IMG_1610.JPGI’m not sure Adagio is quite as sleepy a puppy as his half-sister Beverly was. But he naps a LOT. This makes life with him pretty easy.

Normally he sleeps through the night and wakes somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am. He eats breakfast and enjoys a burst of activity then, racing around the house and/or yard, barking at Tucker, playing with various toys. We’ve started to take him on longer walks close to home; this morning we made it all the way to the coffee shop and back on foot, with no time in the stroller; he’s doing better and better on the leash. Then around 9 or 9:30, he starts to sag and he’s ready for a long morning nap. He wakes up around noon for a little lunchtime break, and then he usually will settle down for more… sleeping!

His MOST favorite place to sleep is plastered up against Tucker, who has already come to tolerate this pretty well.


Otherwise, he seems to enjoy sprawling in a number of weird positions. Like this:


Or this:


Even after he wakes up, when we open the kennel or the exercise pen and invite him out, he often just sits there, imperious, unmoving. We have to reach in and yank him out. IMG_1608.jpg

We haven’t conclusively exited from Puppy Hell yet. (We’re still working to communicate with one another about when he needs to go out and pee.) But life already feels much easier than it was five and a half weeks ago. (“Five weeks?!” Steve exclaimed this morning. “Haven’t it been five months?”)

No. It’s only been a five and a half weeks.


The first 24 hours

Steve and I each got up once with Adagio last night — Steve going first in response to  urgent cries and unfortunately not getting to the kennel before Adagio had deposited a massive pile of puppy poop on the towel in it. This was surprising, as Steve had taken him out at 9:30 p.m. and come back reporting not one but two poops then. When Adagio started crying about 2:30 a.m., I figured it was my turn. Out in the cold, dark lower yard, the little guy circled around for a while, then deposited a small gloppy pile under the fig tree.

We chalk the latter up to the stress of his flight and all the other excitement yesterday — coupled with the new thrill of free-range snacking. One of us accompanied Adagio every second he was outside yesterday, but he still managed to pick up and chew on dirt, assorted pebbles, leaves, seeds, berries, and God know what else was within striking range of his muzzle. Once again, I felt astounded by how thoroughly I’d managed to forget the insatiable drive of retriever puppies to pick up and eat stuff. Also, to chew. While I was out this morning for a few hours, Steve kept a list of all the things the little guy sunk his teeth into. They included:

The corner of our tatami bed platform

The knob on a bathroom drawer

The bathroom mat

The bedroom room lamp cord

My oak dresser

The TV cord in our downstairs room

The rug in downstairs room

The frame of the big crate

The frame of the small crate

The dish in the small crate

A living room lamp cord

The edge of the butcher block island

A redwood patio chair

The wheels of our puppy stroller

The hedgehog/doorstop in Steve’s office

The door mat in his office

My garden clogs

A bathroom door stop

His toys

Still, we’re not complaining (much). Over the last 24 hours, Adagio has several times settled down for long naps in his kennel. He whimpered a few times last night, but there was no shrieking, no prolonged protestation, as so many puppies emit on their first night.

This morning Steve took him for a block-long ride in our puppy stroller to the closest mailbox. He jumped out once, but then Steve zippered him in and reported that Adagio seemed to enjoy the brief outing.  Later, he tolerated his first bath.

011118 Adagio1
He was stoic. But does that little droop in the tail betray a hint of doubt?

He still has not once urinated or defecated in the house (unless you count the kennel last night, which I don’t). And whenever he has been awake, instead of napping, he’s displayed a solid confidence that impresses us. He’s the only puppy we’ve ever raised who has confidently walked up and down all the many stairs in our house, right from the start.

011118 Adagio2
If Tucker is up there, it must be worth following him. 

It feels like we’re off to an excellent beginning.

Party’s over

Well, we’ve terminated our experiment in letting Beverly sleep with Tucker. Despite the promising start, Beverly started taking a more aggressive approach to waking me up when she felt ready for her breakfast, i.e. coming up and plopping her paws on the bed, next to my sleeping face.

I didn’t appreciate that, so we starting putting her leash on her and clipping it to the little hook on the wall next to Tucker’s dog bed. That confined Beverly. But one morning we woke up and found poor old Tuck sleeping mostly on the hard wood floor, while Beverly sprawled in the middle of his cozy pillow. He looked morose, and we felt bad for him. His old bones and joints need some soft support.

