Is there anything sweeter than a puppy? I don’t think so. For years, my Annie has been trading barks with the dog that lives on the property behind mine. Her name is Jamie. A golden retriever-yellow Lab mix, she looks a lot like Annie, only with longer fur, and is one of the nicest dogs I have ever met. My dog is spayed, and I figured Jamie was too, so I was amazed when her owner, Sande, stopped her truck beside Annie and me on one of our walks to tell me about Jamie’s puppies. Bred with a golden retriever from the next block, she had nine puppies. Sande whipped out her cell phone and showed me pictures. Shortly after birth, they looked like a clump of tan piglets.
From time to time in recent weeks, I have heard puppies squeaking from beyond the fence, but I didn’t see them in person until necessity forced me to seek help from the neighbor. You see, I’m not good at asking for help. When Annie got another ear infection, requiring me to put medicine in her ears every day for a week, I tried everything to do it by myself. But I couldn’t even get the stuff out before Annie fled. I chased her. I tried to corral her in the corner. I tried bribing her, but Annie did not want me messing with her ears. I can’t blame her. They hurt, and the medicine stinks. The last straw came when I tried to do it in the car, figuring I could pin her in the passenger seat while she eagerly awaited a trip to the dog park. Nope. She leapt into the back seat, and I sprained my thumb trying to hold her. Not a good thing for a musician.
I took her and her bottles of gunk to the park, hoping another dog owner would help with this two-person operation, one to hold the dog, the other to dose her. The only dog owner there, someone I didn’t know, saw Annie coming, leashed up her anti-social, muzzled fur factory, and left.
Okay, okay. I called Sande. She was happy to help. Her life these days revolves around dogs. Nine puppies, plus Jamie, are almost a full-time job. As Annie and I walked up her driveway, Jamie barked a greeting. Then I saw the pups in this gigantic basket on the front lawn. Oh my gosh. At six weeks, they are now the same size that Annie was when I first saw her. All tan, with wrinkled faces. Sande was holding one in her arms. We laughed as she pointed out the red toenails on one of her front paws. It was the only way to tell her apart from the others.
Sande scooped another pup out of the basket. “Would you like to hold one?”
Oh yes. It was the softest thing I have ever felt, and it felt so good as the puppy snuggled against my chest. Annie just watched, curious, not having seen dogs so small since she was little. “Would you like a baby brother or sister?” I asked. She waved her tail cautiously. I laughed. “Not happening, kiddo.” But what a gift, just being able to hold it for a minute. And why would anyone want anything but a big yellow dog?
Sande held Annie and gave her treats while I gooped up her ears, and we made arrangements to do it again daily for a week. The vet visit and medications were expensive, and Annie still doesn’t enjoy her daily treatments, but her ears are already visibly better and we get to see Jamie and her puppies every day before they go to their new owners next weekend.
Life could be worse. We’re lucky dogs.
P.S. My hands have been pretty full, but I’ll try to get a picture to share with you next time.