Having an infant to care for plus a big garden can be a bit overwhelming at times for any young mother. After Aunt Susie had gone home, Grandpa Mast would bring Vernie over occasionally to help with the weeding, harvesting, and canning.
She was a happy little helper for Mom as she would pull weeds, or break the green beans into pieces for canning, she would wash the canning jars, crank the victoria strainer to make tomato juice and applesauce.
Her added help gave Mom a much needed boost.
One afternoon we were canning peaches. Mom was peeling them, Vernie was washing the jars in preparation of filling them. John and I were standing on chairs by the table trying to fit the peach halves neatly into jars. In the middle of all this, Daddy came home from work. He came into the house and told us to come outside to see what he brought home.
We all went and washed our hands and followed him outside to where he had a big friendly black dog tied to a tree. He wanted John and me to pet it but we were terrified, a dog was the last thing we would have put on our wish list.
Daddy picked me up and carried me over to the dog to show me what a nice dog she was, but I was not impressed and started crying. Being the oldest if I set an example, John always followed, but his voice was a lot heartier than mine, he would practically bellow! So here John and I were howling away, and Vernie always hated seeing anyone cry so she had to cry too.
Daddy looked disappointed that his surprise fell flat. We went back into the house and continued with our canning. Daddy helped with the remaining peaches and then went outside to hitch Jim to the buggy to take Vernie home. I got to go with them. After we had dropped Vernie off at Grandpa's I got to sit in the front seat with Daddy. That was the best place to be in the whole world as far as I was concerned. All the way home Daddy talked about dogs, the fun he used to have playing with his dog when he was a little boy, the benefits of having dogs that like children and how they help protect them, and how happy he is he found a fine dog for us, and that we'll grow to love her.
We named the dog Smokey and it wasn't long before John and I tolerated her. We didn't play with her and she didn't bother us. It was something of an unspoken mutual agreement, you don't get too close and we won't cry, and with the noise we made when we cried she was happy to stay away.