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Friday, March 16, 2012

Singer is Five Today

The happy birthday girl, yesterday, when it was 80 degrees.

Just two weeks ago, there was snow on the ground!

My darling girl turns five today.

Five years ago, around three in the morning, her mama felt the first wrenching cramps. Actually, bitches sense the imminent birth way before the pain, right? I think they start to find a nest hours before. Okay, so this post won’t jive with reality. I don’t care if you don’t.

Back to our story: Mama is about to give birth to say nine puppies, one of which is Singer. She will be the third one out, a dark reddish lump of rat-like puppy. They end up all in a large squirming mass, while Mama licks them clean, a heating lamp keeping them warm.  Maybe breeder Mama is hovering nearby, watching.

By dawn, all the puppies have been born, and each one has had a turn at the nipple. Breeder Mama has weighed them, sexed them (four girls, five boys), and tied those sweet little colored ribbons around their necks to keep them apart. Singer is “Yellow Girl.” I know this is true, because I have a picture of her when she was just a puppy, when she was still identified by the color of her ribbon. Yellow Girl.

Singer is a strong one. She is able to maneuver quite adeptly to the nipple, whenever she is hungry. But her brothers and sisters are strong, too, and sometimes beat her to it. One of her sisters, alas, is rather weak and small. She ends up not getting as much. One day, Singer doesn’t feel the heat coming from her body and it no longer quivers. A hand gently picks up the puppy and takes her away.

Singer is beginning to hear the sounds of the household. There are dishes clattering near dinner time, voices come and go during the morning and evening hours. During the daytime, there are less noises, and that’s also when Mama dog jumps out for a few hours at a time now, taking a break from her mothering duties. Singer and her littermates wait for her, and wonder where she has gone.

The first time Singer and her litter mates go outside, it is a warm April day and she is startled by so many smells. The earth is pungent and she wants to spend a lot of time just sniffing up all those smells in close proximity, but then she smells the squirrels and mice scurrying several feet away. Her body quickly warms up, then is cooled by a fresh spring breeze. Tiny ants tickle her tender paws. The grass smells so sweet, her mouth opens towards a blade to chew on. She wobbles through the grass, then a hand picks her up and cuddles her to a chest. She feels the warm cloth and smells the scent of a familiar human. Her eyes can barely see movement on the grass as her litter mates worm around, barely making any progress. Soon she is tired. She wants to cuddle up to her mother and nurse herself to sleep.

Singer grows quickly. She plays with her brothers and sisters, and looks forward to the days in the grass, where she can smell the squirrels and all the interesting animals out there. She learns to attend to the sights and smells of the outdoors during these weeks, and fine tunes her senses. This is where her true nature starts to blossom. She is a setter, and she starts to orient toward her senses of animals in the yard. Her litter mates wrestle each other and pay little attention to the larger world. But Singer displays her remarkable abilities to scout out animals, her small body quivering as it holds a point. She is still baby fuzzy, but her emerging capacities are evident.

Today, on her fifth birthday, she received a large flying squirrel with several squeakers. Unfortunately, it looks like Dakota. I hope he didn’t notice, and I hope Singer doesn’t notice!

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