My dog Sam, Part 9

The next day Sam made a trip to the veterinarian in order to get patched up.  After taking one look at his wounds, the vet insisted Sam be kept and observed for rabies as a precaution.  We knew Sam wasn’t infected but left him anyway, thinking it best to go with the recommendation of a professional. 

My sister went to retrieve Sam a few days later and said that when he was brought out of the kennel he seemed despondent and broken.  But as soon as he recognized her Sam leaped up and came to life, happy to be going home again.  All the way back to the gray house Sam submissively rode with his head on her lap. 

Sam favored his leg all winter and into the spring, staying close by the house but not changing his even temperament.  He was irate all the time, anxiously awaiting fairer weather and feeling claustrophobic or too close to people.  Sam became more of a loner after that night of mayhem in our yard.  Even when his leg became fully mended, running with the boys didn’t seem to appeal to him much anymore.  But that didn’t keep him from travelling up and down the road with apparent aloofness towards four and two legged creatures both great and small.  And that did not alter the perception of him being a bad dog to the rest of our neighbors, because Sam was used to having things his own way.

One time I was walking with Sam down the “lower” road and there was a dog tied up in his yard barking at us and straining at his rope.  Sam and I moved along minding our own business but this dog was insistent, barking and swiping at the air with his front paws, jerking at his restraint like he couldn’t contain himself and needed to confront my dog.  Suddenly the clip on the collar broke and this dog was catapulted toward us with such a velocity that it seemed to startle him.  He stopped short of the road and stood silently looking at us like his bluff had just been called.  Sam didn’t even seem to notice the mutt, so confident was he that we strode on without missing a beat.  That dog stayed put until we were well down the road… then started barking again.

Sam left us one day and didn’t come back.  Naturally we didn’t think much of it at first because he continued to leave and come back at his leisure, we sort of came to expect it.  But this time he was gone for awhile and I became worried that something had happened to him.  Perhaps one of the neighbors had made good on his threat or Sam had another run in with the roving band of n’er-do-wells that he’d once been associated with.

My grandfather never seemed to get rattled with Sam even though Sam barked at him whenever he pulled up with that dreaded lawnmower.  Maybe Sam didn’t like the idea of his master being forced into hard labor and was giving me a chance to make a jail break run, or perhaps it was the loud, invasive contraption that spit out grass clippings at Sam when ever he got too close that got him riled.  Whatever the case, my grandfather essentially just ignored Sam and after a while Sam more or less tolerated the loud, pollution machine that disrupted his Saturday. 

One early morning my grandfather arrived to kick off the Springtime servitude of lawn mowing and asked me if it was my dog he had seen up where the road forked, the animal had apparently just been hit by a car.  With my blood pounding in my ears I ran up the lane and out onto the road.  Sure enough, from where I stood I could make out the shape of a dog stretched out in the dust.  “Sam!” I called out and rushed to where my dog had been thrown.

As I approached the form appeared to be lifeless and my heart sank.  “Sam!” I choked, and his tail stirred.  Getting nearer I realized it was not Sam dying in the dirt, but his nemesis, Frankie.  Frankie never could resist chasing every car that sped past him.  This time either the driver had purposely swerved to hit him (which given the pillars of our community was not unheard of ) or Frankie had somehow gotten himself caught under the wheel and crushed.  What ever the case, when I found him he was barely alive.

I stopped short and took a long look at the dog I had feared since I first set foot on the Sand Road.  His eyes rolled back to look at me while he panted short, labored breaths.   I stooped down to get closer and Frankie let out a soft growl. 

“Easy, Frankie.”  I said and reached out to pet him.  Helpless in that position Frankie closed his eyes as my hand brushed the top of his head for several strokes.  I spoke as soothingly as I could, trying to calm him and work up the courage to move my hands down his body.  Gently I slid my arms under and lifted him up, causing him to whine for a moment and lightly convulse, I knew I didn’t have much time.

