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Published on March 30, 2021

Memories are made of this

Puppy kisses

By Jan Edwards
The Bulletin

I’ve written about George Mutt, our first Yorkie, in my column before. He was special, but we got a mate for him, Chantilly Lace, and they had three litters of special puppies.

Lacey was special in her own right – she was the perfect momma dog. When George Mutt stuck his head in the whelping box to see what was going on, she just about took his head off. Until the puppies opened their eyes, Dad was not allowed around them. She took care of them – even the runt the vet said should not have made it.

One day, Lacey saw me opening the front door to check the mailbox and took that opportunity to slip out into the front yard. It was not fenced, and traffic in the street was dynamic.

She was usually very good about staying in the house, but she had an incentive to escape today. Our young neighbor, Sarah, was in the front yard watching her son ride his new bike up and down the sidewalk while she fed her toddler.
Lacey was a mousy little dog who came into her own when she had that first litter of puppies. She adored being a momma, but during her last pregnancy she got milk fever, and we decided it best not to breed her again.

Her “momma” instincts, though, still lingered. Every time she heard a puppy cry – even on TV – she would search for it so she could “mother” that baby. Her matriarchal reflexes did not stop with puppies. She would mother all young things from kittens to human babies. When she heard any distress call, Momma Lacey was there to the rescue, to comfort and quiet little ones’ fears.

That day, Sarah’s baby, Kim, was teething and fussing as her mom attempted to feed her. When I opened the front door, Lacey heard the baby cry and was gone like a shot to help. Before I could stop her, Lacey had run next door to where Sarah and Kim were sitting on a blanket. Lacey immediately stood on her hind feet and started licking Kim’s face. The child was startled at first and drew back.

But I said, “It’s O.K., she won’t hurt you. Those are just puppy kisses.” Kim relaxed, stopped fussing and began to pet Lacey while she continued to lick Kim’s face.

Sarah was relieved – she said that was the first time that day Kim had settled down. When it was time to go home, I literally had to pull Lacey away from Kim’s grasp.

After that incident, when both our dogs and Sarah and her kids were each in our fenced-in backyards, Lacey would always run to the fence, wag her tail and excitedly greet Kim, who always responded with a smile and an outreached hand. If she could reach Lacey to pet her, Kim would. Sarah and I thought this bond between dog and baby was delightful and were glad the two had found each other.

Spring had sprung, and Sarah and her husband had built a play fort in the backyard for the kids to play in while they planted flowers in the flowerbeds. I noticed that when I was cooking in my kitchen and the kids were playing in their backyard next door, Lacey would cry to go out more and more often.

I’d let Lacey out in the backyard while I was finishing supper each day and could hear the squeals of laughter from Kim next door when she caught a glimpse of Lacey.

When the kids were playing, it got harder and harder to get Lacey to come back in the house. Finally, one afternoon, Lacey did not come back at all when I called, and it was eerily quiet in the neighbor’s backyard. So, wondering if something was amiss, I dried my hands and went to see what was happening.

As I cleared the corner of the house and looked in the direction of our neighbors’ yard, I witnessed what was going on just about the time Sarah looked up from her flower bed to check on her suddenly silent toddler.

There, both clinging to the chain link fence that separated them, were Lacey and Kim. They had each pulled up to the eye level of the other and were intent on joyfully touching tongues through the links of the fence. Sarah and I simultaneously started laughing and went to separate our “kids”. “It’s O.K., I said, “Lacey’s had all her shots, and, after all, it’s just puppy kisses.”

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)