Earl the McNab

Earl the McNab
Earl the Mcnab

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Travels with Molly: The Homecoming

Of all the reasons to travel, is there any as wonderful as a puppy-retrieval mission?  Imagine my excitement, after months of waiting for Molly McNab's birth and first few weeks, to embark on a road trip to pick her up.  Road trips are favorite activities for me, anyway -- but a road trip with a puppy as destination?  Pure bliss.  Look out, California freeways -- I'm on a mission from Dog.

The view from the winding mountain road through the Los Padres National Forest
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller

We met our new little girl at Justy and Teri Garcin's Hidden Highlands Ranch in the Los Padres foothills.  I can't imagine better raisers-of-puppies -- or a better lifestyle for these dogs.  They do what McNabs are meant to do:  herd livestock, run long distances, romp with other dogs, and keep a watchful eye on the world around them.  I rarely write about people by name out of respect for privacy, but I can't help but rave about Teri and Justy.  The welcome they gave us, the amazing start they gave our pup, and the thoroughly enjoyable conversations we shared will forever endear me.

Visit the Garcin's Website Here

We met Molly as she was still surrounded by her siblings in a pen-full of puppy exuberance.  The entire litter excelled at pants-leg nipping, waggage, and wiggling.  Not quite seven weeks old, they were already independent and assertive.  Had they not all been spoken for long ago, there's no way we would have made it off the property just one puppy in tow.  Nearby, a McNab-Border Collie litter fought epic mock pup-fights, clamored for attention, and indulged themselves in puppy joyfulness.  This is how puppies are supposed to be raised:  already wanted by committed and carefully-chosen owners; an extremely roomy "puppy corral" that is secure, perfectly clean, and safe; and healthy, sound and properly-screened parent dogs.  

We promptly nabbed our McNab from the rest of the pack and introduced ourselves to her on the deck overlooking the puppy pen.  There, as a sociable cockatoo named Olive supervised, we fell thoroughly in love.  Holly, Molly's mother, and Nellie, the Border Collie, showed off their herding skills for us on a small band of Barbados sheep.

At dusk, Teri escorted us and the older dogs on a ranch-run with her quad.  McNab heaven, that:  happy, active dogs among their own kind, loping along with their ear-tips flapping.  Molly's sire, Cinch, almost stunned me with his demeanor.  In horses, we call it "presence" -- that almost-indefinable quality that emanates from within.  Cinch was clearly His Own Dog.  He exuded charisma and a mature, wise bearing.  I was smitten.

Too soon, early the next morning and as Holly stood guard, we gathered up our black-and-white bundle and headed back to Arizona.  Molly was a capable traveler. Just as Teri had predicted, she suffered a minor bout of motion-sickness that soon passed.  From thereon, she was a pro.

Molly McNab peering out from her travel crate.
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller
We attempted to be cautious when we made puppy-pit-and-piddle stops to find locations where others had not gone before.  Puppies are, of course, highly susceptible to viruses such as the coronavirus and parvo.  It seemed that whenever we pulled off the road for a puppy-break, we found veritable poo-fests.    (Yes, we did clean up after our own dog.)  Still, Molly made it home intact and without contracting some dread illness.  Much of the drive she spent sleeping behind my neck, where she'd crawled up persistently -- paws on each side of my head, twitching lazily with puppy-dreams.

Then, after several hundred miles and ten hours' drive, we were home.  Earl -- our five-year-old McNab -- and our year-old cats, Froggy Isabella and Shotgun Willie -- were shocked at our arrival.  Here's how the introduction went:

Molly Meets Her New Family

Earl was tentative; Willie was immediately intrigued; and poor Froggy Isabella was devastated.  For the next couple of days, Froggy pouted, her back turned to us from her basket on top of the pantry.  Finally, as I sat on the floor snapping photographs of Molly, Froggy made her way down to us. I was thrilled:  Froggy was approaching the puppy, and I was ready to capture the Kodak moment forever!  As I trained my camera on the pair, Molly lying quietly beneath a chair, and Froggy slowly and regally approached her.  Just as Molly leaned forward to touch noses, Froggy growled, hissed, struck out and slapped Molly with a left paw.  No, I didn't get the exact moment of the smack-down on film, but here is the split second just prior:
Froggy Welcomes Molly.
Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller
As soon as she'd made her point, Froggy strode over to the rubber ball Molly had just been playing with -- an old hollow ball with a bell inside that Froggy had never, ever been interested in -- and played with it for a few minutes.  Her message was clear:  "This is my house. These are my toys.  Everything you see is mine.  Everything you shall ever see in the future is mine."

 And so Molly has been fully accepted into the family.  All is well in McNabville.

Copyright © 2014 MJ Miller.  All rights reserved.  No part of this article, including photographs, may be reproduced without the express permission of the author.  Links to this page, however, may be freely shared.  Thank you for liking, pinning, +1'ing, forwarding, sharing and otherwise helping grow my audience.  Don't forget to sign up to follow by email!  And most of all, thank you for visiting!

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