Puppy Tale

Like all great stories, this one starts off with “Once Upon A Time”.

I’m going to prepare you now – this is a bum nummer and you may require Kleenex. I’ll wait for you.

Ready? ONCE UPON A TIME a friend of mine at work, who is a fellow dog lover, told me about a litter of pups that was in the custody of the local animal control. Then she sent me a photo….


…and that wasn’t a good thing.

The Big Guy and I had been discussing the possibility of adding to our family in the four-legged fashion. You see Roman had been demonstrating a lot of clinginess.

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He was really missing us while we were at work and school, and I remembered our German Shepherds while I was growing up. They did really well with a buddy.

At first The Big Guy came to a logical conclusion; dog x2 = food $ x2 and poop x100. I mentioned his math was a little off and suggested we go have a look at the pups. Between my friend at work and the Animal Control, they gave us the story on the litter.

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The original family lost their home in a fire. They were made aware of the fire by adult dogs, Angel and Max. They had a young litter of pups, but were able to make their humans aware of the danger they were in and everyone escaped safely. Their bravery was rewarded by being locked up in the shell of a house, left to starve to death. Fortunately neighbors contacted Animal Control and the family was quickly relocated and cared for.

Animal Control contacted the local “Humane Society” to assume responsibility of the canine family.

<PAUSE> I have to employ the use of quotations here for no other reason than my lack of respect for this organization. Now I know, many of you will protest that “Humane Societies” do great work and have provided support for countless animals. Unfortunately, I have not had this experience. Without broaching Slander, we’ll leave it at that, okay? <PLAY>

“HS” advised animal control that they would take the father and the mother, but was not interested in the pups, to the extent that they stated they would euthanize them. Yup – you read that right; KILL THEM THERE PUPPIES. The rep at Animal Control couldn’t abide by that. She offered to care for the pups and raise them until they were weaned, if “HS” would take them on at that age. It was agreed that “HS” would provide the necessary shots for the pups and would get the four, three males and a female, when they were of age to adopt. “HS” came for the male, as there was no need for him to stay on with Animal Control, and he left his little family.

A week or so later, when the time came for the first shots, the Animal Control rep contacted “HS” and booked a date, asking how the father had fared in the adoption process.

“Oh, we had to euthanize him.” she was told. YUP KILLED HIM!!! The rationale? He was “nippy”.

<PAUSE> Let’s take a moment here and review the facts. 1. The dog had been in a house fire. 2. The human family he loved and in fact, SAVED, had abandoned him. 3. He was left to starve with his brand new litter and mate. 4. He was taken from his home to Animal Control and then to “HS”. I think it’s fair to say he had a couple of reasons to be “nippy”. <PLAY>

The Animal Control rep was devastated. She said she had the male for more than a week, and he did have an aggressive personality, but she was able to work with him and felt he would be a wonderful pet for someone who was interested in giving him love and stability; understanding the trauma he had been through. He had calmed considerably in the time she had him.

With heavy hearts, we decided to see the pups in person, as the story was indeed intriguing.

2013-04-27 13.40.38Within minutes, we knew, we had to put our name in for one of the pups. Second Born Son joined me and The Big Guy as we met with Animal Control and got up close and personal with the pups. We asked if we could adopt from Animal Control, and they referred us to “HS”, who indicated, no, we would have to get our application in like anyone else. I asked if we could get on top of the list, as we were very  interested, were the first ones to contact them, and would even have agreed to help support the pup while it was with Animal Control. Would it not be easier on the puppy if we just moved him from Animal Control to our home? Was it not in the best interest of the animal??

“HS” wasn’t interested.

I didn’t have a good feeling about “HS”.

In spite of this, The Big Guy agreed that we should move ahead. We told First Born Son that we were going to look into adopting another pup. He questioned this, stating he was happy with one dog, until we showed him a photo…

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And that, my friends, was THAT. Hook, line and sinker.

So we waited to hear that the pups were at “HS”. SBS and I headed to “HS” the first day applications were accepted. We planned on buying the puppy gear we would need on the same trip, so we would be ready to be new parents – again.

