Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#114 Sammy the Dog

Anne wanted to surprise her son, Will, with a dog. Will didn’t have any brothers or sisters, and what boy wouldn't want a dog? At the breeder, there was only one puppy, and nobody wanted him because he was too big for a Bichon Frise, but Anne was so excited that she took him home. They named him Sampson, after the Bible story, but the reference became irrelevant. They always called him Sammy or Sam. On his first day at home, Sammy learned his name and would come when called, so they knew he was really smart. When Sammy was a puppy, he was like a live q-tip—a cottony-white fluff of dog. He loved to pounce on balloons, but would cry and run away when they burst. At first, they tried to put Sammy in the bathroom at night, but he would cry and cry, so Anne would sleep on the couch with Sammy on her chest and that made him happy. When Sammy was 3, they got Francine, another Bichon Frise puppy. Sammy realized that he was a dog and was pretty depressed for a few days. Luckily, Francine adored Sammy and accepted his status as the alpha dog. Before long, Sammy and Francine became friends. Sammy loved to swim, to go for boat rides on Keuka Lake, to run in the snow in Vermont, and to go for rides in the car. Sammy was originally meant to be Will's dog, but he eventually became Anne’s dog—in the way that dogs will choose whose dog they are. Sammy’s favorite song was "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and Anne would sing it to him, changing a few of the words to put his name in it: "Sammy's been working on the railroad." Sammy loved that so much he would roll over on his back and moan with pleasure. Sammy also had a great long-term memory. He loved it when Anne retold stories of good times he'd had: "Remember that time at Susan's house when you and Woody and Aspen all ran in the grass? Remember that time?" Sammy would roll around and moan. He remembered. He was a very verbal dog. Once, Sammy almost got killed when an airport luggage truck ran over him. At the emergency hospital, they were happy to find out that Sammy didn't have any broken bones, which was miraculous. Toward the end of his 106-year life, Sammy lost weight and his hair started to fall out. He became incontinent and had to wear diapers, which Anne called jammies to preserve his pride. Sammy still loved his walks and eating. He still had good quality of life. He could still jump up on the couch to sit with Anne, and, every night, Anne would say to Sammy: "If something ever hurts, you just tell Mommy, because Mommy will make it all better." Sammy would look at Anne and understand. One day, Sammy started vomiting and stopped eating. The vet did some tests and, suddenly, Sammy only had a few days to live. The vet came to the apartment and Sammy died in Anne’s arms, where he spent so much of his happy life.
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