Puppy Memories


The puppies will be leaving soon, all but one of them to new homes. Gryffndoor will remain. Tonight, Joan has begun the baking and the preparation to send them off with goodies and food. Like hobos, each leaves with a tiny bag.

But, they are not hobos. We have carefully chosen their homes and most we will see again. Maybe not little Kensington. He's going to a person we do not know, but I will ask for his owners' address and send Christmas letters and hope that his owner answers and sends back photos. And, if he does I will place them in a scrapbook and we will ooh and ahh over them as a mother does a baby picture and say "isn't he cute?" "my ,he has grown" and "he looks just like his mommy."

He may get a new name. Margot will. Most often do. Even when I first took Vader, before I knew Joan well, I changed his name. He was originally Zag to his brother Zig. But for a time, these were Kensington and Margot and will remain ours and we will sometimes talk of them and always remember.

Often with time the names and litters become jumbled in our memories as will these and we will have to nudge each other and ask was that so and so's litter? Who was the father? And, one of us, often me, will remember or take out a paper that tells or consult the scrapbook. We may have the story wrong or the details confused -- was it Margot with white on her paw or was that Indigo from another litter? But they are not lost to memory only mixed and married to a host of other puppies who were also loved and are gone.

Each has formed Pugdom. So now I can tell stories of dogs I've never even known because they have become real to me. Mookie, the big black male who won many shows and Shandi, the pug Joan claims was gay, and Patty Albee who didn't like to show. They all lived and died before I came to know Joan and yet, I can paint you a picture of each.

In the days ahead, certain specifics about this litter will become cloudy, but right now I can tell you that it is Margot with the right, white paw, that Kensington is a lovebug, sweet and gentle, that Trump has the most wrinkles on his head. I can pick up from the squirming black mass on the ground the one I want and present it to you, "Here's Kensington or here's Gryff." And, you will look amazed. "How do you tell them apart," you might ask. The love that helps me make those identifications never fades. It becomes a trace memory and some part of it lingers so I will always be able to reach out and grab them still.

These are the creatures and characters that have opened up a whole new world for me and so we send them off into the world to live and breathe whole lives. And, somwhere in their tiny animal minds, in the scents and sounds they have storehoused and hold dear, I think we remain and travel with them. So, if they were to see us again they might pause and ask isn't that so and so? I remember that smell, that voice, that hand, that touch. She gave us food or a belly rub and they may sigh before barking and moving on with one last wag of their tails.