By R. Savidis
I may have been partly or wholly to blame, yet the way I see it, the moment’s lack of resolve could hardly have been avoided.
They hatched mid-day when I was away at work. With disappointment at my absence and eagerness of what the next moments would bring, I lifted the roof of the dog house to find mama embraced by the open mouths of eight pups. Stroking the right side of her face, I congratulated the new mother, “Twig, beautiful girl, you did well,” in answer, her head pressed heavy against my hand. “May I?”
As I reached for the first, the largest pup, black with burst of white fur and the requisite pink belly, the long, freckled nose of his mother nuzzled my hand. Careful, watch the head, she cautioned.
One by one, gently and with joy, I lifted, examined and held each. Six girls and two boys, each completely and purely perfect. White and small, she was the last subjected to my affection and adoration. I lifted the pup, eyes closed to the world and an open mouth searching for the warm and giving undercarriage of her mother, I held her in the palm of my hand. She held me in hers.
The bubble gum belly exposed was more than I could resist. Without thought, my thumb glided over her pink belly. It would be the first of many tummies given to the small girl.
Time would turn the pups, once able to fit in my palm to full grown canines of varying sizes, yet throughout her puppyhood and now into adulthood, the routine remains the same. During free run with her siblings, never straying more than a few yards she will return back and demand to be lifted and given a belly rub. One evening, holding her in my arms, giving the obligatory---no obligation at all---stroke of her belly, I confided, “Amy, it is going to be a long trail to Nome if the team has to stop every few miles for a belly rub.”