A breakthrough?

Steve says I shouldn’t write this; that it’s too soon to say anything, lest we anger the Puppy-raising Gods. But I can’t help it: last night Dilly went through the whole night without awakening us!

Granted, it was not a super long night. We turned out the lights a few minutes after 10 pm. Sometime early in the morning, I woke up and couldn’t resist peeking at the clock. It was 4 am — far longer than this puppy had ever slept before. And still he didn’t stir. I miraculously went back to sleep and woke again around 5:10. Dilly slept on.

Steve was stirring next to me, and I could tell he was also awake. I had a fairly strong urge to pee, and I suspected Steve did too. But neither of us adult humans spoke or moved, lest we wake the baby canine and make him aware of his own full bladder. After 10 or 15 minutes, I couldn’t stand it and crept to the bathroom. Steve followed after I was finished. STILL Dilly slept on.

Only about 5:40 did he begin to whimper, at which point Steve, wide awake, sprung to take him out. “He peed a gallon,” he reported upon their return. “But NO poop.” Then he put Dilly back in his kennel (which is inches away from my side of the bed), and — another miracle! — silence returned for another 10 minutes or so.

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He’s a limber little fellow.

Now, in mid-afternoon, Dilly has produced three normal stools so far. This is enough to make me think we have beaten the diarrhea devils, through the combination of feeding him six times a day (but only a quarter cup of kibble each time), giving him supplementary Pro-Pectin and powdered pumpkin, and adding a tablespoon of low-fat cottage cheese to each feeding. Our vet’s assistant suggested the latter. We talked to her when we were dropping off a stool sample yesterday morning. The test cost $45 and came back normal. I have often found when we get desperate enough about some puppy digestive problem to pay for a stool analysis, it invariably comes back normal and the problem almost immediately disappears. So my second hypothesis is that paying the vet something somehow appeases the Puppy-raising Gods; they then cut you some slack.

Yet a third possibility was raised by Dilly’s mom’s breeder-caretaker, who told me his half-sister Zari had an allergic reaction to the anti-flea medication she was given. (Dilly developed his problem almost immediately after taking the same pill.)

I don’t know, nor do I care, which explanation is right. I just hope his gut stays happy. Even if he does wake up a few more times in the middle of the night, he’s given me hope we may all be sleeping better soon.

 

First lessons

IMG_6066.jpegThis is a time of focused education for Dilly and Steve and me. Here are some of the most important things we’ve learned so far.

DILLY:

I have no idea where my brothers and sister have gone. Or mom. But I seem to have acquired two human pack members. They seem a bit developmentally disabled. When I try to gnaw on them, they yelp and pull away, which is no fun at all as my littermates could tell them. But I can tell they like me, and I’m crazy about them, too, for reasons I can’t explain. It just feels natural.

I’ve come to understand that when they pick me up, take me outside, and say, “Hurry!” they want me to squat and pee. When I do that, they praise me lavishly. Oddly, when I look for a discreet place to do this indoors, they snatch me up and run outside. It seems to distress them when they fail to reach me before I start to relieve myself. Also, they often continue to say, “Hurry!” after I’ve peed outside, as if they want something else from me. I have found this confusing.

When they say, “Dilly! Dilly!  in a high, excited voice and I run to them, this seems to make them very happy. And that makes me happy too. IMG_6082.jpeg

Finally, when they put me in that box at night, I’ve learned no matter what noises I make or how loudly I make them, it doesn’t work as I’ve intended; they don’t release me to cuddle or play. This really upset me the first night or two, but I’m concluding this is their routine. And if I can hear them and smell them near me, I don’t feel panicky any more. I’ve got a new strategy: curl up in the box and sleep if my human pack members seem to be sleeping nearby (at least until I realize that I really, really need to be taken outside so that I can Hurry there.)

STEVE AND ME:

We’ve learned that diarrhea is very common in puppies up to 16 weeks old. We learned this by reading our CCI Puppy Manual after Dilly’s diarrheal attacks were forcing us out of bed and outside into the cold several times the first nights. Seeking guidance, we turned to the manual (which we hadn’t read because we thought we knew it all, Dilly being our 9th CCI puppy). There we found two and a half single-spaced pages of advice about Managing Puppy Diarrhea.

“Small puppies have developing digestive systems that can be overwhelmed with too much food at one time,” the manual advises. So we’ve begun feeding Dilly six meals a day, giving him only a quarter cup of kibble per meal. He seems happy and excited every time we present him with such a bowl (even if he only had the last one about two hours earlier.) But he eats like Beverly (two puppies ago), laying down and chewing each piece thoughtfully.IMG_6055.jpeg More often than not, he walks away from the bowl when there is still a sprinkling of kibble left in it. IMG_6063.jpegHe appears to grow bored with eating and hungry instead for petting (which he appears to find just as pleasurable as eating.)

