News blast

I just got an email from Jan Ford, with the subject line, “You are going to love this puppy!!!” and the following photo:

That’s pretty tantalizing, in the best possible way. (Hard to believe, as we’re rolling along in a bus through the Andes, that we’ll finally get to meet her one week from today!) 

Puppy news from abroad

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!”

She has arrived! 

Although we’re in Colombia having adventures that I’m blogging about on my travel site, I received a thrilling email this afternoon while barreling along in a bus along the Carribean coastline east of Cartagena, returning for an outing to a “mud volcano.” It informed us that Beverly had arrived in San Diego, where Jan Ford will be providing her with foster care (assisted by Cyndy Carlton) until we get back home June 15. From this distance she looks AWFULLY cute to me:

I’m hoping to get some more updates and/or photos in the coming days. I’ll try to post them as much as I can.

Our next CCI puppy adventure — coming soon!

Here’s Beverly!

Once you’ve turned in one CCI puppy (as we just did with Kyndall), what’s the best time to get another one — assuming you’re willing to go through the whole crazy adventure again?

Steve and I knew that we were (that crazy). But we were wracked by indecision over the timing. We’ve been traveling more in recent years, and although a virtual army of CCI volunteers stands ready to help with puppy-sitting (for which we’ve repeatedly expressed our gratitude over the years), we sometimes worry about imposing on the puppy-sitters’ generosity too much. Plus, arranging all the puppy-sitting takes time and attention. With a couple of trips on the horizon, we wondered if we should take a break.

But, then, what time would ever be better than now? We vacillated.
Then we were swept into a decision a few weeks ago at puppy class, when another long-time puppy-raiser (Cyndy Carlton) asked what our plans were for raising again. She also told us, with great excitement, that some “Phyllis puppies” would soon be available. When I asked her what Phyllis puppies were, she gave me some information, but I was still confused. Mainly what I took as the bottom line was: these were likely to be awesome puppies, and we should make every effort to get one when they arrived at the beginning of June. I pointed out that Steve and I wouldn’t even be home then. We’re about to leave on a trip to Colombia from which we won’t return until June 15. But Cyndy brushed that away. Jan Ford (another veteran puppy-raiser) would happily foster our puppy (should we be lucky enough to get one). I checked, and Jan confirmed this. 

So, impulsively, I sent an email up to CCI asking if I could apply for one of these magical puppies. Becky Hein, the puppy program manager, warned that she didn’t know if any would be available; she would have to defer to the existing waiting list. But just a week later, we got another email announcing we could get a yellow lab-golden offspring of Phyllis. The pup’s name would be Beverly. 

So the way things now stand, Steve and I will depart on our trip Saturday (May 28). Beverly will fly down from Northern California next Wednesday, June 1. Cyndy will pick her up at the airport and transport her to Jan (who has a childcare business that she runs from her home). Jan will take care of Beverly until our return on June 15. 

This all feels so unorthodox to me. It also means we won’t get to experience Beverly when she’s at her smallest and most adorable. On the other hand, I know for a fact that Jan is a truly gifted puppy-raiser. It’s not unimaginable that we might get home to find Beverly already sleeping through the night — and house-trained.

That’s probably a pipe dream. I did learn more about why Cyndy and Jan are so excited about the puppies of Phyllis (Beverly’s mother). Phyllis is the daughter of Emerald, an apparently awesome dog whom Cyndy raised. It’s possible that Beverly will be as awesome as her Grand-dam. I hope she is. And no matter what, I’m glad the hope of that coming to pass forced our hand.   

A joyful reunion

Last night Lisa returned to pick up Kora, the year-old CCI pup that who’s been living with us while Lisa was off traveling. She didn’t arrive until around 8 p.m., when I think Kora was a little sleepy. When we called Kora into the front room, where Lisa was waiting, she took a few minutes to react. But then she seemed to slowly get overcome with joy.

Lisa looked pretty happy too. (But now we’re puppy-less.  At least for the moment.)

