Mark reminded me of the two quirky pets we had when we were first married. One was a small poodle terrier cross – a little black ball of fluff who was unfailingly cute.
Shortly after I got her, I came across a larger border collie and husky cross puppy I couldn’t resist. He was in a box outside the grocery store when I went shopping – and he was the last one left. I let my impulse get the best of me and took the little guy home to become Shay’s buddy.
I should have stopped to consider our past history of finding such quirky, unusual pets.
(Featured image: Our current puppy pair – Frankie and Oliver.)
For the next few years in Cold Lake, everything was fine. We had our two children, the dogs thrived and became best buddies with Erin and Stuart.
Over the years that we owned Shay and Tippy, there were many instances that we found endearing, entertaining or frightening.
Within the first year of owning Shay, before I had managed to get her spayed, I discovered she was pregnant. I was actually very excited at the thought of the puppies and considering how cute she was I had no doubt that I could find homes for every one of them.
Once the six puppies were born they were so cute that those in my own family ended up taking a puppy, the rest to find a home elsewhere.
For the first couple of days everything seemed fine with Shay and her puppies.
It became apparent that Shay was losing interest in the puppies and on the second day she completely abandoned them.
At first I panicked a bit, started trying to feed them manually, and tried to prompt Shay to resume nursing, without success.
I noticed that Tippy was very interested in the puppies, coming over and sniffing them, and even licking to clean them.
To all of our amazement, by the end of the day in which Shay had abandoned them, Tippy started crawling into the box and began nursing them, actually producing milk. I had never seen anything like this before, and I’ve never seen anything like this since.
Not only was there a wide variation in looks and color in the litter of puppies, but there was a wide variation in size, and I mean wide.
The runt of the litter, a tiny white short-haired terrier-looking pup with black spots was adopted by my mother, who name her Chewy.
The giant of the litter, was the most beautiful golden brown puppy. If it resembled any breed at all, it looked most to me like a cross between a spaniel and a terrier.
This puppy had an amazingly docile, lovable temperament, and if I could have, I would’ve adopted him myself. Instead, my sister Andrea adopted him and another puppy she named Kimmie.
Kimmie was surprisingly different, and if I had to come up with a reason for it in human terms, I would say she had ADD. She could be active to the point of annoying, but considering she spent her first couple of years with my sister living on my mother’s hobby farm, it was the perfect place for her and her personality.
She was the self-appointed guardian of the livestock.
My mother kept chickens, and every once in a while one of the chickens would decide to fly over the fence and into the backyard. We never prompted Kimmie, or trained her, but she immediately took it upon herself to herd the chicken back to the fence and yip at it until it jumped back into the pen.
A hilarious example of this herding instinct of Kimmie’s, was the day Andrea decided to play with Kimmie with a small bowling ball.
Try as she might, it was so heavy, she barely managed to make it move by pushing it with her nose. In frustration, she would stand over the ball and yip at it, just as with the chickens, almost as if she expected it to be herded to where she wanted.
Shay, Tippy, and a few of “their” puppies lived with members of our family for years after.
Aside from adopting and raising Shay’s puppies, Tippy lived a very quiet and uneventful life.
Shay, however, being the lively little thing that she was, tended to get into trouble.
In my living room, there was a panel of three windows, a large full-length center window with smaller, narrower, and taller windows on either side of the main one.
On this particular day, it was fairly warm, so I had opened one of the side windows to capture the breeze and cool down my home.
A while later, I decided to walk down to the community mailbox to check my mail. I had to walk from my home at the end of our street, over the hill, down to the main highway and cross to the mailboxes.
I never did understand the placement of these mailboxes as that was the waterfront side of the highway and there were much fewer houses. It only made sense to me, that the mailboxes should be on the more populated side of the highway.
I had reached the mailboxes, opened mine, and removed the mail. While looking through my mail I decided to look up towards my home.
I have no idea why, I heard no noise, nothing else prompted me. However, when I looked up, I caught sight of this little black blur running over the hill and down the road towards me and the highway. Immediately, I realized it was Shay following me, yet I didn’t dare yell as she might think I was calling her.
I watched in horror as she ran into the middle of the first highway lane and was immediately run over by a car.
Luckily. This car had fairly high clearance, and I could see Shay tumbling from the front of the car, rolling over and over and over and over, until she exited the rear of the car, landed on her feet and kept on running to me at the mailboxes.
I couldn’t believe it when I checked her over and could find absolutely nothing wrong. Someone was smiling down on Shay and I that day.
After Mark and I married, we moved into a small house in the military housing quarters on the base where Mark was stationed. Quite often Mark would decide to ride his bike to work as it was only a short distance away.
On this particular day, I was working around the house for a while and then went to work at my job at the regional hospital.
I hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, and had no reason to be concerned, until I received a phone call from Mark.
It seems that Shay managed to sneak out of the house and follow Mark’s scent all of the way to the air base. I guess there must have been too many scents in the air once she reached the base and she got confused and lost.
We only knew there was a problem when Mark received a telephone call from his best friend [and best man at our wedding], Dave, letting him know that there was an alert out because of a dog running loose on the runway. Since Dave was familiar with Shay, as soon as he looked, he recognized Shay, called her over, grabbed her, and called Mark to come pick her up.
I’m sure Mark never lived that one down.
We were just lucky that Tippy was as calm, cool and collected as she was, because we could only handle one like Shay.
Shay and Tippy remained in our lives for over 17 years, including through our children’s earliest years.