I have a story for you this morning, full of surprises, Gentle Reader. And some really cute pictures to gaze at, if the story gets dull. 🙂 Puppies! Shenanigans! Surprises! Great stories are, of course, made of these.
It has taken me a good couple of weeks to swallow my pride enough to actually share this story with you. But I’ve managed a swallow, gathered my wits, girded my loins, and restored my sense of humor (mostly!). You may think I’m a clueless dolt after you’ve read this, but you also may be just a teensy bit envious, and with the two hopefully canceling each other out, I shall proceed to go back in time just a bit. Back . . .
. . . about three weeks ago: Scout usually accompanies me out to the garden in the early morning hours, that is, if she is not following Malachi around, as he is usually doing something more interesting. She had followed me out on this particular day, flopping down on her side next to me, and indulging in a good stretch, inviting me to scratch her belly, as is her wont. I reached over to give her a scratch. I stopped, my hand suspended in mid-air above her side. Her usually-lean belly had an unusual roundness to it, and her teats seemed to be just a little . . . swollen. Or, a lot swollen. “Hmmmmm,” thought I, profoundly. “Strange.”
I chewed on this for a minute or two. The morning’s plans–at least for the next moment or two–were forgotten.
A bit of backstory: Our beautiful collie dog, Scout, is such a sweet dog and good companion, that we hadn’t taken her to the vet for a spay yet. We had in mind to search for a suitable . . er. . collie dog suitor, and to let her raise a batch of pups. Beautiful, sweet dogs ought to have the chance to have puppies, we thought (“we” being–solely–Mack and me). We hadn’t found a papa collie dog yet, but the one time that Scout apparently was in heat, we were very careful to keep her on a leash when we were outside, and anyway that was months and months ago.
Okay, a wee kitty-related detour and disclaimer at this point: CATS and their enthusiastic reproduction, we have experience with. CATS, when they are in heat, are embarrassingly obvious about their misery and selfish desire. CATS will yowl and scream and claw and strut and become violent and will strike “come hither NOW, I don’t care who or what you are” poses in the middle of the blessed living room while you are serving your company their dessert and coffee. CATS are not proud, not subtle, not agreeable, not BEARABLE to be around when they are in season. And they are in season A LOT. Neutering a CAT is, in essence, self-defense of the highest order! I remember (with not a little embarrassment) even letting a CAT in season out the door, just because I couldn’t stand it any more. (“But she’ll have kittens!” a child would moan, oh wait a minute, that never happened.)
Though we have had a couple of cats appear, out of the blue apparently, with kittens, we have always been very careful to have all our dogs neutered as soon as necessary, for all those good, responsible, logical reasons: so they wouldn’t wander; to help them settle into relaxed, friendly family dogs; to make sure that we didn’t have a passel of pups to deal with. Puppies are a lot of trouble, right, cute as they are? All excellent reasons.
Ergo: we have had absolutely no experience with any of our pet dogs having puppies.
Baby ducks? Yes. Baby goslings? Been there. Baby chicks, baby kittens, baby gerbils, baby people, baby everything, we’ve had them all out here. We are big fans of babies in all their delightful forms!! But: we have had no experience with baby doggies.
Back to my story: I’m still staring curiously at Scout’s slightly-swollen belly, my scratching hand hovering weakly above her. She couldn’t be . . . yikes, could she be ? Naw. No way! Could it be? NO! . . . right . . . ?
I pulled my cell phone from my pocket and texted Amalia (and yes, some days we fire a lot of texts back and forth, from garden to house: it’s a new generation, isn’t it?). And in this case, I was relieved not to be yelling this message across to the house, for all the neighbors to hear and wonder at. Amalia surely was going to be, as well. Relieved, that is.
“SCOUT HAS SWOLLEN BREASTS!” I texted. (Incidentally: probably the strangest, and most interesting, text that I’ve ever sent, and–I hazard a guess here–that Amalia has ever received.)
After a very long and pregnant (sorry!) silence, my phone buzzed.
A text from Amalia: What on earth . . . are you TALKING ABOUT??
me: Could Scout be pregnant?
Amalia: No. No way! Could she? Wait. What//?? (insert astonished-face emoticons) Puppies???!!
Mack came wandering out to the garden looking preoccupied, at this juncture, as is his wont, trying his level best to make some subtle contact with me while avoiding my gaze, so as to not invite a chore request. (It never actually works, Mack. I can see you, even if you do look the other way.)
“Mack,” said I, with a little relief. (He is my little researcher, you see. I ask him to look something up and he will find a book on the subject, learn all he can, and then come report back. He memorizes the most important bits. All this is great for his brain development, I’m sure, and ideally takes enough time so he can avoid my asking him to do more mowing. He would always, always, rather be reading than doing chores for Mom. Not that I blame him for a minute.) “I need you to do something for me.”
“Hmm?” he answered, gazing at a bird swooping by, trying to look intensely preoccupied and thus, unavailable. Poised, as it were, for flight. (sorry again. Somebody. Stop me.)
“C’mere. Take a look at this.” He sighed reluctantly, and trudged toward Scout and me.
Wordlessly, I pushed Scout’s fur away from her swollen teats and we both stared. He moved his gaze to my face. “What? How? Is she–what?” he stammered.
“Her teats are swollen. See? What do you think? Could she be . . . with puppies? Pregnant??”
“Teats? Woww, I didn’t even know she had teats,” he observed. “. . . Well . . . I’ve read about false pregnancy in dogs,” he said, after a few moments of thought. (Of course he had.) “It’s probably that–right? I mean–how–who?” His body was relaxed now, as he gave in to his hoped-for suspicion that I was too distracted by this development to appoint an impromptu chore.
