An educational field trip

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.DSC00735.jpg

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.

DSC00740 2Going down the slide was scarier, but he managed to do that too.

DSC00741He walked across a wobbly bridge…DSC00745…did an Up on a turtle. (We don’t have those in our regular classroom.)DSC00753 2.jpg…and an Under under a concrete bench.DSC00760 2.jpg

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.DSC00766 2.jpg

A couple of picnickers were eating something that looked and smelled interesting. But no one lunged to help themselves to a taste.

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The dogs walked calmly, then Kay directed us to a little dock where more strange sights and smells surrounded the crew.

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Dark had descended by the time we broke up. Everyone looked a little tired but content.DSC00796

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.

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Safari dog

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!

IMG_3130.jpgI 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.

 

IMG_3132.jpgWe 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.

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But they looked SO MUCH like puppy chew toys!

Missing class

DSC00218 2.jpgAdagio’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.

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That’s Kay, second from the left.

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:

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A utility box (Adagio was a little nervous, but he did it.)
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An unfinished property wall

At an intersection, we had the dogs Sit on the bumpy surface of the wheelchair access ramp.

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Odd, Adagio thought. But not intolerable.

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.

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Kay brought Levi, the adorable young Golden she’s currently raising. He was pretty distracting — to all the humans at least!

Good news and better news

IMG_3083.jpgThe good news is that Adagio seems to be recovering beautifully from his neutering surgery Monday. When I went to his kennel Tuesday morning, he sprang to his feet, tail wagging in spite of the cone. The woeful, crying animal of the night before had vanished — and has not reappeared since.

Equally encouraging news is that Adagio recently overcame his terror of walking up the open-tread stairs in the building where our friend Alberto lives (and to which Adagio accompanies us almost every week for our movie-night gatherings).  A month ago, he was still cringing and digging his feet in, rigid with fear when asked to ascend “the Tower of Terror,” as Steve referred to it. But two weeks ago, some invisible switch flipped. He had made progress going up a limited number of stairs at puppy class a few nights before. Maybe the lesson learned there stuck. Whatever, the reason, he sashayed up the two flights of condo stairs as if no problem had ever existed:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/281018653″>Victory over the open stairs!</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user25079241″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

We’re proud of him — and relieved. His half-sister Beverly never overcame her fear of those same stairs. It’s nice to know this, at least, will not stand between him and eventual success.

The small amount of bad news, such as it is, is that Adagio supposedly will have to continue wearing the cone for another week or so. (Our vet’s post-surgical instructions said 10-14 days.) He doesn’t seem to mind it that much; seems actually less resistant to our putting it on than to his cape. But it can’t be pleasant to bash into things, which happens a lot when he’s wearing it.

We’re starting to give him limited amounts of time out of it when we can watch closely to make sure he’s not licking or biting at the stitches. And we’ve seen none of that behavior so far. Maybe if this persists, life will be almost back to normal for Adagio — minus the stair fear — soon rather than later.

 

 

On a tear

Adagio has a new hobby! Suddenly, he has gotten the notion into his brain that it is fun to extract papers from the recycling bin in Steve’s office, rip them into shreds, and strew them about. He attacks them with a gusto startling in a fellow who normally prefers to spend so much of his time sleeping.IMG_3010.jpgIMG_3015.jpg

In the thick catalog of possible puppy sins, I know this is a peccadillo. Also, Steve and I appreciate the fact that it’s the worst thing Adagio has done in his short (not-yet-8-month-old life). He could be destroying important papers stolen from our desktops. He could be gnawing on our shoes or our appliances. Instead he’s targeting items that are already slated for destruction.

Still, it’s annoying to have to sweep up the shreds, plus destroying any household item is precisely the sort of thing CCI puppy raisers are supposed to train their charges NOT to do. We understand we must nip this in the bud. Steve argued at first we should try stern verbal corrections. Adagio is such a docile fellow, that seemed like it might work.

But we’ve tried it now for a couple of days, with no success. So now Plan B is to set him up to sneak into the office, spy on him until he begins his attack, then jump out and blast him with our squirt bottle. (It has water in it at the moment, but if necessary, we can add vinegar to make it more repellant.)

This plan will require us to give the problem more discipline and attention than we’re accustomed to directing at Adagio. But we know our duty. Stay tuned for a report on the results.

 

Mortified in Costco

I thought we passed a milestone last week, when I took the my Toileting Errors log sheet off the refrigerator and stuck it in Adagio’s file. He had not had one accident since April 27, and I confirmed that his record with the puppy-sitters while we were traveling was excellent. No accidents. IMG_3002.jpg

I was feeling a little smug Saturday morning when I took him to Costco with me. When I ordered him to Hurry in one of the parking lot planter/islands, he complied immediately and copiously. Closer to the entrance, I took him to another good spot and issued the order again. After quite a bit of sniffing, he pooped on command. I disposed of the little blue baggie in a trash bin, and we sashayed into the warehouse, confident.

We loaded jerky treats into our cart, then I picked out a nice piece of fish for our Father’s Day dinner. I was about to head for the vitamin section when I thought to check on what was available in the way of berries. Adagio seemed a bit resistant to entering the chilly produce room with me, but I wasn’t paying too much attention to him. And then I was — noticing the large puddle of urine that was materializing directly underneath him.

Of course I had no clean-up tools with me. A kind shopper, noticing my distress, asked if she could help me by looking for a Costco employee. I told her I was on it, and after a moment, I found a worker entering the store’s dairy section.

“Uh, my service dog puppy trainee just peed in the produce department,” I said. I couldn’t resist adding that this had happened despite my having him pee right before we entered. The guy stared at me, impassive, as he reached for his walk-talky and spoke into it. “Rob, can you go to produce with a mop? There’s a wet-spill cleanup.”

I liked that euphemism. Adagio and I slunk through check-out and out the door. In the parking lot, I ordered him to pee again. And he did!

Clearly he was having one of those days where he seems to need to urinate every 10 minutes. Yet they’re fairly rare, and he had no more accidents for the rest of the day, even though he later accompanied Steve to four grocery stores. Later in the afternoon, we went out with friends to two art galleries then had dined at a restaurant together. Adagio came with us, and he received many compliments on his excellent behavior. We felt proud of him, and I’m not going to put the Toileting Error sheet back. (But I’m not going to take him to Costco again for a while.)

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Adagio, peeing in an acceptable spot

 

All legs

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?”

IMG_2992.jpgThis 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. IMG_2972.jpg

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.

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Meet Levi, much hairier than Adagio. Blonder too.

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:IMG_2036.jpg

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. IMG_2038.jpg

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.