, but she was perky enough to pounce upon a ball that she found and chase it down the road.

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On the final downhill stretch. You can see the ball in her mouth.

Yesterday, however, she was NOT her normal, happy self. She moved stiffly and acted like her feet hurt. (We found no thorns or cracks or raw patches on them, but we guessed they must be sore.) She barely budged from her bed all day, even when her pal Kora came over for the afternoon.

I felt terrible. Today, however, she’s more like her normal self. Steve says we should have expected it. She’s a princess, as sensitive as the fairytale one who detected that pea under all the mattresses.

A happy homecoming

We got word late Saturday that Kyndall’s heat had ended, and she was ready to be picked up. Once again, Kora was in synch — HER heat ended too, and she also was cleared for homecoming. We thus gratefully accepted the offer from Lisa, Kora’s puppy-raiser, to collect both girls Sunday afternoon. They pulled up to our house a little before 3 p.m. yesterday.

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Lisa took this photo as she approached our house yesterday. She says Kyndall seemed to know she was almost home.

In Kyndall’s absence, lot of folks have asked us how Mr. Tucker was enjoying being an only dog. We’re sure he enjoys being the exclusive center of canine attention, not to mention having the back doors open so he can wander inside or out at will. But his tail was certainly wagging furiously yesterday when the K girls arrived.

Lisa and I had wanted to give the girls a short opportunity to race around like maniacs, as they always do when Kora visits Kyndall at our house. But they surprised us by being unusually tranquil — probably a result of all the play time they got up at the Holiday Pet Hotel. Karina up there sent me one last set of photos that once again made it clear what fun times Kyndall enjoyed there.

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That’s one smiley puppy!

Now that she’s back, we’re enjoying her sweet disposition and cuddly presence. I’m also sorry she’s back to the boring routines around our house — rather than the fun times at Sex Camp. Still, we keep reminding ourselves that her mission in life is to become a service dog. We’re also keenly aware of how little time we have left to prepare her for starting her advanced training up in Oceanside — just a little more than 13 weeks.  We still have some serious work to do to try and get her ready for making it all the way to graduation.

Happy camper

Funny how things sometimes turn out. At the news (two weeks ago) that CCI’s kennels were unavailable, and Kyndall would have to go through her second heat cycle in some strange facility, I was initially appalled. But now that she’s been in the Holiday Pet Hotel for almost two weeks, I realize this is much better than what we’ve ever experienced before with our CCI females in season.

That’s because of the charming updates we’ve been receiving from sometime CCI-puppy raiser and kennel employee Karina Rocker. (From CCI, we’ve never heard anything before when our puppies were in Girl Camp, until we got the call or email telling us they were ready to be retrieved.) In contrast, Karina has written several times with news and photos. Here’s the latest, received yesterday:

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“Kyndell continues to do well,” Karina emailed. “She is such a sweet girl and seems to have an easy going personality…. I had her up in the kitchen area while I prepared the food for the kennel. She held her down well. Occasionally she would break, especially if I moved away but then corrected herself once I told her don’t. There is occasional food on the ground in the kitchen area which she didn’t seem to even notice or look for. I even dropped some food on the ground (on purpose) I am not sure if she was going to go for it or not because she kind of moved as if she was going to eat it. But all I had to do was say don’t, and she ignored it. I did it again and she didn’t even try to go for it. I also had her in the office doing an under which she did well with.”

If things proceed normally, I’m expecting we’ll be able to go get her sometime in the week after this coming one.

(I’m just not so sure she’ll be all that happy to leave.)




Good news from the inmates

012416 kennel2Lisa and I received more welcome news from the Holiday Pet Hotel yesterday. Karina, who works there, sent the photos above of Kyndall playing with some of the other girls in heat. “She and Kora sure love to horse around with each other….She [Kyndall] loves to get a toy and be chased.”

I know that face. It looks awfully happy to me. Today is Kyndall’s sixth day there, so we still have a pretty long wait until we get her back here with us. But it’s so nice to know she’s having some fun.


Reproductive drama

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Kyndall just wants to hang out with Kora. She’s not picky where. 

After waiting and waiting and WAITING for Kyndall to start her second heat cycle, we’ve suddenly got a bit too much action.

The action started Saturday morning, when her good buddy Kora, who’s being raised only a few blocks away from us, came over to play for a while. She’s done this several times before, but this time I had asked Kora’s puppy-raiser, Lisa, if Kyndall might spend the afternoon with the two of them, as Steve and I were going to be in Tijuana for most of the day. Lisa readily assented, but wanted to let the girls first run around wildly (as they usually do upon being reunited) in our large yard, rather than her cozy condo. She then took the two of them off with her. She brought them back in the evening, and Kora spent the night and all of Sunday morning with us.

