Leftover Puppy and the Pick of the Litter

Dixie Dashosh ( as told to Marion Dashosh)

The first thing I remember is rooting at my mother’s fur and hungrily drinking her sweet warm milk as her wet tongue brushed lovingly over my tiny body. When Mother lie down for a feeding my hungry brothers would squeeze past me, zealously pushing me out of the way to find their food. But Mother always gently nuzzled me to an empty teat. Then I would sleep, belly full, huddling contentedly against the soft bodies of my brothers and sisters. There were six of us. Three boys. Three girls. I was the youngest girl.
Buster was the oldest and largest male. He was good-natured and sweet and it was comforting to place my head on his round belly as we slept. He was the last to find his legs and while we were already jumping and running in our small whelping box world, Buster was waddling along.
Yannie was the next biggest boy and the most trouble. Almost from the moment his eyes opened Mother had to discipline him sharply with growling noises and showing her big teeth. I saw Mother pick him up many times by his ruff and shake him. Mother was a firm disciplinarian but Yannie would get a gleam in his wild eyes and get into trouble again as soon as no one was looking.
My two sisters were friends and always made room for me at the yogurt bowl when we were being weaned. The yogurt was good but not a substitute for Mother. Then there was my brother Forrester. Forrester was the smallest male, though still larger than me. Forrester and I were always together, whether in the pile as we slept as youngsters or after we were weaned and slept in the crate to the side of the whelping box. Life was good for my first few weeks. Our mother’s owners allowed two young neighborhood girls to come to the house every day and play with us. I loved playing. I would lick and lick the girls’ faces. The girls were fun, especially when they fed us treats.
When we were four weeks old a nice sweet smelling lady came to visit. (As a Border Terrier I can tell humans apart by their smell.) One by one she gently lifted us close to her as if she was studying us. I don’t know what she was looking for. We all looked alike. Border Terriers are born black. (Did I mention I am a Border Terrier? I am very proud of my heritage.) Before she left, the sweet smelling lady placed a white ribbon around Forrester’s neck.
Visitors kept coming to see us in our whelping box. They would pick us up and play with us and then leave. One day, about two weeks after Forrester began wearing the white ribbon, a man and a lady came to see us. They smelled so good and they laughed and played with us. I must admit I loved the attention. Mother and Yannie were in the living room alone with the visitors while I watched from our crate and once again Mother had to discipline Yannie, chasing him under the couch. Would he ever learn to behave? But soon the visitors picked up Yannie and carried him out of the house. They were nice people. I don’t know if they knew what they were getting themselves in for.
I did not have time to worry about Yannie. That very day that first gentle sweet smelling lady came to the house again, the one who placed the ribbon on Forrester’s neck. I got so excited I jumped up and talked to her. I wanted her to pick me up and maybe give me a ribbon but instead she reached over me and picked up Forrester. Lucky Forrester, I thought as I watched him sit contentedly on the lady’s lap. But that peaceful scene ended quickly. In just a little while, as I watched from the crate with Buster and my two sisters, the lady stood up, said goodbye to Mother’s owners and carried Forrester out the door. I was too stunned to call him. Too stunned to howl. Instead I softly cried until Mother’s owner opened the crate and picked me up.
“This one is a whiner,” she said to her husband as she held me up looking into my face. “Also her ears are all wrong. They stick out as if she was wearing pigtails. I thought these dogs are supposed to have ears folded to the side of the head?” She sighed. “I just don’t know what we’ll do with this one.” “Well, I called the Sawyers twice,” the husband answered. “They were the ones who wanted her. They’ve not called us back.” Staring down at me in her arms she said: “What are we going to do with you?” I answered as politely as I could.
“There she is whining again. Put her back in the crate. Maybe she’ll stop,” the husband said. So I was unceremoniously placed in the crate where I found a quiet corner and cried as softly as I could. Forrester was gone. How could I go on without my beloved Forrester? Over the next two days I said goodbye to my sisters as families claimed them. They seemed happy and excited to be going and I was glad for them. I still cried when I thought of my Forrester but perhaps he was in a family now too. Oh, how I want him to be happy. And oh, how unhappy I was. I tried to tell that to Mother’s owners but they kept saying I was a little frightened baby and whined all the time. It would have been nice if they would have picked me up a little more, the way they did Buster. But lots of times I was left alone in the crate while Buster got to play with Mother and her owners. I wanted to play too, but after a while I would just lie and watch. And feel lonely.
After a few weeks Mother and Buster’s owners were at their wits end. So many times I heard them say they did not want three dogs in the house. They only wanted Mother and Buster and they did not know what they would do with the little whining puppy. This hurt my feelings. (Border Terriers are very sensitive, you know.) I was so unhappy and I missed Forrester so much that I cried myself to sleep every night.
One day I heard Mother’s owners on the phone. They sounded very angry and they looked very tired. I wonder if howling out my heart at night was keeping them up? When they got off the phone they came to the crate and frowned down at me.
“I hope the little whiner will be happy now,” the wife said. “Well, makes no difference,” said the husband. “She won’t be our problem any longer.” I did not understand what they were talking about until the doorbell rang. Mother and Buster ran to the door, guarding and warning the way I wanted to do. But I was locked in the crate.
There was the lady that had taken Forrester and she was not smiling. Perhaps she came to bring Forrester back? But that hope died quickly. He was not with her. With a few terse words the sweet smelling lady came over to my crate, opened it and very gently took me into her arms. Oh, she smelled so good and I could smell Forrester on her. I licked her face and was happy in her arms as she unceremoniously took me out of the house. I was put in a small crate in the back of a van. The ride seemed to go on forever and I was very unhappy. I couldn’t help it. I cried.
Finally the van stopped. I sat up and eagerly waited to be taken out. The nice lady opened the door and took me into her arms again and I was carried into her house. Oh, it was a lovely house. Big and clean and bright and sunny and the best part of all was the welcome I received from the other dogs. As we walked into the kennel area, right off the kitchen, all of my cousins came jumping up to greet me. At first it was a little frightening as I had never seen so many grownup Border Terriers before. But Grandma Hazel only patted me and talked to me and assured me that I will be fine.
“Phooey!” she yelled at the excited crowd around me and everyone calmed down and sat, waiting to be introduced to the newcomer – me. As Grandma Hazel put me down on the floor I smelled a familiar beloved scent and began quivering with joy. Right there in front of me was Forrester. All the other dogs sniffed me and some gave me a lick and they went off to get a snack from Grandma Hazel. But Forrester stood next to me and we sniffed noses and licked each other and I was never so happy in my whole life. I was with Forrester again. That was all I cared about. Life indeed was sweet.
But I still did not have a name.

