I grew up on a small farm in rural Pennsylvania. Along with a variety of animals, we also had puppies, and from time to time, a few young dogs. It all started with my dad’s deep love for animals of all kinds; especially the four legged ones that barked.
It was not uncommon for Dad to bring home a stray on any given day.His love grew into a small business in which my dad would take in puppies that were not wanted, or young dogs who frustrated their owners.
At times, Dad had several dogs, and it was advised that he apply for a kennel license. We certainly had our share of puppies when the word got out. Dad took wonderful care of each one. He worked with a local veterinarian, who came to the farm to make sure the puppies and dogs were healthy. Most of the puppies were a mixed breed with an occasional pure bred.
Each time a new puppy or dog arrived, Dad would say, ” Don’t name the puppies!” I would look up at him, smile, as the wheels of my brain starting thinking, of the perfect name for each one. Little did Dad know, how much I loved the little darlings. I use to sneak out to the barn just to catch a glimpse of the brown, black and white dare devils rolling, wrestling, and nipping at each other. It was pure love.. and I wanted to keep them all.
Oh no, get the tissues…….
The day came when the first puppy had to leave. Dad made me stay in the house, since I was already crying in my cereal. My two younger sisters were bawling their eyes out, and our baby brother was crying just because we were crying. We were a mess. I begged Mom to let me go out to the barn to say my last good-bye to Jimmy.
Dad saw me coming and smiled. He left me hug the brown little puppy who had captured my heart. I knew Jimmy’s new owners would take care of him, but I loved him so much. I felt the tears filling my eyes, turned, and ran back to the house.
When Dad came in, we could tell his heart was as heavy as ours. He looked at each one of us with a tear in his eyes and said, ” Don’t name the puppies.”
During the time Dad had his kennel, I would hear, ” Don’t name the puppies,” many, many times. It was hard to take Dad’s advice because of my young age. Besides, I really, really, wanted to keep each one of those beautiful creatures. My heart would break as each puppy and dog left, but I kept naming them until the day Dad could no longer keep up with the kennel.
Don’t name the stray cats, birds, squirrels……..
The story I just wrote, happened over fifty -five years ago, and guess what? I am still naming the birds that sit in my tree, the cats that walk over my deck and the squirrels that comes for their daily peanuts. I am an animal lover and proud of it.
Why do people abuse animals? I wish I knew. Each time, I read an article in the paper or see a news report on the television, my heart literally breaks. Sometimes, I think I can almost hear Dad crying from heaven and asking the same question; why?
My heartfelt wish…..
I dream of the day, when all animals will be treated with love. I pray that they will not be abused, or dropped off on the side of the road. I wish, that they all will have food and a loving home, where they feel safe and wanted.
This story is important to me because, I loved my dear Dad so very much. I can still see his twinkly brown eyes and hear his voice when he talked to the puppies, dogs, and the animals on our farm. Dad didn’t make much money on the kennel. He charged very little for the dogs. Dad mainly charged enough to cover the food, vet and a little extra for his family. He was a wonderful father and taught me a lot. His love of animals, crept into my heart where it will live until I take my last breath.
One more thought..
There are many ways of helping animals. Volunteer at a local shelter or animal hospital, donate dog, cat, bird, and rabbit food and supplies, help out at a horse farm for retired horses, or buy an extra can of dog or cat food for a senior who has a cat or dog. Parents, when considering a pet for your child, try and make sure the pet and child are compatible. I am sure you can think of many other ways to help. Your help will definitely make a difference! Be a hero!
My heart speaks……
Dear readers, above all, love your pets unconditionally. Hug them, kiss them, play with them. You will not regret it. The more love we show our pets, the more our pets will love us back.
Happy Birthday Dad……
Today, March 10th, would have been Dad’s 94th birthday. I know that he is celebrating with Mom in heaven, surrounded by all the animals he always loved. Happy Birthday dear Dad. I miss you more with each passing day and remember your famous words, ” Don’t name the puppies!”