We asked to see the puppies and I was advised I’d have to turn over my driver’s license. When I asked why, I was advised by the “HS” rep, “So you don’t walk out of here with my puppy.”

Kinda like using a sledge to kill a fly, dontcha think??

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I surrendered my driver’s license and we saw that the pup we wanted was growing before our eyes. His mandatory neuter was the next day, and the micro chipping would take place at the same time.

Later we would find out that within two days, 30 applications were filled out for FOUR PUPS. At this point, they cut off applications. The paperwork was one step away from a Revenue Canada Audit. Four pages of detailed questions. “What other pets are in the home?”  “Who is your vet?” “Names and ages of everyone living in the home.” “What kind of collar would you use for your dog?” “What kind of property do you have?” “Where will you sign up for obedience class?” “Does anyone have allergies?” “How much do you expect to spend on your dog in a year?”

Admittedly, some of these were valid queries and sadly some of them are necessary to weed out the twisted individuals who think the “HS: is the place to pick up animals for medical testing. HOWEVER, it would be nice to not be treated like a criminal before I’ve even signed my application. It took more than 15 minutes to answer all of the questions and when I turned in the form, I was told that we would have to bring Roman down for a meeting with the pup, IF we were successful in moving on to that stage in selection.





As we walked back to our vehicle, I turned to SBS and said, “You know I believe in being truthful, but I think this is a case where honesty may not have been the best policy!” He was so sad that I told him he would shop for the pup anyway. When we got to the cashier, I told her, “We’re dealing with the “HS”; I need to be able to return everything.” She gave me a knowing look and said we could, other than the custom name tag we were getting engraved. We promised we would not tell anyone what name we had picked out.

A week later, we were advised that we could come down with Roman to meet the pup. I pointed out that it was an hour drive, and I wasn’t sure it was in my dog’s best interest to have to travel that distance, as he was only used to traveling 10-15 minutes maximum. There was no budging on this point. We had to take him down or we’d forfeit the pup. Oh, and could EVERYONE in the family come along as well, please? Getting the five of us in my vehicle took a great deal of timing, co-ordination and begging.

Roman traveled well, met the new pup and was a complete and utter gentleman. The pup loved Roman. I thought things were looking good!! Then TBG and I were called into the office for a meeting. With the boys tending to Roman, TBG and I sat through a 20 minute grilling on what I had put on the form. What was perceived as “right” and “wrong”. I was told that I would have to register for obedience class. I pointed out we had three dogs at this point, two of which had gone to class, and we felt we had learned enough to train them ourselves.




We were advised we would need to enrol if we wanted a pup. I pointed out that living in the “sticks” means we have puppy classes spring and fall. Too late for one, too early for the other.




I promised to look into classes.

As we left, we were advised that we would be given an answer by the end of the week. Excited, but nervous, we returned home and waited for a call.

And waited.

Longer still.

Need a bathroom break yet???

Theories ran rampant. Maybe we wouldn’t be picked because we already had a dog? Maybe they didn’t like that we saw the pups before they belonged to the “HS”? Maybe the applicant (me) was too much of a bitch herself to be considered as the successful candidate!!!??? (Admittedly, the kids never actually SAID this in my presence….)

Friends offered to be references for us. Friends offered to “influence” the “HS”, but agreed with us, that it might not be well received!! We all agreed that there was a reason why puppy mills and kijiji do so well when it comes to selling puppies. One assumes they are helping an animal when they go through a “HS”, but it is more like undue hardship!

I called the following Monday and was told there was another couple coming in for an interview on Wednesday. Folks, this has been a month since we completed our application. At this point, the entire family is frustrated, along with my friend who was wishing she hadn’t mentioned the litter to us in the first place, for all the hassle it was turning into!

I waited until Thursday to call the next time. Left a message. Hours later, “HS” calls back.

We got the puppy! The other couple attended the night before with their dog for a meet and greet, which did not go as well as Roman’s did.

In short, Roman is the reason we got the puppy!!!

TBG and I brought him home and surprised the boys. No one was more surprised than Roman!! We introduced them right away. Roman, meet CANE! Cane, meet Roman!

