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Ridgeback Tales: A Dog Called Little Stay Awhile
Our Puppy Comes Home July 1988
Chapter 1: The Best $40
The 4th of July weekend of 1988, my husband and I spent the best $40 we’ve ever spent in our lives. Since my old Miniature Poodle, Tache, passed on in 1986, Lou had been talking about getting a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and on Friday or Saturday of that weekend, we called a number in the Austin American Statesman classified ads which said the advertiser had some Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies for sale.
We drove out Highway 71 towards LakeTravis and followed winding directions to a house off a dirt road out in the cedars pervasive in the Hill Country west of Austin. They had told us there were 2 puppies left but only one of them was available. When we arrived we saw several adult dogs and 2 puppies, one that was kind of a red-brown color and one colored like a Weimaraner, silver-grey.
The breeders said if we wanted her, the brown one was ours and that they had been calling her Buttercup, no doubt after the Princess in the then-popular movie, “The Princess Bride.” She had the most beautiful brown eyes! We couldn’t resist them so we handed over our $40 and took possession of the puppy who would become the best dog we have ever known.
We agreed the name must go and that as soon as we got home, the puppy, literally covered in fleas, would have a bath. We had to fumigate my gold Ranger pickup after we flea-bathed the little reddish-brown baby whom we named Tsin’tia. (That’s pronounced SIN-tee-ah.) We had both read a historical fictional book about Cynthia Ann Parker, mother of the famous Quanah Parker, last great chief of the Comanche. In the book, the tale posited that when Cynthia was trying to tell her name to the Comanche family who adopted her, they made Tsinitia or Tsin’tia out of the sound. This was considered to be a good omen because it meant Little Stay Awhile. (Cynthia Ann Parker’s grandmother, Sally White Parker, was a distant relative of my family on the paternal side, but we didn’t find that out until much later.)
That night, Lou was adamant that the puppy would sleep in the laundry room. He put together a make-shift gate out of a pot hanger grid and placed it across the opening to the laundry room. He placed the puppy in the room on bedding and we went to bed…but not for long. The whines and whimpers, piteous as they were, soon sounded from the puppy. We determinedly tried to ignore her, but I soon realized the noises were coming from the living room, not the blockaded laundry room. Yep, she had managed to get out.
Lou put her firmly back in the laundry room and came back to bed. Not very long after that, the whimpers started up again…from the living room. The laundry room obviously not being secure enough containment, I put little Tsin’tia on the floor by my side of the bed with my hand on her. That was fine, until I started to drift off to sleep, when my hand would slide off the puppy and she would start to whine again. Oh, the pitiful little heart-wrenching whines!
After two or three starts and stops, Lou heaved a big sigh, got up, came around the bed, picked up the puppy and put her between us in the bed, where she remained, though usually on the foot of the bed, for most of the following fifteen years.
It turned out to be convenient to have Tsin’tia on the bed. She was afraid to jump off, so if she had to go potty in the middle of the night, she would whine and wake me up. No, her daddy never woke up to take her out, always The Mommy.
After taking Miss T out for her midnight potty, she would be too awake to go right back to sleep so we played a game she made up. I would sit on the floor while she ran across the living room/dining area and then ran full tilt back at me and hurled all 15 pounds of herself into my arms. After a few runs back and forth, she was ready to go back to sleep. We snuck back in bed and snuggled in for the rest of the night.
When she was just a few days with us, we took her to meet our good friends, Chuck & Angela and their two dogs, a Great Dane, Astro and their Great Pyrenees, Alex. We put her down on the doorstep in her new leash and collar and knocked. Astro and Alex roared to the door barking and poor little Tsin’tia peed all over the porch! She soon discovered the boys were pretty harmless, at least to little girl puppies, and became fast friends, especially with Astro, whom she adored. She was always glad to go see Chuck & Angela and their dogs until, sadly, they moved away to Lancaster a couple of years later. Even then we stayed in touch for years and she was always happy on a visit there.
Having NO experience with crate training (God bless whoever thought of it,) Tsin’tia was loose in the house on the days when both of us were gone, but due to our different work schedules usually she was only alone about four hours. At first we tried blocking her in the kitchen, but that didn’t work. That girl could figure out how to get out of any place if she really wanted out. Fortunately she was a natural house breaker and soon had no problem holding her urine until one of us came home.
Being free in the house meant she had access to whatever we left lying around. My biggest loss, later on when she was about 4, was a pair of London Fog high heels I had bought for a Southwestern Life company Christmas party a few years before. She chewed one of them. Well, she left me one…she was usually happy to share. Lou lost a couple of pairs of shoes and she got a couple of chairs and window sills with obvious puppy teeth marks, and maybe a pair of glasses, but those are things and things don’t love you, no matter how much you may think you love them.
Her penchant for chewing when bored, as all dogs like to do, really got her in trouble once. I had an old electric typewriter that I pecked away on sometimes. There wasn’t a desk to put it on, but I would sit with it at the table and run an extension cord from the nearest plug. I was typing away one evening when she started to chew on the place where the two cords joined. I wasn’t really paying attention until a painful yipe startled me out of my chair to find Tsin’tia with the cord in her mouth lying in a puddle of pee she had shocked out of herself. I grabbed the cord, which you are never, never supposed to do and yanked it out of her mouth and then yanked the plug out of the wall socket. She seemed ok but had a burn in the corner of her mouth which left a scar that remained with her the rest of her life. I called an emergency vet who seemed concerned until they asked how much the puppy weighed and on being told about 40 lbs. they lost most of their concern and said just watch her for breathing problems but that she would probably be fine. She was ok, but she NEVER liked electrical cords after that and would go out of her way to avoid them.
Her favorite place to nap was under the table, on her back. When she could get on the couch by herself, she slept there belly-up. Wherever she slept, she was terminally cute and irresistible. Her cute little puppy belly was just begging for a pat. It’s a wonder she got any naps at all.
She was just a love as a puppy! All the puppy kisses from her little pink tongue on my nose are still treasured. She was such a happy puppy and loved to do everything with us. Unless it was too hot out, we soon started taking her almost everywhere with us. If I could clone a dog, she would be the first one I would choose.
Painting of Quanah and Tsin'tia I
A Dog Called Little Stay Awhile
The painting at right is by Kim Orlando-Reep of New Zealand.
The entire book about Tsin'tia is available on Barnes & Noble Nook Books for $4.99