Castration is no fun at all

Adagio looks like a black Labrador Retriever, but he’s actually one-sixteenth Golden Retriever. Because he is not a purebred, he had to have his testicles removed today.

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That seems unfair, doesn’t it? Not to mention smacking of eugenics (except that so-called “science” was designed to improve humans, not dogs.) Females chosen for CCI’s breeding program can be a mix, so the girls are almost never spayed before they go in for their Advance Training (in the course of which, the decisions are made about who will be chosen to be a breeder). The situation is different for the males. I’m not sure why, but CCI has developed a policy dictating that only purebred labs or Goldens can sire CCI puppies. Next week Steve and I plan to attend a lecture about the breeding program, so maybe we’ll understand it all better after that.

What we have understood for months, however, is that we would have to get Adagio neutered when he reached his 8-month birthday. That milestone came last Thursday. We had called his vet the week before and were told the doctor didn’t recommend castration until dogs reach their one-year birthdays. So we called CCI to ask more directly about this timing. The puppy program assistant manager told us yes; the organization has come to believe the males’ personalities develop best if the boys lose their little reproductive organs at eight months, rather than later.

So it was that this morning at 7:30, Steve took Adagio in. Our pup walked into the office perky, wagging his tail. Steve retrieved him around 5 pm, and the sight of him as he stumbled across the patio upon their return broke my heart. His eyes were bloodshot and drooping. He was moving slowly, looking dazed. Worst of all, for a week or so, he will have to wear the dreaded cone to prevent him from licking the surgical site and pulling out his sutures.

We are hoping he will perk up tomorrow. He should be able to begin eating normally then. I will be very happy to have this behind us.

Before:IMG_3073.jpgAnd after…IMG_3075.jpg

 

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Double trouble

The truth is, I was delighted by the opportunity to puppy-sit Apple, Adagio’s littermate. Her puppy-raiser departed on a week-long vacation early Friday morning, so Apple arrived at our house mid-day Thursday. She looks a lot like her younger brother, but Steve and I can tell them apart. Fittingly, she’s a bit smaller and her face is more delicate. Adagio worships her; her arrival triggered paroxysms of joy.

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Apple is the one on the left.

It’s also true that living with two 5-and-a-half-month old labradors is more trouble than living with one. The worst thing about these two is that neither one has learned to ask to go outside, when they need a potty break. To avoid accidents, we have to remember to take them both out every hour or two, and that’s more work with two than one.

I think they have taught each each other a few bad things. For example, I’ve caught Apple fishing used kleenex out of my wastebasket (something Adagio had not routinely done before). His sis then shared her plunder with him, and I found them both happily chewing on soggy wads. Another time one of them grabbed a roll of paper towels within reach, and they were unrolling it when I noticed this action and snatched it away from them. “They’re as bad as monkeys,” I marveled. “Oh no. Monkeys would be much worse,” Steve said. “Monkeys have hands.”

Still, the pleasure of watching the two of them interact has outweighed the nuisances. They walk beautifully on their leashes, Apple even better than Adagio, so we have taken them with us to the coffeeshop.

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Steve’s been waiting outside with them while I go in.

They have no sense of personal space, so they chew on each other interminably, taking things out of each other’s mouths at will. Each one periodically tries to hump the other. (Fortunately, Apple should still be a few months away from her first heat.) They’re both extraordinarily verbal dogs, so as they wrestle, they emit fearsome growls, as well as yelps, screams, gurgles, and sometimes just a lot of heavy breathing

They seem radiant with happiness to be near each other. And they do periodically crash.

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Apple will go to another puppy-sitter tomorrow afternoon. We’ll all be sad to see her leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.