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Down to none


Down to none


After Penny died, Sam lost his bark.

He was the one always running out barking at the top of his voice before he knew what was there.  For the first nine years of his life, he had Claire as the grandmother dog. An Akita. 130 pounds. All black with white stockings and a chest mark. She could take out a 40-pound raccoon in one chomp. And had. But she didn’t bark unless she needed to. Which was seldom because she knew she could take on anything that came along and handle it.


Claire & Sam in snow


She was sweet and loving. You could take food out of her mouth. She knew who was her master and it was her job to watch after us. Akitas are like that. Helen Keller brought the first one over as a gift from Japan. They once had temples built for them. There’s a Richard Gere movie, Hachi, a Dog’s Tale, that was based on a true story. The story is sweet, the movie is so-so, but Richard is hot, for an old man who likes thinks Budda is the answer to a great life.

Claire was gentle with everyone (except raccoons). Our youngest granddaughter (at the time, we’ve got more now!) woke up in the night and came downstairs and curled up on her for a pillow and went back to sleep. Claire didn’t budge for an hour.


Julia sleeping on Claire


Sam would cuddle up inside Claire’s front paws begging for attention. She’d start licking him and pretty soon he looked like a wet cat. She did this every day. More than once. See this sofa? All of the cushion covers come off to be washed and dried in the dryer. That sofa is 14 years old and pretty much looks like it did brand new. And Claire seldom got on it. This was a rare sit.


Pups on sofa


She died two years ago at age 15. The vet said most dogs her size only lived 9-10 years. We were lucky. But, Sam still had his mama, Penny.

When he was about three months old, I watched them playing in the kitchen. Penny would run by him while Sam watched, then dart back and wait for him. He run to her and she’d run back across the kitchen floor. She was teaching him to play chase.

He was the youngest and the smallest of the three. And he knew his place. He’d go racing across the yard, barking at the poor unsuspecting soul walking down the sidewalk and stop about four feet from the edge of the yard. We had an underground electric fence, the dogs wore collars, and they knew where to stop.

He’d be barking. Penny would follow barking and Claire would bring up the rear, more often than not, without a sound–which was even scarier, when you think about this huge black dog appearing out of nowhere. Everyone began looping across the street when they came to our house, then loop back once beyond the danger of two wieners and a bear. As soon as the older two dogs showed up, Sam would scoot around behind Claire, still barking, like he was saying, “Okay, you can take over now.”

When it was just Sam and Penny? They still barked.

Dachshunds bark. People who love dachshunds–and there’s an entire planet of wiener lovers out there–just accept it as part of the plan.

They bark at everything. It’s their job. They bark to tell you they’re here. They bark to tell you they see the trees outside. They bark at the wind. They bark at the dark. And the light. They bark to just say, “Hello, world!”

When Penny died, Sam lost his bark. He sat on the front steps and watched people walk down the sidewalk. Didn’t even growl.  He loved to play with the kids next door. But when they walked over, he just waited for them to come to him and let them pet him. He used to run to the edge of the yard barking away.

My Guy said he was a sad and lonely old dog.

Sam needed a happy pill. Just like we had 13 years ago.

So he’s visiting his cousin in Wilmington, NC for a while. Our youngest daughter and her husband have a year-old pup named Scoop. I visited them a couple of months ago and took Sam & Penny. They all got along famously. Penny was definitely the grownup and Scoop was the kid. He was low man on the pole. Sam and Scoop played until they were exhausted.


Scoop is a happy dog. He a big bag of happy-go-lucky, isn’t-life-grand puppy. He’ll be good for Sam.

And now, for the first time since I was six years old, I am pet-less.  It’s just me and my guy. No kids. No dogs. No one but us to worry about.

Well, all of us know we can’t ever not worry about our babes. Even if our four aren’t here in the house or any of our grandkids or pets . . .  we worry about them. So, maybe, there’s just no one extra here to take care of is a better way to put it.

I’ve had some updates. Scoop isn’t trashing the house when he’s alone with separation anxiety because he has Sam to play with. He’s having to learn to share his toys.

And Sam’s barking again.

Unfortunately, I’m getting reports that he’s also teaching Scoop– Bark first, then go check it out.




Scoop and Sam


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One Response to Down to none

  • Thanks for sharing your journey….it’s toucing & makes us see…life goes on with hope!
    Love the storybook way of your writings….

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