How Dilly spent his summer vacation

It’s hard to believe but last summer Dilly wasn’t alive yet. For half of it, he wasn’t even a twinkle in his mother’s uterus. He’s only been living with Steve and me for 8 months, but he’s such a big presence, it feels like he’s been with us for ages.

Had the coronavirus not followed him into the world, we would have missed several weeks of his puppyhood when we traveled to Europe in May. But like so many people’s plans, that trip was canceled. Instead we cobbled together a more pandemic-friendly adventure: a California road odyssey for which Dilly was our game fellow-traveler.

Packing our van with 3 weeks worth of dog provisions reminded us of when we took our oldest son on the road as a toddler. Instead of diapers and child seats and snacks and toddler toys, we had bags of dog food, Dilly’s bed, bowls and brushes and balls and more.

Along with all our gear, it barely fit.

We hit the road July 3. Over the next 21 days, Dilly got to hike in many awesome landscapes: in meadows and mountain trails at Mammoth and Lake Tahoe:

On the Jeep trails that laced through the 75-acre ranch we stayed on in the far reaches of the Sacramento River Valley. We traded our house to stay in that place.

At the foot of volcanic Mt. Lassen.

He got to sniff the needles of the oldest trees on Earth…

Bristlecone pines

… and some of the tallest…

Old-growth redwoods

He met exotic wildlife.

Felina, our son’s family’s feisty Corgi
Madonna, one of the resident horses on the ranch
A fat resident cat at our cabin in the redwoods

The most interesting rug Dilly has ever stretched out on
A touristic bear

He discovered that the world can feel and smell very different from the way it does in San Diego.

Snow on Mt. Lassen
Waterfalls near Mt. Shasta. The air somehow tasted like water!
The headwaters of the Sacramento River tasted like water!
Not far away, the river gets big.
Who knew there was this much fresh water in the world? This was in a canyon whose walls are lined with ferns.

Probably the funnest place was the enormous yard in back of the ranch house. Dilly got to run around in it, off-leash, at 90 miles an hour. He NEVER gets to do that at home.

Most of the time, he brought us daily pleasure. Countless folks admired him, and he reciprocated with love for one and all.

But he wasn’t wild about all the time on the road. For most of the more than 3000 miles we covered, he rode in his kennel, but he often didn’t sleep. We speculated that the twisty blue highways made him uncomfortable. Or maybe he was too warm back there.

For a while, he went out strike, refusing to jump up in his kennel as ordered. Then we had to muscle him in.

A few times I took pity on him and let him sleep at my feet up front.

Then he slept. Sitting up.

He seemed to enjoy everything else about traveling, though. We sensed that what he loved most was getting to spend more time than usual being paid attention to by us.

Adagio meets a baby and goes on his first road trip

Sometimes I don’t blog as often as I want because not much is happening. Adagio is growing and learning things, but the changes are barely noticeable. Sometimes, however, we hit a patch where too much is going on, and time for writing is scarce.

We’ve been in one of the latter patches for the past two weeks. First we were happy to welcome my nephew John from Chicago, who arrived for a four-day visit with his wife Lydia and their 15-month-old daughter, Emery. Emery has met several dogs in the course of her short life, but at first she seemed a bit intimidated by our two hulking canines. She’s a happy, determined little toddler, but the emphasis is on little — she’s less than 18 pounds. Together, Tuck and Adagio weigh more than 8 times as much.

Uh… could someone please make them sit or something?

They thought she was fascinating, and in their excitement sent her plopping down onto her diapered bottom a few times. But they never made her cry, and Adagio and Emery soon shifted into viewing each other with calm curiosity.

IMG_3105.jpgIt was hard to tell for sure what either side was thinking…IMG_3106.jpg…although Adagio clearly decided she smelled intriguing.DSC00389.jpg

Tucker has long adored little kids, so although he’s more than 95 in dog years, he looked happy every minute he was in Emery’s presence…DSC00385.jpg…and she was soon responding with hugs.DSC00392.jpgBy the end of the four days, Adagio also seemed content to let Emery treat him like a king-sized stuffed animal.IMG_3113.jpgIMG_3125.jpg

Our entire pack was sad to see them go. But Steve and I had to scramble to ready the house for termite fumigation (a huge disruption that we had not undergone for 20+ years.) We timed the tenting with a trip to San Jose for a convention, to which we planned to drive. 20180816_174103_1534469543044.jpgTucker is too ancient to accompany us on such an adventure; he stayed with friends. But we wanted to road-test Adagio, who reached his 9-month birthday during Emery’s visit.

