A happy 4th with our 8th

Adagio has his doubts about the wisdom of dogs wearing hats.

Steve and I have lost count of how many times we’ve marched in the Coronado Fourth of July Parade with CCI puppies. Did we first do it with Tucker, our first pup, 13 years ago? It feels like we’ve participated forever. Nonetheless we signed up to do it again yesterday,  with Adagio (our 8th trainee), and we were happy we did.

We parked our van a good mile and a half away from where the CCI contingent was assembling. Adagio seemed excited to be out and about, and certainly the day was beautiful, the streets of Coronado as festive as always. (Folks there are nothing if not ardently patriotic.)

We met up with the group a little before 10, when the parade officially starts. But our group was #56 in the line-up, which meant we didn’t stand up and begin to move until well after 10:30. This wait is pretty boring for puppies, since they’re not allowed to socialize much with each other, but at least we waited in a shady spot. And Adagio got some hugs he seemed to enjoy. DSC09996.jpgMarching at last, I felt the burst of adrenaline I always get from the experience.

Adagio’s littermate, Apple, on the right, turned out. As always, he seemed happy to see her.

The most exciting moment comes when we turn onto Orange Avenue, where thick crowds invariably line both sides of the street.

DSC00006.jpgWe only ran through our traditional drill routine a few times, which was all for the best. (Adagio is still weak on the Down Stay). Mostly we strolled, and the humans waved to the throng, and sometimes we took our dogs over to the curb to be petted. Adagio seemed to like this at first…


…but after block after block of marching, he was noticeably flagging.

Kids? No thanks. I’ve had enough for today. 


Toward the end, all the puppies looked tired. This was something of an illusion, as this year’s parading was followed, as it has been for many years, by a rollicking party at the home of a CCI supporter (and former puppy raiser) who lives almost at the end of the parade route. He welcomes the dogs to swim, and many of the pups adore this. Adagio doesn’t; he’s not a swimmer. Yet he was thrilled by the opportunity to play.


He got damp by contact with the other pups, if not with the pool. 

Back at home, later in the afternoon, we hosted a small party for friends. It was way more boring, Adagio thought, whenever he was conscious. Mostly,  he was asleep.

Parading again

070417 parade9

I’m not 100% sure why people parade. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s partly a form of entertainment — to watch marching bands and floats and various animals troop by, or to be among the troopers. It also gives people a chance to display their civic involvements: their schools and scout troops and community service clubs… and in our case, the fruits of our volunteer work with Canine Companions for Independence. Whatever the reason, parading with our puppies has been a pretty regular fixture in our lives since we got involved with CCI.

With most of our dogs, we’ve made it to the Coronado Independence Day parade. Kyndall (our 6th pup) missed it because she was in heat, and last year Beverly was too little to participate. But we’ve paraded down Orange Avenue with all our other CCI trainees, and we’ve always been happy we made the effort. The event every year draws huge, enthusiastic crowds.

At almost 15 months old, Beverly still has not yet gone into heat, and Steve and I were nervous she might do so and miss this year’s festivities. But that didn’t happen, so this morning we lined up with almost a dozen other CCI pups and their handlers. (Sadly, for the first time in memory, we could not include Tucker. At 12 and a half, he can still walk, but not for long distances.) Because we only had one dog, Steve wanted to march with Beverly, and I was content the cede the leash to him.

070417 parade1
Waiting for the parade to begin.

I marched next to them, and it was just as big a rush as ever when, shortly after 10 am, we turned onto the main street and took in the sight of the crowds.

070417 parade2

070417 parade3

Steve was very good about regularly walking Beverly over the curb to greet some of the spectators. Kids love the puppies.

070417 parade4

And Beverly was great with them. Several times she snuggled up and tried to lay down next to various groups of them.

070417 parade5

070417 parade6

It’s a long route, well over a mile, and it took us almost an hour to complete it. Beverly held up well, appearing calm in the face of pile after pile of horse poop, and unbothered by the obnoxious honking of the Model Ts chugging along behind us.

