Fox Point Farm

by Charlotte Cannon

At night I like to relax playing on my computer. Some days I mess around on Facebook, others updating our website, but most nights lately I have been cruising the internet checking out other tiny, toy, miniature shelties for sale. We get so many requests from wonderful people who write me touching emails desiring the perfect tiny sheltie (usually a sable female with a full white collar). I got curious and decided to check out what else was out there and I now see why I get such a great response, besides Helen in Columbia, its very difficult to find any solid (non puppy-mill) sheltie breeding program that really specializes in healthy tiny shelties. Because we have no kennel (our dogs LIVE with us in our house, in our car, in our bed, in every aspect of our lives) we can only have a limited number of dogs. Every dog is our pet and hopefully more than Cassie will decide to have puppies eventually. I have chosen the dogs we have very carefully, and once they join our family, it is a 'forever home'. (I had to place one male who was seriously misrepresented and I thought was going to have a complete mental breakdown living here with all the people, horses and activity) I am fortunate this is our fun, hobby, we earn our living with horses not dogs, and truly 'breeding shelties' is a great excuse to have a few more than would seem normal otherwise. Just ask our ancient JR terrier, Jack, 18 yrs this year and still pushing rocks and chasing horses.

Anyway, I was surfing the net late one night and came across an ad for a sheltie puppy in Louisiana on some random 'Craig's List'-type website. There were 5 blurry pics of an adorable tri female and an affordable price so I emailed and copied the phone numbers to call the next day. We were leaving the following week to go to Ft Worth and it looked as though the puppy was right outside Shreveport, which is on our way, so I could look and if I liked her, incur no $300 shipping fee. The next day I called and talked to a lovely young woman named Grace who explained the tiny puppy in the pics was now 6 months old and still for sale. She had had a sable brother with perfect markings that sold right away, but in her area buyers wanted sable boys, not tri girls. Even better I thought, I'd have more idea of size, conformation, etc at 6 months than 6-9 weeks. I asked if she could meet us in Shreveport the following Monday as we drove through. She was hesitant, but agreed. I thought that was odd, but might explain why the puppy was unsold.

We noticed Shreveport was about 850 miles from us so we tried to leave early that Monday morning, but as anyone leaving for a big trip with three horses and 7 dogs (1 in a leg cast) for 2 weeks knows, even the best laid plans don't seem to work out sometimes. We got off around 10am but the blown tire midday secured the fact we would not make Shreveport at a decent hour. I called Grace and explained our situation. She said she could not meet us after dark. I explained we had no choice and we could just come by their house and pick the dog up and drop off the money in the middle of the night. That really didn't go over well and I began to feel like she thought we were 'bad' people looking to rape or murder her. I then realized she lived with her parents, ok, I asked to speak to the mother to assure her we were safe. When the mom got on the phone I knew this wasn't going to happen, she sounded, older and like a woman who spoke first and probably didn't listen.

We came to an understanding, or maybe I came to an understanding, we were not going to their house and they would meet us in the daylight in town only. I was concerned the dog might get sold but realized I had no choice, the way it was looking we would have to wait 5+ hours for daylight with 3 horses, 7 dogs (1 with a cast) and 4+ hours left to drive to get to the show. Prince Tommy said he would do whatever I wanted, I thought it might not be the best time to push that so I started explaining to Grace how it would be much better for her puppy if I picked her up on my way back in 2 weeks.  'The dogs must live in our small living quarters and only get to go out once or twice per day. She will be new and such a small area might not help her learn to fit into the group.' Grace seemed unphased by my arguments and offered to keep the dog for $50 more for the 2 weeks. I agreed quickly but when that momma got back on the phone, she said she thought it wasn't enough. She thought the dog was way underpriced for such a beautiful puppy, but it was Grace's dog and her decision. She should just wait a few more weeks and she could get double the money for Christmas. I thought I better cut it off there, so I agreed on the additional funds and figured if I was meant to have the dog, it would work out.

Grace had told me she could text, so over the next 2 weeks I texted her often to ask about the puppy. I told her we were naming her Gracie after her and basically did my best to get her emotionally invested in me and in the situation. It seemed to be working great until the last day of the show, I got a call from her. I answered and immediately she sounded distant, I asked 'what's wrong'. She wanted to know if I really wanted the dog because someone had seen her and offered double the price I was paying. I had just known it (actually Tommy had known it), we should have waited to pick her up. But I trust things happen for a reason, so I decided instead of pressure (not a good strategy on something running backwards), I would use good old classic guilt. I told her she needed to look deep within herself and decide what she wanted to do. I definately wanted the puppy but if she felt it best to sell her to the higher bidder, I would understand. It was up to her to do the right thing and choose what was best.

She only seemed mildly convinced and threw out this next objection. Since it was Saturday, tomorrow was Sunday and she could not sell the dog on a Sunday. They just didn't sell dogs on Sundays. Could I just come back Monday and get her? That aggrivated me and I told her no, it was 850 miles from my house, we could not come back on Monday. We would be coming through on Sunday and we would either be picking up the dog or not - her choice. This seemed an insurmountable objection so I backed off and got off the phone to think.

I had an idea and texted her; 'She was not really selling the dog on Sunday, she had committed to sell her on a Monday 2 weeks before, I was just picking her up and dropping off the money on Sunday, the deal was actually done on a Monday.'  She called me a few minutes later and sounded like her head was cocked sideways. She thought that might work, not certain, but that might work. If we wanted the dog we needed to be in Meddin at 1pm the following day and she might be there.

