I’m pretty sure this dog is going to be special.She is the runt of the illegitimate litter born to my Lab, J.J. I wrote about the impending arrival of the puppies some months back.They arrived on a cold Saturday in January ‘“ a day I had set aside for relaxing on the couch with a good book. We had been through the holiday rush and busy with the birthdays of our daughters, both of whom were born in early January.I was tired and ready to take it easy. The runt and her 10 litter mates had other ideas. Just as the book was getting good, my youngest came bounding in with the news that J.J. was having puppies. I knew their arrival was imminent but I thought she had another week or so to go.Suffice to say my day was consumed with playing midwife. It was traumatic. Two puppies were stillborn. Nine made it into the world alive. Every time I thought J.J. was done, another black puppy would come squirming out of the nearly white Lab.The last to arrive was the runt. She was a tiny, fragile thing. We warmed her and made sure she stayed in prime nursing position but, when I went to bed that night, I figured she would be dead by morning.Morning did, indeed, find two more puppies dead. I surmised that J.J. just could not nourish them all. The runt, however, was not among the casualties.She is a survivor. She cried the loudest when hungry. She yelped the loudest when bumped or scratched by one of her siblings. She was the last to gain any semblance of mobility and the last to open her eyes.When those eyes did open, I feared she was blind. They looked different than those of the other pups and the runt just wobbled around, ran into things and never could seem to find her mom.We made sure to grant her time alone with J.J. so she could get plenty to eat. When the pups started eating solid food, we would always separate her and feed her what little she would eat in her own bowl.Slowly, but surely, she came around. Her eyes cleared. She began to recognize me and respond to my voice. The other puppies were doted on by my daughters but the runt always got special attention. She just has a way of looking at you that makes you want to scoop her up.I started taking the puppies on the morning walk around the farm. She fought to keep up with her short legs but did so. Now it is part of her routine.At three months, a cow blocked her path around the pond and she couldn’t work up the courage to just walk past it as I and her mother had done. So she jumped into the water and swam some 40 yards to the other side. On the next lap around the pond, she did it again.From day one, the Geiger girls begged to keep all the puppies. We quickly bargained that they could keep one and there was never any question it would be the runt.She has said farewell to all her brothers and sisters. The departure of each caused considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth in the household.Now the runt is thriving. Her stubby legs are getting longer. She runs with one eared flopped back and is so black as to be iridescent in the bright sun.She is getting stronger every day but still demands attention.I think this dog will hunt.I call her Runt and she answers to it.My daughters call her Coco Chanel and she answers to that, too.This little black dog with the fancy name is a survivor.
Geiger’s Counter: The little black dog with the fancy name
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