Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why not puppies...more lessons learned

If we're going to have animals, I thought, it makes sense to have a dog. You know, to take care of things. We were heading out of town for a short vacation after we had the contract signed for the farm, and somehow I had read an ad in the paper about beagle puppies for sale. And it so happened that their home was not too far from the path we would be taking for our vacation.

So we decided to stop by. And I had also decided that this would be an ideal late birthday present for our oldest son, VJ, who had turned 10 while we were still in Switzerland. We were shown the litter, 4 wonderful young beagles about 7 weeks old. We asked that if we decided to take one, could we pick it up a couple of weeks later when we returned home. Certainly!

Three of the beagles were beagle-colored, and one was larger and yellowish. VJ picked out a beagle-looking one. Hmm, I thought, I really like the yellow one.


So I asked the nice lady whether if we bought two, we might get a break on the price, and could she hold them both for us. She said CERTAINLY!

So we ended up with two dogs. We got them, naturally, just before we moved. VJ named his Charlie, and we named the other Dusty because of his color.

They were still tiny when they got to the farm. They stayed in the house except when the kids were out playing, but it was hard to keep them from tearing into everything. So when I had to do an errand a few weeks after we moved, I left them outside. The house was quite far from the road, hundreds of feet. But they found their way to the street, and Charlie was hit by a car and killed.

I didn't know that, though. I came home to see one quaking, shaking yellow puppy, no Charlie, and also our youngest child, Fritz, who should have gotten off the bus just before I arrived, missing.

A policeman soon arrived. He looked downcast. I was in a panic. Something had happened. But was it to the puppy or to the child?

He didn't realize my problem, so he started out saying there had been an accident. He spoke slowly. I was frantic.

Then from the corner of my eye, I saw my son walk around the corner of the house. He had gotten off the bus at the corner of the next street, not at our driveway, and had walked home by way of another little boy's house.

My relief was of course tainted by the sadness of losing Charlie, and knowing that I could have prevented the accident. We took up the shaking, upset Dusty, dug the first of many graves in our backyard, and buried VJ's puppy.

Life entails death. It was the beginning of our tough lessons.

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