Puppy is Not a Dog – a glimpse into uncle rick’s life
If you ever thought about it, you would probably expect that the Boyer family has had a lot of pets over the years. After all, Miz Marilyn and I raised fourteen children. And children love pets. We’ve had dogs, cats, parakeets, rabbits, crabs, horses and chickens.
One of the more unusual pets was named Puppy.
The unusual thing about Puppy is that he was not a dog! Puppy was a black calf. Puppy was given to us by my friend, Mr. Titus. You may have heard me talk about Mr. Titus. He owns the lovely farm where I keep my horses and where I built the Little House in the Pasture. That’s where I’m sitting at this moment writing to you on a lovely autumn day.
Puppy had a rough start in life. He was one of two twin calves born here on the farm. Sometimes when a mother cow has twins, she will take care of one and reject the other. That’s what happened to Puppy. When he was only a few hours old, Mr. Titus saw him standing alone in the pasture, small and knock-kneed, while his twin was drinking from his mother’s udder. Poor Puppy was pushed away every time he tried to join in. Mr. Titus knew something must be done for Puppy or he would soon die. Babies need to be fed often.
So Mr. Titus called my son, Tucker. Tuck loves animals and knows a lot about taking care of them because he worked on a farm for several years. Mr. Titus didn’t have time to take care of a baby calf, so he offered to give him to Tuck. We were all surprised when Tuck came home with a tiny black calf in his truck. The baby would have to be fed from a bottle several times a day, so he had to come and live with Tuck and the rest of us until he was old enough to eat grass.
Mr. Titus said that the calf might not live because baby calves need stuff that comes only in a mother cow’s milk. But Tuck worked hard at taking care of him. He built him a shelter on the back side of our storage shed. He fixed his bottle and gave it to him day and night. As he got older, he brought hay from the farm for Puppy to eat.
After a while Tuck tied Puppy out in our garden to give him more room. Our neighbor, Mrs. Bradley saw him for the first time and told her husband that the Boyers had a huge black dog tied in their garden. Mr. Bradley looked out at Puppy and told his wife she had better have another look. That was no dog.. .
You may wonder why he was named Puppy. The very day he came home with Tuck, Tuck carried him into the living room to show all of us. My big Labrador Retriever, Mosby, sniffed the baby calf with interest. Then he began to lick him all over. Somebody said, “Hey, Mosby thinks he’s a puppy so he’s taking care of him!” The little calf was called Puppy from then on. You can see in the picture that he’s even sucking my thumb! Baby calves love to suck on things.
Tuck’s sister, Kasey liked Puppy too. When he was a big boy, she trained him to stand still while she climbed up and sat on his back. She looked pretty funny riding a calf around the garden.
When Puppy was several months old, and Tuck felt sure that he could take care of himself, Tuck loaded him into the truck and took him back to Mr. Titus’ farm to live. Puppy was very tame by then, and when the kids went to visit him out in the pasture he would walk up to them to be patted. He grew big and heavy and joined right in with the herd of cattle, but still raised his head when anybody came to the fence and called his name.
Puppy seemed to be happy to be back on the farm with the other cows. And that’s a good thing, because he was much too big to live at our house any more!