So we got the text, and picture, around three Saturday afternoon “Puppy one. Boy.” Awesome! My cousin’s terrier was having her puppies. I called it – we were taking family pictures, and I kept thinking that we should have brought jeans just in case, but I didn’t listen to myself. Sigh…
But we got over there in time for the remainder of the litter. My son loves being over there with the dogs, and my cousin and her husband have a special knack for understanding teenage boys and loving them anyways. Some days that is easier said than done, but they, without fail, show such love and patience as my son learns to help with the puppies.
And as much as it is a cool experience for him, it is also one for me. My son surprises me each time. He will patiently pet the mom, assuring her that she is okay, and tell her that he is sorry when she has a contraction. He will rub the puppies with a towel to get them moving when they are delivered, and then carefully place them next to mom, usually giving them an air kiss before doing so. He will count and check to make sure no one is lost or hiding. And when he helped with another litter this summer, he learned to feed the puppies from a syringe, what dew claws were, how to read an x-ray to estimate the number of puppies, and how to patiently watch the mom in labor. He has learned of love and loss. All under the incredibly patient and loving direction of my cousin and her husband. He’s learning so much from this, and his compassion for the “little guys” is enough to melt even the hardest heart.
The “little guys” are very real. This is not a game or a screen. These are real little beings who are completely dependent on others to take care of them. And he loves taking care of them.
When he can no longer stand it, he has to hold one of the puppies. So here is the fourteen year old with a teeny tiny puppy curled up on his chest. He is talking to the puppy, assuring it that everything will be okay. You know what? It really is.
It is such a sweet moment.