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At my house, bark is worse than bite

By By James Crawford
News Editor
There's nothing like being awakened at 2 a.m. to the sound of an expectant mother starting to give birth. For those of you who have gone through it, I'm feeling your pain. For those who still have it to look forward to, believe me, don't rush it.
In my case, I was awakened last Monday night in the wee hours of the morn' to the sound of my chow dog giving birth. Luckily, she only had two puppies, and yes they're both cute as all get out, but this was just the beginning of Crawford's K9 farm – my labador was also pregnant.
Before I get too much farther in my story, I feel I must explain that none of this was planned nor desired at the time.
It literally began the first week we moved here. Back home, both the dogs were in pens and away from roving males in search of potential mates. The chow had never had puppies before. The lab had one litter before we got her.
The first week we arrive here in Atmore, I was busy doing the things one does when you move to a new town. Namely getting utilities turned on, getting to know the town and getting adjusted to a new job. How I wish I had also managed to put up a dog pen during those days. For you see, while I was at work, both my female dogs encountered new neighbors of their own, particularly a certain roaming male who was, shall we say, in the romantic mood.
Apparently he formed a relationship with both my girls that blossomed while we were away for Thanksgiving. The results of those relationships are the new puppies that I now have wiggling around in my doghouses. Yep, you read that right. Houses. I didn't forget about the lab having puppies of her own. It's just painful to even write it down, because she had six little ones of her own.
So, in total, I arrived in Atmore with two dogs. I now have 10. Believe me, I didn't mean to expand my family here so quickly.
On an up note, my wife and daughter are absolutely enamored with the new little faces. My daughter thinks they are the best things since crustless bread and green ketchup, and my wife is treating them as if she had them herself. She gets up in the middle of the night to check on them and I'm in the doghouse if I don't. Or, I guess, in the yard now, since there's no more room in the doghouse.
And, I will probably be regarded as the meanest man in the world the day I give them away, so I have that to look forward too. I can see my little girl's face drooping already – and my daughter's too.
My story, although humorous in many ways, brings an important issue to the forefront of my mind with a giant thud. Many of you may not be aware, and neither was I until fellow coworkers teased me be about it, but February is national spay and neuter month.
There are many benefits to spay and neutering besides the obvious. The procedure is relatively painless in today's modern world. It can increase your peace of mind because you don't have to worry about unwanted pregnancies. Your pet will probably live longer because of the procedure, and they won't get sick as often. And lastly, it's just the right thing to do.
Millions of unwanted cats and dogs, and I'm sure other animals, die needlessly because they were brought into a world that didn't want them. My new puppies, although cute and cuddly for a while, will very soon grow into adult dogs. Luckily, we have found homes for most of them and we'll take care of the remaining ones as best we can, but some don't have that luxury.
Many animals have babies in the woods and they grow up to be scavengers and the like. Just as soon as my two are done weening and back to full strength, I plan to have the procedure done to them. I don't want any more puppies in the middle of the night and I want the ones I have to live long happy lives.
I think it's the right thing to do. I wish I had held that belief earlier and I encourage all pet owners to contact their veterinarian and find out the benefits of the procedure for themselves. Be responsible and have your pets spayed or neutered. It's good for them and it's even better for you.
James Crawford is News Editor of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached by phone at 368-2123 or by e-mail at james.crawford@atmoreadvance.com.