3: Ubu Saves the Day

3: Ubu Saves the Day

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Ubu Saves the Day

The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.

~Charles de Gaulle

The year my daughter was born, I was struggling with many issues. My husband chose to leave our marriage to seek a more carefree lifestyle. I owned a home that was a money pit, and my funds were limited as I was working on a freelance basis so that I could parent my daughter. And, as all new parents are, I was horribly sleep-deprived and felt overwhelmed.

The one constant in my life was my dear dog, Ubu, who was quiet when the baby slept, gentle when she would crawl onto his back, and always near me making me feel loved.

Each day, I would take my baby for a stroll around the neighborhood with Ubu in tow. Ubu had been trained to walk with me without a leash and was very responsive to my commands, so I never worried about his behavior on our walks.

One day on our walk, my daughter started getting fussy, so I sped up and headed for home. While I told Ubu to come, he stood next to a house around the corner from me and just looked at me. Since my daughter was warming up to a full-blown crying fit, I told Ubu I was going home and that I couldn’t wait for him.

I got home and found the source of my child’s distress, took care of the problem, and sat on the front porch to await Ubu’s arrival. Fifteen minutes passed and he was still not home, so I loaded up the stroller and we set off to find him. The first place I looked was successful. Ubu was lying next to the front stairs of the house where we had left him.

As I approached Ubu, and inquired as to what was so important, I heard the noises of several crying kittens. I’m allergic to cats and did not want to get involved in whatever was going on under the stairs, but Ubu would not budge.

I knocked on the front door and the older woman explained that a stray cat had come onto her property and she suspected the cat had given birth. I asked her if she would like our help in retrieving the cats, but she was not a cat lover and told us that we could just leave them there.

Ubu did not agree, so I asked the woman if it was okay for my dog to go under her porch and try to retrieve the kittens. She scoffed and said, “Don’t come crying to me when that cat claws your dog.”

I told Ubu to stay put and that I would be right back. I went home and called Animal Control to ask them what we could do. The man said that he would send someone over, and I gave him the address. Then I changed into sweatpants in case I had to crawl under the porch, donned working gloves, and grabbed a laundry basket that I covered with sheets. I loaded everything into the stroller, and we headed back to the house.

When I arrived, Ubu was not there. I felt a bit of panic, thinking that the cat might have attacked him. But as I moved closer to the stairs, I saw he had crawled under the porch and was guarding the opening.

When the man from Animal Control showed up, he was surprised that Ubu was standing guard. He chuckled and said, “Is he waiting for a free meal?” I found no humor in that and suggested that we get on with saving the kittens. He said that he was not going to crawl under the porch to retrieve the kittens, so I pushed the stroller closer to the hole and kept up a lighthearted conversation with my daughter. The opening was only about twelve inches tall. I looked at the opening and attempted to fight off my claustrophobia and the idea that there could be spiders, rotting leaves, and who knew what else under the porch. But even as I tried to overcome my fears, there was no way I would be able to crawl through such a narrow opening.

I looked to the Animal Control man for guidance, but he just sneered and said, “Send the dog to get them.”

I sat down next to Ubu and explained what had to happen. He needed to crawl under the porch and bring the kittens out. He needed to be very careful and gentle. While I was talking to Ubu, the Animal Control man started laughing and said, “Now, I’ve heard everything.”

My frustration with the situation and this man’s attitude grew. I said, “You have been of little help and absolutely no encouragement, so I’m going to make you a wager. If my dog retrieves the kittens, you are going to buy him a large bag of dog food, the premium kind.”

The man’s smirk turned to a grin. “You’re on.”

So I went back and sat down next to Ubu and explained again what I needed him to do. He belly-crawled to the back of the porch and one long minute later came out with a tiny kitten nestled gently in his mouth. When I asked him to give me the kitten, he hesitated. I found that perplexing so I told him again to give me the kitten; he did not. I don’t know what made me think of it, but I turned, put on my work gloves, and brought the laundry basket over to Ubu. He not only gently placed the kitten in the basket but nudged the sheets over it as well.

Ubu “delivered” twelve kittens in the same manner. The shock on the Animal Control man’s face was reward enough for me. I handed him the basket of kittens and headed for home.

Later that afternoon, he returned with a fifty-pound bag of dog food. “You told me that you were allergic to cats, and while your dog was rescuing those kittens, what really amazed me is that he wouldn’t let you touch them. It was almost as if he knew you were allergic.”

I smirked at him. “He did.”

~Judith Fitzsimmons

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