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He bounced like a gazelle for 15 minutes, “OMG YOU GOT ME A PUPPY!!!!!!” It was truly one of the sweetest things you will ever see!

Well, other than this…

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…or, perhaps, this…..

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So for now, the house smells like wet dog. But they are happy, wet dogs!

The Ache

I am the first to admit, I’ve had a blessed life. Sure, I’ve experienced disappointment and frustration, but I’ve managed to avoid the type of sorrow that leaves an ache in your heart.

Until now.

I’ve mentioned before about the special connection The Big Guy and I have with The Farm. We’ve put The Farm in the middle of our world, from being the first place we took our children to after we brought them home from the hospital, to taking the liberty of enjoying the view, history and even equipment. It is where we met and we had dreams of one day making it our home. This was not to be.

Saturday was the auction. Generations of possessions were sold to the highest bidder. There was an erryness to the exercise, watching bobsleds and snowshoes being snapped up by strangers who would no doubt dust them off and mount them in their own homes, or God Forbid, in a restaurant somewhere. Claiming this family’s history as their own – it seems so false.

For me, already tightly wound emotionally and apprehensive for my three “boys”, it seemed the comments made by some strangers were too painful to bear.

“What are you looking for Fred?”

“Nothin’, I just had to come and check this out. This is history you know. It’s a Century Farm. Can you believe that? The family is just letting it go?”

I grit my teeth and keep walking.

“Look at that house, it’s something else. I can’t imagine letting something like that fall out of the family.”

But the worst were the most pointed comments. One directed right at me.

“Hey, Sarah! Why didn’t you and The Big Guy buy The Farm?”

The urge to become physical was difficult to overcome. I must confess – I was not classy about my response, but suffice it to say I cleared the air regarding the fact. Sometimes pain cannot be contained. It surfaced once again later in the day, as First Born Son did us proud and was hoisting his family’s artifacts for bidding. A couple beside me began a conversation about the boy in the green shirt.

“Look at him, isn’t that sad?” said the First Ignorant Person.

“Who? The kid with the green shirt?” said the Second Ignorant Person.

FIP – “Yes, look at him up there, you can just tell he loves being here.”

SIP – “Umhum.” (In agreement)

FIP – “It’s too bad he’ll never be able to have this place. Can’t imagine.”

Yup, I snapped.

Pissed off Mother – “Are you talking about the kid with the green shirt?”

FIP – startled “Uh, yes…”

POM – “Well that’s my son – and I can tell you, we had NO say in the future of the farm.”

The look on my face, and the tone of my voice, shut the conversation down.

My pride of FBS was matched by that for Second Born Son. While he was given the boring and then frantic job of directing traffic, he was then appointed the task of running bid sheets from the auction site back to the trailer where the clerk would reconcile the amounts bid against the funds paid. He did such a good job that the man who was recording the bids and giving them to SBS said in all the auctions he’s done, he’s never had such a young man do such a good job. He even made a point of stopping before he left to compliment The Big Guy and myself. We had every reason to feel proud.

That pride resurged when Uncle B gave FBS the keys to the Massey Ferguson and the John Deere. The auctioneer needed each tractor started to demonstrate that they were in sound shape. FBS was the last member of our family to start those tractors. When the auction ended and the new owners were claiming their purchases, FBS stood by the tractors, helping them with small details and then standing forlornly as each one drove away. The sight of him standing there, watching those tractors leave will haunt me, such was the expression on his face.

I have taken well over 1000 photos of the farm to document a place that has a special place in our hearts. I want to have something for us to look at later, and perhaps show future generations. Mostly, I don’t want the boys memories to dim.

 Because we didn’t want to leave that day – afraid of what leaving would mean, I asked Second Born Son if he wanted to take some more pictures of his favorite place, the hay mow. Many adventures have been lived in this mow. It’s the place SBS asks to go to every time we are at The Farm. Now most of the bales are gone, but a handful remained, and with the sun sinking lower in the Western sky, it was a perfect opportunity to shoot something special that would mean something to him.

And while I hope this photo brings him joy, I can’t help but feel The Ache getting even stronger.

This post is going live early May 2, 2011. The Farm will officially be sold today.