Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

As the Tail Wags

Tuffy the Terror

My father was a stickler for punctuality. That being said, it seemed I could never manage to be home on time. I was always at least a few minutes late. I’m pretty certain, my father believed that I did it on purpose. You know, just to thwart his authority and show that I had my own mind. Honestly though, I just couldn’t manage it. I wasn’t tardy by design or intention, but by pure happenstance. No matter how hard I tried. No matter how good my intentions, something always happened that would make me late. I would have to deal with an animal, fix a fence, talk with a neighbour, something would happen to make me that little bit late.
The worst offence was, being late for supper. If there was one thing my father insisted upon, it was the whole family sitting down to supper together. Supper was at five. There were no ifs, ands or buts, no matter what, supper was on the table at five. All us kids, of which there were always many, as my parents took in foster children as well as having their own brood, had to be sitting at that table when he was. He expected shiny, clean faces and hands, feet on the floor, no elbows on the table as we sat straight and proper. No slouching, no eating with open mouths, or talking with your mouth full either. We weren’t expected to remain silent through the meal, but we were expected to behave civilized and well-mannered.
I wasn’t the only one, these rules applied to, all us children were raised the same way. Because of my many infractions, all purely unintentional of course, and subsequent groundings, I understood the consequences of being late. It didn’t help me a whole lot, but I certainly knew the seriousness of the rule.
When I got a real job, the rule no longer applied. My employer and job came first, and I was allowed to come and go as I pleased. The hours I worked were long and varied, so my days of sitting down with the family to eat became almost nonexistent. The rule was still in force, just not with me. Because of my past experiences with being late, and the ramifications of such, I knew what siblings were in for if they were late.
Coming home from work just before supper one winter’s day, I found my mom in a worried tizzy. My youngest sister, who I had given permission to ride my horse, wasn’t home yet, and the meal would be on the table shortly. Dad wouldn’t be pleased if she was late, and mom was fretting. I was a tad concerned myself. By five it’s already pretty dark out, and they were either back at the land I rented, or still out. If they were still out, I was sure something was wrong.
Hopping back into my old truck, I raced to the property to do a head count. That awful knot in the pit of the stomach immediately gave me a good twist when no horse or rider were present to be counted. I swiftly got back into the truck and went looking for them, all sorts of awful imaginings running through my mind. I found them about two miles away, my sister bawling her eyes out as she rode along, something white and furry held on Thow-ra before her. To my surprise, she had an older pup sitting there on my horse. Since halfway through January, we’d been seeing a stocky, little dog running around in the gravel pit, and had figured that he was from the farm bordering along the backside. We had been wrong. The little dog wasn’t roaming away from home and being naughty at all. He was, in fact, more than likely dumped off after Christmas. It was highly likely that he’d been a Christmas present that didn’t work, and dumped to fend for himself. My sister had seen him run and go into an overturned, abandoned car. Of course she crawled in after him despite the snarls of warning, and when she grabbed onto a leg to drag him out of there, he bit her. When she didn’t let go, he kept right on biting, until she got him out then he finally quit, though he wasn’t too sure about her. Thank goodness for winter clothes, as those sharp puppy teeth didn’t break the skin, but I imagine, it still hurt like crazy.
Anyway, she managed to get the big puppy and herself onto the horse, headed for home, and that’s when I came into the picture. I took the pup into the cab of my truck, and followed her and my horse to the pasture.
It was winter, so there was no hurrying, no causing Thow-ra to suck in that crisp, cold air, or get all sweated up only to be chilled by the freezing cold night. There was absolutely no reason, to put Thow-ra at risk. Late was late. At this point, there was little difference between being a half hour late, or a half plus one more. As soon as Thow-ra was back in the pen with the other horses, I ran my sister home then back I went to finish doing chores. The whole time, the pup stayed in the truck.
Night had not only fallen by the time I arrived back home, it lay over the land like a dark, heavy blanket. There wasn’t any moonlight to light the world, nor could a single star be seen in the night sky.
It couldn’t have been more perfect, if I’d custom ordered it. Not only would my father be unable to see my truck, he also wouldn’t notice that I had the incab heater plugged in. I put an old blanket over the seat, gave the little guy food and water, and figured he would be okay until the morning. It was late. I hadn’t eaten, and I had to be up early in the morning. There were horses that had to be seen to before I went to work.
Early the next morning, my mom was up well before I was. I so wanted to go out and check on the pup, yet I couldn’t. Not without giving away the secret. As I pondered my choices, mom looked at me and asked, “So … did you think we wouldn’t notice?”
I couldn’t let go of it, not quite yet, “um, notice what … that I had the heater on? It was really cold out. My truck doesn’t steer that well when it’s super cold, and none of the heater levers want to work either.”
She totally called my bluff, “he woke us at three in the morning, howling his little head off. Dad thought a coyote was caught in a trap or something. You should’ve told us. You can’t leave a puppy in a truck all night.”
After confessing the whole story, I added
“I figured it would be better to tell dad today, after he cooled down, instead of last night. Was he super mad?”
“Of course not,” shaking her head, mom gave me a look, “I went out and put him into the garage with Chum. The poor thing was crying it’s little heart out.
I could visualize my mother, in her housecoat and winter boots, checking out the howling coming from my truck.
“And Chum was okay with him?” I wondered what my German shepherd thought of the interloper.
“Of course she was,” mom scoffed that I would even ask, “I told her, she had to be nice to him, so she was.”
It was what mom did, when introducing each new pet to the others. She would explain to the originals that they had to be nice to the newcomer. That she was counting on good behaviour, and it always worked … always, and the little, stout dog, became part of the family.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB