Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

My mother and grandmother discovered Dolly on a December morning while delivering Meals on Wheels. As Mom approached the weather worn trailer with a foil-wrapped meal and sweaty carton of milk, she noticed a tiny brown puppy huddled against the moldy stairs. Upon greeting the meal recipient, she inquired about the new dog. “That ain’t my dog!” the lady rasped.

It was enough for Mom. She coaxed the shy puppy into her minivan and discussed with Grandma their options. They knew that my father, recently retired and ever-present in the house, would not approve. Grandma fell in love with the dirty, quivering bundle of matted fur instantly; however Mom decided that the only choice was to take the puppy to the animal shelter.

For two days Mom thought of the puppy. Finally, mind made up, she returned to the shelter to retrieve her. It was nearly Christmas and both my sister and I were in town. The small puppy looked clean but had awful tufts of brown, red and black fur that stuck out in a Medusa style of snaky cowlicks. She huddled in a pile of Chase’s plush animals and reminded me of the scene in E.T. when the alien hid amongst a shelf of toys.

Mom told everyone that she was merely fostering the dog she had named “Shy” until she could find a suitable home. Liz and I didn’t think it was appropriate to name the dog after an adjective and began to call her “Dolly”. Dad was not amused and began to refer to Chase as “the real dog”.

Because Mom needed to work and asking my father was clearly out of the question, Liz and I took Dolly to her first vet appointment. I gathered the paperwork from the shelter in case it was needed. Browsing through it, I found an adoption agreement and a receipt for seventy-five dollars…proof that my mother wasn’t fostering this dog! Even worse, she could have had the dog for free if she hadn’t brought her to the shelter in the first place.

Chase and Dolly’s initial meeting was not love at first sight. Dolly was huddled under the piano bench, her odd colors blending in with the assortment of toys she had surrounded herself with for protection. My five-year-old dog poked his nose beneath the bench to be greeted with snarls, snaps and growls. Now, more than two years later, Dolly charges him, knocking him over, and greeting him with barks of happiness and kisses. One mention of “Where’s Chase?” and she races through the house searching and whining.

It is amazing to see the two dogs, equal in size, run through the woods together. Side by side, their wavy fur is a perfect color contrast: his white with freckles of orange and hers gleaming brown with the sunlight catching flecks of amber.

Mom routinely takes Dolly on walks in the woods each day. Any dogs who are visiting are welcome and encouraged. Dolly has even guided them, sans human, down the pine needle littered trail revealing all of her secret places. She is a gentle dog, not easily excitable or high strung and a perfect companion for an older person.

On her continued Meals on Wheels route, down the narrow sand-packed road where Mom first spotted the wary bundle of fur, she still looks for Dolly’s potential parentage. The possibilities have been pondered and argued numerous times: Chow? Irish Setter? In the pet store there is a pricey mixed breed DNA kit available that would certainly end the debate once and for all, but I prefer to borrow from an old childhood rhyme. “Sugar and spice and everything nice”, that’s what Dolly is made of.


Doublesided said...

Awww what a sweet story. Lucky Dolly being found by such a loving family, even if dad didn't approve!!

Monica Wells said...

I loved this post. I really like the picture too. I'll have to do a post about my new dog, Oliver, one day soon. Come on over and join my blog...