The next day we loaded quickly and were off pretty close to on time until we got lost and made 3 circles somewhere in Dallas. We ended up in the famous 'Gilley's Bar' (from Urban Cowboy) turning around. Strange how things change - Chris Brown (of Rhianna fame) was playing there, go figure? Anyway Tommy was getting 'stressed' and I said nothing. We got a text from Grace that they had church from 8am-1pm then 3pm-6pm. We must be in Meddin in the Walmart parking lot at 1pm or we would not get the dog. I don't know about you, but I had no idea where the Walmart was in some tiny town in LA. And it again made us feel like axe murderers that they would only agree to meet us there.

We raced up the interstate and unbelievably got to the Meddin exit by 12:35. We needed fuel and proceeded the 20 min back in time down the highway to the Walmart.  As we were driving Grace called, 'where are you?' she asked. 'Almost there,' I replied. We pulled into the parking lot at 1:07pm and there was a rickety old pickup with cages in the back,  lawn chairs all around and a handpainted sign (looked like a 2nd grader made it) 'puppies for sale'. We about came apart until we saw white fluffy little angels being sold by and to the most inbred looking people I'd ever seen. I remembered 'our' dog was black and white and our people did not sell on Sunday. We parked lengthwise in the crowded bustling parking lot and sat. Looking around I realized we had no way of knowing who we were looking for, but surely they could find us in this sea of old faded cars. When after 10 min nobody materialized, Tommy started telling me how this was never going to happen, 'that girl took the money yesterday but couldn't tell you.' I was certain I couldn't have been tricked and took out my phone to call her. After getting her voice mail twice, my spirits were fading when Tommy suggested we call with his phone - different number she didn't know - she answered on the second ring. I asked what kind of car she had, and again she started studdering and asked me what we were in. I said, 'large white truck, large white horse trailer with a cart on the top' - like there were 10 trucks with horse trailers sitting there and she needed more info. 'We are in a white Buick Century,' she said. As I hung up I thought my mother had had one of those back in the 80's, I thought they stopped making them long ago, as I looked up I knew I was correct and this car had lived a long life for sure.

As it approached driving straight toward us across the empty parking spaces I saw the reason they had not wanted me to come to their house. With the sun behind the car I could see more heads than any Buick should try to accomodate stuffed inside. When they started piling out, we were looking at a flash from the past, girls in long dresses to their necks and ankles, little square leather shoes and braids. The boys wore dress clothes of various sizes and all 8 children before us looked at us as strangely as we looked at them. Perhaps my mouth was open or my eyes were big, but when the smooth talking, hair greased back father came around the hood, I nearly jumped.

He smiled a creepy smile and reached out to meet my hand as I introduced myself. Tommy was nearly hiding behind me in total shock, 'I guess they did think we were axe murderers', he whispered. A lovely older girl with her hair up in a bun had gone to the trunk and was coming back with a bird cage containing two frightened dogs huddled together shaking. I had asked her to bring the mother (her dog) so I could see her size and conformation, and before me was this tiny beautiful female sheltie that looked exactly like my Bella. A lump came up in my throat when I saw her, I wanted to offer Grace more money and sweep her away, but I refrained realizing this dog may be the way this lovely young woman gets to interact with others outside her group. Maybe this dog would be they key to the money and opportunity for a new life if she so desired. We spoke softly to one another as Grace lifted her female from the cage. Smaller than most of mine, but bigger than Maggie, this petrified female was a picture of a sheltie in miniature. I was impressed. The tiny puppy lay beneath her, like a chick under a hen and froze when her mother was taken out.

I immediately handed Grace our money in hundred dollar bills. She looked at it and said 'I have no change, I owe you $25 back,' I looked at her and said, 'its fine, you held her for me when you didn't have to. Keep the extra $25.' She appeared overwhelmed and I was hoping our truck full of screaming 'mi-dgets' (pron. mee-jays, like Target is tar-jay. It makes them feel French, they like that.) was far enough away to not change her mind. I wanted her very attached to that money before she saw our brood who had been pent up for 2 weeks and seemed ready to devour her family.

She was super nice, seemed to not even notice their insane behavior, and asked if she and the other children could see our dogs and horses. I had the puppy in my hands before we approached the truck ( some breeders might have totally backed out when they saw our truck full of barking dogs and thought we had some sort of puppymill; but what puppymill travels with all their dogs and each dog has a collar with their name and phone number on it?). They were as excited to see my dogs as my dogs were excited to see them, and I spent several minutes showing them all the animals. As we walked back toward their car, I asked one quiet little boy with teeth lined across his bottom lip, his name. Obviously I had done something wrong because his face froze and he said nothing, his savvy sister hit him with her elbow, 'tell her your name is Samuel, tell her.'

I dropped my eyes and decided I better leave him alone. When we got back to their car I noticed Tommy looking rather tight and rather pale listening to the father speak. Apparently he had been preaching to Tommy about how the Devil gets into children, how we needed to get him out of ours and other various and sundry Bible verses. I had no idea and started small talk with the dad and asked where the mom was, 'she had a headache they all said in unison,' strange I thought. He explained they had 11 children, I'm not sure where the other 3 were. He also asked where we were going. When I said, 'South Carolina' his eyes twinkled, 'I got my wife there,' he said. 'Where,' I asked. 'Don't rightly remember. It was about a hour from Greenville, I think. Been a long time ago.' My mouth dropped again and Tommy quickly interrupted and said we needed to get going.

We said goodbye and jumped into the truck. Tommy sped away like something was burning behind him. You see Tommy doesn't like all that Devil talk and he was ready to get out of that throwback town. As the miles passed Tommy, the puppy and I started to come out of our daze and the puppy began to show us some cute personality. By the time we hit the Mississippi line, little Gracie seemed to wake up into this playful darling little soul. She rode on my shoulder all the way home exclaiming she was happy to be free at last!

freeing gracie