I stood up and began carrying him down to the “lower” road as droplets of blood started to fall from Frankie’s mouth.  Down the road I walked, Frankie’s head bobbing to the rhythm of my footsteps.  I made it towards the end of the road, turned up a mixed sand and gravel driveway then rapped on the front door of the room addition that was attached to a mobile home with my foot. 

The sassy girl came to the door and seeing me with Frankie screamed for her father, who quickly appeared behind her.  I stepped back and brought Frankie down into the grass, realizing that he had died along the way to his home.  The girl reached down and hugged her dog, cradling his head in her arms then began rocking back and forth.  She wept uncontrollably as her father stood with clenched fists and looked as if he was getting ready to punch me. Quickly I explained to her dad how my grandfather had seen Frankie up on the road and sent me to see if it was my dog Sam.

I don’t know if I have ever seen the sassy girl’s father without alcohol on his breath, but his face was grim that day.  He reached out finally and sadly shook my hand, thanking me for bringing Frankie back.  His daughter never looked up, by then her sobs were buried in the fur of her dead pet.

I walked home feeling badly for Frankie’s owners.  Life on the Sand Road was hard enough without having to have the one bright spot in your world taken from you.  There aren’t too many luxuries  that blow our way.  We make do with stuff that others might ridicule or scoff at.  Little things that we take great pleasure in like skipping stones across the river or a tire swing lazily swaying from a tall tree branch.  Frankie wasn’t much to look at but he carried with him the love of a little girl who felt important and in control when he walked alongside of her.  The same way that I felt when I walked with Sam.

I reached our lane and looked up at the spot where I had found Frankie.  I was relieved that it was not Sam that I had found but at the same time my heart ached at the wondering of where he might have gone.  I sat on the steps leading to our front porch and thought about Frankie’s meanness and the fights he had been in with my dog.  I remembered our first encounter on the road and the times after when Frankie would be chasing me home or up a tree to avoid being bitten by him.  I never did discover how Frankie had lost that hind leg of his, and reasoned that was probably why he had become so mean in the first place. 

And then, for no earthly reason that I could think of… I started to cry.   

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5 Responses to “My dog Sam, Part 9”

  1. msdane Says:

    Good stuff. I’m ready for Part 10 now. Just kidding (sort of).

  2. Rachel Cullen Says:

    What a well written piece, stories like this really helps enlighten the pet community about the importance of protecting our pets. We have made an obligation to take care of them, providing them with the necessities of life. When a pet goes missing or even lost it is so important that we proactively react to the situation. Taking steps to protect your pet(s) prior to having this scary and overwhelming incident happen. These steps include always keeping a collar on your pet with I.D Tags. Having your pet micro-chipped and registering them properly. Never leaving them outside unattended, this could lead to their escape as well as giving the opportunity for someone to steal your pet(s).

    Making sure that you’re pet (s) are registered properly is vital to helping them return home. There are many companies that you can register your pet with. One of these companies is called http://www.helpmefindmypet.com they provide not only a registry but they also have created a proactive lost pet alert that is sent out in up to a fifty mile radius to all Shelters, Rescues, Veterinarians, Municipalities, Groomers, Kennels, Pet Industry, and Members. People find lost pets; if your community is aware that you’re pet(s) is missing this will create a local involvement resulting in more pets being reunited with their families. Prevention and preparation is essential to keeping your family together.

  3. chrisfiore5 Says:

    hello Rachel,

    thank you for taking time to respond with your well rounded insight. It is wonderful that we live in a time where people can take these steps in providing protection for the pets that they love.

    Of course, in my days of having Sam we did not have all the technology available now. But the better awareness of a pet being a family member and a measure of responsibility for all cannot be over emphasized.

    Again, thanks for your useful and well thought out information.

    Hope to “see” you again soon.

    peace.

  4. Chantal Says:

    Beautifully written…..very revealing of your character.

  5. chrisfiore5 Says:

    hello Chantal,

    thank you for your enthusiasm, I really do appreciate it…

    and the fact that I am a character was not too carefully hidden.

    much peace this day

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