Tuesday, August 1, 2017


March 2, 1961
     I have been trying a new approach to the house-breaking problem.  Every morning I get up earlier and earlier, hoping to "catch" Tokay.  She beat me to the draw every time until this morning.  Tip-toeing downstairs at 6:30, I found her half asleep and the newspapers dry. I picked her up and swapped her from arm to arm while I put my coat on over my pajamas.  I took her outside and set her down on the porch.
     It was an unlovely morning, raw and sleeting.  An inch of slush covered the driveway.  Tokay looked at me with a pained expression that clearly said, "Surely we're not going for a walk in this."
     I could see she wouldn't budge off that porch until I did.  Since I was wearing open‑toed slippers, I ducked quickly into the house and put on a pair of boots.
     When I came out again, Tokay had vanished.  Where could she have gone in so short a time?              "Here, Tokay," I called softly, not wanting to wake Kathryn in her quarters over the kitchen.              Turning up my collar, I trudged around in the cold and sleet looking for Tokay.  Suddenly I thought, "I wonder if. . ."  I rushed into the house and was given a frenzied welcome by my little pal, who had been looking everywhere for me.  She had ducked into the house when I went in to get my boots.  And while I was plodding through slush and snowdrifts, searching for her, she was visiting her cozy lavatory in the sun room.
April 5, 1961
     I called Tokay's former owner to tell her about the trouble I've had housebreaking her. "She never asks to go out." 
     "Go to the front door with her and stand there and bark until she gets the idea," said Mrs. Weiner.
     When I tried this yesterday, Tokay's ears stood straight out in amazement.  I was too good a barker.  She refused to believe those woofs were coming from me and kept running from one room to another, looking for the other dog. 
     "Tokay, come back here, it's only me," I said.  But even when I got down on all fours and barked right in her face, she tore off to search for the intruder.  It was all very frustrating, especially when I looked up between woofs and found Kathryn holding the laundry basket and staring at me.
     "Tokay won't believe I'm doing the barking," I said.
     "Oh," she said. Later she asked me if Mr. Malley and I were still planning on going to Florida on Friday.  Evidently she thinks I need the vacation. 
February 15, 1962
     Tokay is being a faithful and devoted mother.  She gave the baby her undivided attention during the first three days of his life but yesterday decided it was time he learned to get along without her once in a while.  She climbed into her bed, which we keep next to the nursery, and with her head cocked on one side, listened for cries of alarm.  In a few minutes George started  yelling, "Hey, Mom, where are ya?" She jumped back into the box and reassured him.  "Right here, silly, where'd you think?" 
     Later she baby-sat for a longer period, watching George attentively until he panicked and set up a wail.  Only once has Tokay completely abandoned her son.  She got a whiff of the turkey sandwich on Vaughan's tray as I went by and trailed me up to the third floor.  She exchanged warm greetings with the patient, then planted herself next to the bed and put on her hungry look.  Although it's against the rules, Vaughan slips her tidbits when she thinks I'm not looking. 

     When I started down the stairs, I called Tokay, but she was too interested in that turkey sandwich to leave.  Reaching the landing, I called her again, to no avail. 
     "You better come or I'll pinch your baby," I threatened.  Then I tried a language she understood better, George's mewling:  "Eeenh, eenh,  eenh."
     "Mother, are you all right?" Tim asked dryly from his room.
     I had accomplished my purpose—Tokay scrambled down those stairs three at a time.
March 30, 1962
     Vonnie just came in for a minute with her friend Punkie Whitten.  Punkie has announced with confidence that George ("There's no doubt about it, Mrs.  Malley.") is a female.
     Ever since the puppy was two minutes old, we all accepted Vonnie's analysis of its gender.  A fine judge of the opposite sex she turned out to be.  I see no alternative except to call George Georgette from now on. 
     Every morning when Vonnie gets up she puts Tokay outside, then lets Georgette run around on the rug.  When the pup is on the move, she looks like a busy little water bug.  She darts forward, makes a right‑angle turn, backs up, shoots forward again, changing direction so swiftly, you get eyestrain trying to keep up with her.  She makes the most of her freedom while her mother is out of the house.  Tokay's favorite sport is dragging her around by one of her legs—front one, back one, it makes no difference to Tokay.  She just thinks it's fun to use her daughter as a floor mop.  Georgette doesn't agree, judging by her growls.
