Dogs also train puppies

Day 11 of Life with Adagio. Things are going well. He’s a champion sleeper, which means we’re not chronically exhausted. We also appreciate his appetite for long daytime naps. Mistakes are still being made in the toileting department, but mostly Steve and I are the ones making them (forgetting how often we need to take the puppy out to relieve himself.)

I’m also fascinated by the way our canine housemates are training each other. Although Tucker initially greeted Adagio with a smile and a wagging tail, we think he’s begun to think of the little one as a houseguest who has overstayed his welcome. (“Um, isn’t it time for him to leave now?”) In the first day or two, Adagio tried pestering Tucker to play by barking at him loudly. That didn’t go over well. Here’s one example of how it played out:

Note that Tuck never laid a tooth on Adagio. He just scared him off.

The interaction between Adagio and 7-year-old Darby (whom we raised years ago and are hosting for a week) has been a quite different. Within a day of her arrival, I watched Darby and Adagio having a great time together in my office, despite the difference in their sizes:

They’ve continued to play, and I’ve noted that Tucker has begun standing nearby. Occasionally he emits a geezerly “WOOF!” Adagio seems to be catching on that this is the old guy’s idea of fun. Adagio responds by flinging himself down, belly exposed, the very portrait of submission. Then he bounces up. Tucker does it again, and Adagio follows suit.

Even sweeter was what I witnessed the other night. Tucker had curled up on his dog bed in our bedroom, and Steve brought up the puppy. But at first we didn’t kennel him. Ever so cautiously, he crept onto the bed and inched close. Fractionally.

012018 Adagio and Tuck

Tucker is now so old that when he falls asleep at night, he’s in a state of consciousness approaching comatose. So I think he was unaware of Adagio’s presence. We didn’t push it, but after a minute we locked Adagio in his kennel. But I’m confident that soon the very old and the very young dog will teach each other that it’s safe to snuggle.


Old home week

112515 CCI trio
#1 (Tucker), #4 (Darby), and #6 (Kyndall)

Steve and I have had 6 CCI puppies in our career as puppy-raisers (including Kyndall, our current trainee). At the moment, 50% of them are with us.

That’s because Darby, who was released from the program and went to live with our friends Joe and Kerri, is staying with us while her family celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday in New Mexico. As Steve notes, it’s always particularly pleasant when Darby visits, as she has done several times. She lived with us from the time she was 8 weeks old to a year and a half, so she fits in better than almost any other canine guest; falls immediately back into our daily routines.

112515 K&D2
Darby knows that in the evening we sometimes all go downstairs to watch television and groom our hairy friends.

She seems a little less ravenous for non-stop wrestling with Kyndall than some of Kyndall’s young pals (like Kora), but that makes sense. Darby will turn 5 at the beginning of January. We noted with a little pang the first sprinkling of white among the hairs on her otherwise coal-black chin.

Still, the two girls seem to be enjoying each other. They’ve done some playing and some chilling.

112515 K&D1

Darby is wet in the photo, which I took almost immediately after her arrival, because one of the first things she did was to jump in the pool and cruise around. But look at that smile on Kyndall’s face.  That’s her reaction to pretty much any young houseguest. She’ll be among those of us tomorrow who are giving thanks.




Steve and I don’t want to say Dionne misses Darby (who went back to her own family Tuesday, after her vacation stay here.) All we can say is: since Darby left, Dionne’s behavior has taken a turn for the worse.

She’s engaged in frenzies of racing around and attacking Tucker; barking at us; snatching shoes and sponges and my portable keyboard cover.  This morning we found her with a GLASS ornament in her mouth. (Thank God she relinquished it in exchange for a Charlie Bear.)

Then there was this, discovered by Steve underneath the dining room table:

On the right is a Scotchbrite pad, ripped in two. On the left (foreground) are the remains of a candle. We have no idea where she got it. But it took a loooooong time to clean up.

What she probably needs is to run around outside for an hour or two. But it’s drizzly and muddy outside. And she has little interest in running round by herself. (With Darby, it was a party!!!)


Same old same old

Same old same old

Darby just left. It’s hard not to think Dionne will miss her. The two girls played for hours — chasing each other around the house and yard, wrestling and keeping toys away from each other. I wasted time trying to photograph them. Their speed and extreme blackness made it hard, plus they seemed keenly aware every time I picked up a camera. They would instantly stop whatever they were doing and either come to me or skulk away.

Happily (for us) Darby didn’t end up getting in the pool very often, and for all their mayhem, she and Dionne avoided knocking over the Christmas tree. In general, we felt encouraged by seeing how rarely Darby got into any trouble in the house.

Dionne’s a different story. During our outing to the fire station, Dionne’s sister’s puppy-raiser commented to me that she and her husband finally could leave their shoes on the floor. Until recently, Demi would snatch them up and run away. But Dionne still snatches shoes and runs, while also finding new sources of mischief.

On Sunday, for example, we somehow failed to close the door in the hallway leading into the bedrooms. Dionne got into the guest room, wiggled under its bed, and utterly destroyed something. We think it was some religious object that we brought back from Ethiopia two years ago. But the destruction was so thorough, we can’t identify whatever it was. (Or remember.)

The mystery remnents

Last night Steve took her to the last of the “Basic”puppy-training classes, where as usual, she did well. “She’d be the perfect dog,” he noted, not for the first time. “If she weren’t a monster.”

Bitchy comparisons

Bitchy comparisons

If you have human children, I think it’s not a great idea to compare them — at least not often or obviously. But at the moment, we have under our roof 3 of the 5 CCI pups we’ve raised. The houseguest is Darby (#4), who’s visiting while her owners vacation in the East. Comparisons between her and #5 (Dionne) have been irresistible.


Our first thought when Darby arrived Sunday night was amazement at how similar she and Dionne look.  They’re almost the same size and shape and color — pitch black. But they feel very different. Although Dionne’s coat is not exactly bristly, Darby’s is much longer and silkier, almost as soft as I remember Brando’s being.

In the light of Monday morning, we were startled by how different their faces are. We’ve been trying to capture them well with our cameras ever since, but that’s surprisingly hard to do. Darby’s eyes are almost as round as Tuckers, and the color is a brown so warm it almost glows.  Her muzzle is shorter. When her ears are up, she looks cute, in comparison with Dionne seems to merit some other adjective. Maybe handsome.

We turned in Darby for Advanced Training less than a year and a half ago (in August of 2012), but somehow we’d forgotten so much. Within 5 minutes of going in the back yard, she plunged into the pool. Ah yes! we recalled. She was our only passionate swimmer. (Dionne and Tucker both looked at her paddling around in horror.)

We’d forgotten how Darby moans and emits other loud noises when she sees us first thing in the morning. Forgotten how she loves to walk around with something in her mouth — or her tendency to jump on us.

They’re all the sorts of things that give dogs very distinct personalities, things that non-dog owners can probably never understand (along with, maybe, single dog owners.)

This morning I took both girls for a walk. (Poor Tuck had to stay home. Three’s too much to handle.) With Darby on my left and Dionne on my right, it was shocking to see how much better Dionne walks on leash. Darb always liked to forge ahead, and she hasn’t lost this bad habit with age. Darby also bristled and lunged when we passed strange dogs. Dionne barely batted an eye.

They’re both hellions when it comes to playtime. But without sounding bitchy myself, I’d venture to say that seeing them side by side makes me feel maybe there IS hope for Dionne making it, after all.

Tuck says: life is REALLY rather stressful with two energetic female roommates.