The ice puppy cometh (Here!)

We continue to think Adagio’s biggest idiosyncrasy is his oddball response to our opening  his kennel door. Every other CCI pup we’ve raised has sprung to its feet, tagging wagging, and rushed out. But Adagio usually doesn’t budge, even when he’s been whining (as he did this morning at 5:30 am). We implore him to emerge, but he just sits there, languid, gazing at us. We don’t get it, though we suspect this quirk may run in his family. (Last week in puppy class, his sister Apple did it after being directed to enter the class kennel as an exercise. She promptly went in. Then refused to come out. Everyone was most amused.)

I’m starting to work on a new approach: training Adagio that kennel exits get him really wonderful treats. One of his favorite things in the world is ice. (Again, God knows why.)

When he sits in the kennel in Steve’s office, I’ve started going to the nearby fridge, opening the freezer, and extracting a cube or two. Adagio knows this sound and comes at a gallop.

I’ve also started practicing the Here game with him. We invented this activity years ago, when we would return from a walk with our current pup and Tucker. At the front door, we would remove their leashes but make them sit outside while I entered the house. After increasingly long intervals, I would then utter a piercing, “Here!” They clearly loved this ritual, and in all the years we’ve done it, I’ve never had a puppy stop focusing on the treat inside the house and wander off down the block.

Tucker’s now too old to go on long walks with us, but I’ve modified the game a bit and have introduced Adagio to it. I’m also doing it in the back yard. I make him and Tucker sit and stay, then I walk some distance away. Tension builds. Often the dogs start drooling. Finally, I command, “Here!” and they race toward me (Adagio races, Tucker ambles as fast as he can.) It’s obvious they think this is great fun.

It has occurred to me that I need to practice all this with Adagio — luring him with the ice; playing the Here game. Eventually I figure I’ll open the kennel door. Take one step away. Cry “Here!” And he’ll rocket out. That’s the plan.

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Car fun

Puppy class was unusually fun last night. There were only four of us in Kinderpup, for some reason, which made the pace mellow. One of the highlights was introducing the gang to the “Car” command, using the back of our teacher, Kay’s car. Since everyone was so young (around 5 months), we lifted them up and helped them in. Chaos ensued: a writhing tangle of tussling puppies. It is a miracle that Kathy Bennett, raiser of Bryce (on the far left), managed to capture this deceptive image of them looking so well mannered.

Note that Adagio (third from right) and his sister, Apple (half-prone), are not exactly in perfect position. (Wait till next year!)

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Adagio’s kidneys

So, roughly $160 poorer, we now know that Adagio’s kidneys are probably just fine. As I reported the other day, we freaked out when, after two accident-free weeks, he suddenly seemed seized by an urgent need to pee every few minutes. Including in the house.

It made us fear he might have developed a bladder infection. So, bleary-eyed, both Steve and I staggered out with him shortly after dawn Tuesday to collect urine. Steve delivered it to the vet’s, and several hours later, he and Adagio returned to learn the results. The good news was that the test found normal levels of sugar in Adagio’s pee (so: no diabetes!) Also no evidence of a bladder infection. Less good was the presence of higher- than-average protein precipitates. This might signal trouble with his kidneys, the vet said. Given our frightful experience with Beverly (Adagio’s half-sister) and her malformed kidneys, we agreed to have blood taken from him for examination.

The vet called late on Wednesday with more good news: his kidney-function values were normal. So why the sudden peeing frenzy? Why the protein crystals? We don’t have a clue. But at least our vet now seems unworried about Adagio’s renal health. When I spoke with the puppy program director yesterday, she also sounded unconcerned. Apparently some vets think protein crystals in dog pee is reason to switch the dog to special food. But others think it’s perfectly normal and doesn’t mean anything.

If the vet and Becky aren’t worried, Steve and I have resolved not to worry either. Furthermore, Adagio is once again relieving himself predictably — outside the house.

Given that, I decided today to take him for the first time with me grocery shopping. My list wasn’t long — maybe two dozen items. He accompanied Steve on a short excursion earlier in the week, and that went okay. So I crossed my fingers, caped him, and loaded him into the car kennel.

I have to confess, I found our time together to be somewhat nerve-wracking. Adagio is still less than five months old, and being in such noisy places, filled with so many people and smells, he looked a little amazed (to the extent that the face of a coal-black dog can communicate wonder.) Shopping for even just two-dozen items involves some searching and decision-making. If you have a dog with you, that dog has to take the inevitable pauses and back-tracking in stride. Adagio isn’t used to that, and he was prone to distraction.

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Where was the coarse-ground Vons brand pepper? I searched and searched before concluding it was out of stock. Adagio found this incomprehensible and boring.

Still, he didn’t bark or lunge at anyone. He had many admirers, and for the most part he sat obediently as they questioned me and showered him with praise. Best of all, he had no accidents in Vons. Or Trader Joes. Or Sprouts. Not a drop of inappropriate pee. By the time we give him back to CCI in November of 2019, he’ll be expected to conduct himself flawlessly in any sort of public setting. So this was a small but necessary start.

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Some weeks I return with two or three times this amount of groceries. We’re going to work our way up to going together on such occasions.

 

 

Fast puppy, slow puppy

Being a serial puppy raiser provides constant reminders of just how much difference you often see between even close biological relatives. One dog (or puppy) is never exactly like another. Our last trainee, Beverly, who was Adagio’s half sister, always lay down before her food bowl and carefully chewed each morsel. But Adagio tears through every bowlful as if he has not eaten in weeks. He doesn’t chew anything; instead it looks like he’s inhaling the kibble and swallowing it whole. Meals are over in less than 30 seconds, as you see in the video I took of him having lunch today. (I’m not counting the postprandial search for any remaining molecules.)