April 9, 1962  
     This morning Vonnie came into my room to get her allowance; during the few minutes Georgette was left alone, she got herself into an awkward position.
     "Mummy, come quickly and see what's happened to the puppy!"
     We can't figure out how she did it, but there she was, sitting in Tokay's feeding dish, pawing at the rim in an attempt to get her hindquarters unstuck.  She was wedged in there as neatly as a hot dog in a bun—only she was a cold and wet dog, since the bowl was full of water.  It's lucky she didn't go in head first or she might have drowned.
     Vonnie called to Timmy, who was down in the kitchen making himself some French toast.  He reached the top of the stairs in time to see Georgette make one final effort and haul herself out of her tailor‑made swimming pool.  I wrapped her in a towel and scrubbed her dry.  (The last time I did that she was newly born and small enough to swim in a teacup.)
April 15, 1962
     Tim spent the weekend on the phone, trying to find himself a kitten.  Yesterday he and Neil went to a pet shop to look at some part-Angora kittens, on sale for $2.00 apiece.
     "They didn't have any, Mom, they were all gone," Tim said as he marched by my room.  But he couldn't fool Mom, not when he sounded so pleased with himself.
     The kitten is black and fluffy, with white paws and a droll face.  When I first inspected her, she seemed to be all eyes and no chin, but who wouldn't be all eyes at the sight of two enormous Toy poodles bearing down on one.  They knocked her head over tail in their eagerness to welcome her.  When the monsters didn't do anything unpleasant, such as eat her, she began to look less like an owl and more like a kitten. 
     At first Georgette was thrilled with her new playmate.  However, when she discovered Samantha could climb out of the nursery whenever she felt like it, the injustice drove the puppy stir‑crazy.  Heretofore reasonably contented with her confined existence, she now stamped around in the box, pawing furiously at the newspapers and chewing them to bits.  Then she tried to dig her way to freedom.  Pieces of newspaper shot into the air in all directions and floated down on the rug like confetti.
     This morning we found Tokay, Georgette, and the kitten curled up in a corner of the box, piled one on top of the other, sound asleep.
     Georgette has a habit of crooking her paws over the edge of the box and observing the passing traffic, like a housewife leaning from her window on a fine summer afternoon.  The kitten imitates this pose, stationing herself next to Georgette and placing her front paws beside the puppy's.  Every now and then they exchange playful cuffs, looking for all the world like a Punch and Judy show.
October 5, 1962
     It is mid-afternoon.  I am stretched out on a beach towel next to the terrace, basking in the slanting rays of a benign October sun.  The sky is cloudless, the ocean very blue.  A flock of black-winged white-breasted seagulls are skimming across the cove toward Brush Island, where they will pause, I imagine, for clams on the half shell and minnow-pool tea. 
    The beach grass ripples in the southwest breeze; the rustling sound combines with the cheeping, humming, buzzing of tiny inhabitants to make a drowsy sound. Tokay, sprawled nearby, listens idly, her ears extended like the arms of a capital T. 
     If I were a sorceress and Tokay my apprentice, I would set her to mopping and storing the bright beams in earthen jars, to be opened on a bleak winter's eve.
     Tokay has lost interest in the concert and is digging a hole to China.  Already she has made so much  progress that nothing can be seen but her tail, a signpost marking the spot.  Suddenly the explorer has a change of heart—it's dark down there!—and endeavors to retreat.  As she is virtually standing on her head, backing out involves a frantic flailing of hind feet and forward sliding. 
     At last she emerges looking bemused, her muzzle stuccoed with sand and an extra whisker or two of grass.  She trots to my side and does a shimmy that showers me with sand.  Then she flops down, plunks her chin on her front paws, and closes her eyes.  A deep sigh tells me she's had an exhausting day.

October 7, 1962
     Friday night Vonnie noticed that Tokay, again in a family way, was not herself.  She was trembling and her tongue was lolling out as if she were thirsty.  "Mummy, she's going to have those puppies tonight, I'm sure of it."    
