Our puppies, Riley and Molly really miss their “daddy” Doug, who has been hospitalized since just a week or so after Thanksgiving, and it will be some time before he’s home. In the meantime my oldest son, Don, has been here helping me and the “kids” just love having him around. They spoil each other.
Don and his wife, Earlene, are real animal lovers. Right now they have four dogs and have added a cat to the pack. The latest addition showed up at the doorstep, hungry, dirty and crying. At first they were going to take her to the pound, but their “puppies” were busy cleaning up the poor little thing, and it quickly became a member of the gang. No way were they going to be able to remove “Fluffy” from that house.
My boys and I have always been animal lovers, and looking back, I don’t remember a time we didn’t have a pet or two. During my childhood the only pet I ever had was a canary, Petee and when one morning I found him dead at the bottom of his cage, I was a basket case. Mother never let me have another pet of any kind. I’ve made up for that with an assortment of dogs, starting with my Trinket, the little dachshund that a girl I worked with found wandering around in a Fresno parking lot on a horribly hot day.
Trinket loved to ride in anything that moved. She had her own little seat my late husband Van made for her out of a large milk box milkmen use. He covered it with a soft pad and Trinket would climb up on it, sit there and navigate as we traveled anywhere. But most of all she loved jumping into our little fishing boat, take over the front seat and enjoy any and all breezes that came her way. What she loved most, during our outings at those beautiful high Sierra fishing expeditions, was barking when either of us caught a big trout.
I always called her my “little girl” who learned every lesson with ease. She was smart, knew her place and the rules and had her own little wicker bed. We took that bed with us when visiting friends to play cards, and she would stay there until it was time to go home, or she needed to go outside. No puppy I’ve ever had was as easy to train or as obedient.
Van and I had two little female dogs when we lived in Cascade, Idaho. Missy was the one that had been, along with several other puppies, dropped down into a river from a bridge. The sheriff rescued all of them, and we took Missy home with us. Then somehow we acquired Kate who was part dingo. It made for a fun house with Missy able to jump from a standing position and leap over our sofa in a single bound. We should have called her Superdog. Kate was just a big, loving pet who thought Van was God.
When my husband became ill we had to sell our property and move to a smaller place. It was also necessary for us we to give up the puppies and our horse. All went to good homes, but we missed them all. It turned out to be the right thing to do when Van passed away just a few months later.
It was about a decade ago that I moved back with Doug who, at that time had two more dogs, Charlie and Benjie. Doug’s ex had brought the two of them home and somehow forgot that you need to train puppies. I fought that good fight — not too successfully — but it didn’t matter. When you love a pet, you take them warts and all.
Benjie became ill and with love was “put down” and then shortly after, Charlie became just as sick. Doug held him, telling him that he would soon be with Benjie and that we loved them both. It wasn’t easy, and it was a terribly quiet home for awhile.
It isn’t quiet now, not with Riley around. Molly is the quiet little miss, Riley the head of the pack. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer, and she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.