Note how Beverly situates herself strategically right in the center of the bed — all the better to claim ALL the space (bwa-ha-ha!) You can tell how much Tucker appreciates this.

So Beverly is spending her nights in the kennel again, which she doesn’t seem to mind. Actually, at the moment, we’re hosting one of our former CCI puppies, Darby. (She was released from Advanced Training and became the beloved pet of some friends.) Darby and Beverly like each other and play pretty well during the day, but at night, we’re putting the girls in separate kennels in Steve’s office, along with Tucker, who has another dog bed there. (Three big dogs up in our bedroom is too many, we think.)

It won’t last long. Darby’s family will pick her up on Tuesday, whereupon Beverly and Tucker will rejoin us upstairs. And Beverly will still have Tucker to nap on during the day.


Bed buddies: an experiment in co-sleeping

112316-bed-buddiesSteve and I love dogs, but we don’t sleep with them. I know some people do, and I don’t judge them. But I personally don’t want to share my bed with anyone who’s as unsanitary, hairy, and disrespectful of personal space as all my dogs have been. With CCI puppies, it’s especially a no-brainer. The handbook states clearly that the aspiring service dogs should never sleep on people beds.

In the first days and weeks, kennels also are an important tool for house-training. Dogs instinctively avoid soiling their dens, so sleeping in a crate is an important first step toward self-control.

Beverly seems reasonably content in the crate that’s up in our bedroom. But she clearly prefers snuggling up with Tucker pretty much every chance she gets. (He spends each night on a cushy dog bed a few feet away from her kennel.)  Sunday for the first time in ages the night was chilly. To me it felt like our Southern California winter at last was approaching. I suggested that maybe we should let Beverly spend the night next to her large, furry buddy.

“And what if she gets up and pees in the night?” Steve retorted.

“She won’t. And if she does, I’ll clean it up. It’s easy; the floor is wood.”

“What if she chews his bed?”

“She won’t DO that!” I asserted. “She doesn’t do that in the day. Now it’s nighttime. She’s sleepy.”

So we tried it out, and it seemed to be a success. We heard not a peep in the night, and both dogs slept soundly until after I woke up, around 6:30.

We let her sleep with him the next two nights, and the results have been mixed. Tuesday morning, I awoke a little after 6 to the feeling of a puppy nose gently nuzzling my hand. (That nose would have been unable to do that, had it been crated.)

This morning, I set my alarm for 5:30 in order to attend a 6 a.m. class at my gym. This time I had to roust both dogs off the cushion.

We’ll keep trying it out for at least a few more days. Even now I’m not sure what Tucker thinks. Steve is sure he has to like it. “He’s an 84-[dog]-year old guy,” he points out. “Not many cute young girls want to sleep with him.”



The worst possible puppy class

We were looking forward to seeing how Beverly would react last night to her first puppy class. But it couldn’t have been worse. When we arrived, the gate was locked and the classroom dark. I called another puppy raiser and learned that our instructor apparently posted a notice on Facebook around noon yesterday, stating that he wouldn’t be showing up (and apologizing for the last minute announcement). That’s the first time I’d heard about this page (or had any clue it should be checked to confirm the classes would proceed as scheduled). We weren’t the only folks who were clueless. I got a call an hour later from another puppy-raiser with an older dog who had just arrived downtown for the Advanced class — to find no one there.

We felt particularly bad about the cancellation because we had given a ride to some new puppy-raisers who livenear us; this would have been their very first class in San Diego. Their pup is a lanky young male named Keegan, just one month older than Beverly. We transported the two of them in side-by-side kennels, but when we arrived and learned the bad news, we let Beverly and Keegan sniff each other. If anything, he seems a calmer and milder-mannered fellow than Beverly (who’s pretty gentle herself). It will be interesting to see how they play — but there was no place to do that last night.

071116 Bev meets Keegan

Later last night, I gave Beverly an A+ in Nocturnal Puppy Behavior. Steve and I turned out the lights around 10 pm and she slept well until 5:30, when she began rustling in her kennel and I got up to take her out. The milestone was that for the very first time, I did NOT carry her down the stairs but let her walk down them on a leash, and then out to the lower level of the yard. She waited until she was all the way back there before relieving herself. Today she got the third of her four sets of puppy shots, and we learned that she weighs 25 pounds. So if the days of carrying her are over, my back and I both are very, very happy.


Three months old!