Kora’s almost 10 months old, and she hadn’t yet gone into heat. I pointed out to Lisa how swollen Kyndall looked, and Lisa reflected that Kora had been looking swollen and doing a lot of licking herself. But neither of us had been seeing any sign of blood.

Until Sunday night. That’s when a noticed a distinct red drip from Kyndall, with more blood on the tissue when I dabbed her. I texted Lisa this news. This morning, she called to tell me that Kora had followed suit.

Is this some weird hormonal voodoo, an example of two girls going into season because their hormones and scents somehow kick off the mutual action? Who knows. But Lisa and I were thrilled by the thought that maybe the two dogs could be roommates up in Sex Jail.

I was out when I got Lisa’s message, and when I got home, there was more news from her, this time much more disturbing. She had called up to the CCI headquarters in Oceanside and learned that it was mostly closed because of the national holiday. But she spoke to someone in the kennel who told her they weren’t taking any more females because of the upcoming Team Training session that will begin in two weeks. Instead Lisa was told she should look for a private kennel where Kora could be boarded while she was in heat.

This makes no sense to me. We had to turn in Dionne just before a team-training session began in May of 2014. And the idea of locking Kyndall up in a cage for which we would have to pay $30 a day for three weeks also sounds pretty outrageous.

We plan to call CCI tomorrow to get a clearer idea of what’s going on. To be continued…



Goodbye Vegas, hello Christmas

We walked with Kyndall into the big party at the Hard Rock Hotel Thursday night and knew immediately we’d made a mistake. This was no place for a pu120715 party 2ppy, even the best trained and behaved one. The din was stunning, and the party areas so jammed with people it was hard to move.
There were freakish sights, 120715 party1but what freaked me out the most was seeing all the morsels that partiers had dropped and Kyndall kept lunging at. We wheeled around, took her back to our van, and secured her in the kennel, while we returned to the madness, though not for too late. We needed to hit the road early to drive back to San Diego.

What made the return drive more pleasant for all of us is that we’d planned to stop along the way to see if we could obtain our Christmas tree. Steve and I are partial to the harvest-your-own variety, but it’s become harder and harder to find tree farms in San Diego County. Knowing that we’d be driving back through Riverside County, I’d investigated and found a couple of promising candidates. So it was that just after lunch, we pulled into the Sand Haven Pines property in Perris.

This turned out to a huge and obviously well-managed enterprise, with acres of beautiful, reasonably priced trees. Best of all, the owners said it was fine for Kyndall to explore off leash. She did this with wild enthusiasm.

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So many sticks and stumps, all so chewable!
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She was so happy, if she’d been a cat, she would have been purring.

Yesterday, the opening of the Christmas season continued for us with Kyndall’s and my participating in the 80th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade. Only a small group of CCI puppies turned out this year, but our organizer provided awesome costumes.

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The worst thing about the parade is always the wait for our contingent to march.

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But this year it wasn’t bad; we took off just after 2 p.m. and were done by 2:20. And both during and after the parade, all the pups received lots of adulation. Kyndall enjoyed that.

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These fellow paraders couldn’t keep their hands off Kyndall. Which was fine with her.

Home again, home again

Steve’s mother became ill when we were in Asia, so we cut short our travels after two weeks to come back and help her out. This mean we collected Kyndall much earlier than anticipated from her gracious puppy-sitters. We were delighted to hear the positive comments about her behavior in our absence — and delighted to have her back again. We missed her on the road.

But I suspect if she could talk she’d be less than enthusiastic about returning to her mundane routines around here (particularly when we’re still dealing with jet lag and re-entry.) Although she wasn’t staying with another puppy, life away from home was probably less boring.

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I’d like to point out to her that things could be worse. All over Bangkok and Bhutan  we saw lots of dogs who looked like they were dead. They actually weren’t dead but were sleeping in dead-dog positions. You can walk right up next to them and they don’t so much as twitch. Our friend Howie was so struck by their appearance he began a series for a photo essay.  Here are two examples:101415 Dead dog1

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Photographs by Howie Rosen

I showed these to Kyndall, who told me she was pretty sure she would enjoy the roaming-around-free and pack barking sessions and scavenging enjoyed by the faux-dead Asian street dogs. But she doesn’t have a choice. She’s not going to Asia. Moreover, now that we’re back in the groove, we have no plans to place her with any puppy-sitters again until her Turn-In next May.

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Turn-in will probably be very exciting. But it still seems like a long way off.

Casino madness

We didn’t spend much time in casinos on our recent visit to Reno, but one night we did meet some friends at one for dinner, during which Kyndall practiced her “Under” command well enough that her presence was almost imperceptible. On Saturday night, thanks to the generosity of a friend who’s a regular patron of the Atlantis casino, Steve and I got to stay in a 23rd-story room in the Concierge Tower (instead of driving back to Squaw Valley after a late bachata concert). Tucker again hung out at Stephanie’s house, but we took Kyndall, officially caped, up to our room and kenneled her for most of her time there. If there was madness playing out at the slot machines, Kyndall again was calm and collected.

