Our little Kirby demonstrated a new level of maturity on our latest road trip. Perhaps the time sitting in the car (a total of four 10-hour days and two six-hour days on the road in an 11-day timespan) gave him time to contemplate. Perhaps he noticed that the less he whines to stop the car and get out, the faster we get to our destination. Perhaps he was on his best behavior because he was at Grandma's house. Or perhaps his bladder and brain just reached a new level of maturity. I don't know, but I like it.
Kirby quietly rode in the car for hour on end, just like Baxter, in a sort of "travel trance." He didn't get sick once. He didn't have an accident once (not in his crate or anywhere else). He didn't whine when we left him in his crate in a strange place. And he actually spent several hours unsupervised with Baxter one afternoon in my mom's house and there were absolutely no signs of struggle. Kirby and Bax were both asleep in the living room when Mom and I went out into the garage. We got busy going through some boxes and I completely forgot that we never put Kirby into his crate (the usual locale for long periods without supervision). We couldn't hear Kirby ring the bell to go outside, and I didn't realize how much time had passed until I heard a sharp little yap come from the other side of the door to the garage.
In a split second the realization came over me with a hot sweat: I'd left the puppy for hours unsupervised in someone else's house. I pictured a puddle in front of the sliding glass door. I pictured the lamp laying in pieces on the floor (Bax and Kirby had knocked it over once during a chase scene when we were actually IN the house with them). I pictured Mom's oriental rug with a corner shredded. I ran inside. Kirby was rather impatiently waiting for me on the other side of the door. As soon as I entered he ran for the back door and I whisked him out to the back yard. He did his business (that little guy must have been holding a gallon in there) and then happily trotted with me back into the house. Just like a grown-up dog. No puddles. No lamp on the floor. Nothing chewed.
Mom had been telling me to trust Kirby more (after all, it was my parents who first let a youthful Baxter have full run of the house 24-7 while they were pet-sitting). Then again, Baxter never damaged anything that wasn't in his crate and he has been pretty trustworthy since a very young age. It's not that Kirby has ever been a particularly mischievous dog, we just want to make sure he doesn't turn into one when we're not looking. Over the course of his puppyhood thus far Kirby has managed to sink his little teeth into a couple of things that weren't his and he's had the occasional "accident" when he got overly excited and/or we didn't heed the bell soon enough. But that was then and this is now. A lot can happen in a few weeks when it comes to puppy maturity.
In any case, Kirby passed the test. And Baxter gets kudos for being a good puppysitter. We're still not going to let Kirby have the run of the house when we leave the premises (he seems perfectly content to go into his crate when we ask him to), but I do feel better about letting Kirby roam freely with Baxter while I'm in the back office working.
Our little guy is growing up.