Seems like a couple of weeks into stay-at-home orders and physical separation is an ideal time for some puppy therapy.
So I brought you a tiny puppy to hold awhile. In your heart, anyway, if not in your hands.
You’ll want to know the story, I suspect …
Last December, my son and I went to pick up his new puppy.
We wanted a mini dachshund, as we had one for sixteen years, from the time my boy was four until he was almost twenty-one. Dachshunds love to snuggle. They’re full of affection and whimsy. And mischief … and stubbornness … but their devotion outweighs all else.
When we got to the breeders, as paperwork was being completed, I noticed a movement under some blankets in one of the kennels.
“Oh, something’s in there!” I remarked. “It looked empty except for the blankets.”
“Yes,” said the breeder-lady. “A mother and her baby. She only had one, born yesterday.”
And then the lady did the unthinkable.
She reached under the blankets, scooped the newborn out, and placed it in my hands.
I could hardly breathe.
Tiny. So fragile. So beautifully formed, utterly perfect in every way. The sheen of its gorgeous coat, solid chocolate. Teeny little ears. Nails so miniscule they could barely be seen … awe isn’t adequate for the suspended moment of wonder at this bit of life in my hands.
The puppy’s mother, a long-haired red dapple, hovered at my feet, her big brown eyes fixed on me as I held her baby.
“Here, ” I said to my son, “hold it for just a second and we’ll give it back to its mother. She’s anxious.”
I placed the puppy in my son’s hands and took took a picture with my phone. With a fingertip, I stroked its satiny head, just once.
“It’s so beautiful,” whispered my son. Very carefully, he slid the tiny creature back into the breeder-lady’s hands and she deftly returned it to its blanketed kennel.
The mother darted in. She went right to work on her baby, licking away all of our human smell from its fur.
I don’t know why I wanted to cry just then.
Maybe it was the mother’s impeccable care of her one baby. We’d worried her, made extra work for her. The puppy squirmed against its bath but quickly settled back to blissful neonate-sleep.
Perhaps it was the fragility of new life that twisted my heart, its precariousness and preciousness, the struggle of being alive and helpless and dependent. Or the convicting knowledge that the human touch is not always a kind or good thing. Or maybe the pang was simply because life is beautiful and because I love dogs.
“Okay, you’re set,” smiled the breeder-lady, handing us the paperwork. “He’s all yours.”
No, of course not the tiny day-old chocolate puppy. That was just a gift of the moment. The breeders hadn’t yet determined if it was a boy or a girl. I did fantasize about returning in two months to get it, however, and what I’d name it … right now, as I write this post while watching Citizen Kane, I am considering “Rosebud” …
I just felt you might need a moment with the tiniest puppy I ever held.
THIS is what we went for, and what we carried home:
He’s like a furry worry stone … while holding him and rubbing him (he now rolls over for belly rubs, his favorite) it’s impossible to feel sad or worried or anything but peace and gladness to be alive.
So I give him to you for a minute, to hold with your eyes. And maybe with your heart. He’ll steal it—trust me.
Just a little puppy therapy for your day.