Beverly was three months old on Saturday. This Wednesday, we will have had her for four weeks. During that time she’s changed

from this:

061616071116 Bev2

to this.

She’s more than doubled in weight, and she’s having new experiences daily. Some are not so great. She had her first case of diarrhea Saturday (God knows why), and that combined with a rare accident in her kennel prompted us to subject her to her first bath.

071116 First bath here

Although she’s perking up a bit, she continues to amaze us with her sleepiness. Previous puppies have jumped to their feet and bounded out of their kennel whenever we opened the door, but if Beverly is snoozing, this is what typically happens even after we open the door:

071116 Sleepyhead

She ignores us and sleeps on.

She’s now big enough that she can lie down in the stroller and rest her chin on the opening. When we walked with her yesterday, she appeared to like that. 071116 Lazy stroller

Tonight, however, she won’t be able to curl up for an after-dinner nap. For the first time, we’ll take her to puppy class. We’re curious to see whether THAT keeps her awake.

Sweet puppy nights

For the first two weeks of our life with Beverly, she woke up every night sometime between midnight at 3 a.m., crying. Steve hauled himself out of bed and carried her down the stairs, out the back door, past the pool deck, and down to the lower yard (the area where our dogs most commonly relieve themselves.) Every time he did that, Beverly peed and pooped. Back up in our room, when she was put back into the kennel, she went right back to sleep.

070316 sleeping dog

Last Thursday night, things changed.

We went to bed around 9:30 (because we’ve been so tired!). But she slept to a little after 4 a.m. Friday morning. Friday night, she slept from about 10:15 to almost 5.

“We’ve made the breakthrough!” I exclaimed.”I have to report this in my blog!”

Steve urged restraint, warning that it might be a fluke. I suspected he was being superstitious, not wanting to jinx the happy turn of events. Indeed, last night, Beverly once again went to bed around 9:30 and slept until 5 a.m. Steve took her out then and claims that he watched her excrete a full gallon of pee. “No exaggeration,” he says. “It was at least a gallon.”

5 a.m. is still a tad earlier than we would prefer to awaken, but by any measure, it can allow for a full night’s sleep. For the moment, Steve is still taking Beverly out when she first awakens, but then he stashes her in the kennel in his office, with Tucker for company. Steve then can go back to sleep for another hour or more, and I can get up at 6 or 6:30 to do the first shift of chores (dispensing puppy-chow, providing water, watching Beverly chase the empty milk bottle in the early-morning light.)

Best of all, we can begin to imagine even better mornings down the line: a 5:30 wake-up… Then 6… Once that happens, we’ll be moving out the Puppy Hellish phase, at least with this girl.


In other puppy news, we’ve gotten word that the friends of friends who applied to adopt Kyndall visited her up in Oceanside Friday and have made the decision: they definitely want her. This is wonderful news, as they are very committed and dedicated dog lovers. We’re confident she’ll have a great home with them.


Puppy hell

Beverly is the 11th dog Steve and I have raised from puppyhood — the 7th we’ve raised for CCI. Over the years we’ve acquired an article of faith about this enterprise: if you know what you’re doing, life with the puppy starts to become quite pleasant by the time they’re 4 months old. But from 2 months (when we usually get them) to 4 months, we resign ourselves to being in Puppy Hell.

061716 devilpup

Two main challenges make life hellish. The first is training the pup not to urinate and defecate in the house. While we’ve learned a lot about how to do this quickly and efficiently, the process (optimally) requires taking the dog out every hour or two during daylight hours, and a certain number of times during the night.

The second hellish thing about the first two months is related to the first: getting the puppy to sleep through the night. At first they wake up and cry because they’re lonely or they miss their litter mates. Then they wake up and cry because they have to pee or poop and, instinctively, don’t like to do that in their den (or kennel). When they’re really little, they lack the physical capacity to go very long without relieving themselves. So you get nights like our second one with Beverly. It went like this:

8:30 p.m.yesterday — Steve and I are having trouble keeping our eyes open, because we got so little sleep during our first night with her (Wednesday). Shortly before 9, he takes Beverly out, but all she will do is pee. We collapse in our bed; she in her kennel.

9:45 p.m. — Beverly’s shrieks penetrate my earplugs. Steve appears to be dead, so I drag myself out of bed to attend to her. Opening her kennel door, I sniff something alarming. Despite her instincts, she has pooped in the kennel. I go downstairs and collect clean-up gear, clean the kennel, and dispose of the poop. Beverly, in the meantime, has found her way up onto Tucker’s bed and is sleeping blissfully near him.

