Articles Index/Norfolk Tales
Pipsqueak just appeared. According to the dog warden, she had been found wandering on the town green during a springtime festival. Even though her allotted time in the pound was up, the warden couldn't bear to put the tiny, old half-blind dog to sleep. Except for her vision problems and some apparent deafness, the little bitch seemed happy and alert. That's when I came into the picture.
I saw the "Norwich Terrier found" advertisement in the local paper in June of 1981 and hustled off to see if it really was a Norwich. Well, it wasn't. It was a Norfolk and, like the warden, I couldn't see putting her down just because she was old. I arranged an adoption and, from time to time, heard that she was still alive, but circumstances prevented me from actually visiting her.
Then, this past summer, I read in the paper that Pipsqueak's owner had died. I contacted his daughter to offer my condolences and (ever the dog lover) asked if her father had owned any dogs at the time of his death. I didn't ask about Pip specifically but was surprised to hear that she was, indeed, still alive. When I learned that the family had experienced a change of circumstance, I asked if I could have Pip. Frankly, since I estimated her age to be about 18, I thought I'd probably just end up doing what I couldn't six years before -- put her to sleep. But at least, I rationalized, she'd have a peaceful end and wouldn't suffer from neglect.
When I actually saw Pip, she looked remarkably unchanged...just an older version of an already old dog. There was however, one exception, her teeth and gums were a disaster and she could barely eat. Because of her owner's lingering illness, she had been left pretty much to fend for herself. While the neglect wasn't intentional, it nevertheless resulted in a serious health problem.
My veterinarian and I agreed that the remaining teeth would have to come out, although neither of us was sure she could withstand the surgery. During the next week, I gave her antibiotics to help combat infection, in preparation for her dentistry. I also found myself growing increasingly attached to her, despite my better judgment, and when she did survive the ordeal, I was delighted.
Since that time, Pip has learned to eat (and eat she does!) food I put through a blender. She can see a little and hear a little and her nose is so keen I'm convinced she could pass an AKC tracking test. Even though she spends a great deal of her time sleeping, she never misses a meal and, in fact, is almost always waiting to be let out of her pen in the corner of the kitchen, when I get up in the morning. My other Norfolks have completely accepted her and once in awhile she scolds the puppy with a high-pitched yip if he gets too rambunctious. Her favorite activity seems to be getting brushed and petted while being held in my arms, although in nice weather she loves to poke about in the yard or lie in the sun.
I've always felt that Pip is probably an old Bethways dog, from the time Barbara Fournier was here in Connecticut. While I have no proof, her good coat, correct ears and basically sound conformation lead me to believe that she was probably pretty well bred. My suspicion is that she was originally owned by a person who died or was put into a convalescent home and that "well-meaning" relatives or friends just dumped her on the town green as an expedient way of getting rid of her.
As often as I ask her to tell me her story, Pip just looks at me silently. So, I guess I'll never really know anything about her past. I do know about her future though. She has a secure place at Folklore for as long as she lives.
ANTIC, Spring, 1988
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