Nothing is more fun than a new pup. Madeline was a Golden Retriever pup that came to me many years ago. I called that little yellow ball of fluff my ‘Princess Madeline.’ She quickly became part of the family and seemed to just know what to do. She grew to be beautiful as well as smart. I wanted others to have a Madeline of their own too. So I planned to make her a mommy.
Madeline had three litters of pups for me, totaling 30 pups. Her first litter came one Christmas eve. I was working as a nurse that evening when I received a call she was beginning to have her puppies. I arrived home just before midnight and she was nervous, so she and I spent the entire night together on the kitchen floor delivering those 10 beautiful babies. She seemed so confused each time one would come along. I assured her it was all ‘ok’ as I helped her with each pup. She woke me each time the next new addition arrived. She quickly caught on to motherhood.
Her next litter was easier. She was experienced then. These 10 were darling as well. She made many families happy with these sweet little ones.
She had her third litter after we moved to our 30 acre farm in North Central Ohio. The apartment we lived in was small, so I had her and the pups stay in the barn in a pen designed for fair ducks, but large enough to house her and the pups. When it came time for weaning, I began finding the pups homes. It was amazing how the perfect people came along to take each one of the pups. One by one, new owners took the puppies until the last pup was sold. Afterward, I could not find Madeline. I looked and looked. When I searched the barn, I found her in the pen all by herself sitting there looking at me as if to ask, ‘Where are the babies?’ It broke my heart to tell her they were all gone.
Madeline was not only the mother of thirty pups, she was my best dog and the caretaker of our farm. She kept all unwanteds from the barn- the skunk, raccoons, ‘possums, fox, coyotes, and most of all, the groundhogs. She knew the difference between my domestic rabbits and the wild rabbits in the yard. She never harmed my bunnies that ran freely around the barn- she actually protected them. There were times she would come into the barn and I could see little legs hanging from her mouth. They were little wild bunny legs. I scolded her and told her she was not supposed to hurt them. She would wag her tail and smile as if to say, ‘But they are soooooo good mama.’ I could not be mad at her. She also brought home deer parts hunters left in the woods behind our farm. These little quirks disturbed me greatly and I was unprepared for them because I was a city girl. Suddenly, we were farmers – imposters actually- and here we were on a farm in the country. She was doing things farm dogs do that she would never do in the city. She was having a blast while I was saying ‘ick.’
She not only watched over the barn, she made friends with the neighbors and was the hit of the neighborhood. As always, there is a time to say hello and a time to say good- bye. As Madeline advanced in age, she developed tumors that could not be treated. One day she and I were alone in the barn. I cried and hugged her. I thanked her for being my dog, for always greeting me when I came home, for making all the other animals safe and protecting the horses in the barn and all of us. I told her she was always dependable and meant more to me than I could even tell her. I told her how she made my life so great and happy and what a good girl she was. Then, I said good-bye.
It’s always part of the deal. The more we love, the more it hurts when the time comes to say good- bye. I realized the only other option was to never love, but I did not choose that option. I have the memories of a lovely creature that came into my life and made it better. These memories make me happy.
Please feel free to share your stories with us about your most wonderful pets and the memories that make you happy every time you think of them.