Playthings

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by CJ Mouser

That big dumb puppy of Fred’s went missing yesterday. He has taken to roaming and getting into mischief, and mischief from a seventy-pound pup can get expensive. So we penned him in the pig pasture with the two pasture dogs, but when we went out after feeding we couldn’t find him.

“Where’s he at?” I asked Fred, thinking the dog had already figured a way out of the pasture.

“He’s in there somewhere. Probably back there laying in the palmettos.”

“I’m going to go look.” I said.

“I’ll go with you.”

We let ourselves into the pasture and were walking to the north end, when we spotted him. Ida had her babies night before last so she’s got eleven little piglets in her pen with her, and Fred and I both saw him come sailing over the pig panel fence. He had been in there with her and her babies.

There was something incredibly creepy about the agile way he leapt over that pig panel. He had a somewhat predatory look about him. I think it was the first time we had had a glimpse of what he is going to be like when he is fully grown.

“He looks guilty as can be.” I said.

“He sure does.” Fred agreed.

The dog had his tail tucked and his head down and a ‘I’ve been a bad dog’ expression in his eyes. We went straight back to Ida’s pen and did a head count. All eleven little oinkers present and accounted for, no signs of a struggle, didn’t even remotely resemble a crime scene. Ida was calm and contented, the little pigs milling around aimlessly.

I already had this dog tried and convicted and was busily working on a sentence. He’s been around the pigs all his life but this is his first experience with newborn piglets and I keep expecting him to get into trouble. He’s too good to be true. Other than getting into the trash a few times and being overly ‘loving’ to the point of knocking us to the ground, he’s been a pretty good pup.

“What do you think he was up too?” I asked Fred.

“I don’t know. He coulda just been…”

Fred was in the middle of a sentence when the pup jumped right back over into Ida’s pen and we both stood stock still and held our breath. Ida was up against the pen wall, eating, not at all concerned with his presence. We soon found out why.

While we stood there watching, the pup rounded up all the babies into one corner of the pen and laid down right smack in the middle of them. Within seconds he was on his back, his back legs spraddled, and before you could say boo he had six piglets lined contentedly up across his belly. The other five wandered around near his head while he licked them and tossed them around gently with the end of his nose. When they would wander away too far, he would whine at them and then he would get up and round them all up again.

“Did you ever see anything like that?” I started laughing.

“That dog is afflicted.” Fred said, shaking his head sadly.

“Oh, he’s not, he’s just being friendly!” I said.

“No… no, he’s afflicted. He’s not right in the head.”

By then the pup was rolling around in the hay, his nose going from one piglet to the next and then the next. He was maneuvering them around gently with his paws, communicating with them with soft whines and grunts, his tail thumping the ground.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I asked Fred.

“Yeah!” Snort. “I’m thinking he wasn’t acting guilty at all. He was just scared we were going to catch him acting like a pansy.” I burst out laughing.

“No! I was thinking that we can probably stop worrying about him around the piglets.”

“Yeah well, we can stop worrying about that, but I just found out that my hunting dog is a big old sissy.”

“Fred… he’s a puppy, and now he’s got eleven new toys to play with, give him a break.”

“No… that’s not it at all, you’ve ruined him with all your baby talk and sweet words and now he thinks he’s a she.”

“Well think what you like, but he’ll grow out of it. Just be glad he wasn’t up to what we thought he was up to.” I reminded him, trying to soften the blow.

“Yeah, I guess there’s that.” Fred said, somewhat consoled. But he still looked like he’d lost his best friend.

© C.J. Mouser, used with permission.

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A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.