One Small Puppy

By Shirley Uphouse

The air-cargo warehouse at the Atlanta airport was huge and noisy. The acoustics in the concrete structure did nothing to soften the cacophony of overhead fans, trucks, iron-wheeled carts and the steady roar of a large machine from someplace out of sight. I hugged her one last time, holding her small, warm body close. With my face buried in her baby fur, I felt her soft tongue on my cheek. She startled a bit when something heavy clanged loudly. Woofington, our twelve-week old Australian Shepherd puppy, was on her way to her new family in Connecticut. Rhonda, husband, Tom and eight-year old son, Carter, had passed our extensive scrutiny and waited anxiously on the other end, our cell phone numbers exchanged and at the ready.

I placed her in the crate and closed the door. “You be a good puppy, Woofington,” I said as tears stung my eyes. The cargo attendant handed the completed paperwork to me, lifted the crate and set it down on the cart with a thud.
“Oh…oh, wait I minute,” I said. “I need to check one thing.” I opened the crate and looked in the back where Woofington, so tiny, huddled in the corner. Her eyes seemed to ask “Why are you sending me away?” I made a pretense of checking her water, then casting an ‘I don’t care what you think’ look toward the impatient attendant, I pulled her out once more, held her close and whispered puppy love words, took a deep breath and put her back in the crate.

“She’s just a baby,” I said. “Can’t you put her someplace a little quieter until she goes out to the airplane?” He grunted, unaffected by my streaked face and doting concern. I ignored his indifference, walked behind the counter and watched the cart, loaded with boxes and bags and one small puppy, as the tractor drew it to the back of the warehouse. Then, there was nothing to do but drive back home.

“Do you think they’ll love her as we do?” I asked my husband, Warren. “Suppose she piddles on the floor and they punish her. Suppose she chews a shoe and they don’t want her anymore. Suppose she cries all night without her sisters?”

“She’ll be fine,” he replied. “How could anyone not love that beautiful puppy.”
“I know…but, suppose they don’t!” Wallowing in doubts and guilt, I would not be consoled easily. “Well…our contract says if they ever don’t want her, she comes back to us!” I leaned back and closed my eyes, determined to ease my worries when a new thought leaped up. “And…I hope they’re not late getting to the airport. I’d hate to think they wouldn’t be there to take her the moment she’s unloaded”.

It was dark by the time we returned home. Woofington’s mom, Fanci, anxiously greeted us looking for her baby. As one by one, the pups went to their new homes, Fanci fretted and searched for hours before finally settling down. I waited for the promised phone call that would tell us Woofington had arrived safely, and that they would love her forever. Near midnight I could stand no more and dialed their number. There was no answer. ‘Oh no, had they had an accident…forgotten all about her?’ I went to bed but couldn’t sleep until early morning when the telephone jarred me upright.

It was Rhonda. “I’m sorry I didn’t call last night. We live about an hour from the airport. It was so late when we got home, I didn’t want to bother you..” Bother me? How could she not know how badly I needed to hear that Woofington had made the trip safely?

“Oh, I wasn’t worried, Rhonda,.” I lied. “Did she come through OK? Did she cry all night?” Rhonda couldn’t contain the family’s delight with Woofington. They absolutely adore her. She is the cutest puppy ever born. No, she didn’t cry last night because son, Carter, slept in his sleeping bag alongside her crate. I relaxed. We’d done well. Woofington had a good home.

Then, when her siblings, at home with us, were about four months old and into serious teething, chewing everything in sight, I thought of Woofington. Our welcome mat, ripped and torn with chunks missing seemed more like a warning than a welcome. How would her folks handle a pup with a passion to shred. I had to know. Tom answered the phone. Rhonda and Carter were away and Woofington was keeping him company in their absence. “And doing a very good job of it too,” he added. Tom said they couldn’t be happier with her. She was the smartest puppy ever. He chuckled and said, “When R and C have called home this week, it’s Woofington they want to talk to. She listens and snuffles in the mouthpiece and they’re happy.

No, Carter  no longer sleeps on the floor next to her crate. Woofington has moved into Carter’s room and shares his bed. I hung up and walked outside to where Fanci lay asleep in the sun. I knelt down beside her and stroked her sleek coat. “Well, Mom, we can stop worrying now, Woofington will be just fine.”

Shirley Uphouse has more than 45 years training and exhibiting purebred dogs 20 years’ experience as an AKC judge. She is the author of My Dogs/My Friends(ISBN 1435719441) available from Amazon.

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One Response to One Small Puppy
  1. Shirley Uphouse
    January 18, 2012 | 1:34 pm

    Being Woofington’s breeder I am partial. She was a darling puppy and now a beautiful black-tri Aussie all grown up with her own website. Please read her story “about me” and sign up for her emails.

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