My brother Phillip with Miss Pretzel
Pastor Hull and his wife gave me a little Dachshund. I don’t remember just why they were giving her away or even if she was theirs. Her official name was “Miss Pretzel of the Parsonage.” Because of her name she must have belonged to Pastor Hull or another Pastor friend of his. I do know when she laid down and curled up she took the shape of a pretzel so her name fit her well.
“Pretzel” was registered and able to have puppies so mom took her to a family in Denair and left her there all night to “get married.” She was so cute when she started getting fat with puppies until the day I noticed her tummy had gotten so big and was hanging so low that her nipples were actually dragging on the ground when she walked. When I showed dad I thought he’d cry.
When mom decided the time was getting close for the puppies she asked dad to make a nice soft bed in the outside garage. A few days later dad woke me up early in the morning excited to say Pretzel was having her babies but she was having a problem.
I ran outside with dad where we found Pretzel squatting half way between our back door and the garage. She held that position for a moment then ran for the house, leaving behind a brand new puppy lying on the cold ground. Dad scooped it up, tore an opening in the sack, and began to massage the puppy. Right away the puppy began to squirm and make little noises.
Dad handed the puppy to me and headed for Pretzels bed in the garage. When he came back to me he was holding a cold stiff little body. He said Pretzel cleaned the sack off and just left the puppy. Dad ran into the kitchen and grabbed a dish towel, held it next to the furnace in the living room to warm, then wrapped the puppy in the cloth and started rubbing and rubbing.
Mom had joined the excitement and given me a shoe box lined with cloth to put the puppies in. After what seemed forever, but was probably only 2-3 minutes, the puppy dad was holding began to make some little whimpering sounds. Dad face beamed. He kept rubbing and the puppy continued to get louder and louder. We put both puppies in the shoe box. I sat by the furnace holding them to keep them warm. Pretzel didn’t want anything to do with her puppies.
Dad said if I wanted to I could stay home from school to help with the puppies. He said it was “a matter of life and death.” Boy oh boy, did I ever feel important. I really felt like I was needed for the day. Pretzel just lay on the kitchen floor for the next hour or so till the milkman came in. He delivered milk twice a week. He would knock on the back door and if someone was in the kitchen, he’d step in to put the milk on the counter.
Pretzel never liked the milkman. That morning was no different. She got up and ran around the kitchen table barking and raising a fuss. As soon as he left she laid in her little bed (dad had brought in from the garage) and had another puppy. Once the puppy was out she got up, laid somewhere else, and watched dad clean it up and put it in the shoe box with the others. About every 45 minutes for the next couple of hours she’d do the same thing. After having a puppy she would leave and let dad clean it. She’d keep her eye on the shoebox and on dad.
I lined up the puppies in the shoebox in the order they had been born. The first one was the biggest. Each new puppy was a little smaller than the one before. By the time we got the last puppy, the sixth one, our shoebox was full of fat, wiggly, noisy puppies. When the puppies were all cleaned up dad put them gently into Pretzels bed. Pretzel went over to the bed and got in like she’d been in total charge of the whole ordeal. Believe it or not she took perfectly good care of the puppies after that. We left these puppies at Lyngs Pet Shop in Modesto. One of the puppies was bought by a Spanish fellow who was playing at Modesto Junior College Concert. That puppy went to Madrid to live.
The next year we had Pretzel bred again. She was hit by a car about two weeks before she was to deliver. She didn’t do much after that but eat and rest. She had five puppies in this litter. She had dad clean each puppy just as she had with her first litter before she was interested in the puppies.
We were all afraid having the puppies would kill her but she made it through the process. After they were born she seemed to have very little energy. She was just able to eat, feed, and clean her babies. As the weeks went by we could see her becoming less active. I guess something inside her must have been hurt when she was run over.
Pretzel had weaned her first litter at 7 weeks. She weaned this litter at 5-6 weeks. We had homes lined up for each of them and allowed the puppies to leave. Pretzel died two days later. My dad insisted she was a good mom and lived long enough to be sure her puppies could survive without her.