At this point, I realize that I am blowing my newborn-dewy resolve to write bite-sized blog posts more often. Oh well. I shall start that next time. 🙂 *blowing kisses to my Gentle Readers* Forgive me?
“Please go look up “false pregnancy in dogs,” and then come back and tell me about it?” I asked, hoping ardently that this swollen belly and plump teats phenom was a hormonal glitch, nothing more. An oddity. A peculiarity. An aberration. Something for the biology books.
So Mack ran off to the house, joyful at the prospect of an appointed research project and an escape from the chores that he had anticipated. Not to mention the possibility of every boy’s dream: serendipitous puppies!
I returned to my garden work, making frequent and anxious breaks to check on Scout and to gaze at that perplexing swollen belly. It wasn’t going away. If anything, she was pushing it out further. *gosh*
At this point, I want to explore–briefly!–why I felt such dread and embarrassment over the prospect of Scout having puppies. We loooove all young life. We are great devotees of babies, you see, in all their delightful forms. Scout is a very sweet dog. So why was I so disturbed over the prospect of having a serendipitous batch of puppies? I’ve been thinking hard about this ever since, and I think the issue comes down to control. We are increasingly fond of thinking of ourselves in control of the world around us, despite the fact that we really aren’t. But more on this later. Perhaps.
Well, Gentle Reader, I gave it away with the title of this piece, of course. Just a few days after this startling discovery, Scout did, in fact, give birth.
Want to hear how it happened? I think you do. 🙂 Trust me on this. You do.
Now we skip over to our lovely daughter Bethany, soon to give birth herself to her first baby, and an unwitting player in this story. In her thorough preparations for becoming a mother, she had made pedicure appointments for Amalia and herself and me, at our favorite nail salon (or “toenail place” as Mack calls it). On the day of the appointments, Mack chose to stay home, since we’d only be gone for an hour or two. I think his precise words were “I’d rather be stuck through with a hundred flaming bamboo sticks than sit in that toenail place for an afternoon!” (Whatever.) The boy doesn’t mince words when he feels something strongly. That much is commonly known around here.
I, uncharacteristically, left my cell phone at home, plugged in, as the battery was nearly dead. So it came as a bit of a surprise when the little woman who was doing our nails looked up from the salon phone at me, after we’d been there for about an hour. “Amy? Is for you.”
Mack didn’t even sound like himself on the other end. He sounded like a panicked little girl. “Mom!” he gasped, breathlessly, in a high-pitched voice.“Thank goodness! Come home—NOW! Please!!”
“What–what–what?” I asked, as he gasped for breath. “Are you okay? What’s wrong??” Visions of gaping wounds, spurting blood, missing teeth, crushed bones, etc., came to my mind, and if you knew how many times I’ve been in the ER with a child with these very items, you’d understand.
“Get home, Mom. Now. Please! Scout is giving birth. All–over–the–couch. There is blood. Lots and lots of blood!”
“Puppies?” I said, weakly. “Now???”
“Two so far! Mom, I need you to be here–now!!”
“Is Scout okay?” I asked.
“I . . . think so . . . but there is an awful lot of blood . . . on the couch, on the floor, on the rug . . . oh boy . . . so much blood . . . “
My nails were done, so I paid the bill, left Bethie and Amalia in Hang’s capable hands and hurried home.
Well. There certainly was a lot of blood. Everywhere. And two tiny puppies, nursing at Scout’s side. Scout was bloody, and was concentrating on the task at hand. She hadn’t given birth in the little nook that we had prepared for the event, behind the couch in the basement–naturally–the nook with layers of newspapers, an old sheet and a ratty old quilt. She had given birth on the couch–her favorite sneaky place to cuddle when nobody was watching–and then had moved down to the carpet next to the couch.
Oh well. Good thing we mainly have hand-me-down furniture (and rugs!). Nothing too precious.
Mom and Dad, delighted by the events, drove out and watched Scout with her new family with us for an hour or two. By the end of the afternoon, Scout was leaner than we had seen her in a long time, and was proudly nursing five tiny puppies.
What a day! And the next day, of course, Bethie gave birth to baby Gideon . What a week!
That was three weeks ago. Puppies, like babies, grow too quickly for the heart to grasp fully. You simply must spend time with them every day, so they get used to being handled and played with, and the same is true of babies. So, for the past three weeks, Mack and I have made many trips over to visit little Gideon (happily not far away), and we settle on the floor in the basement several times a day to play with these puppies of Scout’s. *sigh* Such a chore! 😉
One day soon, we’ll start looking for homes for these cute little furballs. It’ll be hard to part with them, of course, but training a cadre of farm dogs probably would be a bit more than any of us have time for right now.
Isn’t it funny how something so surprising as a litter of puppies can totally turn your life upside-down, and yet make it so much richer? That’s what these little cuties did for us. Amalia left for college just a few days after they were born. She isn’t far away, and she is touchingly conscientious about sending her lonesome mom notes and updates, but we miss her like crazy. There is a huge void right now at our place. God knew that it would take something special, something surprising, something shenanigans-related to fill that void, at least a little.
Five puppies don’t exactly replace Amalia, (they can’t drive to town to fetch a pizza for me, for example–just joking, Amalia!) but they at least keep us busy enough for distraction from these longing-heart issues, at least.
Did you know that I’m just a little over a week from releasing my new chicken-related ebook? I spill the beans in this post, and give you a chance to win a free copy for yourself! Check it out!
Thanks for popping by, chickie!
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