Saturday, March 16, 2013

Doggy Blog--How we got Happy!

My cousin, Jackie, called me on our old landline and told me that her chocolate lab had delivered six puppies.  She called on the landline because that was all we had, all anyone had, in 1986.  She said that this would be Hershey’s last litter.  I grabbed Tim and Sine, then five and four respectively, and ran down the hill to Jackie’s house.  When we arrived there were seven puppies rolling and squeaking, toddling and flopping about their laughing chocolate lab mother.  There might have been other people there looking at puppies that day, but all I remember was one black puppy with bright eyes, a slender tail, and a fuzzy coat. 

Tim, Sine, and I watched her as she’d step forward to sniff, then scooted backward until she was touching her mother again.  She was shy.  I understood shy.  Tim and Sine stood glued to my side, silent and watchful for a couple minutes until the puppies charmed them.  The little fur balls barked their squeaky barks, growled their mini-growls, ran their stubby runs, and sniffed their puppy butts, all except one.  One watched.  She seemed a thoughtful puppy, and Sine agreed she must come home with us.  Tim chose three others that we must also have to keep our puppy company, but I knew what Mike’s reaction would be to one, let alone three or four puppies.  We picked up our “free” puppy, and thus began my sleepless nights.

My husband, Mike, worked for Boeing and still does.   He happened to be on a business trip to Chicago at this time, but he called every night to talk to the kids and touch base, home base.  That’s one of the things I love about my husband.  He loves his home and he loves his family.  What he doesn’t love is change, and a few things other things that I prize very highly, like horses, dogs, and lots of friends.  I’ve come to realize that even though he’s not shy around me, he is shy, and he’s very sensitive, when I actually believed him to be quite a brut. 
When Hershey had her first litter and my cousin called, I ran down and picked out a puppy.  The thunderclouds of Mike’s disapproval came complete with lightening bolts.  The puppy was returned, and order was returned to the kingdom.   This time my cousin called, though, he was two time zones and over a thousand miles away, and he wasn’t due home for another week.

I knew by the time he returned that I could break the news gently, and that he’d love our new lab puppy.  I carefully schooled the children on this subject.  Do not tell Daddy on the phone about Happy.  We will wait until he comes home, so he will be really surprised.  Okay?

Mike called that afternoon.  He raved about his visit to the Chicago Museum of History and Industry and about the Italian restaurant he’d found within walking distance of his hotel.  Sine could wait no longer.  She had to talk to Dad, so I handed her the phone with a reminder about our secret.  She smiled, nodded, and took the phone.  I grabbed the other phone (this was in 1986—no cell phones) and listened while my sweet daughter almost shouted.

“Daddy, we got a puppy!”

The silence roared between Chicago and our little farm in Auburn, Washington.  I waited.  Sine could not stop herself.  She gushed about Happy, how cute she was, how tiny, how soft, how sharp her little teeth were.  No detail was too small for the Daddy she missed.  She couldn’t wait to share her news.  I looked at Tim, who even at five-years of age knew what she had done. 

Mike finally interrupted her.

“That’s nice,” he said, in a quiet thunder I recognized from previous disagreements.  Mike was the tall, silent type.  He was my stoic husband, and I love him still, but he was angry, when Sine handed me the phone, I knew it was coming.

“Is she off the line?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered, waiting.
“I thought we’d talked about this.”
He started to sound like my father, and I felt my hackles rise. 
“We did,” I said.
“But you got a puppy anyway?  What about Cuddles?  What about Cruiser?”
Okay, we already had a dog, but we’d inherited her.  She was a German Shepherd, and although she loved us and the kids, she didn’t love anyone else. 
It was a problem. 
She’d belonged to our brother-in-law who worked full-time, as did my sister.  Cruiser had been terrorizing my horse, the neighborhood dogs, the UPS man, and any car with mud flaps for several years when she finally met her match, Happy.

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