She was agog in the glass elevators, every time we ascended or descended (which we had to do several times for her bathroom breaks). 082815 rising pupShe also seemed a bit creeped out by the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Otherwise, her behavior was impeccable.

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Seriously? Is this safe?

Still, if she could talk, I think she would attest that her favorite moments were spent out on the trail, or on the deck of our cabin, smelling the delicious aromas of the pine forest.

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Or maybe getting released from the torment of the car kennel upon  our arrival back home. The next day, a charming four-and-a-half-month-old girl named Spirit arrived for six days of puppy-sitting by us and lively play with Kyndall. In the world of puppies, that’s real fun.

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How Kyndall got to the brothel

How Kyndall got to the brothel

On Sunday, August 16, the day Kyndall turned 10 months old, we hit the road to travel to Squaw Valley in Northern California, where an old friend had offered us the use of her cabin in the woods. We took Tucker, too, and the 12-hour journey must have been a trial for the dogs. They shared a wire kennel in the back of our van, and though commodious, it was more confinement than they’re used to for that length of time.

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Road cage. But Tucker’s back made a soft and cozy chin rest.

We stopped several times along the way, to give our furry passengers a break…

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That’s Mt. Whitney in the far distance, but Kyndall could not have cared less. She just wanted to get out of the100-degree heat and back into the air-conditioned van.

The cabin was beautiful, but we spent much of our time in Reno, visiting our son Michael and his girlfriend Stephanie. The first day after we arrived, Tucker stayed in Stephanie’s backyard, while Kyndall, Mike, Steve, and I toured Virginia City, which flaunts its Wild Western heritage.

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Kyndall says yellow dogs rule; red dogs drool.

Then we drove to Carson City, the state capitol. It was on that journey that we spotted signs for the brothels — which are legal in this part of Nevada. Curious, we pulled off the road to gawk at the famous Bunny Ranch (made famous by the HBO series, “Cathouse,” which I had somehow managed to miss. When Michael insisted he had a friend who had gone in just for a drink and a tour, we decided to see if this was indeed possible.

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You walk up to the gate and must be buzzed in.

So it was that the four of us strolled in the front door (Kyndall in her cape, of course). Within seconds a parade of scantily clad young women emerged and lined up before us. One, acting as a sort of impresario, asked if we’d like to take a tour.

“Oh, we can do that?” I squeaked, embarrassed.

“Oh course,” answered the madam. “Just choose your guide.”

Another mortifying pause. Then Michael brusquely pointed to a thin, pale blonde in a bikini. She beckoned him to follow, but when Kyndall, Steve, and I made to tag along, the madam intervened, declaring that the tours could only be given one on one. Er, no thanks, Steve and I declined. While Michael disappeared into the brothel interior, his mom and dad and Kyndall waited in the entrance. Naturally, some of the remaining young ladies asked if they could pet Kyndall.

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A love fest of a different sort unfolded. “This made my week!” one of the girls  exclaimed. Kyndall looked pretty content too. But Mike appeared within a minute (and later reported that although the sexual services were clearly offered, he had declined). Then we were out the door, on to more adventures

A happy homecoming!

I took Kyndall into CCI’s Oceanside kennels exactly three weeks ago yesterday, so early yesterday morning I called to see if she was ready to return home. I was told that the vet tech was out but would be checking the girls when she returned around 11 a.m.

At 1 p.m., I’d still heard nothing, though. So I called again. This time I learned that the vet tech would be testing Kyndall momentarily. And indeed, a few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the vet tech, announcing that the slide smear confirmed our girl was officially OUT of heat.

I ran to the garage only to remember that Steve had gone out with the minivan. It contains the kennel in which we always transport the dogs. My only choice was to leap into our Miata and try to convince myself Kyndall wouldn’t mind riding in the passenger’s seat of the little 20-year-old sports car. About halfway up to Oceanside, it also occurred to me that I’d forgotten both her leash and collar. (Pups go into the kennels essentially naked.) This wasn’t a huge problem, as Christine at the front desk said I could use theirs to walk Kyndall out to my car. A bigger problem was that, since she had never ridden in the Miata, Kyndall refused to get into it. But she still only weighs a fraction under 50 pounds, so I scooped her up and muscled her in.070715 home again1

She’d been happy to see me, but she looked miserable the whole way home. Still, at least we had no car trouble (which could have been truly disastrous, given my lack of any leash or collar for her.)

Once we entered our garage, she started to perk up, and by the time she was racing for the house, she seemed exultant. She greeted Tucker with something approach ecstasy, and he was pretty happy to see her.

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Now we’re readjusting to Puppy Life. (Actually, it doesn’t feel that hard.)