© My Canine Grandchildren Four legged creatures always had a significant place in our home. With five children to raise, pets were part of the package. Some barked, some purred, some arrived with long floppy ears without a sound at all. A few nestled in a shell, while others sported fins, or scales that slithered. Our daughter Heidi had a bent for running a board and care home for snakes. “Sylvester’ is on the loose,” she announced one day, and the search was on for her four foot tenant who escaped from the terrarium. After peeking in every conceivable hideout, we discovered him behind the record cabinet in the living room. Needless to say with five kids a father’s imagination can expand into what some might think unreal fantasy. Let me assure you events that occurred in our home were indeed for real. Always, there was delight to see what could be the next coming attraction. Our cat Marigold, once put our neighbor’s Doberman Pincher on a run for her life. I’d been cutting the lawn in the back yard with the side gate open. She had her second litter of kittens stored away safely, so she thought, under a wood pile stacked against the backyard fence. The dog came wandering in as happened occasionally. I thought nothing of it until she got a bit too sniffy with her nose by our wood pile. Out of the some place in hiding, like a wild cougar came Marigold with her normal motherly instincts to defend her precious children. We’ve all probably seen Tom and Jerry cartoon’s of the cat erect on all fours with hair standing on end. Well, this is a scene I will never forget as long as I live. Marigold, defender of uninvited intruders, latched unto the back of this large Doberman, jaws gripped tight around the dog’s neck. Marigold’s fur stood straight up on her as she rode piggy back out the yard and down the street on our neighbor’s dog. Marigold was awarded the ‘Feline medal of Honor’ that day as defender of her kittens for bravery and courage above beyond the call of motherhood. Grandpa’s Dream Come True Our oldest son Scott and his wife Debbie have two handsome boys. This alone is special since they were to purchase the home right across the street from us, having our grandsons just a holler away. This was grandfather’s dream come true, having two grandsons so near to watch them grow up and become an intimate part of their lives and discoveries. Opportunities like walks in the woods observing them uncover rocks and old logs to find a whole new world. One of insects, bugs of all shapes and sizes, spiders, snakes, critters with just a few legs and some with lots of legs. So much were they like their aunts and uncles before them. As grandparents, we were always the loudest rooting section watching them develop their skill in athletics. Little league baseball, and Pop Warner football, became part of their growing years along with hunting and fishing.. A special delight because their dad coached the boy’s teams in both sports. But this grandpa also longed for a granddaughter. Granddaughter Shelby As a father of a large family, I always take delight the times our children return home for the Holidays. But one particular Thanksgiving was special because of my Christmas present request. After Thanksgiving dinner had been consumed and the dinner dishes picked up we gathered in the family room to draw names for our Christmas gift exchange. My oldest son Scott and his wife Debbie drew my name and wanting to have some fun, on my Christmas list I wrote down, ‘I want a granddaughter for Christmas!’ Remember now they have two special boys but I wanted a granddaughter as well. Of our five children, only our oldest son and our oldest daughter are married. Heidi and her husband Dan, care for two small house dogs Peety and Mitzy as their children. Well nothing much was said, and Christmas that year came and went. It was a blessed time as we always celebrate the birth of our Savior with much tradition in our home, and knowing the love our Heavenly Father brings us, in His Son Jesus. A few months had passed when one sunny spring day our daughter-in-law Debbie, came through our front door holding this furry eleven week old black Labrador. Her comment; “Here Dad, I want you to meet your new granddaughter, Shelby.” My granddaughter Shelby is an old maid now and moves kind of slow like Grandpa, but when she comes across the street to visit, she and I get the pick of her favorite couch as she and I sometimes watch our favorite baseball game on television with her head on my lap. Needless to say she gets most of the couch. Grandson Brutus Our middle son Paul resides in an apartment about twenty five miles north of us. A little over two years ago one of his fellow teachers whose miniature dachshund fell apart with a litter of pups asked Paul if he’d like one. Without reluctance he obligingly agreed, even knowing his apartment was not really the best environment to care for this puppy. It wasn’t much later that we talked it over and guess what?...our home is now blessed with ‘Brutus’ who is about 20 inches long from tip of his long nose to end of his tail. About seven inches high off the ground, if you don’t put any weight on his back. I feel our son Paul was recognizing I needed another grandson, even if he is of the canine variety. He is the most affectionate of any of our canine grandchildren and insists on being the complete center of attention regardless of what we might be doing. As a writer I spend much time at my computer, yet, when it’s time for his afternoon walk he never ceases to remind me by jumping into my lap as to say, “Come on Grandpa, get off the keyboard, don’t you know it’s play time again?” Unlike Frances the talking mule of years past, Brutus has only a ‘one word’ vocabulary. “Play, play, and play some more.” Last summer we took him with us camping/ fishing to one of our favorite locations near Mount Shasta, California. A couple of mornings the temperature dropped down to 38% when Brutus, inside our trailer crawled down to the bottom of our sleeping bag. It was better than if we’d had an electric blanket. That was his first camping trip and I promoted him from ‘tenderfoot’ to ‘first class canine scout’. When huddled around the campfire as evening chill set in Brutus was Yvonne’s warmest comforter snuggled in her lap. I’m jealous, but I don’t weigh as much as Brutus. When ever any one of our kids come to visit the one’s he goes to most are the girls. Sons and grandsons don’t seem to count [except Grandpa] when our daughters come by. Our youngest daughter Charlotte is home with us for a season as she decided to move back to the Santa Clara Valley after residing nine years in the Los Angeles area. Guess who follows her all around the house, as a puppy dog will? Yes, there have been times when she weakened and let Brutus sleep with her down at the foot of her bed as an electric blanket keeping her feet warm too. I can only say “Thank You Lord” for the treasure of a most loving family. Together, we continue to lean interdependently on each other and the promises of God’s love, a love that fills our family, along with the enduring affection of our ‘canine grandchildren. When I lay on the family room carpet for a nap, Shelby or Brutus snuggle next to me with their head on my tummy to watch over me. It’s a marvelous blessing if we but recognize the treasure we can possess by way of these critters I call my canine grandchildren.
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