It had been a very long night. Our black cocker spaniel ‘Precious’ was having a difficult delivery. I lay on the floor beside her large four-foot square cage, watching her every movement. Watching and waiting, just in case I had to rush her to the veterinarian.
six hours the puppies started to appear. The first-born was black and
white. The second and third puppies were tan and brown in color. The
fourth and fifth were also spotted black and white. “One, two, three,
four, five,” I counted to myself as I walked down the hallway to wake my
wife, Judy, and tell her that everything was fine.
As we walked
back down the hallway and into the spare bedroom, I noticed a sixth
puppy had been born and was now laying all by itself over to the side of
the cage. I picked up the small puppy and laid it on top of the large
pile of puppies, who were whining and trying to nurse on the mother.
Precious immediately pushed the small puppy away from rest of the group.
She refused to recognize it as a member of her family.
“Something’s wrong,” said Judy.
reached over and picked up the puppy. My heart sank inside my chest
when I saw the little puppy had a cleft lip and palate and could not
close its little mouth. I decided right there and then that if there was
any way to save this animal I was going to give it my best shot.
took the puppy to the vet and was told nothing could be done unless we
were willing to spend about a thousand dollars to try and correct the
defect. He told us that the puppy would die mainly because it could not
suckle. After returning home, Judy and I decided that we could not
afford to spend that kind of money without getting some type of
assurance from the vet that the puppy had a chance to live. However,
that did not stop me from purchasing a syringe and feeding the puppy by
hand. Which I did every day and night, every two hours, for more than
ten days. The little puppy survived and learned to eat on his own as
long as it was soft canned food.
The fifth week I placed an ad in
the newspaper, and within a week we had people interested in all of the
pups, except the one with the deformity. Late one afternoon I went to
the store to pick up a few groceries. Upon returning I happened to see
the old retired schoolteacher, who lived across the street from us,
waving at me. She had read in the paper that we had puppies and was
wondering if she might get one from us for her grandson and his family. I
told her all the puppies had found homes, but I would keep my eyes open
for anyone else who might have an available cocker spaniel. I also
mentioned that if someone should change their mind, I would let her
know. Within days, all but one of the puppies had been picked up by
their new families. This left me with one brown and tan cocker as well
as the smaller puppy with the cleft lip and palate.
passed without me hearing anything from the gentleman who had been
promised the tan and brown pup. I telephoned the schoolteacher and told
her I had one puppy left and that she was welcome to come and look at
it. She advised me that she was going to pick up her grandson and would
come over at about eight o’clock that evening.
That night at
around seven-thirty, Judy and I were eating supper when we heard a knock
on the front door. When I opened the door, the man who had wanted the
tan and brown pup was standing there. We walked inside, took care of the
adoption details and I handed him the puppy. Judy and I did not know
what we would do or say when the teacher showed up with her grandson. At
exactly eight o’clock the doorbell rang. I opened the door, and there
was the schoolteacher with her grandson standing behind her. I explained
to her the man had come for the puppy after all, and there were no
puppies left. “I’m sorry, Jeffery. They found homes for all the
puppies,” she told her grandson.
Just at that moment, the small puppy left in the bedroom began to yelp.
“My puppy! My puppy!” yelled the little boy as he ran out from behind his grandmother.
just about fell over when I saw that the small child also had a cleft
lip and palate. The boy ran past me as fast as he could, down the
hallway to where the puppy was still yelping. When the three of us made
it to the bedroom, the small boy was holding the puppy in his arms. He
looked up at his grandmother and said, “Look, Grandma. They found homes
for all the puppies except the pretty one, and he looks just like me.”
The schoolteacher turned to us, “Is this puppy available?”
“Yes,” I answered. “That puppy is available.”
little boy, who was now hugging the puppy, chimed in, “My grandma told
me these kind of puppies are real expensive and that I have to take real
good care of it.”
The lady opened her purse, but I reached over
and pushed her hand back down into her purse so that she would not pull
her wallet out. “How much do you think this puppy is worth?” I asked the
boy. “About a dollar?” “No. This puppy is very, very expensive,” he
“More than a dollar?” I asked.
“I’m afraid so,” said his grandmother.
boy stood there pressing the small puppy against his cheek. “We could
not possibly take less than two dollars for this puppy,” Judy said,
squeezing my hand. “Like you said, it’s the pretty one.”
The schoolteacher took out two dollars and handed it to the young boy.
“It’s your dog now, Jeffery. You pay the man.”
Still holding the puppy tightly, the boy proudly handed me the money. Any worries I’d had about the puppy’s future were gone.
image of the little boy and his matching pup stays with me still. I
think it must be a wonderful feeling for any young person to look at
themselves in the mirror and see nothing, except “the pretty one.”