Raising Little Heroes
Contributor

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 hisĀ 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.

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