Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Little Dogs Mean a Lot

Jackie K. Cooper

My idea of the ideal dog is a cocker spaniel. That is because that is the kind of dog I had when I was growing up. I had four of them over the course of my early years, and I still remember their names and how loving they were.

The first was a cocker spaniel named Ginger. We got her when we first moved into our house on Holland Street. She died of distemper (which to this day I don’t know what that is). A few years later we got another spaniel named appropriately Ginger II. She was hit by a car and died. We buried her under a pine tree in our backyard.

The third dog was named Mademoiselle. We didn’t name her that; her owner did. We found her one day walking down Holland Street. She didn’t have on any tags so we didn’t know who she belonged to. We later found out she belonged to a high school student who lived a few blocks over from us. My brother and I tearfully returned her to her owner. The next year when the girl went off to college, she gave us Mademoiselle.

Mademoiselle had puppies, one of which we named Lady. Lady was the runt of the litter which was the reason we kept her. Both Mademoiselle and Lady died when I went off to college or at least that is what I was told. Maybe my father and stepmother just got rid of them. I have always had my suspicions.

What I liked about all of these dogs was they were good, solid dogs. You could pet them without fearing they would break. The trend now is to have small, yippy dogs that look like they would break if you petted them. My youngest son has one of these, and his family loves it. Prior to this dog, the family had a basset hound named Georgia. Now there was a sweet dog. Unfortunately, it ran away from home and was never heard from again.

My oldest son has a big, big dog and he and his family love it to death. My granddaughter Natalie thinks it is her sister and plays with it all the time. The dog is extremely gentle and lets Natalie pull and tug on her all the time.

My mother-in-law who has been a widow for the past few years has a small, yippy dog. When my sister-in-law suggested she get the dog I thought she was crazy. I didn’t have any idea my mother-in-law would want to take care of a pet. It seemed to me it would just be too much trouble. Boy, was I wrong!

Since my mother-in-law got Maddie she has been a different person. All she talks about is Maddie this and Maddie that. Yes, she even has outfits for the dog. It is bad enough to be around little dogs, but the ones who are dressed in fancy outfits drive me crazy.

Still I have to say getting the dog for my mother-in-law was the best medicine she could have taken. She has said over and over that Maddie removed a lot of the sadness from her house. She says now when she comes home, there is a little person waiting for attention and to show her love.

If that is the case, then I am all for this dog. I will tolerate the clothes and the yipping. Love comes in all shapes and sizes and in this case love is a small dog named Maddie who brought some joy back into my mother-in-law’s life.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events. Cooper has authored five books: Journey of a Gentle Southern Man, Chances and Choices, Halfway Home, The Bookbinder, and The Sunrise Remembers.

Visit his website, or email Jackie.


© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012