As a child, my dad seemed to be a giant of a man. He was 6’1” with broad shoulders and, until he smiled, could be an intimidating figure. Inside, however, Dad was kind and gentle and he taught his children to be kind and gentle to all animals, including humans. One area he had a soft spot for was dogs – any breed or no breed, he loved them all.
November of my fifth-grade year, Dad brought home a pregnant dog. A small, thirty-pound female that looked like a Sheltie/Aussie cross. She was gentle with a big tummy, a happy face and no tail. Someone had abandoned her where Dad worked. My dad had six kids to feed but he took her in and named her Molly. Always the teacher, Dad told us all of God’s creatures need our kindness.
Molly adopted my family quickly but it became obvious she had never been inside and found no comfort there. With temps below freezing, Dad told us to see if she liked it under the back porch, which had an insulated crawlspace. That four-foot crawlspace bedded with straw became her new home. Every day, Molly greeted us when we returned from school and we spent our evenings with her. Thank goodness she loved kids, as there was little option in our family. As Thanksgiving approached, Molly was short-bodied and getting big. She looked like she swallowed a basketball!
Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, school let out at noon. When we arrived home, Molly did not greet us. In her new home, she had given birth to four puppies. One did not make it. We were sad but also Catholic and knew funerals. We had one for the puppy with full rights of burial and prayers for a good afterlife. We then moved on to help Molly who gave us the best Thanksgiving week ever. She had turkey gravy over her food on Thanksgiving Day; we knew mom was fond of her.
The Friday after Thanksgiving, Dad announced we should name the three male puppies and with some discussion, we came to a consensus. The biggest was Hoss, the active one was Ben and the small one Little Joe. We were devoted Bonanza fans!
As the puppies grew, we gave Molly a break by playing with them as much as we could and we eventually got them eating soft food and weaned. By now, even though it was cold, the puppies were going in and out of the home and were essentially house broke. They chased us and chewed on us and we spent endless hours sharing their world.
The week of New Year’s the first future owner arrived with Dad at his side. Ben was chosen to be the man’s companion on a farm. He promised Ben would have the best home and he lived up to his promise. All the puppies found homes that week and Molly went to the veterinarian to be fixed. Molly was our companion for the rest of her days and gave more love to her human kids than most parents have time for. She was ever a mom, ever a friend and better than my dad could have hoped.
Make some memories with your family this Thanksgiving. Memories never fade and get a little more special with every passing year. Happy Thanksgiving and I hope God blesses you with a puppy lick this week! Puppy kisses have always made me smile. Dr. B