     Ed carried the nursery into the living room and lined it with newspapers, .  Tokay had made other arrangements.  Every time we weren't keeping an eye on her, she ran off to Kathie's room, where she had prepared a nest under the bed.  I didn't agree that one shredded Kleenex was adequate.  I hooked two of her leashes together and fastened her to my chair so she couldn't slip away.  By eleven o'clock she was very restless. I put her in the nursery and sat on the floor beside her, stroking her head and talking to her, woman to woman. 
    At 11:30 the first baby arrived, encased as Georgette had been, in a transparent sac.  I sent Ed for a pair of scissors,  but this time Tokay didn't need a midwife.  She snipped open the membrane with old‑hand expertise.
     Vonnie wasn't home, but Tim was out in the garage working on  his car.  Ed called him in to witness the just-born miracle.  He looked at it, said "ugh" and went back out to the garage.  I  roused Mrs. White and we paced the floor together, waiting for a  brother or sister to arrive.  Ed sat with his nose in a flying manual and said we might as well go to bed, Tokay was a  one‑puppy poodle.  I bet him a dollar she was going to have at least one more.  Mrs. White agreed that she was in labor again, but when nothing happened by 12:00, she said, "I guess I'll go upstairs and read for a while.  Call me if another one comes."
     She got as far as the kitchen when I called her.  Tokay was the mother of twins.
     "Mrs. Malley, that puppy isn't breathing," Mrs. White said.
     I scrubbed the damp, motionless little body with a towel until it opened its pink mouth and took one tiny, choking breath.
     "You've got to do better than that, little one," I said, massaging the baby determinedly.  "You've got to keep breathing for the rest of your life."
     Mrs. White advised me to pick the pup up by the heels and spank it.  "Isn't that what they do in the movies?" 
     I rapped those miniature hindquarters with one finger; the pup snuffled and gasped and then at last began to breathe.
     Vonnie came in at 12:45, in time to greet puppy number three.  "Oh boy, I've won my bet!"  (She had bet a friend $12 in Monopoly money that her pet would have three puppies.) 
     Triplets!  Wonderful Tokay!  She had more than redeemed herself for producing only one the first time around.  We transferred the nursery to our room and went to bed.  At 2:00 the puppies were making so much noise I couldn't sleep, so I decided to move the family to Kathie's room.  When I turned on the light, the reason for the commotion  became clear.  The first three arrivals were being neglected for the fourth. Quadruplets!  Four healthy, hungry, squirming black rats.
     Vonnie got up at the unheard‑of hour of eight o'clock and came in to see how the puppies were doing.  "One, two, three ‑‑ four?"  Her face fell.  "Now why did she have to go and do that?"                  Tokay is taking her large brood in stride.  When I take her outside for a walk, she doesn't get
frantic the way she did with Georgette.  She takes her time, knowing from experience that nothing is going to happen to her babies.    
October 11, 1962
     I took the pups to the vet to have their tails snipped to the appropriate length.  I was eager to ask Dr. Kearns what sex they were.  Although I had studied them scientifically (with my glasses on and without), I couldn't see a whit of difference between them—except one had a white spot on its chest like Tokay's.  Recalling Vonnie's mistaken diagnosis of George‑ette's sex, I didn't want to get out the Name Book until we knew what we were naming.
     "What do we have here, anyway?" I said to Dr. Kearns.  "I'm darned if I can tell—they all look like males to me."
     Dr. Kearns picked them up one by one.  Then he replaced them in the shoe box and said with a smile, "They are all males."
     I was staggered at the thought of all that masculinity in the family.  I thought of Vaughan and wished she were alive to hear the great news.  Prejudiced in favor of males, she was indignant when George switched sexes on her, necessitating a name change to Georgette..
     The puppies now have names that were suggested by one of Vaughan's friends when I brought them for a visit to the nursing home. The one with the white spot on his chest is Mark, the biggest is Matthew, the littlest is John, and the other one is Luke. Ed says this is the first time in 20 years that the males in the house have outnumbered the females.    
October 14, 1962  
     Ed and I took a walk along Atlantic Avenue with Tokay this evening.  I was telling him that when the puppies were old enough, I would teach every one of them to "Sit and stay," the command their mother had learned so perfectly.  Suddenly Ed turned his head and said, "Look at your dog!"  
