I beg your indulgence on two counts: one, for beginning this essay in the manner of an 18th century English novel, and two, for again writing about our new dog, Sam. I promise this will be the last time. Perhaps I shouldn’t promise, but I will try my best not to further subject you to my excessive gushing over our 15 pound wonder. But today is Sam’s birthday. He is one year old, and therefore deserving of another mention.
It’s been two weeks, six day, 12 hours and 42 minutes since we brought Sam home. And it’s been years since we shared our home with a very young dog. Needless to say, there have been certain necessary adjustments to our household. Baby gates and other containment apparatus are now part of the décor. My floors are strewn with rawhide chews that I have a tendency to step on with my bare feet. Thus, in addition to sit, stay and come, Sam has been learning many curse words.
And, then, of course, there are all the dog toys that squeak incessantly as he tries to rip out their guts. The other day a woman whom I thought was my friend brought Sam a fuzzy duck toy that quacks non-stop as he holds it in his mouth. Unfortunately, it has become his favorite object. And I wonder what I did to cause her to hate me that much.
Getting used to a very small dog when one has been accustomed to cohabitating with very large dogs is another matter all together. I had never stopped to consider that small dogs can be hazardous to your health. Unlike large dogs, they are below one’s line of vision, so one must take special care not to step on them, or worse, trip over them. Excuse the pun, but I am learning this the hard way.
Then there are those instances when I call Sam, once, twice, perhaps three times, only to look down at my feet and see him staring up at me in puzzlement. Hey, I heard you the first time.
But it’s been almost three weeks of delight, and lots of fun seeing the world through Sam’s eyes. Although he was almost a year old when we took him home, he behaved as if he was discovering everything for the very first time. Before us, he obviously led a very confined life. It’s like he lived with the Mole Women, or was raised as Dog from Room.
During our walks along a busy road, I was aware that he was transfixed by moving cars and bicycles. And people. And other dogs. He backed away from path lights and irrigation flags. He barked challengingly at fire hydrants before realizing it was something he could conquer by lifting his leg.
Indoors also held many wonders. Since there are no second stories in underground shelters or utility sheds, Sam didn’t quite know what to make of stairs. But when one’s legs are only 6” long it is understandable that getting from one step to the next would seem as daunting as scaling the Empire State Building. But he figured it out, and now bounds up and down quite competently, looking very much like a Slinky.
Our stall shower is another object of complete fascination. He sits and stares at the water coming down as one might gawk at Niagara Falls. And he watches me intently as I step naked into it. I have to admit that I found it uncomfortable at first having a strange pair of male eyes gazing at my nakedness. That is, until I realized that unlike his human counterparts, Sam wouldn’t be judging me. At least, I didn’t think so.
He watches me blow dry my hair, Sam does. I can’t begin to imagine how he might be interpreting this behavior. But at least he doesn’t complain about the noise, unlike the other male I live with.
So all in all, the past two weeks, six days, 12 hours and 42 minutes have been a delight. We haven’t been sorry for a moment. Except perhaps for the incident when Sam ate a piece of baseboard molding in my husband’s office.
Or that his total cuteness impedes my efficiency because I have to stop what I’m doing to pick him up and cuddle, definitely one of the advantages of a small dog. Or that I now play second fiddle to a dog as I listen to my spouse professing his love for Sam. But that’s okay. Better Sam, than some bitch half my age.
But for all the joy that Sam brings us, we wonder if we jumped in too quickly, and didn’t allow ourselves sufficient time to recover from the loss of Davis. But this quote I happened upon has been helpful: “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is diminished.” So in another sense, having Sam is a commemoration to our other pets. The quote was attributed to the author Dean Koontz, and just goes to show that even writers of gory mysteries can have a soft spot when it comes to dogs.
So Happy Birthday Sam! May you live long and prosper! And may your energy keep the rest of us young.