Some people wait for years to replace a beloved pet. Not us.
When we had to put down Pisgah—my fifteen year old Cocker Spaniel—I couldn’t go back home without her there to greet us. She had been through my first marriage with me. After my divorce, she was with my son Charlie when I couldn’t be.
She was my jogging buddy—always beside me, leash-less. When her years began to add up and she started to lag behind, her long silky ears flopped all the more from the extra effort. She began to surrender on her squirrel chases. She became deaf and found her way by scent.
In spite of it all, as she aged, people would still ask if she was a puppy.
After a bath one night, she shivered and was short of breath. I thought it was from the cold but it didn’t stop. We soon discovered that her heart was enlarged. It couldn’t contain all her love.
Todd stood by my side as I held her in my arms and she looked up at me. The vet gave her the shot that put her into a sweet, deep sleep.
It was too hard to walk back into our house after that so we went for lattes. We came up with the idea to take a drive to the pet store where my brother had found a puppy.
We walked in and I immediately noticed a teddy bear. He sat up with a stick-straight dancer spine and looked me square in the eyes. Hopeful anticipation…..Please love me ma’am (get me out of here!). I asked to hold him and the salesperson took him from his cage and set him down in an observation pen.
I watched him play, rubbed his belly, let him lick the tears that were still fresh in my eyes, and tried to stop him from gnawing on my fingers with his sharp teeth.
By the time Todd found out we couldn’t afford him, it was too late. Without any research, we made an impulse buy and busted our budget. We were so sad and Sam was such fun. We returned home with a big pen and all the dog accouterments—poorer but puppy rich.
I sobbed through that evening, playing Puccini in Pisgah’s honor while Sam scooted around.
He chewed the legs of all our furniture but was particular about the shoes he ate. They had to be new and bone colored. He destroyed our rugs and carpeting and ate anything—including a lighter. He was a butane hose for days and had to spend them all in his pen.
Garbage cans scare him. He is a sniffer not a jogger and can easily spend thirty minutes on one block. He was hard to train and still jumps up on guests. He snarls at some dogs but only after I have assured the owner he is friendly.
He got his certificate from obedience school because the trainer was relieved to be done with him. “This is how you walk a dog,” he would say taking Sam by the leash and proceed across the room. “Heal! Heal!! HEAL SAM!!” Sam does not heal.
He is strong-willed but sweet and confused about being a dog. He sits on the stairs like a person—upright on the step. He has made our furniture his own and when Todd gets up in the morning, Sam immediately jumps up beside me and lays his head on Todd’s pillow.
We work all day so we got a kitten to keep him company and named her Rose.
Her alley cat mom weaned her too early so the former owner’s dog had become her surrogate mother. When Rose met Sam she attached her mouth to a nipple. He stared at us, What the heck? but they became best pals.
I eventually got Sam to walk to the lakefront and home again without a leash. I would carry Rose along in a papoose. The three of us would do the full two and a half mile circle together…until the day Sam saw a parachute.
He stopped, turned and took off across the beach, running past honking, screeching cars. He was covered with the lake’s algae and tends to look rabid when wet. No one could catch him. He disappeared into the ravines. I called for hours. I was almost home when I noticed him sauntering along a couple blocks ahead of me.
I keep Sam on a leash now most of the time and have never been successful with getting him to walk leisurely on the lakefront. He’s always looking for that parachute.
So, when we brought balloons home from an event last night, Sam escaped up the stairs and hid in the bedroom.
He just has a thing about floating aberrations.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened to Sam if we hadn’t been so impulsive that day at the pet store. It doesn’t matter….Sam has Pisgah to thank for that….and I’m sure he will one day.
He’s just not ready yet to join her.