Babydoll (AKC Registered: O.D.'s Babydoll) and daddy Chopper ( AKC Registered: O.D.'s Chopper). They were two of a litter of eight, fifteen inch beagle pups that were born into the care of J.R. and Faye Davenport of Douglas county. Apparently, J.R. and his family are long-time breeders of pure bred beagles. They operate out of South Alabama.
We first saw the puppies on December 23, 1999, about four weeks after they were born. It was five o'clock in the morning. We were twenty miles into a sixteen-hundred mile road trip heading to Texas for the holidays with my wife June's extended family.
For several years we had talked about getting a dog, but we never got serious about it until June searched out the Davenports for a co-worker, who followed through and bought a puppy. That was Mox. He was from a litter also sired by O.D.'s Chopper, but with a different dame. Junes co-worker/friend, Laura, brought Mox to a party at our house one night and that flipped Junes switch. From that point on she was in overdrive about puppies.
She got in touch with Faye Davenport to get information and to set up a visit. Originally we were planning to see them after we got back from Texas. But June was antsy. She wanted to see them before we left.
Well, as it turned out, the Davenports get up really early, like four a.m., for some compelling reason, and said that a five a.m. visit would be fine. That was very convenient because, as we were heading out of town, we had to pass within a couple of miles of their house.
The puppies were just waking up when we got there, but it didn't take them long to be at full throttle. Soon there were little puppies all over the place, wobbling and grunting and mouthing on everything in sight. June was oohing and aahing and picking up puppy after puppy, snuzzling them against her face and savoring their sweet puppy smells. She had a most difficult task. Within ten minutes she had to decide which one she liked best. That, of course, was impossible but she eventually settled on a little male we nick-named Hunter. He was black, tan and white, as were all the others. His legs, underbelly and the tip of his tail were white. His face was a bandit's mask with black around the eyes, over the head and down the ears. The sides of his muzzle and lower face were tan, as were swatches that resembled eyebrows. There was a splash of white on the left side of his muzzle, near the nose. A cute little guy and a good choice.
I was kinda leaning toward a little female who had been spending a lot of time attacking and subduing the tassel of my shoe. I nick-named her Miss Priss because she was very prissy. The blaze between her eyes was quite wide, compared to the others, and her nose was pink almost all the way out to the end. Her lips and muzzle were pink also. Her head and ears were black with tan lining the underside of the ears. Around her eyes were varying shades of brown and tan that made for a less mysterious mask. She had a white underbelly and legs. The white underbelly extended up under her lower jaw and wrapped around her neck like a wide collar. One or two of her toenails were painted red and we learned that Faye had painted them as a way of telling the puppies apart. A clever solution to that problem.
At one point, June was sitting on the sofa with a puppy in her lap, talking to Faye. She asked Faye if the puppies were paper trained. Faye was saying something that resembled "hopefully so", when Miss Priss politely squatted on the paper and relieved herself, as if on cue. That delighted June, made Faye proud and made me even more convinced that the little female was a keeper.
It was time to get on with our road trip, so we asked Faye how we could reserve a puppy. She told us that it would require a fifty dollar earnest fee to claim one. Several of the pups had already been claimed by other people. That told me that, if we waited until we returned from Texas, we would likely have missed our window of opportunity. So, I whipped out a hundred bucks and said, "Well, if we're going to get one, then we're going to get two", and officially reserved the male pup June liked and the female that I liked. What the hay, we're on holiday!
To say that June was shocked would be an understatement. She was agog. She was still protesting when we reached Birmingham, a hundred fifty miles down the road. She was barely sure she was ready to commit to having one dog, much less two. In all her dreaming, in all her fantasies, she had never envisioned having two dogs in her life.
For my part, I could sense that the time was right. After all the build-up, meaning the weeks and months we had talked about it, and finally having reached the point where we were actually viewing and handling beautiful puppies that might be ours, I couldn't let it go by without a serious challenge. Many, many times June has told me how she will go back to a store to get something that she decided not to buy the first time, only to find that it is no longer available. I wasn't going to let that happen in this case. Now, I had about three weeks to convince her that two was the way to go and that it was going to be wonderful.
Two weeks crawled by. June was not necessarily any more convinced that getting two puppies was a good idea, even though I had been going through the list of benefits over and over: they would keep each other company when we were gone. This would be a big factor in keeping the barking, howling and crying to a minimum and, I was sure, would develop two emotionally stable dogs with less abandonment issues than dogs left alone for hours on end. It just made sense to me. Then, there was the fact that two puppies would double the love and double the fun. Yes, I was aware that it would also double the work, the food, the vet bills and other expenses. It would double the amount of waste products produced and the inevitable destruction of things chewed during the teething process. I knew all that and I still thought it would be better to get two.
But June wasn't swayed by the positives and seemed to be waning in enthusiasm generally. So, on the weekend before we were slated to bring them home, we went back for another visit. This time it was afternoon and we were not in a big hurry. Also, the puppies were now six weeks old, wide awake and much more active. June fell in love all over again.
During this visit we noticed one little male that we had not given a lot of attention on the first visit. I thought he had been claimed by someone else, but learned that he was one of two or three that had not yet been spoken for. Faye had nicknamed him Diamond Jim because he had a small diamond-shaped patch of white on the back of his neck. His other markings were symmetrical, basically, with a pencil thin white blaze from his muzzle, up between his eyes. He was a beautiful puppy.
Having made a snap decision to claim the little male we nicknamed Hunter, it was good to find out that there were a few left to pick from. We visited for thirty to forty-five minutes, playing with puppies and taking as many pictures as possible. In the end, June opted to take Diamond Jim instead of Hunter and we were set. Miss Priss was more adorable than ever, and either of the male pups would have been fine with me. June felt a little guilty that we were 'rejecting' Hunter, but that was to be expected. Even I felt a little twinge of guilt. But, we had made our choices and they were good.
The next Friday evening we were very excited as we made our way once more to the Davenport's house in Douglas County. It was cold and raining on a typical nasty Georgia January night.
When we got there, Faye had it all together. She has this process down to a science. She explained to us the series of shots the puppies would need, as well as those she had already given. She gave us some puppy food, a bottle of liquid vitamins, the Medical Record form she had begun and a bunch of other stuff. She even had a big piece of bedding that smelled like the puppies' mother. We thought that was a nice touch, but had no idea how valuable it would be later on.
We bundled our little treasures up under our coats and made our way back toward home. We had a couple of stops to make first, to fulfill some promises. A friend of Junes, who owns several dogs, was more excited than we were, if that was possible. June had promised to stop by on the way home. We also wanted to show them to Junes mom , who lived down the block from us. She loved them immediately, of course. It was impossible not too.
When we finally got home, we thought the little guys would be exhausted from all the shuffling and excitement. We made them a bed on the kitchen floor but they would not stay in it. They were restless and whiney and would not settle down. After about fifteen minutes we remembered the piece of cloth Faye had given us, the one that had the mothers scent on it. When we put the cloth in their bed, the response was instantaneous. Within ten seconds they were both sound asleep.
So now the die was cast. They were ours, or perhaps, we were theirs.
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