We planned to drive up the coast on Highway 1, something else we had not done for decades. Steve and I had tried to take that route last October, when we drove up to Steve’s high school reunion in the Bay Area. Beverly (Adagio’s half-sister, and our last CCI puppy) came along with us on that trip. But a huge landslide had closed Highway 1, forcing us to use another road.

IMG_3141.jpgThe news that Highway 1 had at last reopened at the end of July delighted us. This time we traveled north on it. Steve and I loved both the drive and the convention, but Adagio clearly found it vastly inferior to hanging out with Emery. He experienced a few brief interludes of ecstasy, like the walk we took on the deserted beach in San Simeon. We slipped off his halter and let him briefly experience the beach, unfettered, for the first time in his life. It drove him wild with excitement and he zoomed around at top speed over the sand for about two minutes, then returned to us, docile and content.DSC00462.jpg

He also got to walk along a foggy clifftop…IMG_3155.jpg…and check out Nepenthe, a legendary Big Sur restaurant and bar that Steve had visited as a child.

Adagio found the kids much more interesting than the drinks menu.

At the convention, he mostly had to curl up and be quiet on the convention hall floor and in panel-discussion rooms and under restaurant tables, for hours on end. IMG_3169.jpg

IMG_3173.jpgHe didn’t love that, but he did it remarkably well. We returned home feeling optimistic about his future. He returned home overjoyed to see his buddy Tucker again.IMG_3006.jpg




Bad news

102417 bad news

Steve and I woke up in a hotel in Menlo Park Sunday morning to a dreadful noise — the sound of someone licking something. Beverly has never much of a been a licker, but I immediately guessed the sound came from her, cleaning up the start of a discharge from her private parts. She’d looked a big swollen to me the day before, and when we turned on the lights and inspected her, the swelling was more pronounced. A quick swipe with a tissue detected a smear of pale pink. It was subtle but clear to us: her heat at long last had begun.

Even though we’d been braced for it, we reeled at the news. As I wrote about in my last post, she’d been due to begin Advanced Training on Friday, November 3. The start of her heat would force us to take her up to the kennels in Oceanside, which in turn would rob us of our final 10 days with her. Those days are special.

Glumly, we packed up for the long drive back to San Diego, reminding ourselves to be thankful the heat hadn’t started four days earlier. At least we’d been able to enjoy this last lovely road trip together.

The motivation for it was Steve’s reunion with his Bay Area high school class 50 years after their graduation. Thursday Steve, Beverly, and I had driven part of the way, to Paso Robles, where we toured an olive ranch…

102417 olive ranch

…tasted wine, visited friends, and spent the night. The next day we drove north through Carmel, where we kept Beverly on leash even though other dogs were romping free.

102417 Carmel
She was ready to have sex on the beach. But that would not have been okay with us (or CCI).

At the reunion parties Friday and Saturday nights, Beverly won countless hearts and prompted all manner of folks to talk to Steve and me about their dogs. Beverly enjoyed the petting and was good about posing in photos.

102417 reunion

Steve and I also drove into San Francisco Saturday and walked with Beverly for an hour or two.

102417 cablecar
She got to see cable cars…


102417 Chinatown
Chinese dragons…

102417 flowers
…and to savor countless intriguing smells.

We also learned together that San Francisco is a city of 1000 street grates. Street grates are one of the things that make Beverly nervous. So we seized upon the excellent training opportunity. Lured with many treats, Beverly notably improved.

102417 grates
She still looked suspicious. But at least she was willing to walk on them. 

Throughout the trip, she was an ideal companion, never intruding, always relieving herself on command, never whining about the long hours in her kennel on the road.

She was joyful to be released from it at the end of the day on Sunday, rushing back into the place that she has come to know as home.

But it’s her home no more. I made the call to CCI Monday, and the rest of Beverly’s adventure with us played out the next day. I’ll briefly report on that tomorrow.








How Kyndall got to the brothel

How Kyndall got to the brothel

On Sunday, August 16, the day Kyndall turned 10 months old, we hit the road to travel to Squaw Valley in Northern California, where an old friend had offered us the use of her cabin in the woods. We took Tucker, too, and the 12-hour journey must have been a trial for the dogs. They shared a wire kennel in the back of our van, and though commodious, it was more confinement than they’re used to for that length of time.

