Samantha (4/02/1992 - 12/31/2006)
by Frank Gerety
Samantha was born April 2, 1992. Her Mother was Rotweiler and the Father Dalmatian. We called her a Rotmation. Somehow you would expect a rugged and intimidating dog from that combination, but she was the nicest and most friendly dog I have ever seen. At least she was with humans. With other dogs she was quite shy. Once a little dog weighing in at about 2 pounds, came running down a driveway snarling and barking. If she hadn’t been on a leash she would have run all the way home with me yelling at her to stop. Most dogs, after seeing her, all 80 pounds, would treat her with some caution.
I am getting ahead of my self. After we adopted her I decided she should be a trained dog. All dogs that we have owned before had minimal training. I was satisfied if they recognized their name. Not Samantha, she was going to learn all of the commands. (Sit, down, come, heel, …) So,…, Samantha and I enrolled in dog training school along with about 15 other dogs and owners. We met at McKenzie Field in the evening. It was rainy and the field was always wet. We did the sitting part pretty good. I would grab her collar and lay my elbow along her back. Then I would issue the command sit, pull on the collar, and push down with my elbow. She resisted, but the combination of pulling on the collar and pushing down with my elbow did the trick even if she didn’t like sitting on the wet grass. The command down however was another thing. Lie down in that wet grass and mud, not on your life. I was persistent though. After all I was the boss, so I pushed, pulled and eventually she was down. Me too! Both of us rolling around on the ground, and by now everyone else had stopped to watch.
We made it through the course and were awarded a certificate of completion. I thought we deserved a little more than that, maybe Miss Congeniality. Anyway we had no more concerns about training. We had a certificate. In case any one asked about training I would just say she is certified!
An off shoot of the training was our regular walk. We usually walk about a mile. This gave us a chance to practice the sit and heel commands. We met a lot of neighbors that I hadn’t known before and they didn’t know Sammy. When I saw them coming our way there was usually a look of confusion. They were thinking, “What should I do? Should I walk out on the street, get over on the lawn? This dog looks pretty big.” About that time I would say sit, and Sammy would sit and smile at our neighbor. Quite often to my amazement they would say what a nice puppy. (All 80 pounds of her)
It didn’t take too long before most people in our neighborhood knew Sammy. It was in those first two or three years that we learned a little about her appetite and her tastes. Actually she had no taste. She would eat anything. This is why she liked our backyard. She ate oranges, avocadoes, persimmons, apricots and walnuts. I probably should relate a little more about the oranges. This was one item that she needed a little help with the peeling. I discovered her taste for oranges one day when I had been working in the back yard. I figured it was time for a break, so I picked a couple of oranges and began to peel one. About this time I noticed, hard to ignore, that she was sitting in front of me and drooling all over my shoes. Hah, I thought, she certainly won’t eat an orange. I took a section of the orange, held it up, and then dropped it for her to catch. She caught it and gulped it down in a flash. I had created a monster. She’ll always want half of my orange. Oh well, we finished that orange, one section for her and one section for me. What the heck, we ate another one. From that day forward I couldn’t peel an orange without her nose bringing her to me for her rightful share.
The apricots had me a little worried because of the pits. I couldn’t always beat her to the fallen apricots so I watched to see if she did swallow the pits. No she didn’t. She would chew a couple of times and then the pit would pop out of the side of her mouth.
The walnuts were also worrisome. She would crack the shells with her powerful jaws and then eat the kernels. She probably did swallow some shells, but that never bothered her. I shuddered when I thought of all of the things she ate that I didn’t know about.
She also would eat vegetables. One time I was preparing broccoli and I cut off the thick stem. It slipped from my hands and hit the floor. There was a black streak and Sammy had the stem. Within a minute she had chewed it up and swallowed the whole thing. I wish we had her when we were raising our family. The boys would slip their string beans into a plastic container when we weren’t looking. We could have used Sammy as an example.
We bought a camper just before we got Sammy. I think that she thought we bought it for her. She knew when we were going on a trip. I would be carrying food, clothes, and other supplies out to the camper. If I stopped, she ran in to me. She watched every aspect of our preparations and tried to ensconce herself in the camper long before we were ready to leave. She has been on every trip we’ve made except our trip to Alaska.
