A flood of Facebook pictures announced the newest pet in the family: a French beagle puppy. (Okay, it has a fancy name, but that will do for now.) Long soft ears, big paws and an eager spirit to explore the house and meet the family.
“Someone is about to get her dreams. That someone is me,” my daughter-in-love Joy announced. She had watched the animal rescue group looking for a smallish dog with a cute face. She expected to get a two-year old dog when she applied. To the delight of our three grandchildren, the animal shelter offered her a puppy with all its shots and treatments.
“What shall we call her?” she asked. After a flurry of names from Facebook followers and her children, they settled on Nutmeg.
“They warned us that having come from a puppy mill, she might not like toys or playing,” Joy said as we watched the reddish-brown puppy dash around the house with the children. Nutmeg licked hands, picked up a ball, snuggled up against the teddy bear that Henry given her from his collection of “stuffies” and inspected everything, including the cat’s food.
“No, that’s the cat’s food,” Joy reached down and removed the bowl. She pointed the little dog to the bowl in her cage.
Nutmeg arrived during one of the two days that our grandchildren actually went to school building that week. By the time the oldest arrived home, the puppy napped in its cage. “Ohhh, a puppy,” Sophie dropped her books beside the cage and cooed, “Are you sleeping in your beddy bye?”
She persisted talking baby to the puppy for the next several hours, “Me go outside and play. Me like to sniff shoes.” What is it about puppies that triggers the baby talk in otherwise perfectly normal people?
Sophie’s and Joy’s initial excitement and pleasure had barely settled enough to let the puppy rest when Henry and Sam arrived. “A puppy! We have a puppy!” A grin stretched from ear to ear on Sam’s face. “That smile says it all,” Joy wrote on Facebook.
That smile remained intact the rest of our visit. The excitement slowed only when Nutmeg walked into the cage and laid down. Joy stopped the children from pulling her out, “Let her rest. She is a baby. She needs to sleep.”
Sam sat on the floor a foot away from her cage, smiling and staring at her. Henry jiggled the latches hoping she would wake up and want out. Sophie sat at the table, watching and celebrating, “We have a puppy!”
Not that the children lacked pets. Two cats reigned in the house until Nutmeg arrived. The oldest, Pickles, asserted her authority with a hiss and a swipe of open claws at the little dog.
“No Pickles.” Joy reached out to stop the cat. The much younger cat Chewie stuck her paws between the cage wires and snagged kibble from the puppy’s dish.
When Nutmeg walked outside the cage, Chewie and Pickles reminded one pup that they owned this house. My son pulled them back. “The puppy just wants to play.”
The cats ignored the dog or stuck out their paws from beneath the couch by the time we left. Two days later, Joy posted, “They are friends,” and showed Chewie playing, “Catch me if you can.” They circled the table with Nutmeg stopping frequently to tease Chewie to keep going.
The jury is still out on Pickles, the older, more dignified cat. We will give him a bit more time to adjust to this new invader who just wants a snack from the cat’s bowl and a game of chase.
Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”