A week went by. I was very content in Grandma Hazel’s house. I loved being with my cousins and I especially loved being with Forrester. All day we played in simple joy. We took time out to carefully chew on treats and rawhide toys. And, most comforting of all, we napped together on a soft doggie bed. I was so very happy. When Grandma Hazel was sitting at the kitchen table, just off the open kennel area, I made sure to lie at her feet and tell her how happy she had made me. If she would talk to me, pay me attention, my tail would thump and I would jump up and talk to her while I licked her hands, and if she held me, her sweet face. Then I would jump down and go back to the serious job of playing with Forrester. At Grandma Hazel’s house I was not lonely.
A week went by. A happy fun frolicking week. I forgot to be nervous or afraid. Then exactly a week after I came to live with Grandma Hazel she put a collar around my neck and one around Forrester’s neck too. A leash was attached. Where were we going? We walked out of the house, Grandma Hazel, Forrester and I and for the first time Forrester and I walked on a leash together. It was so natural. We were put in a crate in the van and told were going to meet a nice lady. Good-naturedly, as ever, Forrester and I went along for the ride.
A lady was waiting for us. With a friendly smile I jumped up and greeted her. I really liked her smell. Grandma Hazel called her Patty who lovingly carried me into the house.
Grandma Hazel put Forrester down too and together we happily played for a little while. “They are very beautiful, Hazel,” Patty said getting down on her haunches to look at us closely. “This one is Forrester. What’s the little girl’s name?”
“She has no name. I could have sold her three times this week but something kept stopping me. I was not happy with the people that came to see her.” Patty looked up at Hazel, pain in her kind eyes. “You mean she’s going to be twelve weeks old and she has no name?” “That’s right.”
My back was to the nice lady Grandma Hazel called Patty as I busily checked out the rest of the kitchen with Forrester. Then I heard it. That wonderful sound. I knew it the very moment Patty called.
“Dixie,” she said in a soft inviting voice. “Dixie.”
I knew immediately that was me! That was my name! I turned to Patty, jumped up and kissed her on the face. Oh sweet lady, you have given me my name. Her touch was like heaven, her arms inviting. She picked me up and held me and I was so happy. I looked up and licked her face again.
Patty rubbed her chin against my fur. “Look at the sweet eyes on little Dixie,” Patty said. “I wish she was my puppy.”
I opened my eyes and looked up then. Yes, I thought, I would love to be your puppy.
“Hazel?” Patty asked, hope in both her heart and mine. “Would you sell Dixie to me?”
“It looks like she is yours already, ” Grandma Hazel wisely said.

I was able to spend weekends with Grandma Hazel when Patty and Jay went off to visit their grandchildren. That was when I got to play with Forrester, though I missed seeing him every day.
I grew to love Jay and Patty very much and soon I began thinking of them the same way they referred to each other: Mommy and Daddy. It did not take long for their large house to became my home. I was a good little dog. I wanted to be good – for them. They bestowed so much love and attention on me, always telling me how smart and beautiful I was. They thought my ears were cute. They thought everything I did was cute.
During the day I have full reign in the house but I always stay close to Patty. She works at the computer in her study and I lie quietly on the rug behind her chair. It’s my duty to guard the house and the fenced backyard and I take my job very seriously, as most Border Terriers do. But, best of all, my sleeping place is directly in the middle of the king-sized bed in the master bedroom.

A few months later, when I was seven months old and almost grown, after a long weekend at Grandma Hazel’s house, I heard Grandma Hazel ask them if they wanted to take Forrester home too.
“They are inseparable,” Hazel said. “When you take Dixie home poor Forrester is miserable for days.”
“Dixie is miserable too. But how can I take Forrester? He’s going to be your champion.”
“Forrester’s a champion already. At least in charm and temperament. He’s just grown too big to be a show dog.”
I was so happy. Forrester was coming to live with us.
That first night, Forrester, who had never slept on a people bed before, began to cry. He awakened in the middle of the night and did not know where he was. Calmly I jumped over Mommy who was holding Forrester in her arms trying to stop his crying. I placed my paw on his belly and licked his lips. I was assuring him that this was a good safe place and he was going to love Mommy and Daddy too. In a moment he stopped crying and I jumped back over Mommy, curled up and went to sleep. Later in the night Forrester moved over to sleep near me. Both of us were curled between Mommy and Daddy.
We were home.

Pat from NJ