We started having her sleep on the floor on a blanket. When we were on the road she would sit in between the front seats. There was no escaping Sammy. Soon she began putting her head on Alice’s lap. Alice would rub those silken ears and pet her. This was really living. The next step was to crawl onto Alice’s lap. Alas, as she grew older she grew bigger. She overwhelmed Alice and she had to push her off.
Partly as compensation we allowed her to ride and sleep on the couch. She thought that was great. She could lie there with her head just over the end of the couch and over my right shoulder. We had finally reached a truce and we all rode happily on our trips. Some of our many trips were the Sierras in a spot known as Red’s Meadow. Her first trip to Red’s she met Kathleen who came up to be with us. Kathleen wanted to sleep in her own tent and invited Sammy to sleep with her, which seemed just right to Sammy. She curled up right next to Kathleen.
She was with us on all of those trips and proved to be a great trail and fishing dog. She handled our communication. This was of great value for us because the last 3 or 4 years I haven’t been able to climb those mountains and canyons like I used to, but Alice can. As a result the gap between Alice and me would grow as we climbed the mountains. Sammy would always stay with the one in front, but when there was a bend in the trail she would get worried about me. Many times I would see her charge down the mountain and around the bend. When she saw me she would screech to a halt, take a good look and trot back up the trail to be with Alice.
This trait was particularly useful when we got to our stream and started fishing. I think it really upset her when we didn’t stay together. Her job of keeping track of both of us increased 100%. For us though, it helped immensely. When we fish a stream we spread out, never fishing the same place at the same time. That’s why we fish the Wilderness areas. The people in the Valley of the San Joaquin fish too close to each other. In our spots, we very seldom see another fisher person. So, there we are, fishing the same stream, but in different spots. When the one behind catches up, we yell,” Going by” so that we know where the other one is. Sometimes, after fishing for a couple of hours, I would ask myself,” Is Alice ahead or behind?” That was before Sammy. With Sammy along all I had to do was look, and if I saw Sammy I knew I was ahead. If I didn’t see her, Alice was ahead. What a system! Too bad I can’t sell it to NASA.
The “Official Greeter”, that was Sammy. When the doorbell rang she would go to the front door and express her delight that someone came to visit her. It didn’t matter that they came for other reasons; she knew that the real reason was they wanted to pet her while her tail swung back and forth. That was one of the things that people mentioned in their cards. We received cards from our 6 grandchildren, the two children next door, and several friends that heard about her passing. I often thought of how surprised a burglar would be to be greeted in this manner, and there is no doubt that she would greet him in the same gracious way.
The last few years I have discovered the therapeutic value of a little afternoon nap. Sammy was way ahead of me. She always realized the value of a little nap, in the morning, afternoon or evening and happily joined me with my amateurship naps. This usually happened after lunch when I would take a book and lie down to read until I fell asleep. She would follow me until I horizontally settled in and she would “Hurmpf” and settle in beside me. When I woke up, there she was, still beside me.
Sammy had a good life, right up to about 1:30 PM Dec.. 31, 2006.
The day started nicely. I played 2½ sets of tennis, came home and read the paper and had a cup of coffee. I took Samantha for a short walk to the park and back, and then we did our usual routine which consists of her sitting while I walk a short distance away. I say “Come” and she trots over and sits. I give her a biscuit. Then we repeat 2 more times.
Then she wandered around in the back yard for awhile. I picked some persimmons and gave her a nice ripe one.
Then she wandered around the inside of the house and finally slept a bit. I had lunch and around 1 o’clock I turned on a football game. A few minutes later Alice came in and said” Come and look at Samantha. I think the time has come.”
Samantha was lying in the living room, panting rapidly, legs thrashing in search of the floor, and some blood on the floor from her drool.
With the help of a neighbor we got her into the car and took her to CARE Emergency Hospital. They were very kind. We spent a little time with her in a private room rubbing her ears and head. Then we called the doctor in and she gave her a shot that put her to sleep. Then she injected the second shot that took her out. She looked just like she always has when she lies down to sleep. I really miss her.
Samantha (4/02/1992 - 12/31/2006)