070417 parade7

As always, the group adjourned to a dog-centric post-parade party in the home of a former CCI puppy raiser with a great (dog-proofed) house very close to the Hotel del Coronado. To our amazement, Beverly mustered enough energy to do a lot of romping, albeit no swimming. She was one of the very few who had no interest in the canine pool party.

She seemed to enjoy the social experience greatly. I guess both humans and dogs still prize that.

070417 parade8

A puppy under the tree

Many years ago, Steve and I learned it can be traumatic to mix boisterous canine energy with Christmas. Our very first dog, a surly golden retriever named Astra, was racing around the living room after we erected our tree, and she knocked it clean over. 120516-tree-fainted

She didn’t offer any excuses; we saw it happen. Steve was so freaked out he rigged a way to tie the top of subsequent trees to the living room ceiling. It was ugly, but it made us feel more secure. Ultimately the ceiling grew higher in the course of a remodel, so that arrangement was no longer practical. Instead we got a super-hefty tree stand, and no tree since then has been toppled by a puppy attack.

For the most part, it’s been fun to combine the dogs and the holiday. It’s more work, but we still enjoy buying our trees from one of the cut-your-own tree farms in Southern California. They’re disappearing, but last year we discovered a well-run operation in Perris, about 75 minutes northwest of our home. Since Steve had an appointment in Orange County last Wednesday, we coordinated that outing with a return to the tree farm. As we did last year, we took along our current trainee and Mr. Tucker.

Last year’s pup was Kyndall. This year it’s Beverly, who was just as rapturous as all her predecessors at the experience of racing through the rows of pungent pines. 120516-tree2

We had more holiday fun yesterday, when we joined the contingent of CCI volunteers marching in the La Jolla Christmas Parade. It was a warm, sunny day, so a big crowd turned out, and to our delight, we were early in the line-up. That meant we didn’t have to wait hours for our turn to march.

Beverly was as calm and regal as ever, even decked out in her costume and surrounded by the parade noise and bustle.
Parade photos by Alberto Lau


Back at our house, we got the tree decorated, but within an hour, something bad happened to it.

We didn’t see Beverly snatch this ornament off the tree. Clearly she thought it was a dog toy. 

We have 20 days left to Christmas and a week or so after that until we plan to take the tree down. We can prevent any further damage until then. Right?


Goodbye Vegas, hello Christmas

We walked with Kyndall into the big party at the Hard Rock Hotel Thursday night and knew immediately we’d made a mistake. This was no place for a pu120715 party 2ppy, even the best trained and behaved one. The din was stunning, and the party areas so jammed with people it was hard to move.
There were freakish sights, 120715 party1but what freaked me out the most was seeing all the morsels that partiers had dropped and Kyndall kept lunging at. We wheeled around, took her back to our van, and secured her in the kennel, while we returned to the madness, though not for too late. We needed to hit the road early to drive back to San Diego.

What made the return drive more pleasant for all of us is that we’d planned to stop along the way to see if we could obtain our Christmas tree. Steve and I are partial to the harvest-your-own variety, but it’s become harder and harder to find tree farms in San Diego County. Knowing that we’d be driving back through Riverside County, I’d investigated and found a couple of promising candidates. So it was that just after lunch, we pulled into the Sand Haven Pines property in Perris.

This turned out to a huge and obviously well-managed enterprise, with acres of beautiful, reasonably priced trees. Best of all, the owners said it was fine for Kyndall to explore off leash. She did this with wild enthusiasm.

120715 trees2
So many sticks and stumps, all so chewable!
120715 K and trees1
She was so happy, if she’d been a cat, she would have been purring.

Yesterday, the opening of the Christmas season continued for us with Kyndall’s and my participating in the 80th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade. Only a small group of CCI puppies turned out this year, but our organizer provided awesome costumes.

120715 parade2

The worst thing about the parade is always the wait for our contingent to march.

120715 parade1

But this year it wasn’t bad; we took off just after 2 p.m. and were done by 2:20. And both during and after the parade, all the pups received lots of adulation. Kyndall enjoyed that.

120715 parade3
These fellow paraders couldn’t keep their hands off Kyndall. Which was fine with her.