Nellie was a dog that came to be at the farm the way most of our dogs came - Christian or Fred went to the dog pound and rescued an animal! Usually there would be something about the animal that "spoke" to them, that appealed to one or more of their senses. They must have had a cold the day they picked Nellie because she was a smelly hound dog. We nicknamed her Smelly Nellie! She was as sweet as she was smelly and we all loved her! When we learned she would have puppies I, for one,was very excited...I could hardly wait for the big day and it was a certainty that I would be in the barn when it happened.
Nellie was a black and tan hunting dog who enjoyed running in the woods and through the long grass. She could go very fast and was really a true hound dog. She had the longest ears and when she ran through the grass all you could see was the flopping ears over the tops of the grasses. She had a voice that one could only compare to an opera singer's soprano; piercing, projecting and full of wonderful and varied tones. She loved the farm, not so much the farm animals but the space to roam free. Our dogs were never on a leash on the farm. The one thing that Nellie really disliked was water, not to drink, but to run through. In fact, if she came to water she would not run through it - she would stand and whine until someone helped her across. This made it difficult - no, let me correct that - impossible to bath her which only added to the smelliness of Nellie! Nellie was so smelly that when we took her to the vet, people around us would get a particular expression on their faces and move far away from her.
Nellie's puppies were close to arriving and I was sick with the measles - how awful - I was devastated. I asked my Mother if I could go to the barn to be with Nellie and she said "Absolutely not! You have a fever and you must stay in bed!" I begged and pleaded with her, but the more I begged the more she stood her ground and the further away it seemed my chances of seeing the newborns would be... Nellie had chosen a place in the barn to have her puppies, a place I knew very well and if I couldn't go there then I wouldn't get to see the newborns for a long while...Father said that the puppies could not be moved until their mother was ready to move them and there I was, stuck in bed. I was actually very sick and only felt like sleeping most of the time but my heart was breaking over the distance between me and the puppies once I heard that they had , in fact, arrived safely, all six of them.
One Saturday morning, soon after the puppies arrived my brother Fred came into my room where I was resting in bed, the grip of measles now slowly leaving my body. I was starting to feel a little better. I thought Fred was coming to bring me a drink of orange juice or ginger ale or to play a game of cards with me, but, the real reason for his visit was much, much better than any of that! He came into the room with his barn coat still on. That was strange since it was nice and warm inside - the wood stove was roaring with heat. He pushed the door closed a little so Mother's watchful eye would not take in what he was concealing. He sat down on the bed with me and motioned that I had to be quiet by putting his index finger to his lips and uttering a very quiet "shhhh". ... then he slowly and carefully pulled the littlest, furry creature I had ever laid eyes on from his jacket and said "here have a look, and you can pet her gently, but she can't stay because I have to bring her back before Nellie misses her too much." I was too excited for words...she was so precious, so tiny and so black. Her ears were tiny flaps of soft skin and her eyes were not open yet, she was so soft. She had the tiniest nose and nostrils the size of the holes in a button - she was a perfect little puppy and, oddly enough, she didn't smell bad! She was a little less than three days old.
When Fred left to take her back to the barn and her mother, I was content. He gave me the best gift ever that day. I knew that soon I could visit the puppies any time I wanted and it would be often!