Kyndall and I share the same fantasy. In it, the doors from our house that lead to the backyard are always open. Whenever she tires of lying quietly near one of us, Kyndall wanders outside and strolls around the property. She smells everything, and all of it is fascinating. She might drink a little water from her bowl or take a moment to relieve herself or simply flop down in the sunlight, to feel the breeze ruffling her whiskers. Or she might find a sturdy stick and chew it.
In my version of the fantasy, she never, ever swallows any of the objects she chews. The reality, however, differs. A few minutes ago, while I was watering a few plants, I found her chomping away on — and swallowing — chunks of painted particle board that she picked up somewhere. I scraped all the bits I could out of her mouth, and then I followed her around for a while. Mostly, she did the things in my fantasy. But she also lingered in a spot far in the back of the yard where she has come to believe something important is submerged. She started digging until I interrupted that.
Now we’re back up in my office, where she again looks bored.
I’m sorry she can’t live out our fantasy. But in the first place, service-dog trainees are supposed to get used to a life of patient repose next to their masters. She is, after all, in training.
Also, the report from the vet’s office the other day declared no evidence of intestinal parasites or other bacterial trouble-makers. Steve and I continued feeding Kyndall the rice and cottage-cheese for a bit and then tapered off. We’re delighted that her digestive system once again is functioning normally. But if she starts eating particle board and whatever’s the bottom of that hole she was working on, we’ll all be back to the Diarrhea Diet. That would be really tedious.
We cannot imagine how it happened, but Kyndall appears to have learned to read. She also must have figured out how to get online and check the blog that I write about her life as a service-dog trainee. How else to explain her criminal behavior this morning? She must have seen yesterday’s post about her new-found “peaceability” and excellent behavior and decided to disabuse us of this ridiculous notion.
Normally, she doesn’t have much opportunity to misbehave. We almost always keep her near us or kenneled. But Steve slipped up this morning. He came into the house and forgot she was outside;assumed she was up in my office with me. When he finally stepped outside, he found the carnage:
She had completely dug up and destroyed the beautiful white rose bush that we planted a month ago. An elderly fuchsia bush had died and we had long pondered what to replace it with that wouldn’t fall prey to a puppy. The spot gets a lot of sun, which roses like, and it occurred to me that its thorns would protect it. Ha.
We checked Kyndall’s mouth to check for gouges from the thorns, but she was unscathed.
Saturday was the first day of spring. The local master gardeners held their annual seminar and plant sale, and I bought several specimens to fill in some of our bare patches. The weather was beautiful, and Steve toiled long and hard Sunday and into Monday on some complex irrigation problem-solving. We also planted the young banana plants I gave him for Christmas.
Throughout some of this activity, we let Kyndall off-leash. I think these rare hours of relative freedom must feel like paradise to our CCI puppies. They wander around in a kind of delirious daze, smelling the myriad smells. Kyndall still loves to chew on sticks, and there were times when she simply stared, enthralled, by Steve’s activity, and times when she basked in the sun.
But alas, she also couldn’t resist digging. (Few puppies can.) The breaking point for Steve came when she leapt up into the bed where he had just planted the fragile baby banana plant. She lunged at it.
Fortunately, he stopped her before she could murder it. He kenneled her. Then he kenneled the banana plant.
Maybe some months down the road, the time will come when she’ll be able to enjoy extended time in the garden. She’d love that. I would too.
With turn-in looming less than three months from now, I feel like I’m more and more often being asked to predict Dionne will do. I’ve been focusing on the positive a lot. We enjoy long stretches of time together in the house when she either snoozes or lies quietly, not getting into any trouble at all. A year ago, that was never the case. And I cannot remember the last time she threw up as a result of eating things outside. A year ago, it happened almost any time she was out in the yard off-leash for more than a minute or two.
Because of this last turn of events, I’ve been allowing her some free time outside. But Steve points out that unfortunately she’s still digging up trouble. Or more precisely, she’s been digging. He fears she’s going to kill some of the trees, if she’s not prevented from indulging in this particular passion.
Here’s what this morning’s destruction looked like.
She doesn’t exactly look guilty. But the evidence is as clear as the nose on her face…