My Dad and His Dogs

Every morning since Pixie had her litter of pups two weeks ago, they are the first thing I see when I come into the kitchen. They are flopped about in their box on the other side of the fridge seemingly drunk on her milk, and I’m compelled to stand and stare at them.

I can’t help but wish my dad were here to share in the sweetness they evoke. It’s been four years since he died, and some of my memories have faded but moments like these bring them back strongly. Dad loved dogs and always had at least one on the dairy farm. He regarded a good herding dog a necessity, but it wasn’t a very well-kept secret that he just liked having a dog around.

My dad's love for dogs started as a young child.

He appreciated their instinct to circle back and forth behind the cows each day as they moved them to and from their pasture down the country road we lived on. I remember him cautioning, sometimes gruffly, Lady, then Socks (Lady’s daughter), then Babe, then Kate and Allie when they got excited and ran the cows too fast, or when he wanted to draw their attention to a straying heifer.

While he expected a lot from his canine partners, he was generous with his praise and physical attention. After a long day baling hay, he would stretch out on the grass under a shade tree with the current collie or shepherd next to him. Before heading to the barn for the night milking,she’d relax as he’d absently scratched behind her ears or rub her belly.

And he was a sucker for puppies – like most of us are, but he was a sucker ten-fold! He’d smile like a little kid as he got down on the floor to let a puppy (or better yet, puppies) crawl on him, lick his nose, and chew on his fingers. He’d delight in their puppy-breath and the cute noises they made. He’d play until the worn-out pup gave up, cuddled next to him, and fell asleep.