052016 Lisa and Kora

<p><a href=”″>Lisa’s homecoming</a> from <a href=”″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


Will a watched pup go into heat?

010916 Waiting1Waiting for Kyndall to go into her second heat, I feel like I’m eyeballing the proverbial pot for signs of boiling. Not only has it been more than six months since Kyndall’s first heat began, but Monday morning, her older sister, Kihei, started. And last time, Kyndall was just a few days behind Kihei.

So I’ve been on edge all week, looking for signs. Swelling. Drips. The one thing we’ve noticed is that Mr. Tucker seems to be sniffing her lady parts with more interest than normal (he may be fixed, but he’s not dead). Still, there’s nothing more than that yet, and Steve says I’m paying too much attention to all of this.

Maybe. It’s not like the situation with Dionne, where she went into heat right before Turn-in (and thus missed the whole ceremony). Still, the timing does impact our lives. As soon as she starts, one of us will have to transport Kyndall up to Oceanside; that always ends up being at least a 2-hour activity. Moreover, if she doesn’t start soon, she’ll likely miss the opportunity to go up to the mountains with us at the end of the month, where I’ve been hoping to introduce her to snow.

So I check and check.

010916 Waiting2
She knows the drill; almost does an automatic Roll when I approach.

Viva las potty breaks!

When Conde Nast readers recently rated Las Vegas hotels, the Venetian came in third overall. The article in which I read this mentions the hotel’s re-creation of the Grand Canal, the gondola rides, the remote-controlled curtains, the 39 restaurants. But I know what Kyndall would mention: the doggy toilet.120315 Strip

It’s discrete, not marked on the property map. It runs behind a fence along the south perimeter. The only indicator for humans that this is, indeed, intended to be a place for canines to, ahem, do their business is a poop-bag dispenser and an injunction to “clean up after  your pet.” But dogs instantly understand that this is the TRUE Strip: the mother of all fascinating smells,  a veritable Library of Congress of odors, a mega-jackpot of intriguing aromas. It blew Dionne’s mind when I discovered it with her two years ago, and Kyndall is similarly dazzled. I like it because it says to a dog, better than 100,000 rippling neon lights ever could: this is THE PLACE for you to pee and poop!

I appreciate that, but it still grosses me out. Although the area doesn’t strike my nose as being smelly, the artificial grass surface always feels squishy when I walk on it, as if it’s been peed on so much it can never, ever dry out. While most of the owners may follow directions and clean up after their furry friends, some have done so ineptly. I think some of the smears were here two years ago. Remembering this, I made a special point to bring rubber-soled slip-ons that I remove just inside our room when we return from every potty break. I immediately stow them on a high shelf within the room’s closet.

But I’m not complaining. From our current room, Kyndall and I can reach the Doggy Strip in less than 5 minutes, and she hasn’t come close to having any indoor accidents or even making me nervous that she might do so.

The other thing that entrances her about The Venetian is the view from our 31st story window. I haven’t the faintest idea what she finds so fascinating about it.

120315 view
When the remote-controlled curtains are open, she sits transfixed, staring and staring. I don’t get it.



Kyndall slays Las Vegas

Having been introduced to casino life in Reno this summer, Kyndall has moved on to the big time.120215 Vegas girls

Steve and I drove with her to the Las Vegas Strip yesterday afternoon, and she and I have settled into a little routine at the Venetian Resort and Casino.

120215 Venice
Good thing I’m not much of a water dog, or I might be tempted to jump into one of the faux canals.

Gambling wasn’t on our agenda. Steve’s here for work, and as I have done in the past, I packed up my computer and set up shop in our hotel room. I first did this with Brando six years ago (at the Mandalay Bay), and I was stunned by the reactions his presence seemed to generate. People fawned over him! They exclaimed and took his picture and all but followed us. I chalked it up to the startling juxtaposition of innocent little puppy with the anti-Nature vibe that’s the essence of Vegas. Two years ago, I returned with Dionne, who was then 14 months old. Somehow she didn’t get the same ardent reactions Brando got. I theorized that maybe it was her color (coal black instead of blonde). Still, she and I had some fun, so I decided to try it once more with Kyndall. It didn’t take me long to conclude: when it comes to puppies in Las Vegas, at least, blondes are more adorable.

