There was an unspoken law at my house growing up for every stray critter that managed to find its way in our yard. Once my uncle Bobby named it, it was ours. If the animal made it to day two without Bobby sticking some name on it, we were safe according to Granny.
Of course, no animal made it beyond a few hours, let alone two days.
When a lab mix showed up in our yard one day, Bobby planned on taking her to the shelter. We didn't ‘need' another animal, Granny had told us.
I was already the original crazy cat lady, with double digit felines thanks to having three show up within a matter of months, all three pregnant with half a dozen kittens.
Bobby called the shelter to see what to do if you wanted to bring in a stray that showed up at your house. He was told they would accept her, but if no one claimed her within three days, she would be euthanized.
I was heartbroken - so was Bobby.
In the middle of the night, I heard the little black puppy crying in her crate in the den.
"It's OK, Queenie," I heard my uncle say to the dog. That's all I needed to hear. I knew she wasn't going anywhere; my Uncle Bobby had already named her.
I know I am a sucker when it comes to anything with fur and four legs. When I was an officer with the humane society, Lamar lived in fear that I would bring home everything I could fit in my car.
I admit, I was tempted on several occasions.
Twice, I have brought home puppies unannounced.
The first time was Pumpkin, the border collie that I adopted from a shelter. This was two months after our oldest Shepherd had died and Lamar was not happy with me. Furious may be a better description. He didn't speak to me for two weeks. He got over it and Pumpkin is one of the sweetest dogs I have ever had.
The second time was last week.
I had gone by the store to get dog food and saw the SUV at the lower end of the parking lot, tailgate open. A cardboard box sat on the pavement while the lady standing outside of the vehicle held a big ball of black fluffy fur.
"Keep driving," Mama said. I was on the cell phone with her when I spotted the puppies.
"I am, Mama," I told her. "I have to get dog food anyway."
I hurried into the store to get the few things I needed and miraculously got out in record time. After I loaded the trunk, I glanced down the aisle to see if the puppies were still there. They were.
I'll just look at them, I told myself, in case I hear of anyone who needs a puppy. And they had looked like German Shepherd mix pups on that first glance.
The lady with the fuzzy black puppy saw me and spotted me for the sucker I am; she recognized my car from earlier when I had drove by slowly.
"Free puppies!" the lady said when I rolled the window down.
I commented on how cute the one was she held; it looked like a fluffball on steroids. I didn't ask to hold it though, I knew better.
"He is a total snuggler too," she said, giving me the puppy pitch. "So loving, very affectionate. His brother is too," she pointed to a less fluffy, but equally as adorable black puppy with tan markings. He looked even more like a Shepherd.
"I bet," I said, but knew I had my out. "They are beautiful. Such a shame you just have boys, my male Shepherd is nearly 14 and I don't want him getting into Alpha battles with a younger male."
I was kind of disappointed.
"There was only one female and she's the runt," the lady said and almost on cue, her friend reached into the box and pulled her out, this tiny tan with black shadings little puppy. She was the tiniest little thing I have ever seen. We made eye contact instantly.
"Can I hold her?" I asked.
The friend handed her to me through the window, all adorable softness and puppy breathe. The lady with the fluffy puppy was talking to another lady who pulled up to look at the puppies. Her friend had moved back to the tailgate to try to avoid the wind. It was me and maybe a pound of cuddly preciousness.
I knew Lamar would not be happy with me; on the other hand, Cole would be thoroughly delighted.
I had four dogs already - three of them seniors. Our pack was established but should be at the point of not being upset over a little puppy. Besides, my philosophy has always been "what's one more?"
The puppy cuddled against my chest, looked up at me and sighed.
"I'm going to take her," I told the friend. "Tell the other lady I said thanks."
I was going to be divorced, I knew it. It hasn't happened yet, but it's coming. Lamar was not happy with me. He's still not happy about it. I don't care. He's mad, but he will get glad again.
Before I got out of the parking lot, she was already mine and I named her Angel.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."