By popular request, I will write about my dog, Sam. I got Sam from a state animal rescue shelter in East Harlem in 2003, at that time he must have been around one year old, nobody knows for sure. He had been found roaming the streets of Manhattan. Sam is a relatively large dog with black and white border collie markings and a long “Lassie” nose. I think he must be a combination between a border collie and a regular collie. People stop me on the street, telling me how adorable he is (funnily, he often gets mistaken for being a girl). Sam is beautiful, look-wise and personality-wise, and I am not saying this just because he is my dog. He really is.
We have our daily routine. He wakes me up in the mornings by rather rigorously waving his tail against the metal frame of the bed; when he sees I am half-awake, he pushes his long nose in my face. When I turn to the other side of the bed, he repeats the same behavior on the other side, until I finally get up. We go back and forth like this about five times. When I am up he follows me to the kitchen, where I start preparing his food. He goes back into the bedroom and watches me do this from a distance, it is unclear to me why he does this when he would have been welcome to stay in the kitchen! He eats his food and I sit with my coffee in front of the lap-top. After a while, he starts bringing me a selection of his large, soft toys (he has nine), usually it is the porcupine and the goose. He plays with them for a while and then starts literally tossing them at me for attention. He wants to go outside for his morning walk. We usually spend 45 minutes to an hour in Central Park. Then I go to work and he sleeps. When I return home, he welcomes me by dancing around like a mad-dog, smiling and wagging his tail. I feed him and take him out and then he gets a rawhide bone, which, it seems, he has been looking forward to all day. We go to sleep, Sam in his basket next to my bed.
Sam has a certain way about him. In the park, he is known as “the Sheriff,” simply due to the fact that when he is playing free with other dogs in a group he doesn’t really play, but rather makes sure that all is in order. He barks and herds dogs into certain areas where he thinks they should be. On my street block, he exhibits a similar behavior, barking at skateboarders and cyclists who are rolling down the hill. They usually just smile and move on. He loves people and is especially fond of children, with whom he is remarkably gentle. One of his favorite persons in the world is the superintendent in my building. When the two of them have a moment, which is usually twice per day, I am completely ignored. But Sam is the happiest when we go on trips to the country and he can roam outside freely with other dogs. When we return to the city, he is usually exhausted and put him up on top of the bed and he soon falls asleep, dreaming.
Sam is now approaching eleven and is still behaving like a young dog. But parts of his coat are gray and he has arthritis. He walks noticeably slower and stops to sniff a lot when we are on our walks. I sometimes get impatient, but then stop myself and slow down, let him go on in his own pace. My mind wanders to the day when he will no longer be here, I know that day will come. My eyes tear up then; I envision myself taking off for weeks from work, not being able to cope at all. But then I always force myself to push these kinds of thoughts away. He is here now. I treasure every moment.