Stepping out

Now that Dilly is five months old, life is starting to get more interesting. Last night we ventured out on our first puppy-class field trip.

Our wonderful instructor, Kay, has made these excursions a regular feature. For this very first outing for the kinder-pup group, we met at the big Petco outlet in Clairemont Square. A few of Dilly’s class members were too young to go out in public, and at least one older girl was in heat, so there were only three students — all blondes. Dilly found the whole experience to be fascinating.

At Steve’s command, he Waited nicely at the door.

In one of the toy aisles, Kay tossed colorful distractions on the floor, then the pups had to walk past them without pouncing.


Dilly thought that plush avocado looked mighty irresistible.

They had to go Down next to delicious smelling rawhide chews…

All completely forbidden to CCI trainees.

Then the trio and their handlers marched together down the center aisle.

There’s actually no distraction greater than another puppy.

It was a fun and effective introduction to one of the biggest things we’ll be working on for the next 14 months: learning to behave well in public.

This adventure was followed by another today, when Steve walked Dilly over to our neighborhood grooming salon equipped with tubs where owners can bathe their own pets. Sadly but perhaps understandably, Steve forgot to take any photos during the bathing process, but he reported that Dilly tolerated the experience well.

I think he smells cleaner, but most dramatically, he now looks at least three times curlier than he did pre-bath.

We theorize that perhaps the oil in his coat had been controlling these wild twists, like hair mousse.

It feels like a omen: in the coming months I expect him to look more and more interesting, as he comports himself better and better.

Kindergarten pup

We finally succeeded in getting Beverly to a puppy kindergarten class last night. (She attended once before when she was being fostered while we were traveling, but this was our first time together.) It takes some mental gear-shifting for us to get to the baby class, as it starts so early. We have to leave the house a bit before 5 p.m. and slog through downtown traffic to get there by 5:30. Last night we arrived late. But we found a congenial group assembled, including Keegan from our neighborhood, Target/Tarzhay (Cyndy Carlton’s handsome black boy), and two adorable babies — Weasley (whom Beverly was beating up at last Saturday’s play group) and a fluff ball named Vienna, being raised by first-timers.

072616 Vienna
Vienna seems like a party animal.

Beverly barked once or twice, but for the most part she watched the proceedings and cradled calmly. 072616 puppy class

She didn’t try to rub her halter off during her turns to walk around the group. I had to lead her into the Down command, but once there (and rewarded with a microscopic piece of jerky treat), she obeyed my “Stay” command nicely. Staying comes naturally to Beverly. She eats even tiny bits of food slowly and thoughtfully, preferably while lying down.

It felt like we were off to a good start.



Kinderpuppy garden

Kyndall attended her very first class last night, the first of the 8-part “kinderpup” session. I came away feeling elated for at least 2 reasons.

1) Unlike a few of her fellow classmates, she didn’t whine or bark or shriek or lunge to play with the other dogs. Mostly, she sat or went into a down-stay and watched attentively.

011315 Class-Kyndall

2) Having been through all the classes (5 times before), we’re aware of how much time we’ll be spending with our classmates over the next 15 months. And this promises to be an excellent group. It included 8 puppies, but one is 5 months old and will probably be moving up to the next older set. Among the remainder, three are first-time puppy raisers.

011315 Class-sisters

Of the veterans, Steve and I are the least experienced. We know all the more senior hands. Candy Carlton’s Hawk is #9 for her.

011315 Class-Hawk
He’s a handsome fellow.

Willie Crawford’s Miso is her 10th.

011315 Class-Miso
Look at those adoring eyes. (In the background is Bob Schneider, one of our friends who are working on a documentary about raising service dogs.)

Rounding out the group are Dan and Janice Flynn who enjoy an almost mythic status. Their current gorgeous baby golden retriever, Meri, is the 20th CCI puppy that they’ve raised; the vast majority of them have graduated.

011315 Class-Meri
She’s not only a blonde bombshell, but she also seemed to know about 10 commands already.

That means we’ll have regular contact with a deep pool of puppy-raising talent. And that’s not to mention Bob Smith, our instructor. Just last night he give Steve and me a couple of useful concrete suggestions, e.g. where to position our hands while cradling Kyndall in order to best control her. It was yet another reminder of how much there is to learn about the complex task of transforming a clueless baby animal into a revered service companion.