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Observations: To be like Sammy

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image Sammy the dog has nothing on his schedule. He doesn’t worry or carry personal baggage and he never holds a grudge. He’s just happy being Sammy. Mitch Traphagen Photo

I think we could all use a little Sammy in our lives.


Sammy hauled his huge body up onto the couch, laid his giant head on his pillow and let out a sigh befitting that of a big dog. He shifted around to get comfortable, finally putting his gigantic front paws on the pillow and laying his head on top of them. 

It was a weekday afternoon and there was no way I was going to get that couch. Sammy is a dog of habit; he loves routine. And the routine is that he gets the couch on weekday afternoons. Since I’m normally working, that’s just how it is.

He let out another big sigh and then fell asleep. Before long, he was on his back, sleeping the sleep of the innocent.

The Wall Street Journal published a list of the best and worst careers in terms of job stress, income and opportunity. Congratulations actuaries — you came in as number one — the best of 200 possible careers. Software engineers, my wife’s profession, weren’t far behind at number three.

Reporter (newspaper) came in dead last — number 200.  Being a maid, a dishwasher and an oil rig worker were all considered to be better careers than being a reporter. Photojournalist was right in the same dubious neighborhood at number 188.

Yay. I should have been a lumberjack (number 199).

Sammy could not possibly care less about any of that. He is a four-year-old boy inside of a big 11-year-old dog body. He is gentle, huge, can be bratty and doesn’t worry about such stuff.

He has never hurt anything in his life. When he was a puppy, the cats used to chase him around the house and he would hide under furniture. Now, 80 pounds bigger, no one chases him but I’ve seen our cats completely cover his face in paws and sometimes claws, yet he does nothing. He would never hurt one of his kitties.

But if he gets scared or has reason to be concerned about his pack he certainly has a big dog growl. A scary big dog growl.

Sammy has absolutely nothing on his schedule. And even if he did, such as a veterinarian appointment, he wouldn’t care about it. Going to the appointment would be fun, although leaving the couch behind would be hard. Dogs most certainly do like trucks and he gets to ride in the truck to the vet. Now being at the vet wouldn’t be much fun. That would be scary. Not big-dog-growl scary but scary nonetheless. And then it would be over and he would get to ride in the truck again. And all would be good.

Mitch Traphagen PhotoHe is getting to be an old dog and I’m pretty sure he hurts all over. He takes meds to help with that but it probably isn’t enough. He has hip dysplasia and his front wrists appear to be going out on him. There is little his vet can do for him now. But despite all of that, he doesn’t complain. Not at all.

He is indeed a little boy inside and thus he can be a brat. He displays his brattiness with an occasional loud “WOOF!” Sometimes it’s because Casey is lying across the entrance to the kitchen, blocking his way to the dog bowl. Sometimes it’s because Andi just happens to be breathing too close to him. Brattiness doesn’t necessary need a good reason.

He does get a little upset when Andi takes his toys away. He might let out a big “WOOF!” but more than likely he’ll just put his head down on his gigantic front paws to watch her play for a while and then he’ll take a nap. He doesn’t hold grudges and doesn’t worry about much for long.

I think we could all use a little Sammy in our lives. If that were to happen, no crazed dictators would attempt to build a nuclear weapons system because, well, that would get in the way of nap time. Sammy would never invade another country to grab their resources; he would never be mean to someone else out of ideology because being mean has no place in his ideology. He’s just a happy dog and that is good enough.

Sammy’s life is simple and he doesn’t complicate it. He has a few simple things — his pack (family), his couch and his pillow. He loves treats (cheese mostly) and being positioned just so under the table at dinnertime. Sammy was not dealt a great hand of cards in life with all of his health problems but that doesn’t seem to bother him. Like everything else that goes bad in his life, whether it is Andi stealing a toy or Casey blocking the way to the dog dish, at most he’ll just let out a big “WOOF!” and then he’s over it. He doesn’t carry negativity around. He has no baggage.

In other words, he’s smarter than a lot of people. He’s certainly smarter than me. Too much of my life is consumed by deadlines, stress and other nasty stuff. “That’s life,” a lot of people would say. Well, it’s not Sammy’s life.

Life is good for Sammy, I think. From his place on the couch just now, he noticed Andi walking away from a toy. He gathered up the energy needed to haul his giant body down to the floor and then put the toy between his big front paws. I’m pretty sure he started humming to himself. Andi wasn’t happy, of course, and before long she’ll steal it back but that will be OK. It’s a weekday and he still has his couch and pillow.

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