I was pretty sure Beverly would go into heat before her first birthday. Steve bet me ($5) that she wouldn’t. He won. For weeks, I’ve been making her roll and checking for the swelling that normally precedes each cycle, but I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary.
Although I lost the bet (and my $5), I’ve been scared that she would start sometime in the past week or two. If that had happened, we would have had to take her to the kennel (either at the CCI campus in Oceanside or to an alternative facility). CCI typically does not spay the female puppies until after they’ve begun their advance training, since there they they might be selected to be a breeder. But they don’t want to risk the girls accidentally getting pregnant — or to subject puppyraisers to what is invariably a pretty messy interlude. That’s why the kennel stay is mandatory, and it usually lasts about three weeks.
I was worried about the timing because Steve and I are about to depart on some extended travels in Arabia and Uganda. I’ve arranged for Beverly’s care in our absence, but adding Beverly-in-heat to the mix would have been a bit of a nightmare.
That still could happen. I’m writing this post from the airport in LA. We dropped Beverly off at her first set of sitters yesterday afternoon. She’ll be with John and Diana for two weeks, then she’ll spend a long weekend with Susan and Frank. After that she’ll return to our house, for care by a team that includes our housesitter, our son, and a friend and former puppy-raiser who lives just a few blocks from our house.
If Beverly goes into heat while we’re gone, everyone knows that she needs to go to the kennel. I’m confident it will all work out.
And somehow, even though we’re all still waiting for her to go into heat, I suspect it will feel less urgent from the other side of the globe.
My dictionary defines “dog days”as “the hottest period of the year.” Although the term supposedly derives from the time of year when Sirius (the so-called dog star) is rising, I’ve always thought of it as meaning “so hot the dogs lay around like slugs.” But actually, most dogs are pretty sluggish all the time, and when it comes to periods of enforced, morose inactivity, nothing beats a protracted California winter storm.
We’re in the midst of one now, and after all our years of drought, I’m enjoying the drenching fury outside. But I think Beverly and Tucker hate it. We can’t go out and walk together; it’s been pouring off and on. They shrink even from going out to relieve themselves.
So they sleep and look sad (and maybe dream about August, when they may pant more than normal, but the ground is littered with ripe figs.) The weather forecasters are predicting this current system will last for four more days. Hooooooooowl.
Beverly turned 8 months old Friday. Already, she’s better behaved than any of our 6 previous CCI puppies were when we turned them in for advanced training (at 18 months). I just looked at some of my posts from previous pups and noted that when Dionne was 10 months old, she was standing up at kitchen counters to scan for food she could snatch. Dionne was also eating dog poop (voraciously!) and destroying shoes and other household items on a daily basis.
Darby at 8 months was still having toileting accidents in the house. She also had become addicted to jumping into our pool and doing laps, after which she would dash, dripping, into the house.
In contrast, Beverly was housebroken so quickly I almost can’t remember her ever relieving herself in the house (she must have, a few times, but it’s gone from my recollection). She walks on the leash better than any dog we’ve ever lived with. She’s sweet and attentive and she doesn’t seem to mind getting caped up and going out on expeditions.
She’s even won Mr. Tucker’s aging heart. We are thrilled to be able to live with her for another 11 months!
Life with Beverly continues to be mellow. And she’s making some progress learning new commands. I love the way she now dashes into her kennel every mealtime, then Sits and Stays patiently while I put down her bowl, close the kennel door, and lock it. Only when I announce, “Okay!” does she spring forward to gobble down her serving of kibble.
She’s also gotten quite good about obeying the Wait command when we’re about to enter the neighborhood coffee house. But she also had a couple of maddening mental blocks.
The worse is her response to the Down command. If we hold a morsel of food and lead her into it, Beverly seems perfectly content to sink into the position. We praise her effusively and make it clear that our praise is in response to her going DOWN! We’ve done this now, conservatively, At least 10,000 times.
But when we release her and order her Down without using the lure, she sits and stares and acts like we’ve just addressed her in Bantu. Sometimes she cocks her head in puzzlement, like a cartoon puzzled dog. Eventually, we use the lure again, and she responds instantly. Here’s what the whole burlesque looks like:
There’s comes a time in every one of our puppies’ lives when we take them to the movies for the first time. I mean, of course, to a real movie theater with big screens (not just our friend Alberto’s Friday Night at the Movies gatherings in Hillcrest). For Beverly, it came last night.
Having nothing else to do, Steve and I and our younger son decided to catch a screening of Hell or High Water at the Fashion Valley mall. I bought tickets online, so we got there at the very last minute, and to our dismay found the only empty seats were in the first row. But since we had Beverly with us, this turned out to be a blessing, particularly as the seats weren’t horribly close to the screen, the location gave us lots of room to spread out Beverly’s “place mat,”and it was easy to keep an eye on her.
I needed to pay attention. Although she stretched out and snoozed for one 20-minute period, she squirmed a lot and spent a lot of time trying to explore under my seat, where I can only assume popcorn morsels were present. She paid almost no attention to the screen (except for one moment when the Jeff Bridges character’s coonhound appeared. She thought that was interesting.)
Still, we’ve seen a lot worse behavior, over the years. She didn’t make a sound. Didn’t have any toileting errors or stick her nose into anyone else’s affairs.
With the improvements in home-based movie-viewing and programming options, we don’t get out to the big screen as much as we once did. But after last night’s experience, we wouldn’t hesitate to take Beverly with us again.
While we’re roaming around Colombia, I’ve received a few bulletins from the troops back in San Diego who’ve been documenting and hosting Beverly. Our videographer friends Alberto Lau and Bob Schneider, who are still working on their film about puppy-raising, were at the airport to record Beverly’s arrival Friday. They sent some photos, along with Albie’s report that Beverly seemed “very calm and sweet, in contrast with the other pup that arrived on the same flight.”
Someone also captured Beverly’s first bath, at Cyndy Carlton’s home.
And this morning Jan Ford, with whom Beverly is staying, wrote to say, “Your puppy is very sweet. She was just a tad over 10 pounds when she got here but that won’t last long. She is a good eater having no problem with dry kibble. She knows where I keep it and reminds me of an upcoming meal.
“Her crate is not her favorite place and she tells you all about it!!!! I hope to have her sleeping all night soon. A little fan worked wonders last night.”
Ten pounds sounds tiny to me! I don’t think any of our previous CCI pups have been that little. And calm sweetness sounds even better. This sounds like a wonderful puppy to me!”