082815 road cage
Road cage. But Tucker’s back made a soft and cozy chin rest.

We stopped several times along the way, to give our furry passengers a break…

082815 Mt. Whitney 128K
That’s Mt. Whitney in the far distance, but Kyndall could not have cared less. She just wanted to get out of the100-degree heat and back into the air-conditioned van.

The cabin was beautiful, but we spent much of our time in Reno, visiting our son Michael and his girlfriend Stephanie. The first day after we arrived, Tucker stayed in Stephanie’s backyard, while Kyndall, Mike, Steve, and I toured Virginia City, which flaunts its Wild Western heritage.

082815 red dogs?
Kyndall says yellow dogs rule; red dogs drool.

Then we drove to Carson City, the state capitol. It was on that journey that we spotted signs for the brothels — which are legal in this part of Nevada. Curious, we pulled off the road to gawk at the famous Bunny Ranch (made famous by the HBO series, “Cathouse,” which I had somehow managed to miss. When Michael insisted he had a friend who had gone in just for a drink and a tour, we decided to see if this was indeed possible.

082815 bunny ranch exterior
You walk up to the gate and must be buzzed in.

So it was that the four of us strolled in the front door (Kyndall in her cape, of course). Within seconds a parade of scantily clad young women emerged and lined up before us. One, acting as a sort of impresario, asked if we’d like to take a tour.

“Oh, we can do that?” I squeaked, embarrassed.

“Oh course,” answered the madam. “Just choose your guide.”

Another mortifying pause. Then Michael brusquely pointed to a thin, pale blonde in a bikini. She beckoned him to follow, but when Kyndall, Steve, and I made to tag along, the madam intervened, declaring that the tours could only be given one on one. Er, no thanks, Steve and I declined. While Michael disappeared into the brothel interior, his mom and dad and Kyndall waited in the entrance. Naturally, some of the remaining young ladies asked if they could pet Kyndall.

082815 1 bunny 082815 2 bunnies

A love fest of a different sort unfolded. “This made my week!” one of the girls  exclaimed. Kyndall looked pretty content too. But Mike appeared within a minute (and later reported that although the sexual services were clearly offered, he had declined). Then we were out the door, on to more adventures


When they get driven somewhere, our dogs travel in one or more kennels in the back of our van. When our CCI pups are tiny, they ride in their own small kennel, and Tucker occupies a second, commodious canvas container. But when the pups outgrow the baby kennel, they share the big kennel with Tuck. That’s always worked just fine. We feel that confining the dogs keeps them somewhat safer (if we slam on the brakes, heaven forbid, they can’t get thrown too far), and it impedes the spread of dog hair in the vehicle.

Kyndall moved into the big car kennel with Tuck a few weeks ago, and initially, we were lifting her up to stow her in it. But we assumed we would soon train her to jump in. Indeed, we saw her do it once or twice, fluid as a gazelle, effortless (unlike Tucker, whose ten-and-a-half-year-old upward launches are getting more and more precarious).

Then Kyndall suddenly started balking. It looked like this:

Frustrated, I remembered the words of our puppy mentor, who long ago instructed me that teaching the Jump command was easy. She liked to train it by urging her pups to Jump up on a bed. That’s normally forbidden, but I subsequently used it as a training ploy on a couple of puppies, and they did seem to find it irresistible. Not so with Kyndall. Urged to jump up and claim a delicious piece of pepperoni that I was waving around from the inner recesses of my bed, she… barked at me… tried to worm her way up on the bed… steadfastly refused to Jump.

Yesterday, however, Steve and I embarked on our first Road Trip with Kyndall. We drove to Phoenix to attend a professional conference and took her with us. Suddenly, at a pit stop halfway there, the gazelle was back! And she continued this morning to act as if jumping into the car kennel was no harder than yawning. See her in action:

I don’t have a clue what changed her mind. She seems to be going through a strange phase. She has suddenly abandoned all resistance to putting her leash on (wonderful!), but yesterday afternoon when I was walking with her, she stopped dead at the sight of a fallen tree branch. Clearly it made her nervous. (Not good.)

Certainly, this adventure is exposing her to all manner of new experiences. We’re hoping it will end with her taking a lot more things in stride.