“What beautiful dogs!” An older gentleman waves at me as he drives by.
I smile and wave back, rather proud of my Siberian Huskies as well. They are beautiful dogs. Pumpkin has the traditional black and white pattern and incredible blue eyes. Misha has brown eyes, but an unusual gray and white husky pattern, making her look more wolfish. Both are females, a little on the small side, and well-trained. They are striking dogs, by they are just dogs. It gets a little annoying sometimes that everywhere I go, I get dozens of comments like that. Would people still say that if I were walking Golden Retrievers, or German Shepherds?
“Aren’t they silly, Kaylee?” I kneel beside the stroller, checking to see that my granddaughter is still bundled up against the chilly wind of early spring. The daffodils are in full bloom, but four inches of fresh snow blankets the ground.
“Ah doggy! Ah doggy!” she exclaims. Yeah, no help there. She’s as dog-crazy as the rest of them.
Pumpkin obliges by licking her chin. Misha isn’t as friendly towards the energetic two-year-old. But then, Misha is seven years old and not that impressed by anything. Mushing season is over now. No more six mile runs along the snow-packed trails in Fort Custer Recreational Park. We all miss that. And with the slush still lining the streets, I’m not brave enough to start running the dogs along side the bicycle. Huskies require a lot of exercise. Somehow walking beside a baby stroller at Grandma’s pace just doesn’t cut it.
I stop to visit. “I do. But I’m not planning for any pups until late summer.” It would be too hard to raise a litter in our second floor, one bedroom apartment. Besides the fact it isn’t allowed.
“You must give me your phone number! My son has been wanting a husky for years.”
The woman talks on about her son. I’m only partially listening, as I keep one eye on my granddaughter.
“Huskies aren’t the right dog if you value your landscape,” I caution her. I’ve never had a problem selling puppies. I don’t breed often, only when I want to keep some of the puppies myself. I have had as many as thirteen dogs at a time – a very small kennel for a musher. I’ve lost a few to old age, and one Alaskan husky to illness. I don’t run dogs to win races – I just run for fun. But somewhere between age seven and ten most huskies are ready to retire. I only have three dogs under seven now. Time for another litter.
She seems surprised that I would discourage a sale. “What do you mean?”
“Huskies are big diggers. They will dig up your garden. I run electric wire fencing a few inches above the ground on the inside of my dog yard to keep them from digging under the fence, and another electric wire along the top of the fence so they don’t jump over. ”
She isn’t deterred. That’s good. I don’t mind sellling a puppy to someone as long as they know what they’re getting in to. I always offer a money-back guarantee, no questions asked. I’d rather take the puppy back than risk it winding up in a shelter. “Just let me get a piece of paper, and I’ll write down your phone number,” she says, taking a step back and tripping over my granddaughter.
Kaylee cries, but she isn’t hurt. I kiss her owies, and comfort her.
The woman is startled. “I didn’t even see her! I didn’t notice you had a baby with you.”
Apparently she missed the large beige Jeep jogger-stroller as well.
We exchange phone numbers. I help Kaylee back into her stroller and continue on towards the swings at the corner park. I wipe the slushy snowfall off one baby swing before helping Kaylee into it. She adores swings, perhaps even more than dogs. She laughs, kicking her feet with exhuberance. I love her enthusiasm. She isn’t thinking about naptime, or what to have for snack, or whether her braids are straight. Every ounce of her being is concentrated right here, right now, on this baby swing.
Not me. I’m thinking about what I might blog about next. I’m recalling things like search engine optimizations, key words, and social media. I’m wondering if my blog will achieve a massive following, and what will I do if it does. I’m also wondering what to defrost for dinner, and do I have to go anywhere tonight, which will mean having dinner ready early. My mind is divided, only partially enjoying the moment with my precious granddaughter. I pull out my cell phone and snap a picture of her big grin, then send it to my daughter.
Why do so many people admire my dogs, and not my granddaughter? She really is adorable, with her French braids that curl down around her shoulders. Kaylee was born with more hair than any of my kids had by the time they were two. She has big blue eyes, and round, pink cheeks. She’s a little on the small side, but then, so am I. I’m not even five feet tall anymore, having shrunk 1/4 of an inch since my last doctor visit.
Without children, there can be no future. So many small towns and cities are bemoaning the loss of their public schools, as they’ve been forced to close their doors and merge with other school districts. It’s not just that families are moving away from their area, but that the families who do stay are having fewer children, or none at all.
I wish that there was a way to turn this around. To restore children to their rightful place of honor in our hearts and in our society. Children should not have to earn our respect by collecting soccer trophies or beauty pageant ribbons. We need to show respect for childhood by giving them the gift – no, the right - to a long, and happy childhood.