For Posterity: Sam

The President’s Dead by Okkervil River on Grooveshark

We seemed to collect animals a few years ago. In fact, it seemed that every time Misty became interested in having a baby, we’d get another dog. This worked out perfectly for me — I love animals and, especially, dogs and wasn’t particularly interested in having a kid. We ended up with four. Dogs, that is. Sam was the third.

Sam was a shaggy Australian Shepherd we ran into one day at Clementine Coffee (now Thunderbird Coffee on Manor Road). One of those rescue organizations had set up a table on the lawn there. He was so docile, and looked like a female he was so pretty. He reminded me of my first dog, Lady.

They told us they had a small flea problem at the shelter. They took our money and sent us on our way with Sam. We loved how calm he was.

That night, we discovered an outrageous number of ticks on him when we bathed him. I probably spent an hour removing ticks before we took him to the hospital.Once the ticks were gone, he wasn’t nearly as calm. Apparently, he needed his blood back.

A few weeks later, though, we came home to find an upstairs bedroom covered in blood — he was bleeding internally and it was coming out his nose. (My part pitbull looked at us as he raced out of the room and gave me a look that said, “I don’t know what the hell happened, I didn’t do it and it’s fucking scary. I’m out, yo,” and ran downstairs.) It was a tick-borne blood disease. He spent days (weeks?) at Austin Vet Care getting transfusions, etc. I think he was pretty close to dying then. Instead, he got another six years with us. Hopefully, they were decent years. At the cost, most would probably given up on him.

To be honest, when it came to his brothers, he was a bit of an asshole. He started the whole protect-your-bowl growling at food time. He tried to dominate George, our lab with the least interest in being the alpha ever. He’s just a big tongue. He was bossy and liked to start fights.

He’d force his way between dogs, chairs, tables — anything to get to you for pets and kisses and loving. He was extremely sensitive to one’s feeling. His eyes were expressive — from loving to wolf in no time. He patrolled the house. He played so well with and kindly with his little rat terrier brother, Carl. All he really wanted was to be loved. He only wanted to go outside when he absolutely needed to; otherwise, he wanted to stay near us. He would sleep with Misty before I got into bed, taking up my side with his head on my pillow, just like a human. I would come in, and he would give me a look like, “You’re kidding. You’re not really going to make me move, are you? I was here first.” (Or so I anthromorphized his reactions.)

Misty took him to work where he was loved on by all — especially when he whined while she went to the bathroom. He did that whenever either of us left briefly when we were out.

One of my favorite memories, though, is one of the first:

It’s the sight of him riding in the backseat of our ’03 Hyundai Elantra hatchback with the seats down on our way to S. Padre Island shortly after getting him. He was a great camping dog. We tied him up at the beach. At dusk, a coyote ran through the surf a distance away. Sam strained at his leash, barked and scared the other animal away. he didn’t save us from imminent danger or anything, though he probably thought he did. We let him sleep inside the tent.

He was a great dog. We all have our faults, but Sam did more than most to truly earn his keep.

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