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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A happy 4th with our 8th

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Adagio has his doubts about the wisdom of dogs wearing hats.

Steve and I have lost count of how many times we’ve marched in the Coronado Fourth of July Parade with CCI puppies. Did we first do it with Tucker, our first pup, 13 years ago? It feels like we’ve participated forever. Nonetheless we signed up to do it again yesterday,  with Adagio (our 8th trainee), and we were happy we did.

We parked our van a good mile and a half away from where the CCI contingent was assembling. Adagio seemed excited to be out and about, and certainly the day was beautiful, the streets of Coronado as festive as always. (Folks there are nothing if not ardently patriotic.)

We met up with the group a little before 10, when the parade officially starts. But our group was #56 in the line-up, which meant we didn’t stand up and begin to move until well after 10:30. This wait is pretty boring for puppies, since they’re not allowed to socialize much with each other, but at least we waited in a shady spot. And Adagio got some hugs he seemed to enjoy. DSC09996.jpgMarching at last, I felt the burst of adrenaline I always get from the experience.

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Adagio’s littermate, Apple, on the right, turned out. As always, he seemed happy to see her.

The most exciting moment comes when we turn onto Orange Avenue, where thick crowds invariably line both sides of the street.

DSC00006.jpgWe only ran through our traditional drill routine a few times, which was all for the best. (Adagio is still weak on the Down Stay). Mostly we strolled, and the humans waved to the throng, and sometimes we took our dogs over to the curb to be petted. Adagio seemed to like this at first…

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…but after block after block of marching, he was noticeably flagging.

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Kids? No thanks. I’ve had enough for today. 

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Toward the end, all the puppies looked tired. This was something of an illusion, as this year’s parading was followed, as it has been for many years, by a rollicking party at the home of a CCI supporter (and former puppy raiser) who lives almost at the end of the parade route. He welcomes the dogs to swim, and many of the pups adore this. Adagio doesn’t; he’s not a swimmer. Yet he was thrilled by the opportunity to play.

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He got damp by contact with the other pups, if not with the pool. 

Back at home, later in the afternoon, we hosted a small party for friends. It was way more boring, Adagio thought, whenever he was conscious. Mostly,  he was asleep.

On a tear

Adagio has a new hobby! Suddenly, he has gotten the notion into his brain that it is fun to extract papers from the recycling bin in Steve’s office, rip them into shreds, and strew them about. He attacks them with a gusto startling in a fellow who normally prefers to spend so much of his time sleeping.IMG_3010.jpgIMG_3015.jpg

In the thick catalog of possible puppy sins, I know this is a peccadillo. Also, Steve and I appreciate the fact that it’s the worst thing Adagio has done in his short (not-yet-8-month-old life). He could be destroying important papers stolen from our desktops. He could be gnawing on our shoes or our appliances. Instead he’s targeting items that are already slated for destruction.

Still, it’s annoying to have to sweep up the shreds, plus destroying any household item is precisely the sort of thing CCI puppy raisers are supposed to train their charges NOT to do. We understand we must nip this in the bud. Steve argued at first we should try stern verbal corrections. Adagio is such a docile fellow, that seemed like it might work.

But we’ve tried it now for a couple of days, with no success. So now Plan B is to set him up to sneak into the office, spy on him until he begins his attack, then jump out and blast him with our squirt bottle. (It has water in it at the moment, but if necessary, we can add vinegar to make it more repellant.)

This plan will require us to give the problem more discipline and attention than we’re accustomed to directing at Adagio. But we know our duty. Stay tuned for a report on the results.

 

Mortified in Costco

I thought we passed a milestone last week, when I took the my Toileting Errors log sheet off the refrigerator and stuck it in Adagio’s file. He had not had one accident since April 27, and I confirmed that his record with the puppy-sitters while we were traveling was excellent. No accidents. IMG_3002.jpg

I was feeling a little smug Saturday morning when I took him to Costco with me. When I ordered him to Hurry in one of the parking lot planter/islands, he complied immediately and copiously. Closer to the entrance, I took him to another good spot and issued the order again. After quite a bit of sniffing, he pooped on command. I disposed of the little blue baggie in a trash bin, and we sashayed into the warehouse, confident.

We loaded jerky treats into our cart, then I picked out a nice piece of fish for our Father’s Day dinner. I was about to head for the vitamin section when I thought to check on what was available in the way of berries. Adagio seemed a bit resistant to entering the chilly produce room with me, but I wasn’t paying too much attention to him. And then I was — noticing the large puddle of urine that was materializing directly underneath him.