We’ve also been giving him CCI-recommended tablets (Pro-Pectalin) that are a combination of probiotics, pectin, and clay (kaolin). And after hearing strong recommendations from some other seasoned puppy-raisers, we’ve ordered powdered pumpkin to sprinkle on his food.

It’s hard to tell if all this treatment is having any effect. Some of what Dilly is now excreting is semi-solid (rather than liquid), and yesterday, he excreted it more regularly during the day (instead of only at night.) He’s been peeing and pooping (outdoors and on command) just before bed, once in the middle of the night, and once as soon as he begins to hear us stir, before dawn.

And once again, I am startled and amused to be spending so much time thinking about  and spending money to influence the digestive tract of a single small animal. Just a few weeks ago, Steve and I were avidly discussing politics, philosophy, literature. Now all we seem to talk about is Dilly’s toileting habits.

From experience, I know this will end and fairly soon. It only feels like we are trapped in Toilet Mode forever.

 

Getting to know you (Dilly)

This is the tough time, when we’re adjusting not just to life with a dog once more, but more challenging: trying to sense what kind of dog this little guy will be.

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NOT a dog who would chew on shoes carelessly left within his strike zone, right?

In the past, I have referred to these days and weeks (and occasionally months) as Puppy Hell. It’s when we CCI puppy raisers earn the big bucks they pay us (ha ha.) Getting up in the middle of the night in response to screams that are likely to signal an urgent need to toilet. Cleaning up puppy diarrhea. Turning the house into a series of barricaded control zones. Being on guard every single minute the pup is not sleeping, to identify what kind of trouble he or she might be instigating.

With Dilly, we’ve been at this for only two days, so it’s far, far too early to draw any reliable conclusions about his character. But we’ve made a number of observations.

— He continues to wag his tail more than any other dog we’ve ever had, and he’s doing it at a much younger age. He wags his tail when he’s eating. When he’s walking across a room.  He wags it wildly when he catches sight of one of us and runs to be petted.

— Despite appearing to be somewhat hyperactive when we got him (Wednesday, Nov 20), he’s been napping a lot. And as we learned with Adagio, a sleepy puppy is a wonderful puppy!

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He sleeps on hard surfaces….
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…soft ones…
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…and anything in between.

— He’s no chow hound, at least not yet. He seems delighted when we present him with a half-cup of kibble morning, noon, and around 5:30 pm. He dives into it but he hasn’t yet eaten the whole allotment. That’s probably just because he’s still so small. Our fingers are crossed that he will develop more of an appetite, since pups who love food treats are easily rewarded.

— On the other hand, he seems to love being praised. That can work as well as food.

— We’ve taken him for a few short walks near our house, and he follows along with us better than any other puppy ever has at this age. He seems to pay close attention to us. We love that.

Of course, house training him and getting him to sleep through the night are not just works in progress, they are work that has barely begun. Still, we feel we’re off to an excellent start.

Our new puppy! And his predecessor!

What a red-letter day this is! We picked up our new puppy at the airport this morning. And on the drive back to our house, we received the latest report on how Adagio is going.

First the newbie: His name is…. Dilly!IMG_6034.jpeg

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Dilly’s dad

Though the DNA analysis may not yet be complete, it couldn’t be more obvious that this guy is all golden retriever, the son of Bear. We also got the report of the physical exam Dilly was given yesterday (up at CCI hq in Santa Rosa). The vet found him to be “slightly thin but otherwise healthy.” He doesn’t look thin, but all that hair is deceptive. He weighed only 10 pounds, 11 ounces, which places him among our lightest canine recipients. (Several have weighed as much as 15-16 pounds.) His slenderness may have something to do with his appetite. He didn’t finish even a half-cup of dog food at lunch time. But I figure it also may be that he’s burning up so much energy wagging his tail. He does this almost constantly.

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Our good friends, photographer/documentarians Bob Schneider, Howie Rosen, and Alberto Lau, were on hand to record Dilly’s arrival. 

From the moment he arrived, Dilly appeared to be a whirlwind of activity, racing from one side of our patio to the other while exploring it. Only a few minutes ago did he finally crash (which is why I have these precious moments to put together this report.) Even though he’s barely been in the house for two hours, it’s pretty clear we’ll be living with a pretty different sort of fellow from his sleepy, affable predecessor, Mr. Adagio.

And speaking of Adagio, we were surprised as we were driving back from the airport to receive another professional training report for him. We got the first one at the end of September, and a second one came in October, when Steve and I were traveling in New Zealand. Like the second report, I would categorize this one as a pretty solid B. His instructor reports that he’s barking less and showing less prey drive, but still occasionally does some barking and mounting. It sounds like he’s doing pretty well learning the advanced behaviors, like working around a wheelchair.

