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My “Bucket List” has just become a little shorter with the addition of ten precious little puppies to our household. Our Golden Retriever, Bella, is the proud mama of her first litter and our “grandpuppy,” Max, is the proud papa.

If you’re trying to figure out the relationship titles, I’ve already determined I’m both the grandma and great-grandma wrapped up into one. Whatever you call the humans who are lucky enough to have puppies in their lives, our family is certainly trying to be the best we can be.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a dog. And ever since I can remember, I have yearned for our dog to have puppies. After over half a century of yearning, I am finally experiencing...and the latter is so much more fun than the former.

To witness the birth of your precious dog’s puppies is like having Meryl Streep’s front row seat at the Academy Awards. No...strike that...it’s even better! There is anticipation, fear, marvel, and awe with the arrival of each little “package.” And the icing on the cake is to have your entire family in the room witnessing it with you.

All of a sudden, there is the realization that this birthing process would indeed take place without your presence, and the very fact that you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time is humbling. How does your family dog know how to do what she’s doing? Where did she learn her techniques? What could she possibly be thinking about being thrown into this new role...and how will she handle it in the upcoming weeks?

Besides the one word answer of “instinct,” I don’t think any human will ever be able to answer those questions. All I know is that I have a totally newfound respect for Bella in her new role as a mama.

Seeing her taking care of every little need of those ten pups is heartwarming. Every morning is spent with a massive feeding session. It’s eat and sleep (and then repeat countless times) for the puppies, and Bella gets quick naps in between feeding times...and sometimes even during them. She keeps her babies clean...and with 10 of them, she barely finishes the job before she has to start again.

She looks up at me with grateful eyes when I carefully pick up a puppy for some cuddling time. She beams with pride as visitors come to see her babies. She attends to her puppies in a split second if she is away from them and hears the slightest of puppy grunts. There is no better canine “Mother of the Year” than Bella has turned out to be.

As for the puppies, just imagine 10 getting-fluffier-every-day Golden Retrievers that start out being the size of your hand with ever-growing round tummies, eyes that search into your soul, and gravelly little puppy voices trying to scare away an imposing fold in their blanket. Add the satisfied puppy grunts and sighs as they finally give in to sleeping in the crook of your arm or on top of your chest. Finish with the feel of a tiny little tongue licking your neck or fingers, tickling you in just the right spot, and so much so that you find yourself giggling like a small child.

That is our life these days.

Could there be any people in the world who can be grumpy or sad while holding a puppy? If there are, I certainly don’t want to be associated with them.

Puppies can’t solve the world’s problems; they can’t ensure financial stability or cure illnesses, and they certainly can’t magically provide more hours in a day. What they can do, however, is make every hour a better one.

And for me, that is more than enough.

Michelle Sprout Murray is a freelance writer who lives in Mason City with her family. She may be reached at queenmom@mchsi.com.

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