"Twelve years ago, I brought home a big ball of white fur to keep my 13 year old son occupied. This ball of fur was the only white dog in a litter of 8, and he was the biggest. By the time I got him to the truck, I had named him Sam, after the sexy actor, Sam Elliott (Ahhhhh, that voice!).
I'll never forget the moment I saw him. My nephew's dog had had a litter of 8 puppies and he begged me to come and get one. I could have any one I wanted. So there's all these beautiful little puppies, but only this one white one, the biggest of the bunch. When I stepped into the pen, all the puppies ran back to the doghouse with their mama...all except this big white ball of fur. With sparkling eyes, he waddled over to me as fast as he could. We both knew at that moment that we were made for each other--love at first sight. And there have been no regrets in 12 years.
Oh, I could tell you about the first night we slept together, all snuggled up cozy in my bed. I had tried making him sleep in the floor on a pillow, but nooooooo, the little rascal insisted that he belonged in my bed. So we settled down, his warm little body as close to mine as he could get. And then it got a little warmer...and a little warmer. And then I realized, that dirty rat had peed on me! I guess he had made his claim, marked me as his territory. We slept together 1000's of nights and he never again peed on me.
When he hears the keys jingle, he heads for the door. We're going for a ride! Everywhere we go, people recognize him. I don't think anyone would ever remember me, but who can forget that Sammy face? If I go somewhere without him, people always ask where he is, how is he. (No one ever asks how I am! It's all about Sam!)
It didn't take him long to figure out the drive thrus. See, Sam rides in the back seat; people ride in the front seat. The back windows are tinted and he learned over time that people can't always see through the tinted windows. At drive thrus, he won't get his treat if they can't see him. So he places his big head up into the front seat area and leans around me, very much like a child begging for the lollipop he knows the bank teller has. Sometimes the bank is out of milk bones, and Sam settles dejectedly back into his seat. Perhaps he'll get a slice of cheese or some strawberry-banana yogurt when we get home.
He and my son grew up together, playing football and tag and taking walks through the neighborhood. But there was no doubt that Sam was really MY dog. He knew from the start that his job was to protect me and look after me. He was never too far from me, and still he doesn't like to be anywhere where he can't keep an eye on me.
A few years after I got Sam, I discovered that he is a Samoyed and many Samoyed owners name their pets "Sam" or "Sammy". So now I wonder, did I name him Sam or did he tell me his name? It's no matter now, I suppose. He does have that beautiful Sammy face and that happy Sammy smile. He's fiercely protective and super smart. He understands almost everything I say and he hates the words "bath" and "diet". He goes everywhere I go, loves car rides and walks, and he sleeps on the couch. My father calls him my "husband". But he's much better than most husbands; he doesn't hog the remote control. :-)
At 12, he's still in great shape and will give chase to any squirrel or rabbit in his path. But he would never harm them. If they stop, he stops and just smiles at them; then he glances at me to ask if he can keep it. The vet said his breed usually only live to be 7 or 8, so I do fear the end will come soon, although he is in perfect health.
Sam is definitely a gardener's dog. He stays on the paths at all times. If my wheelbarrow is blocking his way, he'll stand and stare at it and me until I move it so he can get around it. He never digs; he does water and fertilize for me. Sometimes I get so excited over a flower or a butterfly and I'll call to him, "Come look, come look!" He'll come and look where I'm pointing and then smile at me, completely happy that I'm completely happy with this little wonder.
You really should meet my Sammy. He's such a dear! I've never known any animal as human as he is. When I was so very sick, friends and family pretty much abandoned me. No one wants to be around someone who's absolutely no fun. I came very close to dying then and Sam knew. When my pain was at its worst, he'd climb up on the bed (something he rarely did because of his arthritis) and he'd snuggle with me for a few minutes, just to let me know he was there if I needed him. He could always tell if I was napping because I was tired or if I was lying down due to pain. If it was pain, he'd snuggle. If just a nap, he'd nap in the floor beside the bed, in case I might need him later.
He's such a character. When people come over to see me, I'm usually in the garden somewhere. They know to ask, "Where is she?" and Sam will lead them to me. My uncle came to visit one day and he finally found me in the yard, near the kitchen door. He said, "Now it makes sense!" He had asked Sam where I was and Sam had lead him through the house to the kitchen door and had waited for uncle to open it. But Uncle didn't see me in the kitchen so he decided Sam was just a silly dog and he went all around the gardens looking for me. And I was there, on the other side of the kitchen door the whole time. That silly ole uncle! LOL
I think Sam has outlived his breed because he loves me and he knows I need him. He had heartworms years ago which should have shortened his life span. When I called around trying to find a cheaper vet to cure the heartworms, every one I called said they'd have to kennel him for weeks (which is why it was going to cost so much). Sam and I never slept apart. He's always been next to my bed, in my bed, or on the couch in the next room. I had separation anxiety and I knew Sam would completely freak out. I hated to think he was going to die, but both of us would die from the lengthy separation.
A friend recommended her vet and I talked to him at length on the phone. He said if I would watch Sam carefully, I could treat him at home. So he gave me the medicine and showed me how to administer it and let me do it all at home until the heartworms were all gone. He never had to be kennelled in some strange place.
When I got him fixed, they had to keep him all day. Of course they put him under anesthesia, but when he woke up, he was in the kennel. When I picked him up late that afternoon, I could hear him barking when I walked in the front door. They said, "We're so glad to see you! He's been calling for you ever since he woke up!" The minute he saw me, he nearly knocked me down; he was so eager to get close to me. And of course, I had felt all alone without him. I'm certain this attachment to him is uncommon, but Sam is my bestest friend.
My older sister Cathy visits from time to time. One day she was having a big furniture sale on the vacant lot next door so she used the kitchen door to go in and out of my house. She's afraid of dogs and believes that any bark is a bad bark. Sam figured her out right away and learned to play her to his advantage.
Everytime Cathy would come in the door, Sam would greet her with a bark. It was a friendly bark, "Hi, Aunt Cathy, how are you." Not speaking Caninese, Cathy was terrified. "He's going to bite me," she exclaimed. Now you must understand that when we were children, Cathy would terrorize me. So I got even; I let Sam terrorize her, although he wasn't intentionally terrorizing her. He was just greeting her, but in her mind, any bark is a bad bark. Of course you have to realize Sam weighed nearly 100 pounds too, not much less than my sister, so he was quite imposing. So frightened as she was, she never noticed his tail was wagging.
So she began to bribe him. The refrigerator was next to the door. As she opened the door, she'd open the fridge and get a slice of ham for Sam. The barking would stop as he ate and she'd slide past him. But he trained her to give him ham everytime she came in. The little devil had conned her and I loved it!
I think he continues to live because his job is to watch over me. I fear that one day, when I meet the love of my life, Sam will move on, entrusting his very important job to my new best friend.
Sometimes at night, when he's sleeping so still, I'll nudge him, fearing the worst. He'll wake and look at me sleepily, but with understanding. He often slips into my room at night and puts his nose to mine to see if I'm still breathing. Sometimes at night, I won't nudge him, fearing the worst and not ready to face it. I'm always so relieved in the morning when we both wake and head out to the garden. When he has exhaled his last breath, I'll plant him in the garden where he can continue to watch over me with that Sammy smile."
***NancyAnn, thank you for such a charming story about your Sammy. It will surely make everybody smile. Folks, you can visit NancyAnn with your comments following this article, or you can visit her cubits: Clean and Clutter Free, Rants and Pet Peeves, The Butterfly Ranch, and WOMAN - Hear Me Roar.
What a beautiful story of love and friendship.