At least he’s now made it to the second semester of training — lasting significantly longer than any of our previous dogs except for Brando (who graduated and went on to a happy career). We have no clue as to whether Adagio will make it all the way. But we’re proud of him for getting as far as he has.

And we particularly miss him now!  He could give a certainly little ball of fur some lessons in napping. (Dilly slept for barely 20 minutes and is now up and exploring again.)

 

Will we get Dobson? Daryl? Dilly? Driver? Dug? Delmar?

We have received thrilling puppy news! Our next CCI puppy will be a little yellow male, born 9/19/19. He and his litter mates are still up in Northern California with their mom, a purebred Golden Retriever beauty named Mary (the fifth). We should pick our little guy up from the airport Wednesday, November 20. At the moment, we still don’t know his name, but I’m expecting to learn that soon.

I’ve been happily following the Facebook page maintained by Mary’s caretaker, who yesterday announced the names for this “D” litter’s members — those I’ve listed above (plus “Dom,” who already has been allocated to another puppy raiser, according to the grapevine.)

We also don’t know if our pup will be all Golden, like his mom. Most of the puppies in the Facebook photos look unmistakably fluffy, but Mary was bred with two purebred males, one a Golden (movie-star-handsome Bear) and one a full-blooded yellow Labrador Retriever named Kramer.

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Here’s Bear

The first dog Steve and I acquired when we got married was a full-blooded Golden, but we’ve never raised one of  those for CCI. We had one purebred Lab (Tucker), and all the rest were crosses. Full Goldens have a reputation for being somewhat nuttier and more energetic than their more work-oriented Labradorian cousins. They’re also a lot more hairy. Nonetheless, both of us think it would be fun to have a Golden CCI puppy-raising experience (at least one).

or .jpgOn the other hand, should it turn out that our pup was sired by Kramer (a question that will be eventually be settled via genetic testing), we’d be happy about that too. Kramer’s brother, Keegan, was raised by our friends and neighbors and turned out to be a superstar who has graduated and gone on to a stellar career.

While we look forward to our next adventure in puppy-raising, we’re still in suspense over the last one. Today marks the 70th day since we turned in Adagio for his Advanced Training. He’s now made it longer than all but two of his predecessors — Brando, who graduated, and Dionne, our most difficult puppy of all (who was sent home on the 89th day). Adagio still has a long road in front of him. But if he makes it to next Wednesday, I believe we should be receiving a second report card.

I’ll try to share that and our new puppy’s name, though I’ll be doing it from the other side of the world. Steve and I depart tomorrow for New Zealand, an adventure on which I’ll be reporting in my travel blog.

 

 

Adagio’s first report card!

IMG_5406I miss Adagio. Steve misses him. We miss having any dog in the house. Maybe if we’d gotten another CCI puppy immediately after turning in Adagio, or if Tucker were still with us, we wouldn’t miss Adagio as much. But living the dogless life for the past 7 weeks has kept him pretty high up in my consciousness and made me look forward to his first report card with particular eagerness. Now we’ve finally received it, and it feels pleasurable to have even this distant contact with him.

It wasn’t perfect. It was lovely to see all the good behaviors checked (“allows/accepts physical handling/grooming,” “attentive to handler,” “calm,” “interacts appropriately with dogs,” etc.) But he got also check marks next to four bad behaviors (anxiety, barking, prey drive, resistance). The note from his instructor, Grace, explained a bit more. “Adagio has adapted nicely to the professional training environment. Initially, he would show some hesitancy going over grates or jumping on surfaces, even refusing to do so at times. We have made some progress in this area, and are still working on building his confidence on new surfaces. Adagio will bark at his handler when he wants attention. On leash, he is very responsive and generally very willing. He is progressing with all new and known commands. He has shown to be distracted by the cat occasionally, but we are working through this. Thanks for all your hard working in raising this sweet boy!”

In the final section of the report, evaluating overall performance, he got all “Moderates.” Overall, it feels like a solid B to me.

Reaching this particular milestone finally prompted me to do something I’ve been meaning to do for ages: look up how long each of our previous pups lasted in Advanced Training before being released. Here’s what I calculated:

Tucker — 65 days, released after receiving one report card

Yuli — 69 days, also after one report card

Brando — never released. He GRADUATED!

Darby — 40 days. She didn’t even make it to her first report card.

Dionne — 89 days. Our most challenging and difficult pup, we look back and can hardly believe she made it through TWO report cards before her ejection.

Kyndall — 46 days. In contrast, this sweet thing also got the boot before even reaching her first report.

Beverly — 28 days. They must have been doing report cards super fast during her stay. She got one report, but then was released for health reasons.

Today marks Adagio’s 49th day in Advanced Training. Will he get to his next report, scheduled for about a month from now? Stay tuned