Saturday, February 13, 2010

Get to know Sam Part 1

Sam was born in Pembina, ND in May of 1999. He was one of 11 puppies. My husband had wanted a female lab but they were all spoken for. So here we are in this garage with 11 wild puppies running around our feet. I think we were both wondering how would we know which one to pick. Eventually the puppies got restless and the owners opened up the back door so they could go outside and play. All but one puppy went outside. The one that stayed behind had a purple string around his neck. The puppies were color coded to tell them apart. This puppy layed down at my husband's feet, curled up, and went to sleep. We looked at the owners and said, "We'll take this one". That night we went home and started thinking of names. So a few days later we brought Sam home. Officially, on his AKC papers, he is Louisville Sam. Louisville comes from the baseball bat, Louisville Slugger, which is what it feels like when his tail is wagging and hits you in the leg!

We lived in a 100 year old farmhouse sandwiched between sugar beet fields and wheat fields. We had only been renting it for a few months when we got Sam. If there is a heaven on earth for dogs, this was it. Sam never had to be on a leash, the house was surrounded by acres of open land. He had his very own pond to swim in and he loved foraging in the woods just see what treasures he could come home with. One time our neighbors brought him over a couple of rib bones from a cow. I remember watching Sam sit outside, chewing on these things while the snow continued to fall. By the time he was satisfied with the work he had done he was covered in about an inch of snow, maybe more. During the winter our friends would cross country ski over to our place to pick up Sam. Every day at the same time he would go to the window and wait for them to come over the hill. As soon as they came into sight he'd go to the door. Off he'd go with them for hours following them along the Red River and through the woods. By the time they got home Sam was exhausted. The next day, he'd be ready to go again. In the spring time he'd love to go out in the sugar beet field and bring home a beet that had been left over from the fall harvest. He'd lay right down in the grass and chew on that thing until it was gone. How he never got sick was beyond me. In the summertime Sam really took to chasing whatever critters would happen along. My favorite story is when we heard him barking one evening just after dinner. He was only a year old at this time. We found him out in the middle of the pond chasing/swimming after a fawn that had tried to get away from him. Sam was not giving up and we were afraid he'd keep going until he couldn't go anymore. My husband and I got to an aluminum boat that was surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes. We paddled out to the middle of the pond and just as we'd get close to the dog he'd get away from us and go after the fawn. This went on for about a 1/2 hour. Finally we had had enough and were able to get close enough to yank him in the boat. I believe that is the first and only that dog has ever growled at either of us. I felt so sorry for the fawn but more for us with the countless mosquito bites. I never cursed that dog as much as I did that day. By far though, Sam's favorite game was golf. My husband and I would stand up on top of the dike/berm, that surrounded the house, and hit the golf balls as far as we could. Sam would be waiting out in the yard below. He would chase after them, gather them up in a pile and wait for the next one. We'd collect the balls and do it all over again. To this day, Sam won't chase any other kind of ball.

We spent 2 1/2 years on that farm and then we had to move to MI for my husbands job. I think we were both happy and sad. We were happy to be moving on and beginning a new chapter of our lives. We were sad because we knew we wouldn't be able to offer Sam what he had in ND. The saddest day for me was when we had to put a leash on him.

To be continued....

1 comment:

  1. This one got me, Niki.

    Even though I only spent a few weeks with Sam in person, I feel like I was there every step of the way with all the stories over the years. He spent his life as a faithful companion whose greatest joy was to be with you and Steve, but there was a time when he swam, ran, snarled and romped in a wilder place. The images of Sam in North Dakota are most vivid, they represent him in his youth with his life ahead of him.

    I can see it now. A strong breeze moves across the wheat field in waves, cast in orange from the evening sun. Movement on the distant low ridge is rhythmic and relentless.
    Sam's brown coat glints as his long strides eat up the ground with desperate speed and
    purpose. He moves as if on rails, shoulders and haunches work in time, head low, ears
    pinned. The open space and elusive deer have awoken something in him and it feels right.
    Tonight he'll curl up in a warm bed next to his masters, but for now, unblinking eyes transfixed, locked in, he runs with the power and recklessness of youth. Straight on and tireless. Up and over the ridge in a cloud of dust, full speed.