Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Raising Little Heroes

A re-post. Because I'm in a puppy mood . . .

A 'Cute' of puppies
For over 35 years, we have raised Old English Sheepdogs.
I love them.
To me, they are the perfect breed.
Happy, loyal, smart, easily trained, friendly, protective, gentle.
All of the best qualities of DOG writ large.
And hairy.
We have had many, many experiences with our puppies and dogs over the years, but one stands out . . .
A family came to look at our newest batch of puppies.
Now, I should explain here that a litter of OES puppies is called a 'cute' of puppies.
True story.
Moving on . . .
This family had a six-year-old boy and a fifteen-month-old girl.
The dog was for the boy, who was suffering from a severe illness.
A puppy was chosen.
By the very scientific method of sitting in the 'cute' and seeing which puppy climbed up into his lap.
Everyone was happy.
They left.
I thought of them from time to time, as I did all of my puppy families.
Then I got a phone call.
From the tearful, almost incoherent mother.
My heart stopped.
Until I realized that what she was crying were tears of joy.
Here is how she told it to me, with a little background added . . .
The family lived on the shore of one of the small lakes that are so plentiful here in northern Alberta. Their house was nestled in the thick trees surrounding the water.
Their yard opened directly out onto the beach.
A beautiful, picturesque spot.
But also dangerous to small children who might wander out into the cold (Canada has no other kind) water or become lost in the thick forest.
They were very careful.
Gates were kept locked at all times.
Back to the mother's story . . .
Originally purchased for their son, the little pup bonded, quickly and completely, with the little girl.
The two of them became inseparable.
Four months passed.
One summer day (we do get them in Canada, occasionally), the mother was in the front yard, filling the wading pool for her daughter who was playing in the back yard with the puppy, now six months old.
And already huge.
The puppy, that is.
Suddenly, the mother was startled by a loud scream.
She dropped the hose and broke records running to the back yard.
As she turned the corner, she skidded to a stop.
Someone had left the back gate, the entrance to all things dangerous, open.
And her baby was standing in that opening.
Or more accurately, struggling-to-move-forward, in that opening.
And screaming at the top of her lungs.
Directly behind her, teeth locked into her diaper and backside planted firmly on the ground, was the puppy.
Those teeth and that diaper were all that was stopping her from heading where she wanted.
Into the great unknown.
She wasn't happy.
The mother quickly ran to her daughter and picked her up, relieving the puppy of his self-appointed task.
The dog wiggled happily (normal OES behaviour) and, when the mother set her baby down once more, the two of them trotted off to another corner of the yard to play.
Crisis over.
Everything forgotten.
By the two most active participants, anyways.
It took the mother a bit longer.
For some seconds, she stood there in the open gate, thinking about what she had just witnessed.
For one thing, how had the gate, so assiduously (real word) kept locked, been left open?
And, more importantly, how had that six-month-old puppy known that his friend should not, ever, leave the yard alone?
And how had he figured out what to do, just in time?
That's when the tears started.
Later, when she had calmed some and her baby was napping, she called me.
It was a wonderful story.
After we had stopped crying.
Needless to say, that puppy became the pride and joy of his family.
And ours.

18 comments:

  1. Diane, you made me cry. Really cry. It's not just the story, as beautiful as it is. It's also how you tell it - understated, positive, uplifting and with such warmth. I want to thank you for that today.

    Have an especially good day, today, please!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And now you've made me cry! And gave me that especially good day. Thank you!

      Delete
  2. Dogs are wonderful.
    It's amazing how they can put 2 and 2 together.
    Puppies also learn from parents so maybe your dogs
    taught them something when you still had the pup.

    I always say it's easier to train another dog from a trained one.Great story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there's definitely something in what you say. The adults were both special!

      Delete
  3. Oh that is the best story of the day! Thank you so much for sharing it. I know that our puppy/toddler is completely devoted to Boo. Will he stop her from escaping? Not quite yet but the fact that he stops her head-banging by snuggling in close is enough for me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They just seem to know what's needed don't they?! So glad you have a special one for you special little girl!

      Delete
  4. Beautiful story! Dogs just seem to know when they are needed. I once had a pup do something selfless for me and I will forever be grateful <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh JJ I'd love to hear that story! Please share!

      Delete
  5. Oh my, what a wonderful story. I live happy endings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There just aren't enough of them are there?! So glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful story; I loved it.
    I do believe that dogs are smarter than we think. We have a dog that is amazing. My husband works at home and when he has stressful moments, Sammy will jump up on his lap. If my husband doesn't take a break for a long time, Sammy comes in with a toy and paws at his leg to get him to stop and play. It is so cute.
    I think you should use your posts as a book; I really enjoying reading your experiences.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think dogs are definitely gifts. Sent for just when we need them!

      Delete
  7. It's the Dulux dog!!
    Over here there is an advertisement on TV for Dulux Paints and it features an Old English Sheepdog. One of the ads has a whole horde of them! They're adorable.
    Have you ever seen the "For Better or Worse" comic books written by Lynn Johnston? The cartoon family has a dog named Farley who resembles an OES. They're my favourite cartoons, right up there with Calvin and Hobbes.
    I like your story of the puppy saving the toddler and I like the way the puppy was chosen too. That's how I always chose my puppies, sit down and wait for one to come to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A whole hoards of OES's? Paradise! I love the FBOW cartoon strip! It is one of my favourites as well! I always felt such a connection because she and the strip were so Canadian!

      Delete
  8. I've just checked my comic book and Farley IS an OES.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He definitely is. I clipped the cartoon Lynn drew when Farley passed away. It still makes my cry . . .

      Delete
  9. Dogs are God's gifts for those days when life gets too hard. What a lovely story. I wish we could have a dog right now...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love dogs! They definitely have their very special place . . .

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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