76: Extended Litter

76: Extended Litter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Extended Litter

Fun fact: A pregnant dog will usually lose her appetite about a day before delivering her puppies.

It was the Fourth of July and my neighbor decided to give the neighborhood its own personal display of loud but beautiful fireworks. Hershey, my four-year-old mixed-breed dog decided that fireworks were too loud and dangerous. As soon as the first blast exploded into the air, leaving brilliant colors in the clear night sky, she began to pace.

Hershey had given birth to eight puppies only a few short weeks before and she perceived the fireworks as a possible danger to her babies. She nervously paced from room to room in the house. Eventually, she decided she wanted a closer look at the fireworks, so I brought her outside.

Once outside, Hershey began pacing all over again. There was a break in the display, and she wasn’t sure where to look for the danger. Just as she was calming down, a bright blue firework whizzed through the air and exploded with a bang. Hershey ran straight for the house door. When I let her back inside, I assumed she would go straight to her puppies, but she didn’t. I was curious about what she would do next, so I followed her as she began another tour around the house.

To my surprise, her first stop was to the bed where my younger daughter lay under the covers fast asleep. My daughter was curled up facing the wall, and Hershey couldn’t see her face very well. Hershey solved the problem by placing her front paws on the bed and leaning over until she could reach close enough to sniff my daughter. I still wasn’t sure what she was doing, so I continued to watch.

Hershey checked my older daughter next. She was still awake and on her cell phone like a typical teenager. Hershey sniffed her quickly, but not for long since she could see she was still awake.

Hershey left my daughters’ room and headed into the room containing my two sons and their bunk bed. My older son was sitting on the lower bed, awake, which meant he only required a quick sniff.

But my younger son was more of a problem, as he was in the top bunk. Hershey couldn’t put her front paws on the bed to give him a quick look and sniff. She also couldn’t see him very clearly from her position on the floor. There was no easy way for her to reach him. What she chose to do surprised me.

She sat down on the floor and stared at my son without moving an inch. When my son moved in his sleep, and she was satisfied that all her human babies were okay, she returned to her puppies.

The fireworks continued to entertain the neighborhood outside for another twenty minutes. Hershey paced the house and checked on her litter to make sure they were all right until the last firework. On that Fourth of July night, I realized that as far as Hershey was concerned, my kids were a part of her litter that needed to be watched over. It felt good to know my dog was willing to protect my children as though they belonged to her.

~Keysha G. Cass

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