Of course I had no clean-up tools with me. A kind shopper, noticing my distress, asked if she could help me by looking for a Costco employee. I told her I was on it, and after a moment, I found a worker entering the store’s dairy section.

“Uh, my service dog puppy trainee just peed in the produce department,” I said. I couldn’t resist adding that this had happened despite my having him pee right before we entered. The guy stared at me, impassive, as he reached for his walk-talky and spoke into it. “Rob, can you go to produce with a mop? There’s a wet-spill cleanup.”

I liked that euphemism. Adagio and I slunk through check-out and out the door. In the parking lot, I ordered him to pee again. And he did!

Clearly he was having one of those days where he seems to need to urinate every 10 minutes. Yet they’re fairly rare, and he had no more accidents for the rest of the day, even though he later accompanied Steve to four grocery stores. Later in the afternoon, we went out with friends to two art galleries then had dined at a restaurant together. Adagio came with us, and he received many compliments on his excellent behavior. We felt proud of him, and I’m not going to put the Toileting Error sheet back. (But I’m not going to take him to Costco again for a while.)

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Adagio, peeing in an acceptable spot

 

All legs

Steve and I departed for our adventure in the Amazon on Adagio’s 6-month birthday (May 12). We got home June 5, a week short of his 7-month milestone. We were groggy from our long flight that night, but when I looked at Adagio the next morning, I thought, “Where did our puppy go?”

IMG_2992.jpgThis boy seemed to be all legs. He still loved curling up in his cozy bed, but he spilled out of it. Steve speculated that for Adagio it must be unnerving to feel the world around him shrinking. IMG_2972.jpg

We were happy with the reports from his puppy-sitters (two different sets of them). It sounded like he had a good time, as did they. Among other things, he got to meet the new arrival in the home of our CCI puppy-class teacher, Kay Moore.

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Meet Levi, much hairier than Adagio. Blonder too.

We’re sure Adagio would NOT have enjoyed the long plane and riverboat passages we took. But we did chance upon one sight we’re sure he would have appreciated. We’ve never seen anything like it before in the course of our travels. In the tiny Colombian town of Leticia, which lies near the point where Colombia, Peru, and Brazil come together, we passed this public feeding station for the local street dogs:IMG_2036.jpg

We have no idea who stocks it — the town or some dog-loving local philanthropists (though I would bet it’s the latter.) We were impressed by how politely and calmly the fellow above ate for a few minutes… then ambled on. A minute or two later, this skinny girl strolled up and helped herself to some mouthfuls. But not all of it. IMG_2038.jpg

I’m pretty sure Adagio wouldn’t show such restraint. He looks not only lanky but skinny. He has a lot more growing to do, and it’s nice to be back watching him work on that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pack of puppies walk into a mall…

Some would say that taking your puppy to the mall is more fun than just taking yourself. If you ask me, even more fun than taking one puppy is going with a pack of CCI trainees. That’s what we did last night; it was effectively a puppy-class field trip, led by our effervescent instructor Kay. Adagio was a little young to go. But Kay two weeks ago had  said it would be okay. (He’s only two and a half weeks short of his 6-month birthday.)

We assembled near the Target in San Diego’s Mission Valley Mall — a mini-mob of puppy raisers handling 20 or so dogs who ranged from stolid almost-2-year-olds who will shortly begin their professional training to barely-more-than-babies like Adagio.

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Part of the fun sprang from the reactions from passersby. We startled some, but brought smiles to many faces.

After doing some simple drills outside, we split into two groups, consisting of younger and older dogs. Then we in the younger pack marched into the Target….

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… and trooped up and down the aisles.

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Adagio was very attentive, though we had a bad moment, when I noted a look in his eye that often signals an imminent need for him to relieve himself. I literally ran for the exit and we made it out just in time to avoid disgrace. I cleaned up the deposit then was able to rejoin the gang on the store’s second level. CCI dogs never take escalators, but Target has commodious elevators, and riding in them provided a chance to practice good behavior in tight quarters.

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Outside again, we practiced walking next to shopping carts, and Steve even introduced Adagio to the “Under” command.

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He did it nicely.

Around 8 pm, some of the puppy-raisers headed for Starbucks, but we’d had enough and went home. We’ll be happy to go again, though. It’s a nice change of pace.