Biological wonder

On my refrigerator, next to the list of Adagio’s “Toileting Errors” (which has had no additions for several days), I need a bold, red-lettered reminder: “Avoid feeling smug.”

It was with some smugness that I reflected just the other day on the huge change in Adagio’s sleeping ability since we got him. It’s been less than two months, and he has transformed from a frightened baby who had to be taken out for a potty break at least once in the middle of each night to a solid fellow who never wakes us up in the wee hours.

I had this thought Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning about 3:30 a.m., the sound of Adagio vomiting was loud enough to penetrate my earplugs. I staggered over to his kennel, and my flashlight revealed a little pile of… something he had just regurgitated. Fortunately, we still keep a roll of paper towels on top of his kennel. I grabbed a few and found that I could easily pick up the whole pile of… whatever it was. I closed the kennel door, put the sodden wad on top of the kennel, and went back to sleep.

With the return of daylight, I got around to inspecting the contents of the wad. ┬áHere’s what it looked like after it dried:

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Note that it includes several stones and an assortment of sticks and twigs, along with a bit of string. I knew exactly when he ate all this. We’ve had some workmen at the house for the past few days, so the back doors have been left open more than usual. At one point, I realized that I didn’t know where Adagio was. I found him down in the lower yard, nose to the ground. I hoped he hadn’t been grazing, but clearly that hope was in vain.

What fascinates me is that he was able to throw up the indigestible bits so selectively. No puppy chow came up with them, and he ate all his meals with gusto the following day. Was this ability evolved to enable wild dogs to survive even though their pups were dumb enough to eat sticks and stones? (Maybe that’s something to feel smug about.)

A dirty mouth

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Sometimes Adagio looks older than his days (all 74 of them). Is he worrying about the state of his gut? Is that why he’s eating dirt?

Steve and I often roll our eyes over the fact that all puppies do the same things. I could tick off a half-dozen behaviors that every one of our CCI charges has engaged in during their youngest days (they all love to squeeze into tiny spaces such as under the couch, they all chew up their bedding, etc.) But some come up with novel tricks. Kyndall, for example, was the only one who gobbled up fallen hibiscus blooms. Adagio is the only one who eats dirt.

At first we thought he was merely smelling it. Or licking it.

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It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on.

But close observation has revealed that often he is transferring the grains of soil from the ground into his mouth, where they are masticated (briefly), and swallowed.

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Sometimes there’s telltale evidence.

We have no idea why he does this, or how bad it is for him. I plan to ask other puppy raisers what they’ve experienced; maybe even consult with one of the CCI experts.

An interesting coincidence is that, along with Adagio, we were given a week’s supply of “Pro-Pectalin tablets.” We’d never heard of them before, but a note explained that the CCI national veterinarians have begun to recommend the stuff “for pups with soft stool. Pro-Pectalin contains kaolin and pectin in addition to a probiotic (to restore good bacteria to the GI tract.)”

Adagio hasn’t had any diarrhea, and his stools are about the same as those of most puppies we know (sometimes firm and sometimes goopy). But we shrugged and gave him the pills (which he eagerly consumed). We used them all up and didn’t plan to buy more; they’re not cheap.

We’re not sure that Adagio’s dirt-consumption has increased since we finished up the pills. But as far as I know, kaolin is a form of clay. Could he be eating the dirt because he’s craving the clay in it for some reason? We’re leaning toward a month-long trial of more of the pills (along with tight limitations on his snacking in the flowerbeds.)