So now we come to Sam.

Of all the dogs that have been a part of our family, Sam is the most charming, sweet-natured, loving dog we have ever had. When we are home it is rare when Sam is more than 10 feet from us. In fact, the only time he is farther away is when the grandkids are here when he instantly forgets us and joins the munchkins in deliriously (delirious and sometimes out-of-control), happy play.

Two buddies
Two buddies

Our number one priority with Sam was to get a dog that was good with kids. In Sam’s case what we got was just another kid. And the grandkids treat him like he is one of them: they dress him up, serve him high tea, wrestle with him, use him as a pillow, and sleep with him in their homemade tent.

He is most nonchalant dog we have ever had about eating (a number one priority in every other dog I have known). Open a can or bag of dog food around our other dogs and they got instantly excited (like that “Bacon, Bacon, Bacon” dog on TV). All of them considered any meal as a good meal. Sam on the other hand, always lays back, head on his paws with absolutely no sign he has the least interest in dinner. You have to coax him to come and eat and when he does he will pick out only what he considers the good stuff—cheese, turkey, leftovers—and then he walks away. He only returns to eat again after we complete our meal and he knows he is not going to get anything better from us.

Sam dreaming about his choices for dinner
Sam dreaming about his choices for dinner

Sam is an absolute Dr. Heckle and Mr. Hyde when it comes to strangers coming to our door. When he sees them through the window or they knock, he barks and bristles, and the hair along his back stands up. He looks like he is prepared to take someone’s leg off. But as soon as you open the door, he instantly melts—his love of people is just too strong for him to stay mad at anyone. As a watchdog, he will be aces as long as the robber never actually enters the house.

Sam has a huge collection of dog toys and he plays with each and everyone, every single day. He loves to bring them out, shake them, throw them, and then forget them. His favorite toys are the couch pillows. He must think that these offer up the best fight because every time we leave the house, we return to find all the pillows in the yard.

Sam with his pillow
Sam with his pillow

Sam also loves balls. He chases them if you throw them and if you don’t, he’ll throw them himself and then go after them. When he tires of this, Sam loves to push the balls under the couch or chairs and then lies on the carpet barking at them. He doesn’t stop barking until you go over, bend down on GEEZER knees and release them for him. He has lots of balls and they are all the same type, but if you think you can keep from retrieving “the” lost ball by offering him one of the others, there’s just no way he’s going to settle for a new ball.

Sam and the elusive ball
Sam and the elusive ball

Sam loves to lie on the bed, but only if someone else is there. Sometimes my wife puts our grandchild Max down for a nap in the afternoon. With in seconds, here comes Sam. If Max is laying next to my wife during story/nap time, Sam can’t stand it and pushes his way in-between them before he lies down. When Max goes to sleep, my wife will get up, but Sam never leaves. He will lay motionless until Max wakes up even if it is an hour later.

Two friends down for the count
Two friends down for the count

Probably the oddest thing about Sam is his morning routine. His routine is that he has no routine. When I get up, every dog I have ever had joyously greeted me to the new day. I’ve never had a dog that didn’t do this (except for Barkley the bulldog who spent 90% of the time in the “lump” position). Sam, however, never moves a muscle until it hits 8 o’clock. He doesn’t even look up before then (unless he is lying on his back staring straight up). You can go over and pinch his nose, tickle his ears, yell at him; he will never move. Of all things in his dog life, I guess to Sam, sleep is number one.

Sam in bed
Sam in bed

You can see that dogs have always been a big part of our lives. They have brought us so much joy over the years and all I wish is that they had the life span of a turtle (seems a waste to let a turtle live for 100 years when a dog gets at best 15-plus). But even if the grief of losing a dog is as painful as anything in life; it has always been worth it to be able to be a part of their lives.

Sam and his girls
Sam and his girls

Now that I think of it, we raised our dogs about the same way we raised our two daughters. Do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone, feel free to live your life as you choose, don’t play in the streets, and always know we love you no matter what. Both our daughters and our dogs have brought us nothing but happiness and a reason for my wife and I to love life.

Sam in charge
Sam in charge

As a GEEZER, if you have a dog in your house, I know you do the best by him or her. If you don’t have a dog, you should only get one if you can make sure he gets everything he needs (walks, etc.) I sometimes worry about Sam in the future, but I know my daughters will see that he gets a good home after we pass. If not, Sam is in the will and should be able to take care of himself just fine. To me dogs are a gift we have been given so that we know what unconditional love is—I think someone is trying to tell us something.

The Dogs Who Have Owned Me—Part II
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