Sammi was a 9 lbs. rat terrier of great cleverness and sometimes inopportune ferocity. She never met a dog that she thought she couldn’t defeat, and only learned dog by dog which were the masters of her and which were subordinate. She had high cocked, pointy ears until a 50 lbs. golden retriever named Pippi took offense when Sammit urinated on a spot that Pippi had just marked. I had to pull Pippi’s jaws open while my wife pried Sammi’s head out. She emerged with a bleeding laceration one inch above and behind her right eye, a permanently bent ear, and the concrete knowledge that she owed subservience to Pippi. Sammi kept her urine in her bladder henceforth whenever she trod the grass in Pippi’s yard.
Sammi also had trouble judging the importance of size in matters of love. She remained pupless because of this inability as she was consistently impractical when selecting potential mates. She scorned the advances of males her size and doted on dogs that dwarfed her when they trotted side by side. Sammi would have needed a step ladder to sniff the butt of the Dalmatian to whom she finally agreed to surrender her virginity.
We met Sammi when my wife, our children and I moved to Orlando in 1991. We rented a tiny one story house with two bedrooms, one bath and a Florida room in a neighborhood called Azalea Park. A.P. was a trendy location in the mid 60s when it was built, but was in a state of steady decline by the time we settled there. Many of the houses had a run down appearance; some yards had cars resting on their rims on cinder blocks poking up out of knee high weeds; the street lights on some streets were shattered; many carports were stacked high with belongings bundled up in black, plastic, trash bags; some houses had bars on the windows, and many kept their blinds and curtains perpetually shut (I began to wonder if mole people were hiding from the bright Florida sun inside these homes.).
Sammi fit in with the ambiance of her surroundings. She was a trash can dog who pilfered and begged for scraps of food. She roamed far and wide in search of opportunities to feed. We got acquainted on a hot day in September when we pulled into our driveway and found her reclining at her leisure on our doormat. She was gnawing on a pork chop bone and growled at us when we came near. I believe that she thought that we had come to take her treasure away.
I’m not sure how we ended up getting owned by her. We found out later that our next door neighbor had title to her, but had neglected her once their first child was born. Sammi, a dog bred to sit on laps and cushioned seats, was exiled to a sandy, fenced in back yard. She eventually figured out how to tunnel her way out of confinement, and began to live her life as a dog of chance and opportunity. After she figured out that we would never rob her of her pork chop bones and chicken gristle, she started to hang around our carport more and more. She used it as a rest stop between her foraging campaigns, and I eventually succumbed to temptation and put out bowls of water for her. We reached a point of no return when I began to pet her and laid an old rug out for her near the washing machine.
Sometime in February or March Sammi began to go into heat. She attracted the attention of several suitors from the neighborhood, but took her time in making a final selection. The first poor slob to make a bid for her affection was a scruffy, little, white poodle. He hung around with his tongue hanging out and his eyes wide and bright with feverish hope. Sammi occasionally allowed him to sniff her nether parts, but mostly subjected him to her attitude of studied indifference. His owner may have found him, or perhaps he finally slunk away in humiliation, but after the fourth day we saw him no more.
The second suitor was a mutt of German shepherd/border collie/hound dog heritage. He was more aggressive and carried the air of a ne’er do well, a cad, a bounder. His campaign consisted of two distinct phases: a blunt, frontal attack followed by an attempt to win her with gifts. Sammi woke me up in the middle of the night when the rake first sprang at her. She barked beneath my window and dashed away with her tormentor in hot pursuit. When I stepped out onto our carport to intervene she was running in circles and figure eights around our lawn mower, a stack of crates, and the baby stroller. The rake was gaining on her, but paused when he saw me looming out of the darkness. I scooped up Sammi and put her in an open box on top of the washing machine. She slept the rest of the night content in the knowledge that she was safe from his lecherous intentions. The cur glared at me with hate and frustration before he slowly made his exit.
The next day he reappeared with a different approach and attitude. He came dragging a doormat in his jaws. He left it in the shade of a tall hedge near the carport and calmly waited for his offering to be acknowledged. Sammi diffidently accepted his gift but gave him no satisfaction. He continued to patiently bring her doormats for the next few days and nights, but it was to no avail. She understood that his presents did not disguise the fact that he was no gentleman. One evening after dark we heard a clanking sound in our driveway. The rake had returned with yet another mat, but someone had tied tin cans to it. An old man with a flash light slowly trudged after the dog into our yard and asked me whether I owned the mutt who kept stealing his doormats. He had grown tired of replacing them and had devised a plan to follow the culprit back to his base of operations. I told him that neither the thief nor the object of his affection belonged to me, and that his stolen mats were being used to win Sammi’s favor. He laughed and shook his head, and then trudged back home with a stack of doormats under his arm. The second suitor gave up at that point. We never saw him again.
The third suitor was a Dalmatian named Bandit. He lived three blocks away, and he and Sammi met when she followed me down the street one day when I took my children out for their daily ride in the stroller. It was love at first sight. Bandit sniffed and savored her pheromones, and licked her back until it was soaked. Sammi responded with tender, melting looks of trust and affection. Their love produced no issue, however, as the two could never make a true connection. Bandit’s shoulder stood three feet off the ground, whereas Sammi’s only reached a height of ten inches. When the time came for them to consummate their mutual passion Sammi bent down on her forepaws and tilted her butt up in the air. Bandit responded by crouching down behind her and waggling his hips and aroused doghood in the general direction of her lady bits. They never came closer than a foot to making contact, and Sammi looked back over her shoulder at her would be lover as if to say, “Is that all there is?”
Although their physical desires were frustrated by a gap between them that could not be closed, they continued to show each other love and affection. Sammi’s hormone levels returned to less provocative levels soon after their failed attempt, but Bandit licked her back whenever they met. Sammi still looked at him with adoration and seemed very content with his company. I am convinced that he was the true love of her life, and even though she dallied with many another dog, she showed none of them the regard she gave to Bandit.