I learned that runt meant Sadie was just behind the doggie curve… not destined to remain inherently mellow.
Miss Fred learned she could hide under the wooden rocking chair, shoot her left paw out and slap Sadie’s face as our tireless pup ran by in pursuit of her red ball.
We doggedly tried to get that on video tape, sure we could with $10,000 on America’s Funniest Videos. Back then video meant a large clunky machine with a blinding light near the lens. It didn’t help that it needed to be retrieved from the office closet, either. We left it out on the dining room table for a very long time. Freddie never cooperated.
Jeff learned something, too. “Hmm,” he said self-quizzically one day, after Sadie got into what Jeff humorously named the “no-bake doggie buffet.” She’d root around in Fred’s box and stealthily eat the crunch-coated brown stuff. The thing is she wasn’t as stealth as she thought, but by the time we saw the cat litter impacted in her nostrils, the deed had already been done. “Ya know,” he said thoughtfully. “I don’t think I’d ever heard you yell – before we got a dog.”
At about 6 months old Sadie had appropriately doubled her width, but something wasn’t quite right.
As she grew, her legs grew to twice the expected height. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with her long limbs, either. Instead of a low-to-the-ground JR scoot, Sadie pranced around like Bambi.
I said to Jeff, “I don’t think she’s normal.” Jeff glanced over at me and asked, “What do you mean?”
“I mean… her legs, and her tail…” I pointed to where Sadie stood smiling. “She shouldn’t be that tall. She’s like a Jack Russell on stilts! And her tail? Is it supposed to be that long….?”
Jeff tilted his head to that doggie-don’t-understand angle. After a beat, he peered over his glasses at me. “I told ya she looked different and probably wouldn’t get adopted…”
I tilted my head to an unnatural angle even for a dog and said, “What?”
“Yeah,” he said shrugging his shoulders. “She didn’t look like the other ones…. and her tail didn’t get docked because she was too tiny and weak.”
I struggled with this news. “She was weak?” I asked. “Sickly?” I asked. “We got a defective dog?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Jeff said eyeballing me cautiously. He gnawed on his bottom lip, took a big breath and sighed. Looking at the floor, he pressed his lips together like he was trying to come up with the just right thing to say. Nodding once to himself, he looked up and continued on patiently, “That’s what runt means.…”
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