     I turned, expecting to see Tokay trotting along at our heels, as usual. Instead she was half a block behind us, dutifully sitting and staying and wearing a decidedly anxious expression.  What a smart little poodle!  I clapped my hands to signal that she was free to join us again, which she joyfully did. October 20, 1962
     Four hungry puppies were too much of a strain on Tokay's dairy system.  Since Wednesday, when Dr. Kearns treated her for a mild case of calcium shock, I have been feeding the babies three or four times a day.  It's been so long since I heated up a bottle, I'd forgotten what the procedure was.  I started to put it in the oven, but Mrs. White tactfully recommended a pan of hot water.
     Tokay had a relapse last night, and I had to rush her to the vet for a calcium shot.  Vonnie noticed early in the evening that she was panting and said, "Mummy, I think she's sick again."  She didn't have a fever, but something was obviously wrong. She couldn't lie in one place for more than fifteen seconds without hauling herself to her feet and flopping somewhere else.  By 10:30 she was puffing and gasping like a woman in labor.
     "You'd better bring her right over," Dr. Kearns said.
     I was in my nightgown.  I pulled on some clothes and hurried downstairs to tell Ed where I was going.  "You keep on studying your flying manuals.  I don't mind going alone."
     Regarding me over the tops of his glasses, he said, "Don't you think you'd better put on a skirt first?"
     Oh yes. I rushed back upstairs and put my skirt on.  I tucked Tokay under my arm and was about to leave when Ed called,
     "Wait a minute, I'll go with you."
     "Don't be silly, you know you want to study."  He’d been discouraged lately about all the technical information he has to learn  to get his instrument rating.  "Goodbye, I'm going."
     Dr. Kearns restored Tokay's breathing to normal with another calcium shot.  He said the puppies would have to rely on formula from now on, as they were taking too much out of their mother.
     "Keep her away from them for a day.  If she seems to be all right, let her nurse them for fifteen minutes—it will be good for her morale and good for them.  Gradually cut her down to five minutes a day.  By Friday you can start weaning them from the bottle and teaching them to drink from a dish."
     I got home at 11:30, made up a new batch of formula, and told Ed the nursery must be kept at 80 to 85 degrees.  While I fed the puppies, he rigged up a heating system with a lamp and the piano stool.
     "I tried to catch you as you drove off to the vet's," he said.  "I ran shouting up the driveway, but you kept going, you hammerhead."
     "I didn't hear you.  I wonder what Mrs. White thought of all the commotion—I'll bet she thought we were having a fight.   What were you shouting when you ran after me?"
     "Don't ever come back, you son of a bitch!"
     I don't know why I encourage him by cracking up when he says these things.
June 5, 1963
     I did some studying for my written FAA exam, then drove in town to meet Ed’s mother at the airport.  She had little Mickey, one of Tokay’s puppies, with her.  Mickey is a good name for him, as he isn’t much bigger than a mouse and weights only five and a half pounds.  He’s a lovable fellow, but he doesn’t feel the way Tokay used to, all yielding and cuddly.  He can’t figure out what to do with his legs, so they wave crablike in the breeze while he tries unsuccessfully to adjust his wiry frame to the contours of your shoulder.  His personality is much quieter and shyer than our darling’s was, but perhaps after he’s been with this not-so-quiet family for a spell, it will change.
     Mimi has gone to Boston today to look for a room.  I hope for her sake she will be allowed to have Mickey with her, but if not, we’ll be glad to keep him for the summer.  It will help to fill a tiny bit the unfillable gap left by Tokay.  The children who teased her into running out into the street are not entirely to blame.  I should have trained her to stay closer to the house.
 June 17, 1963
       Mother wrote a poem about Tokay.  When Vonnie read it, she burst into tears and ran up to her room.  We are all mourning the loss of our little friend.  The house doesn't seem the same without her buoyant personality.     
                                           In Memoriam
                                          Here lies Tokay. 
                                      Be kind to her, oh sun,
                             Be gentle to her, earth; protect her, trees.
                                  Let there be space in heaven 
                                      where she may run‑‑        
                             This little dog who only lived to please.    

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