061716 on Tuc's bed
She appears to love all of Tucker’s various beds — the one in our bedroom, this one in Steve’s office, and the one upstairs in my office.

11 p.m. — This time she awakens Steve; I’m too deeply asleep to hear her. He takes her downstairs and out into the back yard, but all she does is pee.

1:30 a.m. — She wakes both of us this time, and Steve gallantly takes her out again. She pees and poops.

4:10 a.m. — She’s crying again. I order her to stop yowling. “Don’t!” I command, and amazingly, she quiets down and goes back to sleep.

4:50 a.m. – Unable to go back to sleep myself, I get dressed, take her downstairs with me, and begin my day.

To help our puppies get through the night, we’ve learned to cut off their access to water after 5 or 6 p.m. But we can’t (and wouldn’t want to) limit their food. CCI tells us to give our charges one cup of puppy chow in the morning, one at mid-day, and a final one at night. That’s as much (3 cups) as our elderly dog, 90-pound Tucker, gets. For most meals, Beverly has only consumed about 3/4 of what we give her.

She does something no other dog of ours has ever done: lies down with her head almost resting in the bowl. Then she eats slowly but methodically, chewing each piece of kibble.

061716 Chowing down
This girl gives new meaning to the phrase “chowing down.”

Within a few minutes, she dozes off yet again, conserving her energy for the long night ahead.

061716 Napping again






Sleeping outside the box

Sleeping outside the box

It’s easy to say, “Let sleeping puppies lie,” but the question is: where? When they’re little fur balls, there’s no question. They sleep in the baby kennels that we borrow from CCI. Being confined helps with the house-breaking process, as 090315 old denmost dogs have an innate aversion to soiling their dens.

The day comes when the pup is too small to fit in the little kennel, so in our house, we then return the small box to CCI and move our medium-size crate up to our bedroom. That’s where Kyndall’s been sleeping for months. But lately she’s been looking cramped.

We thus decided to give her a chance to sleep outside the box. We never got to that stage with our last puppy, Dionne, who was so mischievous she would invariably find a way to get in trouble at 2 a.m. in the dark. Every night.

090315 sleep site

But Kyndall’s generally so well-behaved we decided to give her a chance. We removed the medium-sized kennel from our bedroom, replacing it with her little sleeping mat. Steve snapped a rope on her collar and attached it to a grommet in the wall. She didn’t bother us that night — but silently chewed on the rope, almost gnawing through it by morning.

Rather than give up, I suggested we try letting her sleep untethered. We’ve done this for two nights in a row, and nothing bad has happened! She hasn’t tried to sneak into bed with us. She hasn’t nosed my head or annoyed Tucker (who sleeps on a big cushion a few feet away). She hasn’t decided that the nearby loveseat would be even more comfortable than the sleeping mat.

We can hardly believe it, but we’ll continue to see how it works out over time.

The birdcage cover effect

After I wrote the other day about Kyndall’s habit of waking at dawn, I got a very welcome suggestion from the person who’s raising Kyndall’s sister, Kihei. While Kihei also was early riser, her puppy-raiser described having luck at delaying the puppy’s wake-up time by covering her kennel to make it darker.

I expressed some concern about any such cover limiting the air supply, but Kat explained, “My crate is tucked in a corner so she can’t see anything through the back and one side but the wall but it’s far enough away so she gets air. Then I cover the front door and half of the other side with a sheet so it’s not too heavy and still breathes a little….if she is covered and the other dogs don’t need to go out she has slept until 9, but more normally she sleeps until 7-7:30.”

That sounded fantastic, so Saturday afternoon I pushed Kyndall’s crate into the corner and covered it with a woolen throw. Like this:

022315 birdcage
The left side isn’t covered at all, so she certainly gets enough air to breathe.


Sunday morning she slept until 5:45 a.m. — better than 5:30, we reasoned. This morning she kept quiet until almost 6. Better still, we exulted!

We’ll have to wait until next weekend to continue trying to train her to sleep later, as while Steve and I go on a short trip, Kyndall will stay with LeAnn Buchanan, our original CCI puppy mentor. She’ll probably learn more from LeAnn than we could teach her in four weeks. And have more fun, to boot.