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.

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.

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.


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











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=”″>My Movie 1</a> from <a href=”″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=””>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=”″>My Movie 1</a> from <a href=”″>Jeannette De Wyze</a> on <a href=””>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.

Baby Adagio, left, with baby Apple


Sibling revelry

Apple (on the left) and Adagio. Her head is a bit more delicate and feminine.

We just had a new experience in our career as puppy-raisers: having two young litter-mates reunite for some extended time together. This happened because the other day Steve and I had an activity scheduled in the East County. We knew it would consume several hours, and we could not take Adagio along with us. So we asked Cyndy Carlton, who is raising Adagio’s litter-mate Apple, if we could drop him off at their house while we were otherwise engaged. She welcomed him, and we offered to take Apple home with us later that day, when we knew Cyndy would be in school. Normally Apple stays with someone else during those hours, but we figured this would give the other sitter a break.

Since they flew down from Northern California together in early January, Adagio and Apple have seen each other several times at the puppy socials that Cyndy hosts. But those gatherings last only about an hour and are attended by a canine mob. This extended time, one-on-one, was special. The two youngsters seemed mad with happiness to see each other. When Steve and I picked them up four and a half hours later, Cyndy reported that they had wrestled and romped non-stop. Do they recognize each other? I can’t imagine how we could ever know that. What’s overwhelming clear, though, is that they find each other irresistible.

Back at our house, I watched them interact; it was better than TV. Mostly they attacked and chewed on each other, but the ambushes and chases often turned slapstick. They sent each other sprawling in many comic variations.

Occasionally, one or the other would get too rough, provoking ear-piercing screams. When this happened, I checked for blood, but I never found any evidence of serious injury. A few times, they even played nicely.

Here’s Adagio, trying to entice his sister into grabbing the keys.
She was up for a brief bout of tug.

Only on the second day did they mellow out enough to do some co-napping — mixed in with more playing. When Cyndy picked them up, she and I agreed that participating in a sleepover for three-and-a-half-month-old litter-mates is almost as much fun for the humans as the dogs.

He loves, loves, loves, his sister. That little tail was wagging!