Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Puppies

Selecting a pic for my new blog  (one which wouldn't involve compromising any one's privacy or require a release) brought this story to mind. It's old, and only cursorily about my nanny life,  but illustrates some aspects of  'Tea's true nature', if there is such a thing.  Or, it just shows how bat-shit crazy I am, and why I deal so well with whatever the kids can throw my way.
In the spring of  1999, having been recently fired from my so-called dream job, I was working at the neighborhood garden center, for farmer  friends who'd recently diversified. I was also trying to find my first nanny job. That took from Dec ('98) until late August. Meanwhile, at the other neighborhood farm, a litter of pups was born. I'd wanted a dog for a long time, but had been held back by my work schedule- no longer a concern. So, when one of the pups was up for grabs, I took her. Since I had this great farm-type job, I came home for lunch, and was also able to bring her to work quite a bit.  Dustea (pronounced dusty) quickly became my best friend and ally. When I started the  nanny job, she often accompanied me for 'date nights', and became a part of their lives too- which their dog didn't seem to mind too much.
Cut to spring 2001, when I decided to breed her. I thought she should have one litter, and as there was nothing in my decrepit  house to ruin, I did.  Seemed like a good idea. After a few tries- oh, the stories!- she was expecting. The kids were as excited as I was. The puppies were due early to mid July- I was hoping  early, as I had  the week of the Fourth off. I drove my family  to the airport, and promised to call them if the puppies came. I did not, as had become customary, take their dog for the week- as  Dustea was beginning to exhibit nesting behaviors, and seemed to need her space. Thank God! A day or two into vacation, we went up the farm, and Dustea tangled with a rat. She was good at this, but sustained a couple of bites- possibly because her condition had left her a little slow. Geez, ya think?- the poor thing was a house!  I doused her muzzle in peroxide several times. She was OK,  I thought.
 The next morning, I found my dog with an abscess that had grown to softball size on her throat. Panic! Vet! He couldn't put her under because of the pups, so I was summarily dismissed and asked to return when he called. He - after leaving an examining room with an owner and her three cats,  and having let the distressed Dustea who heard my voice run through, explained what he'd done, gave me my instructions, and offered to come up for free if I had trouble with the wick in her neck (for drainage). He did all this while walking us out to the truck and helping her in- seemingly not worried whether I'd written out the check or not before he left us. Loved him that day. Most importantly- he told me she'd probably deliver early, owing to the trauma. Not how I'd pictured it, but I was about to get my Vacation pups.
Fourth of July she started her day pacing around the house- this was it. I had  had a big box with lots of shredded newspaper ready for a couple of weeks, but she had preferred to rip the new insulation out of nearly the whole bottom of the living room (walls weren't in yet) TWICE, and drag it behind the washer. On the day, she despondently checked behind the washer a few times, and finally, grudgingly, set about to fix the box to her specifications- although I stridently forbade  (threatened her within a inch of her life) the further employment of fiberglass insulation for additional bedding- on multiple grounds. Eventually, I left for the party at  her mom's house down the street, checking back every hour or so. She didn't have the first until late that night. The first four- born on the fourth, were slow in coming. The remaining seven came right along between midnight and three AM. Yup; eleven puppies, one very tired dog, and me.
Around 7 AM, I called out to Michigan, to tell the kids. My boss answered the phone. Only he and the youngest, (pictured here with Dustea and the pups), were up. He  congratulated me, marvelled at the size of the litter, oohed and aahed, asked me all about it, and then paused and  said, "So, when we get home, you basically go from  my three kids and dog home to  your eleven puppies and dog? Every day?  You're nuts, Tea. Really. " he continued in the same vein for a few minutes, lamenting my fate, while I assured him I'd be fine. And I was. The kids- and most of their neighbors-  were able to spend time with the pups, and one of them went to one of their neighbors. Dustea recovered from her bites, although she did end up - as did I- pretty haggard before the pups left. Eleven rapidly growing  puppies became increasingly hard to deal with on every level, from feeding, to cleanup, to housing. It was crazy, tiring, and so rewarding. As are my kids.   It was a good idea.  It was a great summer.

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