Playing with the Puppies
By Kay Newberry Brooks Hatfield

Trips to QCP’s kennels and spending some time with our new pups has brought back precious memories of my childhood, especially those with my Daddy and his assignment to his children–the serious responsibility of “playing with the puppies”!

My Daddy, Tommy Newberry, had a true love and appreciation for God’s nature to include its beauty as well as the joys of farming, hunting, fishing and raising hunting dogs. I have been fortunate to have been raised in his shadow and the memories of his love for his dogs and puppies rivaled his love for his children. On second thought, his love for his dogs and puppies more than likely surpassed his love for his children. And my Daddy had lots of love for his children!

My Daddy’s term of “playing with the puppies” might be the equivalent to today’s term “socialization of puppies”. Please be mindful that my Daddy had a very organized “on the job training” for his children which included his simplified instructions on how to do the job followed by him showing his children how to do the job as well as watching us as we performed the job. Daddy would schedule “playing with puppies” time for each of us kids. I can assure you, Daddy wouldn’t have allowed his children to “play with his puppies” if we didn’t ace the orientation and pass periodic reviews. Did I mention my Daddy loved his puppies?

The anticipation of seeing the newborn puppies with their mother a few days after birth was like visiting a new born cousin! Daddy would arrange the meeting with the pups and it was clear to quietly speak congratulations and “good job” to the Mama Dog – and then quietly admire the sleeping little puppies. On our second or third quiet visit – Mama Dog just might let us (one at a time) slightly pet the puppies with the tip of our fingers. By day seven, we might be able to hold those sweet puppies for a short period of time but oh goodness – the sweet smell of those pups and the silly talk we had with those tiny pups! The naming of the puppies was a sacred moment for all of us! Of course, all under the watchful eyes of the Mama Dog and my Daddy.

In short time, the litter would be divided among us children and each of us “played” with our assigned puppies. Sitting, petting and speaking gently was soon followed by laying on the ground and playing with a sock or small ball. There was plenty of laughter and love! And, before long we would be on short adventures around the yard checking out all kinds of interesting people, animals, noises and smells! Be mindful, the yard was my Mama’s yard and so very soon where we could go and what we could get into was clear to both puppy and child! Of course, all under the watchful eyes of my Mama and my Daddy.

Following Daddy’s daily routine for the puppies, my siblings and I simply enjoyed this play time with our puppies. I am sure Daddy had a plan as he matched the puppies with each of his kids as we had few arguments about who got which puppy. It was amazing how quickly the pups learned basic commands and basic routines in spite of their short attention span and their adventurous personalities. I guess routine and consistency and positive interaction might have been key to this work assignment! Our adventures soon took us out of Mama’s yard down the dirt road or into the pasture. Of course, Daddy would schedule time to watch our scheduled “playing with the puppies” to see how this playing was progressing. I am sure my Daddy was observing the possibility of any behavioral issues with the pup or the child… or both?

“Playing with the puppies” taught me much about puppies, my Daddy and life! June 1, 2009, my Daddy completed his earthly journey! I still miss his wisdom and his love of being a steward of this land! His family is forever thankful for teaching us so much about God’s love for us and our purpose in this life. I am confident my Daddy’s legacy continues! I am confident that my Daddy is still watching while QCP’s “playing with the puppies” time continues to meet his standards and expectations!

God Bless!

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