One morning, my mama sent my older brother down our long steep driveway to check the mailbox. My brother came back into the house with excitement, explaining he had seen an animal in the woods. He wasn’t sure what kind of animal, but it was laying in the thick brush across from our mailbox. We all wondered if someone injured the animal. My brother went back down the driveway to check things out further. When he returned, he informed us that the animal was a dog. But he couldn’t get her to come to him.
My mama was concerned that someone had “dumped” the poor dog at the end of our driveway in hopes we would take her in. Thinking she may be sick or injured, my mama told us to stay away from her for now, for risk of being bitten. She would send Daddy down to investigate.
You are probably wondering why we didn’t rush to the poor dog, offer our help, take her to the vet if needed, etc. But this was the early 1960s, and we lived in a very rural area. This was not the first stray animal to be left at the end of our driveway. There had been several cats and dogs over the many years my parents had owned their property. It seemed people were more apt to dump animals in rural areas because it was faster and cheaper for them, and in hopes the animals would have a chance of being taken in by farmers. I know it is sad and disgusting, but that’s just what folks did back then. I still live in a rural area, and unfortunately, this practice is continues.
The next day, Mama sent my brother to check on the dog. She was still there. He again gave her something to eat and some water. She responded but did not move from the brush. The third day, my brother checked on her again. This time he came running back up the driveway. When he got to the top of the drive, he happily exclaimed, “She’s got puppies!”. Of course, my sister and I were ecstatic! PUPPIES! I had never seen or held an actual puppy. It felt like Christmas morning.
Even though my mama was concerned about this stray dog, and all the problems bringing it to our home could cause, she couldn’t deny how it made her feel. It pulled on her heart strings and she just had to see the mama and her pups. It took some coaxing, but finally, the mama dog allowed my brother to lead her up the driveway to our front yard.
The beautiful Collie mix was white with black spots. Mama immediately named her “Spot”. I don’t remember exactly how the puppies made it up the driveway, but I do remember there were a lot of them! And they all looked just like their mommy.
My favorite memory of the puppies was when I would sit in the cool, thick clover patch on the side of the hill in our front yard and my daddy would let them loose from their pen. I would call for them and they would come running to attack me with puppy kisses. I often wondered if that is what Heaven is like for a dog lover. I sure hope so.
The puppies grew fat and happy and were soon ready to be weaned from their mama. We kids understood from the beginning that the pups would eventually have to find homes. One Saturday morning, Mama told us that people would be coming by to look at the puppies. One by one a car would arrive and yet another stranger would get out. They would look at the pups, talk to daddy, take their pick of the litter, and leave. It was so sad to see each puppy go, but we knew the importance of each one having their own loving home. Spot seemed sad too. I’m sure she felt a little lost without her energetic brood.
Spot turned out to be an exceptionally sweet dog. She was a very good girl. We had the blessing of loving her for many years to come. Much to my delight, Spot even brought another litter of puppies into our lives the next Spring. Mama and Daddy were not so delighted and made sure that was the last puppy litter to adorn our yard. I remember thinking that puppies running around the yard were so much better than chickens!