Chaussette was born in the depths of winter—on New Year’s Day, no less, so she’s a metaphor for renewal as well as a puppy. As a result, she spent her first weeks of life in a warm Amish kitchen, handled almost from birth by a welter of enthusiastic Amish children. That’s why she’s always had a soft spot for them, and when she first arrived at my house, she would look heart-rendingly expectant whenever she heard the laughter of the neighbor children down the road.
Today she was able to live her dream: Emmy and Moses, both around five years old, happily intercepted Chaussette as I walked by with her on her Extend-a-Leash. The leash was stretched to capacity as my puppy happily bounced between the two children and three dogs. Little Moses, not much bigger than Chaussette herself, happily picked her up and hauled her around; my contorted but deliriously happy puppy objected not at all. Moses then picked up a ratty old thing that, in a happier phase of its existence, had possibly been a tennis ball. He threw it while encouraging her to fetch in his fluting Pennsylvania Dutch; she occasionally obliged but was much too distracted by all the commotion to spend much time hunting for the sadly abused toy.
I tried to conjure up the few words of German I had floating around in my head—legacies of the childhood years when my father was stationed in Germany—but had to rely on context to figure out most of what he was saying. “Fetch the ball!” and variations on the word “Hund!” were pretty clear, and I’m afraid that “Sharp teeth!” might have been among his utterances since I think she accidentally nipped him as he was hauling her about. Fortunately for me, the little Amish boy, though smaller and slightly younger than my own son, is apparently much tougher. As I finally began to haul Chaussette toward home, his wound was promptly forgotten, and he entered his house singing.
I had my camera and would have liked to take a picture but didn’t out of respect for my neighbors. I’m not sure exactly what THIS community’s rules are—I’d thought musical instruments were forbidden, but one of the boys was leaning out the window playing a harmonica—but I don’t want to risk straining the relations that I value so highly. Instead, I’ll post another picture of my very happy little dog.