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/261917274″>My Movie 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user25079241″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

If he eats like a newly released concentration-camp survivor, his reaction to being uncaged is at the other end of the spectrum. Never before have we lived with any dog who seemed less interested in getting out of its kennel — even after hours of confinement.  Or even after he has been whining to get out, first thing in the morning. He just looks at us, cool and languid. Like this:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/261918939″>My Movie 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user25079241″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

We’re dumfounded by this. Why doesn’t he spring to his feet, tail wagging, like almost all other puppies do?

Only this morning did I think of one possible explanation. Saturday I took Adagio to the puppy social at the home of Cyndy Carlton (who is raising Adagio’s littermate, Apple). We were jointly wondering which of the two is the elder. There’s an easy way to tell: CCI has a color-coding system for distinguishing litter mates. The first-born gets a red collar. Next is blue, then purple, and so on.

I looked up one of the photos that we received from Adagio and Apple’s puppy-raiser when they were still with her. Apple is wearing neon green. So she was the fourth born. Adagio was turquoise. That means he was eighth — out of the total of eight pups in the group. Which led me to my theory. He came out last, being born. Maybe he’s just developed the habit of hanging back.

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Baby Adagio, left, with baby Apple

 

Sleepyhead

IMG_1610.JPGI’m not sure Adagio is quite as sleepy a puppy as his half-sister Beverly was. But he naps a LOT. This makes life with him pretty easy.

Normally he sleeps through the night and wakes somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am. He eats breakfast and enjoys a burst of activity then, racing around the house and/or yard, barking at Tucker, playing with various toys. We’ve started to take him on longer walks close to home; this morning we made it all the way to the coffee shop and back on foot, with no time in the stroller; he’s doing better and better on the leash. Then around 9 or 9:30, he starts to sag and he’s ready for a long morning nap. He wakes up around noon for a little lunchtime break, and then he usually will settle down for more… sleeping!

His MOST favorite place to sleep is plastered up against Tucker, who has already come to tolerate this pretty well.

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Otherwise, he seems to enjoy sprawling in a number of weird positions. Like this:

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Or this:

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Even after he wakes up, when we open the kennel or the exercise pen and invite him out, he often just sits there, imperious, unmoving. We have to reach in and yank him out. IMG_1608.jpg

We haven’t conclusively exited from Puppy Hell yet. (We’re still working to communicate with one another about when he needs to go out and pee.) But life already feels much easier than it was five and a half weeks ago. (“Five weeks?!” Steve exclaimed this morning. “Haven’t it been five months?”)

No. It’s only been a five and a half weeks.

 

A better pup

Our collecting Adagio’s poop sample yesterday, driving it over to the vet’s, and paying $45 for the analysis apparently propitiated the puppy gods! This morning we got the call that the lab found nothing amiss in the sample. And better still: Adagio was the model of good puppy health all day yesterday.

In the evening, he performed much better in puppy class, with less barking and yowling. Back at home, he crashed, sleeping not only the rest of the evening, but straight through from 10 pm to a little after 6 am, when I woke him. His kennel was dry, and out in the back yard, all the solid waste production was very solid indeed. This has continued today.

Steve has another theory about what worked (an alternative to the placating-the-gods theory). We followed CCI’s online advice for puppy diarrhea and cut Adagio back to just 3/4 cup of puppy chow three times a day. He also gets a fair number of treat bits (as part of his current training regime), and Steve speculates that maybe before the cutback it was just too much food for his little system to handle.

One thing that’s clear: he’s a very hungry little puppy now, one who now gobbles down his food without trying to paw off the halter (which we’re still putting on during meals, to build an association between it and something wonderful, i.e. food). Despite this (temporary) cutback in the chow, he’s still growing at an impressive pace.

The first photo below shows what he looked like two days after we got him last month, when he was 2 months old. I took the second one yesterday, on his 3-month birthday.

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It’s a pretty remarkable transformation!

A dirty mouth

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Sometimes Adagio looks older than his days (all 74 of them). Is he worrying about the state of his gut? Is that why he’s eating dirt?

Steve and I often roll our eyes over the fact that all puppies do the same things. I could tick off a half-dozen behaviors that every one of our CCI charges has engaged in during their youngest days (they all love to squeeze into tiny spaces such as under the couch, they all chew up their bedding, etc.) But some come up with novel tricks. Kyndall, for example, was the only one who gobbled up fallen hibiscus blooms. Adagio is the only one who eats dirt.

At first we thought he was merely smelling it. Or licking it.

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It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on.

But close observation has revealed that often he is transferring the grains of soil from the ground into his mouth, where they are masticated (briefly), and swallowed.

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Sometimes there’s telltale evidence.

We have no idea why he does this, or how bad it is for him. I plan to ask other puppy raisers what they’ve experienced; maybe even consult with one of the CCI experts.

An interesting coincidence is that, along with Adagio, we were given a week’s supply of “Pro-Pectalin tablets.” We’d never heard of them before, but a note explained that the CCI national veterinarians have begun to recommend the stuff “for pups with soft stool. Pro-Pectalin contains kaolin and pectin in addition to a probiotic (to restore good bacteria to the GI tract.)”

Adagio hasn’t had any diarrhea, and his stools are about the same as those of most puppies we know (sometimes firm and sometimes goopy). But we shrugged and gave him the pills (which he eagerly consumed). We used them all up and didn’t plan to buy more; they’re not cheap.

We’re not sure that Adagio’s dirt-consumption has increased since we finished up the pills. But as far as I know, kaolin is a form of clay. Could he be eating the dirt because he’s craving the clay in it for some reason? We’re leaning toward a month-long trial of more of the pills (along with tight limitations on his snacking in the flowerbeds.)