In June, a stray we took in, Annie, had puppies. We knew the time was close, so we prepared her crate for her, and on the morning of June 30, 2011, I woke to find she’d given birth to four puppies, two brown girls, one white girl, and one tan boy. I could hold each in the palm of my hand, and they felt so vulnerable and warm, making the tiniest of squeaky noises. Annie was very protective of them, never letting a single one out of her sight. We moved them to a box filled with towels, and there we could observe and she could nurse them and come and go as she needed to.
The puppies grew steadily, and began to gain strength in their legs. Eventually, they were up and walking around, and Annie began trying to get away from them because they had voracious appetites, and every time she was near, they would try to latch on. She began to get testy with them, and as soon as the veterinarian gave us the go ahead, we offered solid food, and she weaned them. The time had come to find them new homes. It was a bittersweet time for the kids, because they had grown attached to the puppies, but understood Mom was not willing to keep them. At least not all of them. One was beginning to work its way into her heart, but she kept it to herself. One afternoon, she took photos of them and posted it and a simple note–puppies for sale, call this number–on the bulletin board at the local Orscheln’s Farm and Home store.
Friends couldn’t believe she intended to sell the puppies. They were from a stray, tiny little mutts that had no papers. They would be coyote food if the family hadn’t taken in Annie when they did. But, Mom knew she would have bought one if she was in the market. While they were at it, the kids agreed it was time to sell the guinea pig too. So, when the first father called and mentioned they’d like to see the pig, but his daughter really wanted a puppy, Mom simply hid the puppies away. The girl loved the pig, and they bought it and the cage too. Bye bye guinea pig.
When the first mother called asking if she and her daughter could look at the puppies, mom tidied the house, but the gates up, and brought three of the puppies into the room. One of them, though, she stashed in the back porch with Annie. The little girl ended up falling in love with one of the chocolate brown girls, and her mother paid $20 to bring it home. Now there were three.
The next couple of days were quiet, but then a young couple called on the puppies. Again, mom put one of the puppies in the back room. This time, the kids were home, and wanted to know why.
“Its to keep Annie quiet. Besides, if there are too many choices, its too hard to make up your mind. We want them to go home with one.”
The couple fawned over both of the puppies, unable to decide between the white spotted puppy and the other one.
“We really would love to have both of them,” the man said. “We just can’t afford both right now.”
Mom wasn’t really sure she bought that. Still, she was in a dealing mood. “How about $30 for the both of them?” The couple looked at one another, smiled, and agreed. They peeled off a $20 and a $10, and off they went with their new companions. Inside, the kids were in a state of shock. They cried they weren’t ready to say goodbye to both at once. The youngest kid cried, sad that he would not be able to see them grow up. He’d grown fond of holding puppies on his lap while he watched television after school, and bringing one into his room when his friends came over to play.
“What about boy-boy?” he asked. Mom paused, then finally answered.
“I think he’s going to stay with us.” Of course, he wasn’t everyone else’s favorite. Each child claimed to have wanted a different puppy, but Mom didn’t care. This choice she was making for her. Something about the cuddly little tan poofball warmed her heart in a way no other dog had before. He looked like a teddy bear, an Ewok and Elmo all in one. He was full of energy, but also very cuddly. He was her new baby.
The next day, she stopped at the store and took down the photo and her phone number, and bought a new collar and leash.