The next step in Dilly’s becoming an even more perfect puppy will be when all his baby teeth fall out.
He’s already a pretty awesome fellow, especially considering that he’s just four and a half months old. But he still loves to chew on us, the way he used to chew on his littermates. Some pups do this more than others. Adagio barely did it at all. Dilly falls more toward the more munchy end of the spectrum. It’s clear he finds gnawing on us to be deeply satisfying.
He’s not trying to hurt us; it’s just a puppy thing. Still, those baby teeth are like razors. Even accidental encounters between them and human skin can be pretty gruesome.
Happily, Dilly’s big-dog teeth are beginning to push those dangerous baby knives out.
I know the day will eventually come when he’ll stop chomping on us altogether. But in the meantime, I’m saluting the arrival of every single new big-dog tooth.
Here in Puppyland, we’ve had an excellent week. Let me count the ways we are slowly but surely making our way out of the Puppy Hell section of the park.
Despite our delaying his introduction to the halter, this week Dilly has taken to wearing it nicely. On our first outings, he made some half-hearted attempts to rub it off his muzzle. He doesn’t look as if he LOVES it.
But as the days have gone by, he appears to be reconciled to this strange gear. At this rate, I’m not sure we’ll even have to continue for long making him wear it during meals. This morning, we took him on a three-mile walk around our neighborhood, during which he wore the halter and mostly stayed in excellent position, at our side.
2. With the cessation of his diarrhea (thanks to his apparently successful treatment for giardia), he’s been sleeping 7-8 hours every night, without interruption. It’s clear to me he now understands the Night Protocol: we all crawl into our sleeping spaces and remain quiet until the daylight returns.
This is a life-changing development, and tonight Steve and I will move out of the first-floor guest room (that we had moved to, to avoid breaking our necks while taking the puppy downstairs during the night). We’ll return to our regular bed tonight, and Dilly will begin sleeping in the medium-size kennel that will now become a permanent fixture of our master bedroom.
He needs to begin sleeping in the larger kennel because…
3.) He has grown so much! When we picked him up at the airport three and a half weeks ago, he weighed barely 11 pounds. When Steve took him to the vet’s Tuesday for his second set of shots, he had reached 19 pounds. Just now in our bathroom, he was more than 21.
4.) He’s learned to Sit, go Down, and — most charming — Speak. On command, pretty reliably.
5) As I was typing that last sentence, he came up to me, put his paws on my lap, and looked at me. Sensing what he was trying to communicate, I leapt up and took him outside, where he quickly peed and pooped.
This is definite progress, though he’s still accidentally peeing in the house now and then. (He has never once defecated indoors.)
I find this all impressive. Few of our previous pups have been so good this early. Not that life with Dilly is cloud-free. Besides continuing to make occasional toileting errors, he also takes passionate pleasure in chewing on things, including our body parts. His baby teeth are needle-sharp; my hands bear the scars.
It was thus a pleasure for me to take him yesterday to a gathering of pups at another puppy-raiser’s home. Dilly raced around, got beat up a little…
…found sheltered spots that only he and the other littlest party-goers could fit in…
…and where he could hide out from the bigger kids.
After an hour of this heaven, I took him home, and he was out cold for most of the rest of the day.
Being a serial puppy raiser has made me jaded. I remember being riveted when Tucker’s baby teeth started to fall out. I saved some from him and his successors; a small collection sits in the bottom of one of my jewelry boxes. But the thrill has faded. This morning, when Steve found this on the floor of our bedroom…
…I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you want to blog about it?” he asked. Not really, I thought.
I changed my mind because I think the transition to Big Dog Teeth is one worth noting. It’s been easy to overlook in Adagio because he’s been so good about NOT using his baby teeth as weapons. Many puppies do. Two or three months into life with some of our charges, my hands and arms have been covered with scratches and scabs. Adagio, in contrast, almost never nips. He chews his toys — a little — but he’s not obsessive about it.
The molar that Steve found today is the first one Adagio has shed and we have discovered. My guess is he swallows most of them. But a look inside his lips shows he’s already well into the transition:
Once the big ones have displaced the little teeth, it will take a while for Adagio’s head and body to grow enough to match them. That will slip up on us too, I’m sure, even though I’m trying to pay attention.
Steve and I were shocked a few weeks ago to notice that all of Beverly’s puppy teeth appear to be gone. She HAD a mouth full of puppy teeth when we got her back in June, but now here’s what we see in her mouth:
What happened to the lethal little daggers? Did they fall out one by one and get vacuumed up, without our noticing any of it? Did she swallow them? She’s not talking.
What we did notice is that Beverly, more than any other puppy, never gashed our hands or chomped on our other body parts while she was going through the teething process.
That’s one sign of what a good girl she has been. Here’s another: one day recently, we found her curled up on one of our soft chairs, looking extremely comfortable.
This is NOT a good things; CCI puppies are supposed to stay off the furniture. Steve is much sterner a disciplinarian than I am, and he immediately ordered her Off! It happened a couple more times in short order, and I shrugged my shoulders. (We never succeeded in breaking Kyndall or Dionne of the habit, once they figured out how cozy they are.) But Steve persisted in making Beverly get down. And she now seems to have completely stopped doing it! Can she have learned that climbing onto the furniture is unacceptable… and be obeying us? The mind reels…
Still, it’s too early to reach any conclusions about just how good a girl she will continue to be. This morning, I unwittingly dropped a $20 bill on the floor of my office. A moment later, Beverly began leaping and rolling around ecstatically, flinging something in the air and then pouncing on it. My twenty. I leapt up to save it, but found a piece missing. Pried open her jaws. Found a big chunk of the missing piece. Searched around in her mouth again and found the last bit.
I’ve taped them together and am hoping the bank will trade me it for an unmolested one.
When young humans lose their baby teeth (at least in modern America), it’s a big deal. The Tooth Fairy makes an appearance; money is involved. In contrast, when young dogs lose their baby teeth, you can entirely miss it.
In Kyndall’s case, we know she had baby teeth. She routinely sunk them into us; they drew blood. Back in January, I blogged about how obnoxious they were.
But here it is, barely two months later, and when we looked in her mouth yesterday, the only razor-sharp remnants were the four little canine daggers. Where did the other teeth go? (We assume she swallowed them).
This is a happy landmark. Steve claims to have read that it can take a year or so for the adult teeth to become fully set in the dog’s mouth. But Kyndall’s not a terribly chewy puppy, which means she’s not very destructive. And unpleasant encounters between her mouth and are skin are rare.
Perils still lurk. Although Steve regularly makes an effort to file them, Kyndall’s claws are still fiendishly sharp. They won’t fall out. I think they just have to grow bigger and duller.