Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dinner With Sampson

We didn't have pets growing up. Well actually, I'm lying... we did. Allow me to rephrase... we didn't have any pets that could survive longer than 48 hours in our house when I was growing up. All of our "pets" met the same fate of swirling around a porcelain purgatory before being laid to rest, down the depths of our commode, at the commencement of their short stay with us.

Looking back, I don't fault my parents for not allowing us to have non-aquatical animals (cough cough, Ping Pong Fair Game Goldfish) in the home, seeing as I had the attention span of a gnat when it came to new hobbies I was into, my sister had a nose for getting into mischief (i.e. playing barber shop with the neighborhood heathens while adults weren't paying attention, playing hide-and-seek in automatic-locking, non-ventilated, cedar chests, innocently crank-calling emergency dispatchers... the list goes on. We admire your curiosity, Kelli.), and my older brother, Brian, spent half of his childhood being probed and prodded in a hospital bed. Oh, and my mother has terrible, knock-you-out-for-weeks-at-a-time animal allergies. It would not have been responsible for us to own pets, nor would it have been logical, in general.

However, the longing for the All-American K-9, who would sleep at the foot of my bed and play catch with me on sunny afternoons and protect me from creepy bandits in the shadows of a dark alleyway, never really vacated my mind. I've always wanted a dog. I've always been enormously jealous of friends and family who grew up with dogs.

And so, I got a dog.

This is the most appropriate point in my post where I should forewarn you that I love my dog, but he's an idiot. Like, everyday-he-runs-full-speed-into-objects-that-have-always-been-in-the-same-exact-spot-in-my-house-since-the-day-we-got-him-and-no-he-isn't-blind-or-deaf, dumb.  Also, the amount of knowledge that I possess about life with dogs, ownership of dogs, dog psychology, and dog training, is so minuscule, that God has to use a high-powered microscope when investigating that part of my life. So, if you are some crazy highly-dedicated animal rights activist or you think that all dogs should be treated like royalty, please stop reading now. I live by trial and error with my dog. I am a human. He is an animal, a house pet. He is not my child, I am not his mommy. But, he is a part of my family. He is a companion, a friend, and I love him so very much. He is a nuisance who makes life very messy. But he's my nuisance.

Alright, so maaaaaaybe this decision of mine was a little on the... oh... not-so-well-thought-out side. So, what?! Don't you judge me.

Since the idea of owning a dog was never far from the forefront of my essential life priorities, I would often spend my lunch breaks on PetFinder.com, perusing through pups from all over my area, in search for the one that I couldn't live without.
During this time, my boyfriend wished that text messaging was never invented. I'd send dozens of doggie-profiles a day, to which he would not respond, because he actually has a functioning brain, and he knew I had no idea what I was trying to do. God bless my man. Seriously.
He finally conceded/gave up at the end of this September, when I sent him this picture of "Brent".  A nine month old chocolate lab mix.
"Whatever you want.", was my boyfriend, Jason's response. So, we got "Brent".
First off, what kind of name is Brent for a dog? I'm no expert, but I'll tell ya, it's not a name for a dog. It's just not. I will also tell you that moving from Ohio to Florida, and leaving behind three dogs in your adandoned home for weeks, with no food or water, without attempting to surrender them to a safe environment, should be a very punishable offense.
I don't remember much from the dog shelter, except that I hated it; I wanted to get out of that place as fast as I could because it was cold, and loud, and tense, and all-together frightening. This was Sampson's home before I adopted him. Sampson is his new name, and this is his new story.
The first month was rough. The first month was brutal.
Sampson chewed up expensive, leather shoes (Jason's). Sampson chewed up wool hunting gloves (Jason's).  Sampson chewed the buttons off of dress shirts (Jason's). Sampson scratched up baseboards. Sampson whizzed on the carpet. Sampson pooped on the carpet. Sampson puked on the carpet. Sampson must have felt bad because he started pulling up all the carpet. Sampson ate an entire bag of English Muffins. The next day, Sampson ate another entire bag of English Muffins. Then, he ate a whole loaf of bread for dessert. Everyday, it was something else. After two weeks of this, I decided to put up a baby gate to keep him contained in the kitchen while I was at work.
Day three of the baby gate, I came home to find the baby gate broken down and a mighty, poop trail through the house, up the stairs, and into the bedroom, with Sampson casually hanging out in the upstairs hall, taking a nice, leisurely nap.
I lost it. I couldn't take it anymore. It was too much. My clothes, my bed, my world smelled of warm dog poo. I scoulded him and whacked his nose with a rolled up magazine. As this was happening and I was cleaning up, trying not to let frustrated tears fall from my eyes, Sampson started puking. And then he started pooping. And then he puked again. Clearly, he was sick, and my heart sank.
Sampson had stomach worms. I took him to the vet, got him meds, and he was feeling better in a few days. Unfortunately, I still felt like a terrible, heartless person for awhile after that.
Later that week, I took him with me out to my Grandmother's land, out in the country, out in the middle of nowhere. As I opened up the car door to let him out, he ran faster than I have ever seen him run, down her hill and into the grassy field below. I panicked. That was it. My dog was gone. He was running away from me, as fast as he possibly could. And who could blame him? His previous owner abandoned him and we just couldn't get on the same page. Discouraged, I desperately shouted his name, hoping that this wasn't a huge mistake. As I looked out, I saw his ears perk up, his tongue flopped out, and just as fast as he ran down that hill, he galloped back up to me and jumped up on my legs to give me a sloppy, wet kiss. My heart melted, and we played the rest of the afternoon.
The thing is, Sampson, for the most part, is pretty simple. Once he got into the swing of our routine, we actually noticed that he's a really good dog. Ok, so every night while we eat dinner, he sits four inches away from our face and stares at us with literal puppy dog eyes, like we haven't fed him in months. Big deal, I know humans who would do that, if no one was looking. So what if he can't lay peacefully, at the foot of my bed, because he weighs 75+ pounds and nothing he does is peaceful? So what if he doesn't understand that I can't play catch with him, rain or shine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? So what if I ever encountered a creepy bandit in the shadows of a dark alleyway, Sampson's only defense would be to lick them to death. SO-FREAKING-WHAT?! He is still a good pup.
Even after the night that I whacked him with the magazine and he had his tail between his legs, 10 minutes later, he was back at my side, bright eyed, tail wagging, waiting to be pet. He loves to be the center of attention, he loves naps, he loves shiny things, he loves food, he loves to watch TV, he loves to be active, he loves to love and be loved.
He is me. But with fur.
He still gets into mischief, more than I would like him to; this morning he ate a brand new make-up sponge that I just bought and half of a box of Hot Tamales. But, I couldn't ask for a better, more loving friend.
So... me thinks I will keep him.

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