Guards and security personnel wave us past with love-struck eyes. (Obviously no terrorist or thief would have a blonde puppy, right?) Gamblers stop in their tracks and ask for a “puppy fix.”

120215 Fan
This young lady asked if she could visit us in San Diego to learn how to train puppies.  Seriously.

Kyndall has been flawless. I can’t count the number of times we’ve walked right by the spot where Dionne squatted down next to a bank of elevators here at the Venetian and peed a LAKE. So far, Kyndall seems light years beyond such a transgression. We’ve gone for a couple of long walks down the Strip and in the casino, and she’s been curious and interested at all the odd sights. But unflappable.

120215 Stairs
Some of the staircases could make a girl feel like a movie star.

I’ll try to push her a bit more today and Thursday. But so far, she seems born to the neon life.

120215 mirror
Does this cape make me look fat?




Happy birthday, Mr. T!

Today Tucker turns 11 years old.  Ten years and 10 months ago (approximately), Steve and I picked him up from the CCI facility in Oceanside and embarked on our career as puppy-raisers.

113015 Tucker1
Tucker today

I was so smitten by him. He was my first male dog. First first blonde dog — a sweetly goofy package of soft white fur that I quickly became convinced was a canine prodigy. I remember reporting to the puppy program director about how intensely he paid attention to me. Steve and I thought he learned with great speed.

113015 Tucker 10 weeks old
At 10 weeks, he was already acquiring his trademark jowls.
113015 Tucker drooling
By six months, he had mastered the art of drooling.

I also remember the feeling of blood draining from my face when I received the call informing me he was being released from Advanced Training for excessive energy and distractibility. Asked if we wanted to take him back, we never hesitated. As soon as our pre-existing non-CCI dog (Pearl) died, we acquired our next CCI puppy, and Tucker settled easily into the role of babysitter, protector, and (often) annoyed older brother.

113015 Tucker babysitter
Here he is with Darby (puppy #3)

We’ve never regretted keeping him, even though we have since taken the pledge not to keep any more CCI release dogs. Tucker is one of the easiest, friendliest dogs I’ve ever known. He sleeps a lot these days (he’s always enjoyed a good snooze, preferably in the doorway, his favorite napping spot.) But take him to any gathering of dogs, and he perks up like a young’un. Steve and I often declare that he’s the ultimate party animals. Even now, at 11.

113015 Tucker napping

We should probably have organized a party for him here, but instead we’ll take him to Darby’s house, where he’ll stay with her and her family for a couple of days. He’ll love that. He always enjoys a change of pace.

While he’s there, Kyndall and I will be deep in an extended training session — in Las Vegas. How will she take to the lights, the noise, the crowds? Stay tuned.

Slo-mo silliness

A few weeks ago, our multi-talented friend Bob Schneider (dog lover, schutzhund competitor, photographer, videographer) passed along some links to the work of a photographer named Carli Davidson that he knew I would enjoy. Davidson recently has been capturing hilarious freeze-frame images of dogs in mid-shake. They’re highly amusing, but I was even more tickled by the slow-motion videos produced by Davidson and the production company Variable. Just try to watch them and not laugh.

I commented to Bob and Alberto Lau that it would be fun if we could catch Kyndall in the act of shaking. Bob and Albie are very intrepid. They’re working on a documentary film project about puppy-raising that substantially focuses on Kyndall, and they immediately took the bait.

It wasn’t easy! To get her wet, I had to pour water on poor Kyndall’s head with a watering can, torment to which she reacted reproachfully; none of us had the heart to do it too many times. Dogs don’t shake themselves dry for very long in real time, so it was tricky for the guys to catch the action. Their fancy cameras took a long time to record what they got.

Still, we felt that the following succeeded at least to some extent. (Kyndall doesn’t want to do any re-takes.)