Almost 40 years ago at 6 years old, the SPCA told my mom they wouldn’t adopt to a family with children my age. Given that I was standing right there it shows how much some adults ignore smaller, younger creatures!

The caregiver relented, thankfully, after seeing me interact with the dogs. In the end, I was allowed to crawl into a kennel with a bunch of puppies–my dream!–and carefully extract the most shy dog. All these years later, I would strongly recommend against this for novice dog companions, though thankfully it worked for us.

Dumpling was a loving, and very loyal dog for many years until her death of old age complaints. She never met a stranger. Dumpy had obvious Dachshund/Beagle traits: gentle and happy temperament, brown/black coloring, head, and ears with mysteriously gnarled, stubby front legs and 30+ pound, round body.

She looked like a drag racer with her elevated hind end. There was no racing though since she tended toward pudge, not muscle! We didn’t know about Corgi’s yet so we called her a hound mix. Looking back I’d agree she was a delightful, funny mix of those three breeds. I remember one man joking that her mother was a Beagle and her dad was a traveling salesman!

I’d like to say I was an amazing trainer at that age, but I admit she did all the teaching. Looking back it’s simply amazing, and a testimony to her patience with children, that my brother and I were never bitten in the face.

Mild mannered Dumpy morphed into a snarling, snapping Cujo when we blew into her face. We would pile pillows in front of her while she happily panted and wagged her tail. Situated “safely” behind the soft barrier, we would pop over long enough to puff our cheeks and blow our air at her. The nightmare dog subsided instantaneously into a sweet, happy friend as soon as we quit antagonizing her.

I guess this partially explains my own reluctance to adopt to a family with children, though in this case we were the most trouble over 10 not under! Fact of the matter is, dogs manage their environment with their mouths; lacking a very useful, thumby grip. Often while standing, a dog’s head is level with a child’s face. Kids can be challenging and rough. That’s a troubling combination…

My memories of Dumpy are warm and wonderful and I’m grateful for my parents willingness to enter into the significant care of a pup on our behalf. I believe my mom and dad would agree that most of the time I rose to the challenge of caring for her; even at 6.

The opportunity to bond with another animal, without all the complications of verbal language, was special and it undoubtedly sparked the desire in me to spend my life working with them.

Thank you, Dumpling! I will love you forever.

Who was your first dog? What did your first dog teach you?