S a m a n t i c shttp://www.potomacvalleysams.com/Samantics.html



by Patricia Rasmussen

© 2012

I got my first Sam by way of my sister’s first husband and his insistence that they get a dog immediately upon getting married... a St. Bernard puppy. It’s a fairly long, sad story about the perils of buying puppies at a pet store. Perhaps to be shared another time. Suffice to say that it took three tries to get a healthy puppy from that particular Puppy Palace.

While looking at a small Sammy puppy (a breed we’d never heard of) as a replacement for the sad story Saint, we, (by this point, I was involved too) struck up a conversation with another customer who had begun to coo over him. She said that she’d had a Sam and he had been a wonderful dog. She said he was clean and quiet and used to just lie on her front porch and watch the world go by. (I’m pretty sure her pants were on fire and we just didn’t notice.) My sister and her husband took the replacement puppy home with them. That was another extremely sad story, the moral of which was – some veterinarians don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to diagnosing respiratory issues soon enough to actually cure them.

Pretty sure I would have quit by this point and just taken the financial loss, but soon-to-become-ex-hubby was a very stubborn man and he insisted they take another replacement puppy.  Said puppy was twice the size of what the (very sick) first one had been – which should have been our first clue that we needed to read up on the breed before taking one to live in a high rise apartment building. Be that as it may, because I lived/worked close enough to take my lunch break and go to their apartment to take the puppy(s) out for a mid-day walk, I had become as involved as they were. When they split up and the growing puppy needed a home, I was just moving from my high-rise into a slum an apartment near GWU and wanted a dog.

So, Nicky came to live with me. He spent his days in the city, taking me for long walks and meeting everyone in the neighborhood. An elderly Russian lady who lived down the street used to cry when she saw him, saying he reminded her of home.  Then there was the imposing woman who took a hammer out of her purse and threatened to kill us both if I let him at her! Crazy lady! And the drunk who insisted I was walking a wolf and it was illegal to have them in DC... and so on. Yeah, not a very well-known breed then. LOL.

I took him everywhere with me, including to work sometimes. He sat in the passenger seat of my MGB, or on the small shelf behind the seats and just stayed in the car and waited for me (when the top was on and windows mostly up – I’m not stupid) or accompanied me wherever I went if it was okay for him to come in.  I would put him in a down stay (before either one of us really knew what that was), put my purse between his front paws, and walk around the store looking at stuff.

He was an amazing dog. Nothing fazed him – ride in small airplane? No problem. Long car rides to Florida? Ditto. Never opened his mouth in my apartment unless somebody thumped against the door in the middle of the night. He’d give one deep “woof” (big dog here, want to rethink your plan?) and that would be it. He used to lie on my bed and watch out the big window and observe the alley and fire escape. Somehow, I felt very safe about about having that open first floor window there.... Nicky could go up and down the fire escape like a champ. He got along fine with my cat, and in fact, she used him to taunt a male cat that used to try to beat her up if/when she escaped outside. She would literally get between Nicky’s front legs and strut up the alley, sneering at her nemesis and going “Oh, yeah. Bring it on.”

Somewhere along the way, I found an ad for PVSC’s first or second “A” match and entered my dog through a phone call with Lillian Crist.  Got there, holding my huge chain leash (don’t ask), and found that my dog wasn’t too thrilled about being around a lot of other adolescent male Sams. It only took one growl in his direction for him to decide that prizes were being awarded for whoever could be the biggest pain in the ass.

Apparently, it was him. He won a fair sized novice class.  (He was a very good mover, in spite of not being as typey as what I would like now and behaving like a blithering idiot. Fortunately, he was not alone there...) Suddenly, there I was, with a trophy that my dog had won and the number to call to enroll him in a basic obedience class. The rest is history.

Some good, some not so good. (Nicky was hit by a car and killed when he was three – my first experience with genuine grief. Not fun.) But we (by that time I’d met Stirling and he loved Nicky too) couldn’t imagine how anyone could own any other breed. So we acquired two more – a puppy bitch that I co-owned with my sister, and a well-bred one-year-old male that needed a new home.  It was downhill from there....

“Weekends and my days off he went out to the country with me to learn about other dogs and horses.”

Patti’s horse, Snoopy, greets Nicky, who is riding shotgun in the MGB.