In Pepsi the Problem Puppy, Pepsi is chosen from a pet shelter when she was discarded by her first family. The real Pepsi Parsons was more fortunate; she ’s never been abandoned. Many years ago, however, I did rescue a Blue Heeler cross.
This is her story.
I was living with my Gran and her dog Sam, who looks just like an Old English Sheepdog, but A LOT smaller, when I heard what sounded like crying next door. Gran recalled that our neighbours walked past her with a tiny puppy just a few weeks before. Could that be the source of the crying?
I discovered the house next door abandoned, the neighbours having packed up and moved in the middle of the night. None the wiser, I returned home. I didn’t know it then, but someone followed me. When the crying resumed later that day it was distinctly closer. Convinced the crying was coming from under our house, I left food and water outside.
Each morning, when I woke, the food had disappeared, but it was a week before I saw the beautiful Blue Heeler cross that had taken up residence under our house. I decided to call her Scruffy.
After many patient days sitting on the front veranda, Scruffy became brave enough to eat her food in my company, but she scampered back under the house immediately if I made any movement. I fed her for three weeks before she finally let me pat her.
It was another week before she allowed me to pick her up, and eventually, she let me take her inside. She was manky, covered in stickfast fleas and in desperate need of a bath.
Scruffy proved to be unusually intelligent, she learnt quickly but as she was terrified of her own shadow, it took months for her to settle. Her favourite place was under the bed, where she could make a quick retreat if she felt scared.
As time passed, she grew more confident, but she was never really a brave dog. Even when she reached the grand old age of sixteen, a stranger at the door could still make her feel uneasy.
I was only working two afternoon’s a week, which allowed me plenty of time to devote to Scruffy. Her confidence gradually improved, and although initially she would revert to her safe place under the bed when we had visitors, she became comfortable enough to sit under the kitchen table in any company.
When my part time job increased to four days a week, Scruffy bonded to Gran. Perhaps her rough beginning had given her empathy, as she made an excellent companion dog for my elderly Gran. She would sit under Gran’s chair keeping her company during the day. Scruffy was ever-so-gentle with Gran, placing the ball carefully into her lap before racing away down the backyard in the hope that the ball would be thrown again.
After unexpected (and unapproved!) shenanigans with Sam, I discovered Scruffy was pregnant. My family warned me repeatedly that dogs go away to whelp puppies, and with her history, Scruffy would be overprotective.
But this beautiful girl who was still so scared of strangers trusted me implicitly. One morning I woke to feel her next to me as she frantically kicked my tummy. As I turned on the bedroom lamp, she gave birth to her first puppy. I knew Gran wouldn’t be too keen on more puppies being born in my bed, so I asked Scruffy if I could move her. I picked up her first-born and we both headed to her bed on the back veranda.
As I sat with her first-born in my lap, a second puppy was born. Scruffy gently bit open the sack and nudged her puppy to me to look after. The absolute trust of my beautiful rescue girl is something I’ll never forget.
Gran decided to keep this second born puppy, and named her Monkey.
It was always intended that I would take Scruffy with me when I moved out of home. Instead, I had a terrible decision to make. Scruffy was settled and felt safe in her environment, and, was now very attached to Gran. Monkey, who was supposed to be Gran’s dog, constantly ran under Gran’s feet and there was a real danger that Gran could trip over her.
Scruffy, on the other hand, was a perfect companion dog, always sensitive to Gran’s needs. Not only was she was thriving in Gran’s company, but she wasn’t fond of being left alone. My new job meant I would be away from the house even more and so it was decided that Scruffy, my beautiful rescue girl would stay with my Gran.
Although she never forgot her special bond with me, Scruffy was a loyal companion to Gran for the rest of her days – happy, secure, and, with Gran’s habit of sharing breakfast, morning tea, lunch and dinner with her, very well fed!