If you're allergic to cute, have reservations about terminal homespun or just plain can't tolerate any schmaltz, you may want to skip over the next month of Seven Roads to Home.
Mandy Mae was named after her mother before we acquired her. On Saturday we take the pup on a dump run. Saturdays at the town dump are a social occasion. We get the latest garden tips, gossip, weather information and a chance to speak to people seldom seen. Dawn spends so much time jawing with our webmaster, the new town chairman, the "dump lady" and neighbors that I have to remind her that we're blocking the door and the truck is running. After a round of heavy petting, Mandy and Dawn and I head for the Amish farm. I've brought along a gallon zip lock bag of Red Flannel dog food. Mandy doesn't seem to care for the taste of Red Flannel so I'm going to trade for some Beneful. When we arrive at the farm, it's like old home week. Mandy is bowled over by a herd of puppies. She latches onto one of her mother's teats and won't leave Mandy Sr. alone. Finally, Mom is allowed inside so the puppies don't harass her. Mandy is distracted by Buddy. He's lying on the porch. She nuzzles his muzzle. Buddy opens his mouth and gives her a dog welcome by mouthing her head. One of the daughters asks if we've named our puppy. "Yes, she'll always be Mandy Mae," I tell her. As we recount last night's Adventures With Mandy with the Patriarch, his wife stands in the doorway listening.
"She's a great dog. Slept through the night in her cage in the garage, " I say. "She's definitely an Amish dog, however. On Saturday morning, I take her for a walk in my bare feet." The grass is heavy with cold dew and grass clippings. "Mandy follows nipping at my heels. Friday afternoon I couldn't get her to go anywhere with me. The secret was the bare feet. Her eye level is accustomed to bare feet," I tell Titus.
The Patriarch's wife says it'll be quiet on Monday night as opposed the bedlam Saturday morning. The temporary cardboard shelter and wire fence around a grassy area in the front yard looks like a tornado touched down. Monday all the remaining dogs have been sold or will be removed to new homes. I hesitate when we are asked inside. Mandy is off on a caper with her brothers. The two youngest Amish children are playing with the pups. Several of the daughters are dressed in Sunday finery. They'll be picked up soon for a tour of local rummage sales. The puppies have consumed all the Beneful puppy chow. Titus hands me a bag of Purina Chow with a trickle of puppy food at the bottom. They've allowed the food to dwindle in light of the pups departure. The second batch of puppies from a neighbor, the Patriatrch tells us, weren't exactly well fed. When they arrived at the farm they were hungry.
We ask about feeding Mandy cow's milk and other pertinent questions regarding her care. When we leave. Dawn holds Mandy on her lap so the pup can look at the countryside. Back home, the Pooch keeps his distance from Mandy. If she gets too close, he hisses and arches his back. Yet, he's still curious. He takes a swipe at Mandy's nose later on in the afternoon. Mandy has been given notice to stay clear. We rename him Grandpa Grump. Mandy avoids the cat. When I walk to the garden to dig Keuka Gold potatoes Mandy follows. The Pooch trails at a safe distance. The Pup thinks digging in the garden is great fun. There are weeds to chase as I toss them in the wheelbarrow. She stands next to the potato fork snatches a potato and runs off into the vines. Her interest is short lived. She returns to help dig in the dirt. Pucci walks into the cucumbers to hunt mice and get out of the hot sun.
WWTAD ( what would the Amish do) becomes a mantra. Mandy sleeps on my lap as we watch the movie, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Dawn says the Amish wouldn't spoil a dog like that. Later Dawn lures in the cat with a fresh plate of raw pork. Mandy is transferred to the garage and her cage. If you thought the cat was spoiled, consider that Mandy has a cardboard egg box inside the wire cage. The box is lined with soft fleece. On the floor of the cage is a green wool blanket. She has two fresh ham bones, a rawhide chew toy, a dog biscuit, one of the Pooch's toys, a large squeaky canvas ring for tossing and a wind up, ticking alarm clock. I briefly consider bringing her inside for the night, but dismiss the thought when she pees on the kitchen floor immediately after a walk outside. The Berber carpet on the second floor will not be baptised with Blue Heeler urine.
Sunday morning at 6:30 am I wake up with a throbbing wrist. Cutting cabbage, pulling weeds and digging potatoes inflames the carpal tunnel so badly that I can't make a fist. Mandy discovers a taste for raw pork. I feed the kids on two levels. The Pooch eats his breakfast out of reach. Mandy slurps raw milk and fresh pork. Dad has potatoes and an egg. All's well in Kickapoo Center. The ending Kodak moment: Poochie the cat, Mandy the pup and me walking down the lane between six foot high swaths of Queen Anne's lace toward the river. My only regret-calling the cat "Pooch". Dawn and I maneuver through he/she/Pooch/pup. I make a point to call the dog by name and the cat becomes Kitty. In that way, the Pooch doesn't come running when I call the pup. Pucci stays near, since he's not sure if this animal is a varmint or a buddy.
What's the most prescient book you'e ever read?
9 hours ago