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Hector and the Puppies

Hector and the Puppies by Jane Shong

The first litter of Vizsla pups we had when I was a kid was a fine but unusual litter of 12 healthy males. Enough to make a breeder cry these days but back then almost every hunter wanted a male and these were hunting
dogs. My father was thrilled. A whelping box had been built and placed in the family room close to the heater and Cindy was encouraged to spend some time there prior to the blessed event. It was comfy and warm and
she seemed to accept that this was "HER" place. Until it was actually time to have the puppies at least. At that point she climbed into my bed and had them there.

Poor Mom again was less than thrilled at what had happened but she moved the pups and Cindy to the whelping box, stripped my bed and washed everything,scrubbed down and turned my mattress and contented herself
with the thought that all was now well. It was only a passing thought as Cindy had no intention of staying in that box and every time no one was looking she'd move the pups to the couch or her favorite big chair. Everytime you went into the family room the first thing you had to do was check for puppies stuffed down under sofa cushions and in the crack between the back and seat of the chair. This several time a day process resembled an Easter Egg Hunt and as it was that time of year we started to call it that. Cindy seemed to have no problem at all with us humans touching her puppies but she would not allow Hector in the room.

Hector was very interested in the puppies and really wanted to come and snuffle them but Cindy would fly at him growling and snapping, the hair along her Esterhazy saddle standing straight up and swollen teats flapping.(really pretty funny) Poor Hector'd tuck his tail between his legs and run for the next room. There he'd have to lay, just outside the door, nose resting on his front paws gazing forlornly into the family room crying softly, a heartbroken moarnful sound from deep in his throat. He was completely pathetic in his exile.

Eventually Cindy decided the pups were old enough to leave alone for awhile and started to leave them all in the whelping box while she escaped alone to take a break and lay in 'HER" chair. Hector remained exiled until the pups had their eyes open and were up and running. At this point Cindy decided it was his turn. I think she was sick of them. Now she fished all the pups out of the whelping box..deposited them in the middle of the floor and left walking out past the lurking Hector with a dirty look as if to say,"it's all your handle it."

Hector sat in the doorway looking at the playing puppies. His ears perked and he did this anxious little dance with his front feet. Finally, with a very nervous look over his shoulder he crept into the family room to check out his kids.(LOL you should have seen it.) The poor guy was instantly inundated by 12 bouncing baby boys who didn't yet know that daddy dogs weren't good for lunch. Hector stood there confused for a moment and the quickly laid down amidst the little guys in a despirate attempt to protect his tender parts. The puppies swarmed over him. The big guy just lay there..pups pulling his ears and his chops...occasionally snooting one over with his big nose and giving a big wet slurp to any pup that was within range.

Cindy was nowhere in sight (probably in my bed again) but my Mom was hovering nervously.After awhile Hector got up and walked to the other side of the room. The pups all followed. He turned and went back the other way pups still "in tow". Back and forth he went with the puppies happily following Dad around. Every time he's stop to turn around he look behind himself at the pups for all the world like an old school marm checking her charges. Mom was laughing hysterically by this time and said,"Well, it;s a nice day out." and opened the door to the back yard. Out Hector went, puppies following him like so many little duckings.

About this time Cindy reappeared and went out, too.As the days passed and the puppies grew Cindy spent less and less time with them and Hector more and more. He'd take them out for their walk, taught them to snuff in the bushes and roll in the fresh green grass. He'd steal a sock or a wash cloth and lay there flipping it out between his front paws until a puppy would grab it and tug. How funny to watch this little puppy growling and pulling at the sock and gettin nowhere fast. It was like trying to move an immovable object but the little toughies would try. If the pup lost it's grip Hector would flip the sock again until the pup pounced on it and start all over again. He taught them to find things to carry around and to point butterflies. That horses were good to bark at and chickens were dangerous to chase. That if you dug a hole the dirt would be cool on your stomach and the hillside was a great place to sunbathe on a lazy afternoon.

There they'd be, Hector and a dozen pups all stretched out sleeping in the sun or lolling beneath the lilacs in some fresh dug dirt. Cindy would sit in the background and watch. It definately was not her gig anymore. She was very content to let Hector do the work. She spent a lot of time sitting on top of the gas barrel where the pups couldn't get to her. Mom and Dad were naturally enough convinced these puppies were the smartest in the world so they were named for various classical philosophers. We had a Socrates and a Plato and I confess to not remembering the other 10, being a kid at the time and less well versed than Mother. I do remember I couldn't pronounce most of the names at the time. Socrates, shortened to Sox, was my favorite and I'd go out a lay on the hillside with them all but with Sox snuggled in my lap. When it was time for the puppies to leave Cindy was the only happy one in the household. She seemed relieved they were gone. Hector and I however were not so happy and spent may hours sitting on that hillside, his nose in my lap, sighing,while years wet his coat, missing the little guys. Daddy Vs it seems are sometimes better mommies than mommy Vs.


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