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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

    The Puppies

    Mike Ruby
    A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

    Muscatine Living

    When I was 9-years-old, our dog, Trixie, a small terrier, was expecting a litter of puppies. My folks were not happy about it, but I was beyond excited. When Trixie started showing signs of labor, Mother prepared a box for her, including blankets, and placed the box in a small, dark room and closed the door. We were told to stay out of the room and not bother Trixie. I paced the floor like an expectant father.

    By evening, Trixie had been in labor for several hours with no results. Dad called the vet and was advised to bring Trixie to the clinic. My brother and I sat in the back seat of the ‘52 Oldsmobile, holding the box with Trixie. We left her at the clinic, and I didn’t sleep much that night.

    We got the call early the next morning with the exciting news that during the night, 5 healthy puppies were born, 4 males and 1 female. I was over the moon with excitement and within hours they had names; Princess, Spot, Skippy, Tippy, and Peanut, a tiny brown runt who looked like an overgrown peanut.

    Dad made it clear from the start that we were not going to keep any of the puppies. Just as soon as they turned 8-weeks old, out the door they’d go. For several weeks I begged to keep Peanut and finally, just to shut me up, they reluctantly agreed.

    We owned a place at the lake where we spent many summer weekends. The week prior to Labor Day, Dad declared that not only were we taking all 5 puppies and Trixie with us, as usual, but he was going to post a “puppies for sale” sign and 4 puppies were either going to be sold or given away by Labor Day evening. That holiday weekend was a bummer for me.

    The puppies were $3 each. If it had been up to me, I would have put a $300 price tag on each. By Sunday evening all puppies had been sold except Spot. On Labor Day afternoon, a rough looking couple in an old beat up truck stopped by. They held Spot for a few minutes and said, “OK, we’ll take him.” They rummaged around the cab and finally came up with $3. I had bad vibes about them and struggled to hold back the tears as they drove away. At least I still had Peanut.

    Peanut was my pride and joy, fitting nicely in my jacket when I delivered newspapers. Even today, when I see a very small brown terrier, I frequently think of Peanut.

    What memories do you have of your childhood pet?

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