Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Return of "The Muffin Saga": Part I

In 2008 I began a series of blog posts entitled The Muffin Saga about my dear of doggie friend, Muffin. There are 15 parts to the story of Muffin and my family and me. After numerous requests, I am again publishing the series, one part each Sunday for 15 weeks. I promise this time to complete the saga by adding parts XVI and XVII.

She came up to us from behind the bars, her tail wagging and a friendly gleam in her eyes. Well, the gleam was in what we could see of her eyes. Her bangs hung over her eyes just as her long, gray-white hair covered her body. If it were not for the wagging tail at one end and the tongue protruding from her mouth at the other, we wouldn’t have been able to tell she was a dog. Later, when we got her home and she curled up on the living room rug, we realized that she looked more like a mop head than a canine.

We had been without canine companionship for the three years that I had attended seminary in St. Louis. My sons, Nick aged thirteen and Rob aged nine, and I missed having a doggy friend. Before we moved to St. Louis, we had experienced the love of two devoted dogs.

Bruno, a black Labrador Retriever, had come into out lives as a puppy. We had raised him as a house dog, although the larger he grew the less house-worthy he became. He probably would have remained a house dog, even with his chewing on the furniture, had he not developed a liking for my wife’s shoes—or, perhaps it was a dislike for her. After he ate the third pair, she banished Bruno to the back yard. There were adventures surrounding his yard life, but they must await another, exclusively Bruno, post. Briefly, I found Bruno to be so unhappy being separated from people, that I gave him to a social service aid I had supervised at the group home I’d managed.

The second dog briefly over-lapped Bruno. She was a highly pedigreed little Pomeranian named Jennifer Foxy Bair. She was given to us by a wayfaring friend of my wife’s sister. He did not want to deal with her on his journeys. I quickly understood his need to travel without her: Jenny was spoiled rotten as only a cute little Pomeranian could be. For example, for breakfast she expected to be served an egg scrambled in butter. Still, she became a part of our family and we cried when she died—poisoned, we believe, by the dog hater who lived across the street from us.

During my three years of seminary study those of us who lived in the dorms were not allowed to have four-pawed pets. I promised Nick and Rob that as soon as I graduated, was ordained, and called to a church, we would obtain another doggy friend. So, a couple of weeks after moving into the parsonage in Cannelton, Indiana, and few days after their birthday (both of my sons were born on June 12th, although four years apart) we drove the thirty miles to the nearest animal shelter and began walking between the cages looking for a new member for our family.

And that’s how we met Muffin, the name she somehow received on our drive back to the parsonage. Her age was estimated at between eighteen months and two years. She had come to the shelter along with about thirty other dogs that had been living on a farm and badly neglected by the farmer. She was within a few days of execution when we adopted her.

On the drive home from the shelter, Muffin shared the back seat of our station wagon with Nick and Rob. She also vomited—the only time she ever vomited in a car. When we arrived at the parsonage we surprising learned that she was house broken. It was a surprise because we had been told that she had spent her life out of doors.

Muffin snuggled, cuddled, and played with my sons. She was, however, terrified of me—terrified of all adult males and especially any wearing a baseball cap. I suspect that that farmer had not only neglected those thirty or so dogs, but had abused them as well. I also suspected that he routinely wore a baseball cap.

Another of Muffin’s quirks is that she didn’t speak—no barking, whining, no sound at all came from her mouth. Even when she saw me, she didn’t make a sound. She just cowered and looked for a place to hide.

As you may suspect, it wasn’t long before she lost her fear of me and we became best friends. She also began to speak on a regular basis to the point that I sometimes longed for her mute days.

Muffin was a part of my life—a very important part—for fourteen years. We had many adventures together and we cared for one another when we were ill. When she disappeared I looked for her for weeks. And I cried and mourned her.

But that’s another story which I will share after I share the stories of the adventures Muffin and I had during our fourteen years together. 

To be continued


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